The 40-year retrospective study, published in the Review of Educational Research journal, concluded that classrooms where computer technology was used to support teaching had a "small to moderate positive" effect on learning and attitude.
The literature shows that more recent, sophisticated applications of the technology produce greater positive gains than older applications, he said.
"There were many studies that said that it actually had a negative impact. But the preponderance of evidence suggests that it has a positive impact," said Schmid.
In a followup study now under way, Concordia researchers are looking not so much at whether computer technology in the classroom has a positive effect, but under what circumstances positive effects are observed.
If the technology is used solely as a content provider — for example, if iPads are used as alternatives to books — then there won't be any positive change, he said.
The researchers' preliminary analyses show that things such as PowerPoint presentations don't have much effect on student learning or attitude, Schmid said
"Where technology does have a positive impact is when it actively engages students, when it's used as a communication tool, when it's used for things like simulations or games that enable students to actively manipulate the environment."
Herzliah has been piloting a digital/human exam reader in Grades 7 and 8, an iPad application that the Jewish day school adapted for its needs.
Students who are auditory learners — who do better when things are read to them — can use the iPad to listen to exam questions. The questions are read into the computer tablet by staff members.
Students said the process made them more independent in exam writing, Grumberg said. And by using headphones, they were able to block out external noise, allowing them to focus better on the test.
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