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inspiring learning through technology

The evidence


Our aim is to provide as broad a library of research and supportive evidence into the use of technology in schools as possible. The research is drawn from a wide variety of sources and places and from here in the UK and worldwide too.

Where we can, we will comment on the research but otherwise we have approached this mainly as providing you with a reference library and a start point from where you can gather the information that is most relevant to your needs and to your job in hand. Whether you are looking for the latest relevant research findings to support policy work or sourcing information to help pull together a business case as a school, a concerned parent, a potential donor or a policy maker.

We are keen for this section to be as comprehensive and up-to-date as possible too so if you have research that you are prepared to share or you are aware of research that would be useful to list here please let us know.

Most of the reports are in the public domain and published on the Internet so, wherever possible, a hyper link is provided.

We endeavour to ensure that the full spectrum of research and information is logged here and not just that information which is in support of the use of technology.

There are also a number of organisations specialising in certain aspects and, where appropriate, we have included links to these organisations.

‘A society which is mobile, which is full of channels for the distribution of a change occurring anywhere, must see to it that its members are educated to personal initiative and adaptability. Otherwise, they will be overwhelmed by the changes in which they are caught and whose significance or connections they do not perceive.’
John Dewey (1916, p. 88 – Democracy and Education)


How Technology helps – the evidence…

...children learn

In this section we list and link to information and research which looks broadly at technology in learning and in schools. From the UK experience to work looking across multiple countries.

Title: The Impact of Ebooks on the Reading Motivation and Reading Skills of Children and Young People: A study of schools using RM Books
Author: Irene Picton and Christina Clark, National Literacy Trust
Published: December 2015

General profile of study: In early 2014, RM Books provided funding to The National Literacy Trust, a national charity, to enable a study of the impact of ebooks on pupils’ reading skills and motivation. RM Books offers an ebooks platform designed specifically for schools and includes etextbooks, classics, fiction and non-fiction titles which may either be accessed online on any internet-enabled device, or read offline through an app.

Specific relevance to the category: Children who read for enjoyment often make more progress in maths, vocabulary and spelling between the ages of 10 and 16 than those who rarely read for enjoyment, and young people who read regularly are significantly more likely to attain a professional or managerial position than those who do not read. This report outlines findings about the impact of access to an ebooks platform on pupils’ reading motivation and skills over the academic year 2014/15.

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Title: Children and parents: media use and attitudes report
Author: Ofcom
Published: November 2015

General profile of study: As part of Ofcom's work, they conduct survey research into how children and young people aged 3-15 use and think about media and the internet, and the ways in which parents try to keep them safe when they use different types of media. Their research findings are representative of UK children, and broken down by age group (3-4s, 5-7s, 8-11s, 12-15s) so that there is a better understanding how media use and attitudes vary by age.

Specific relevance to the category: This year Ofcom thought it would be helpful for children to access the research findings so that children and schools camn compare what they have and do to others across the UK. So Ofcom have also created two factsheets which children can use with their parents and/or with teachers in their
schools. These are aimed at children aged 8-11, the middle age range of those in the report, and includes the results based on that age group

- Factsheet 1: What devices do you have, and use?
- Factsheet 2: How online smart are you?

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Title: Students, Computers and Learning - Making the Connection
Author: OECD – Andreas Schleicher
Published: Revised in October 2015

General profile of study:  Are there computers in the classroom? Does it matter? This report examines how students’ access to and use of information and communication technology (ICT) devices has evolved in recent years.

Specific relevance to the category:  This report provides a first-of-its-kind internationally comparative analysis of the digital skills that students have acquired, and of the learning environments designed to develop those skills. This analysis shows that the reality in our schools lags considerably behind the promise of technology.

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Title: Technology in Education: An Overview
Author: Benjamin Herold for Education Week
Published: February 5th 2015

General profile of study: A broad look at the US experience to date. Technology is everywhere in education: Public schools in the United States now provide at least one computer for every five students. They spend more than $3 billion per year on digital content

Specific relevance to the category:  Led by the federal government, the USA is in the midst of a massive effort to make affordable high-speed Internet and free online teaching resources available to even the most rural and remote schools. And in 2015-16, for the first time, more state standardized tests for the elementary and middle grades were administered via technology than by paper and pencil.

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Title: Technology in Education, a system view
Author: Various through The Education Foundation
Published: June 2014

General profile of study: Technology is changing the world around us and these changes are gathering pace and more than ever we need a discussion about how schools meet the associated challenges. This report is an important contribution to the debate and it highlights a number of important issues.

