The current state of educational technology use

Three young students working individually on desktop computers

The educational technology space is enormous. It includes software such as educational apps, games, digital books, etextbooks, online courses, instructional videos, online tutoring and learning management systems. Educational technology also includes hardware such as Chromebooks, laptops, desktops, iPads, interactive whiteboards and clickers. Karen Cator, CEO of Digital Promise, succinctly presents the educational technology marketplace in a post called “State of Education: Ed Tech in 2015 — Real Opportunity or Fool’s Gold?”.



The space is not only enormous, but it is advancing and changing at a rapid pace. Take a look at some of the ways Pearson is creating educational technology solutions for the future including the Insight Learning System, the Middle School College Readiness Index and our commitment to the efficacy of our products.

The size of the educational technology space and the rapid pace of change create real challenges to assessing what is and isn’t working in classrooms (Check out Digital Promise’s newly released report on Ed-Tech Pilot Programs for one solution). We do know that the support for the use of educational technology in classrooms and access to technology have never been greater. What we wanted to know was how teachers and students are using technology for teaching and learning around the country. To that end, we surveyed teachers in 5 districts across the United States to find out what they think of educational technology, how much support they receive, how much professional development they receive and how they are using the technology. Teachers also used an online logging tool, which allowed them to track (to the minute) their instructional techniques and the ways they were using technology.

We grounded the discussion about how teachers are using technology in one particular technology integration model called SAMR created by Dr. Puentedura. It is presented along with helpful materials on his Hippasus website. SAMR describes the stages teachers typically go through as they integrate technology into their instructional practice. A starting point is often the substitution level, where technology is used mostly as a direct tool substitute. Augmentation is the next level and is similar to substitution except that there is some functional improvement provided by using technology. Where we really begin to see the promise of educational technology is in the next two stages. In the modification stage, the use of technology relates to the redesign of parts of the learning task. And in the redefinition stage, instructors and learners are able to engage in learning tasks that aren’t possible without technology. Take a look at the graphic, where we provide you with some questions to ask yourself about your technology use and some examples of the ways technology is used and how that use is categorized according to the model.

Today we have released the interactive report with the results of our study. Our goal is to not only share the results, but to start a conversation about how you are using technology in your classroom. Or how your child is using technology to learn. Where does your use of technology fall within the SAMR model? And, what do you need to move towards modification and redefinition (resources, time, money, access, professional development, administrator or parent support, etc)?

We will post a series of blogs aimed at furthering the conversation. The first one is located on the Teachability website. Stay tuned because we will soon post a tool that you can use to better understand your own use of technology in relation to the SAMR model.

The “home base” for this project, if you want to find out more, is located on Pearson’s Research and Innovation Network’s Center’s website on the Teaching in a Digital Age page.


This blog post was originally published on Pearson’s Research & Innovation website, and was re-posted here with permission.


About the Author
Liane Wardlow

Liane Wardlow, Ph.D.

Liane Wardlow, research scientist, focuses on designing and implementing research studies examining e-learning in on-ground and on-line K-20 classrooms. She also works collaboratively across research centers on a multi-state research project measuring the use and effects of digital technology on teachers’ instructional practices and students’ learning outcomes. Prior to joining Pearson, Dr. Wardlow worked as a research scientist at the University of CA, San Diego in the Department of Psychology, and for the US Department of Education in the Institute for Education Sciences. Dr. Wardlow holds a master’s degree in Education from the University of Southern California and a doctorate in Experimental Psychology from the University of CA, San Diego.