It was supposed to be a panacea for students, their parents and teachers alike. Software that was supposed to improve students scores, and make the pipe-dream 100% student proficiency goals of No Child Left Behind a possibility. However, the study that was mandated by Congress back in 2002 on the heels of NCLB, puts the benefits of educational software in doubt, and shows no increase in test scores.
Now, I must state, upfront, much like the daycare study recently, this study, seems terribly flawed on the surface. When they considered “software” what they evaluated just was (I believe too encompassing).
The technology â€” ranging from snazzy video-game-like programs played on Sony PlayStations to more rigorous drilling exercises used on computers â€” has been embraced by low-performing schools as an easy way to boost student test scores.
Now, I understand that you want to engage children with “entertaining” forms of software that seems more fun, and hope that keeps their interest longer, however, it also is less likely to have as serious an effect as the drills based programs and more “professional” types of study programs.
A one year study, is also not very solid and their are a whole host of environmental factors that need to be weeded out as well, and many proponents still think there is promise.
Nonetheless, some experts said the software holds promise. Elliot Soloway, professor of educational technology at the University of Michigan, said that teachers need to be better trained and that administrators need to wait more than one year to see results. He said he worried that the study would scare off school districts.
“This is the last thing that we need now,” he said. “It is the poor kids who will suffer, because it is their schools who will not get technology because of this study.”
Regardless, the “magic” is now gone. The expectations of these software products to help reach the lofty (unrealistic) goals of NCLB, now have to be reconsidered. However, I certainly hope that they do not stop funding the software quite yet, as the full potential just doesn’t seem to be looked at here.