Specific relevance to the category:  Key issues included the need to help teachers apply their existing teaching skills to the new world, the need for strong school leadership and in supporting schools to invest in a solution that works best for them. These challenges are not insurmountable and many schools are already active in sharing solutions. Whether it is by innovative use of computers and tablets to enable students to interact with students across the world, embracing 3D printers or developing apps that they can use on their own devices, many of our schools are world leaders. A large part of the challenge for Government and others in the sector lies in helping these innovators to share their knowledge and experience with their peers.

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Title: The Future of Mobile Learning – implications for policy makers and planners
Author: Carly Shuler, Niall Winters and Mark West for UNESCO
Published: 2013

General profile of study: As devices become increasingly prominent worldwide, there is a great deal of excitement building around mobile learning. Students and teachers  already use mobile technologies in diverse contexts for a wide variety of teaching and learning purposes, and key educational players – from national education ministries to local school districts – are experimenting with supportive policies to promote innovative mobile learning in both formal and informal education settings.

Specific relevance to the category:  Many of the experts interviewed for this report feel that mobile learning is now on the threshold of a more systematic integration with education both in and outside of schools. Decisions made today will fundamentally influence the character of mobile learning in years to come. To help set the stage for these decisions, the following sections outline some of the most prevalent trends in mobile learning to date. These include innovations in formal and informal education, seamless learning and educational technology.

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Title: Benchmarking Access, Use and Attitudes to Technology in Europe’s Schools
Author: European Commission
Published: April 2013

General profile of study: According to the survey, funded by the European Commission Directorate General Information Society and Media and undertaken by European Schoolnet and the University of Liège, students and teachers have unprecedented access to educational technology and their opinion about its value and impact is overwhelmingly positive.

Specific relevance to the category: Based on over 190,000 responses from students, teachers and head teachers collected and analysed during the school year 2011-12, the Survey of Schools: ICT in Education provides detailed, up-to-date and reliable benchmarking of Information and Communication Technologies in school level education across Europe, painting a picture of educational technology in schools: from infrastructure provision to use, confidence and attitudes

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Title: The state of computer resources in UK schools
Author: e-Learning Foundation
Published: Summer 2013

General profile of study: In the summer of 2013, Syscap commissioned the Learning Foundation to write a paper on the state of computer resources in UK schools, largely drawing on annual research conducted by BESA.

Specific relevance to the category: This report provides fascinating reading about the way that school provision reflects both Government policies and the types of finance available to schools, and the way that mobile devices are overtaking PCs. Of particular concern is the high % of computers that are over 5 years old and ineffective.

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Title: The Impact of 1:1 Access
Author: e-Learning Foundation
Published: Autumn 2012

General profile of study: In the autumn of 2012 schools were invited to apply for a small research grant from the e-Learning Foundation. The objective was fairly simple. To record the stage each child had got to at the start of the year, to assess where they were expected to get to by the end of the academic year, and then to record what actually happened. All the schools provided 1:1 access to a learning device, and schools were asked to provide a control group, wherever practical, to help assess the impact on the pupils who had access to their own device compared to those who did not.

Specific relevance to the category:–..

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Title: A Theory of Learning for the Mobile Age
Author: Mike Sharples, Josie Taylor, Giasemi Vavoula
Published: November 2007

General profile of study: One key challenge for teachers is to find the appropriate balance between complete freedom and choice for learners and the need to provide a framework to guide learners.

Specific relevance to the category:  The aim of this paper was to propose a theory of learning for a mobile society. It encompasses both learning supported by mobile devices such as mobile phones, portable computers and personal audio players, and also learning in an era characterised by mobility of people and knowledge where the technology may be embedded in fixed objects such as ‘walk up and use’ information terminals. For brevity they refer to these together as mobile learning.

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...teachers teach

This section is devoted to technology in the classroom and everything from examples of impact on specific curriculum subjects through to broad teacher experiences. What’s working and what’s not and what are the current trends in the classroom.

Title: Evidence of impact of 1:1 access to tablet computers in the classroom
Author: Valerie Thompson (e-Learning Foundation, UK) with Anja Balanskat and Katja Engelhardt  of European Schoolnet
Published: June 2013

General profile of study: The literature review was carried out as part of a two year Creative Classroom’s Lab project (April 2103- March 2015), led in the UK by the Foundation. The project ran a pan-European policy experimentation on the use of tablets in secondary schools in 45 classrooms in 8 countries.

