What effect does research on technology have on policy and practice? This question is the focus of our article. We consider topics such as Artificial Intelligence, both in assessment and instructional functions, mobile devices, assistive devices, and other tools.
This article addresses the relationship of research on technology and its impact on practice and policy. For the sake of discussion, we include in our definition of research comparative studies intended to identify useful variables to apply in technology, context or wrap-around modifications involving the conditions of technology use, evaluation of various technologies with or without their connection to current practice, and the impact of gameplay on test performance or measures of affect. In other words, we are considering the span from basic research through applied evaluations under the general rubric of research. We will focus on both education and training contexts. The end outcome of these endeavors could involve one or more of the following purposes: (1) to produce generalizable knowledge in the learning sciences and to contribute to the general scientific literature; (2) to develop knowledge to improve subsequent interventions; (3) to conduct research or evaluation to improve a particular intervention; or (4) to conduct comparative studies in order to understand how processes work.
We start with a general question, that is, how can technology systematically help education and training? Although many theorize that technology has the potential to remake teaching, learning, and assessment (Friedman, 2006), the impact of technology on the 21st century classroom has been neither ubiquitous nor has it dramatically affected student learning outcomes (e.g., Luckin et al., 2012; O’Neil, Baker, & Perez, 2016; O’Neil, Perez, & Baker, 2014). Moreover, the integration of technology and education since the 1980s has produced increased educational inequality (Golden & Katz, 2008). Nevertheless, many authors still argue, and research suggests, that technology has the potential to “move learning outside the school walls” (p. 130) and will allow learners to create their own, more efficacious learning environments (Collins & Halverson, 2009). Some of the more recent and, in many cases, promising uses of technology in education include: Artificial Intelligence support and analytical tools, mobile devices, assistive technologies, alternative representations, computer games and simulations, blended learning, robotics and automated systems, and innovative measurement in the arts.