Specific relevance to the category:  The aim was to identify and document results of published 1:1 studies related to a number of key themes, such as the innovative and creative pedagogical use of tablets for collaborative learning, active learning, personalisation, engagement and assessment. Next to pedagogical issues the literature review also aimed to identify during the two years of the project evidence related to the successful implementation of 1:1 tablet initiatives in schools such as 1:1 classroom management, funding and incentive policies, teacher professional development activities, availability of learning resources/apps, change management processes linked to tablet implementations and policy challenges related to up scaling and mainstreaming tablet experimentations.

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Title:  The iPad as a tool for education
Author: Paul Heinrich on behalf of NAACE and 9ine Consulting
Published: 2012

General profile of study: This study, one of the most extensive at the time of writing, reviewed the impact on learning and teaching of the introduction of iPad devices at Longfield Academy in Kent in September 2011. It found that with the majority of pupils having the devices, there was a significant and very positive impact on learning, as well as significant and still developing changes in pedagogy.

Specific relevance to the category:  In particular the study found that:

  • Teachers identified significant benefits for their workload and cost savings
  • iPads developed for homework and beyond school activities
  • Students more motivated
  • The quality and standard of pupil work and progress rising
  • Levels of collaborative working improved
  • Effective project management was critical to success

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Title: One-to-one Tablets in Secondary Schools: An Evaluation Study
Author: Dr Barbie Clarke and Siv Svanaes - Family Kids and Youth
Published: December 2012

General profile of study:  The report summarises findings from an evaluation study that looked at the feasibility of giving pupils in secondary schools one-to-one tablets. Research was carried out between September 2011 and July 2012 and included a literature review, a review of global evaluation studies, and an evaluation of three secondary schools that had chosen to give pupils one-to-one tablets in September 2011. The three schools were in Belfast, Kent and Essex.

Specific relevance to the category: Results suggest several benefits to learning including an increased motivation to learn; increased parental engagement; more efficient monitoring of progress between pupil and teacher; greater collaboration between teacher and pupil and between pupil and pupil. It appears that one-to-one Tablets offer a sense of inclusion that allow children, irrespective of socio-economic status or level of attainment, an opportunity to thrive through a new pedagogical model of pupil-led learning.

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Title: iPad Scotland Evaluation
Authors: Kevin Burden, Paul Hopkins, Dr Trevor Male, Dr Stewart Martin, Christine Trala
Published: October 2012

General profile of study: This is the final report of the iPad Scotland Evaluation undertaken for schools and local authorities in Scotland by the Technology Enhanced Learning Group based in the Faculty of Education at the University of Hull

Specific relevance to the category:  This Report w prepared by the Technology Enhanced Learning Research Group based in the Faculty of Education at the University of Hull. They report on a case study of mobile technology adoption from eight individual educational locations in Scotland that differ significantly in terms of demographics, infrastructure, the approach of the Local Authority and readiness to implement the use of tablet technology for learning and teaching. The study took place between March and summer 2012 and the mobile technology used was the Apple iPad

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Title: Viewing mobile learning from a pedagogical perspective
Author: Matthew Kearneya, Sandra Schucka, Kevin Burdenb and Peter Aubusson
Published: 2012

General profile of study: The paper presents a pedagogical perspective of mobile learning which highlights three central features of mobile learning: authenticity, collaboration and personalisation, embedded in the unique timespace contexts of mobile learning.

Specific relevance to the category: This paper investigates what a pedagogical framework for m-learning may look like from a socio-cultural perspective. This theoretical perspective suggests that learning is affected and modified by the tools used for learning, and that reciprocally the learning tools are modified by the ways that they are used for learning.

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Title: Looking to the future: M-learning with the iPad
Author: Melhuish & Falloon
Published: 2010

General profile of study: Against the background of effective teaching and learning, the functionality offered by the iPad, and its potential uses for learning, are discussed.  A critical review of the way the iPad may support learning, that draws on learning theory, contemporary articles and e-learning literature, suggests that the device may offer an exciting platform for consuming and creating content in a collaborative, interactive way.

Specific relevance to the category:  Melhuish and Falloon (2010) identify five specific affordances or ‘benefits’ associated with the use of iPads, although it should be noted this is a theoretical think-piece not an empirical piece of research. These are listed below along with a summary of their potential pedagogical benefits or impacts:

Affordance Pedagogical potential
Portability • Makes technology ‘invisible’
• Changes where and when learning occurs
• Encourages learning in the 3rd Place
Affordable and ubiquitous access • Makes for greater equity and inclusion
• Places web access and other digital tools in the hands of more users than any other digital technology
Situated • Enables more constructivist learning using authentic contexts
• Enables 'just in time' rather than ‘just in case’ learning
• Blurs boundaries between formal and informal learning
Connection and convergence • Opportunities to ‘create, share and connect with others in authentic learning situations’ (p. 9)
Individualised and personalised experiences • Learning can be tailored to individual needs and preferences

Table courtesy of University of Hull - iPad Scotland Evaluation (see above)

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...parental engagement

Parental engagement is key and there is overwhelming evidence to support this but how does technology help or enhance that and are there approaches that work better or less well?

Title:  Survey of DMS donors 2014 - the third annual survey of Learning Foundation parents and carers who are donating towards a school e-learning programme
Author: Learning Foundation
Published: 2014

General profile of study: Parental interest and engagement are widely recognised as major contributors to a child’s educational prospects. Technology programmes offer schools and parents a practical way to work together in the interests of the children. And with school capital budgets severely cut, parental contributions towards the provision of technology for individual pupils use are becoming vital.

Specific relevance to the category:  Most parents feel positive about the programmes, and are able to list the benefits to their children’s education and to wider access issues at home.  However, there are concerns too that some parents regularly voice about their children’s use of computers for schoolwork and social life. And there are practical problems raised by a minority that largely fall into two main categories; poor use of the computers by the teachers in the classroom and for homework, and technical/reliability problems due to poor repair arrangements and lack of technical support.

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Title:  A Powerful Impact: The Importance of Engaging Parents, Families and Communities in improving Student Success
Author: Various - Essays by GEMS Education advisers and partners
Published: 2013

General profile of study: A set of short essays, of 4-5 pages each, by prominent scholars affiliated with GEMS, includes some great thoughts on students with high needs and the possibility of teaching parent and family engagement to trainee teachers. Essays are international based, as GEMS runs schools around the world, though has a special focus on the USA and UK.

Specific relevance to the category:  Sonia Blandford and Catherine Knowles’ essay on children with high needs (page 12) refocuses parent engagement away from school and towards home, highlighting the fact that many parents do not understand their role in a child’s education. Once parents do take an active role however, it can change the entire dynamics of the home-school relationship.

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Title: Parental involvement to parental engagement: A continuum
Author: Janet Goodall and C. Montgomery
Published: 2013

General profile of study: Academic article proposing a different way of thinking about parent engagement: a continuum is never complete, and you can be at different points on it at the same time – for example, having good communication home, but parent unaware of the curriculum requirements.

Specific relevance to the category:  Encouraging engagement presents an ‘ownership’ of the child’s education, when simple involvement does not. The proposed continuum describes moving from a one-way to a two-way flow of information and serious consideration is given to the parent’s own educational experience when engaging them. The question of agency of the school versus the parent changes along the continuum, and engagement encourages more power held by the parent.

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Title:  What Parents Think About Mobile Devices for Early Childhood and K–12 Learning
Author: Grunwald Associates LLC, Learning First Alliance
Published: 2013

General profile of study: This US-based report highlights the perceptions of parents of a mobile generation, from preschoolers through high school-age students. Given schools’ increasing interest in engaging students with mobile learning—during and beyond the school day—and in “bring your own device” (BYOD) models, parents more than ever could be key partners in contributing to this new frontier in learning.

Specific relevance to the category: Parent perceptions matter. Their support and influence can smooth the way for educational technology in schools and help overcome the limitations of school coffers, without which digital initiatives can stall. This study underscores a converse relationship: educators’ leadership in mobile learning can influence parent perceptions as well. Parents who report that their children’s schools use mobile devices for classroom learning have much stronger positive perceptions than other parents do about the learning benefits. Seeing, perhaps, is believing.

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The Centre for Parent Engagement is an organisation aiming to help children, families, and schools succeed. Parent engagement is one of the best and most effective ways to improve a child's educational achievement. The Centre for Parent Engagement helps schools find and use resources to improve communication, facilitate understanding, and truly engage parents and families with both the school and their child's education. They have a great summary of current research available online.

Read it online operations and class management

Introducing technology into school is not just about children learning and teachers teaching, there are myriad ways in which technology can and will facilitate many administrative functions and especially complex, vital but time-consuming tasks like assessment,  and curriculum management.

Title: Toolkit of Strategies to Improve Learning
Author: Professor Steve Higgins, Durham University and Dr Dimitra Kokotsaki and Professor Robert Coe, CEM Centre, Durham University on behalf of the utton Trust
Published: May 2011

General profile of study: The Sutton Trust-EEF Teaching and Learning Toolkit is an accessible summary of educational research which provides guidance for teachers and schools on how to use their resources to improve the attainment of disadvantaged pupils.

Specific relevance to the category: The Toolkit currently covers over 30 topics, each summarised in terms of their average impact on attainment, the strength of the evidence supporting them and their cost. It has been recommended by the Department for Education, Ofsted and the headteachers’ associations as a valuable resource in prioritising pupil premium spending. More than half of secondary school leaders now say they use the Toolkit.

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Title: An Updated Literature Review on the Use of Tablets in Education
Author: Dr Barbie Clarke and Siv Svanaes - Family Kids and Youth
Published: April 2014

General profile of study: This report updates findings from previous publications and findings from recent studies, as well as the limitations of the research to date. It also discusses what, if anything, distinguishes Tablets from other technologies that have previously been introduced in schools, such as computers, laptops and netbooks.

Specific relevance to the category:  A UNESCO report (Shuler, Winters et al. 2013) defines mobile learning as learning using mobile technologies such as mobile phones, smartphones, e-readers and Tablets, and argues that these devices offer ‘unparalleled access to communication and information’. The report further argues that the increased affordability and functionality of mobile technology compared to technologies previously used in schools means they can support learning in new ways. Ubiquitous access to technology is recognised by UNESCO as facilitating more personalised learning, benefiting especially children with learning difficulties. Increased affordability of the devices and the option to reduce printing were associated with potential cost savings.

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Additional sources of information

Useful statistical information on internet use and access across the UK:

Internet users: 2015
Adults who have and have not used the internet in the last 3 months, including adults who have never used the internet.

Read it online

Internet Access - Households and Individuals: 2014
Use of the internet by adults in Great Britain including mobile access, activities, shopping, security and storage.

Read it online

Digital Education Research Network
DERN is a network for leaders, researchers and  educators interested in the use of digital technologies for learning. Users of DERN may have an interest in ICT, media, pedagogy, emerging technologies and related areas and are probably well briefed in the area of e-learning research, as well as scholars seeking details about what research has been done, possibly for their own research purposes.  The specific research focusses of DERN are about teaching strategies, pedagogy and student achievement using ICT in learning disciplines such as English language, mathematics, science, history, languages, art and more. The use of digital assessment is of special interest to DERN.

DERN is the Digital Education Research Network and is managed by the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) in Melbourne, Australia.

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European Schoolnet
A network of 30 Ministries of Education from across the European member states, leading educational innovation at European level. As a major international think tank, European Schoolnet operates key European services in education on behalf of the European Commission, member Ministries of Education and industry partners.

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European Schoolnet Observatory is primarily designed to provide evidence about the use of technology to improve teaching and learning for decision makers in Ministries of Education, practitioners in schools and other ICT in education professionals at national, regional or local level across Europe.

The Observatory highlights evidence in the area of innovation in education, especially:

  • statistics evidence
  • evidence from practice and policy
  • evidence from research
  • Findings from surveys of end users in schools.

Read it online

Education Endowment Foundation
The EEF is an independent grant-making charity dedicated to breaking the link between family income and educational achievement, ensuring that children from all backgrounds can fulfil their potential and make the most of their talents. Founded by the education charity the Sutton Trust, as lead charity in partnership with Impetus Trust, the EEF received a founding grant of £125m from the Department for Education. With investment and fundraising income, the EEF intends to award as much as £200m over the 15-year life of the Foundation.

The problem they are tackling - the attainment gap

  • Over 1.4 million (21%) children aged 4-15 are eligible for free school meals in this country. They will start primary school behind their better-off classmates - and this attainment gap will increase throughout their schooling.
  • The latest figures show just 37% of disadvantaged children achieved 5 good GCSEs, including English and Maths, compared to 63% of all other pupils. Children from poorer backgrounds do worse on average than their wealthier classmates whichever type of school they are in.
  • The attainment gap between rich and poor pupils is particularly stark compared with other OECD countries.
  • Young people with poor educational attainment are much more likely to end up not in education, employment or training (NEET).

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