Tuesday / June 25

VISIBLE LEARNING in the Digital World

John Hattie’s research over the past few decades has provided educators with some tremendous insight on what truly impacts students’ learning. Basically, anything that is at or above an effect size of .40 has been found to greatly enhance the learning environment for students. Going through Hattie’s data it becomes apparent that what really promotes the success of students is establishing positive relationships, self reported grades (1.33), providing meaningful feedback (.73), teacher credibility (.90), and intervention services (1.07), to name a few.

So what does the research say about the integration of technology impacting student learning? Looks like the jury is still out. Hattie provides research on various forms of educational technology, including such things as gaming/simulation (.37), online digital tools (.32), mobile phones (.29), web based learning (.18), and computer assisted instruction (.45). The fact remains that educators and students are still exploring what is possible and beneficial when leveraging the power of technology to understand the concepts at hand.

Let’s break down Hattie’s effect size list a bit more and apply some of the best practices to the digital world that we are apart of currently. Towards the top of his list is collective teacher efficacy (1.57). There is no doubt that teachers must come together in their schools, districts, and on a global scale to discuss and understand what works as it relates to student learning. This can be accomplished in a variety of ways during common planning time, staff inservice days, subject area meetings, and professional learning communities. So what does this look like in the digital world with a device accessible at your fingertips? Educators can leverage the power of their personal learning network (PLN) on a tool like Twitter. Voice Over Internet Protocol services like Google Hangout and Skype can bring educators together in real time to discuss best practices and data so that they can fine tune their methods. The more teachers collaborate and learn from one another, the more likely student success will be impacted.

Classroom discussion (.82) helps students process and reflect on the topic at hand. Currently I serve as an adjunct professor teaching a hybrid edtech course and taking advantage of the wonderful virtual tools available to extend our classroom discussions. Flipgrid and Voxer give students an opportunity to engage in meaningful conversations on the device of their choice. Posting a resource such as a video clip and having students react through video comments on Flipgrid is pretty powerful. It especially gives those quiet learners who are sometimes reluctant to raise their hand in class an authentic voice. Voxer can be utilized as a space for conducting an online book talk. Typically a book talk takes place in a classroom or library with students in small or large groups. With Voxer, the teacher creates virtual groups and students leave messages through the tap to talk feature. Questions are posted by the moderator or the actual authors themselves. For example, Sharon Plante and Billy Krakower participated in a Voxer book talk for my summer edtech course at Drew University. They would ask students questions and provide insights related to their book, Using Technology to Engage Students with Learning Disabilities. The impact on learning is real at a high level and taking place in the virtual world.

Feedback (.73) and providing formative evaluation (.68) are two instances where teachers can glean insight on strengths and weaknesses related to the topic that is being taught currently in class. The National Education Technology Plan speaks to the importance of assessments being embedded, accessible, adaptive, and in real time. For example, a teacher can leverage the power of the comment feature within Google Docs to give students descriptive insight on their writing process during a particular assignment or project. Teachers can also monitor student’s understanding of a topic in a flipped environment with a service called Playposit. Create a “bulb” which requires the teacher to upload a video and embed questions at specific points that will access their knowledge of what they are watching at that point in time. Data is collected and provides teachers with the ability to gauge student’s comprehension.

Visible Learning in the digital world is tangible and can really impact student learning in ways once thought unimaginable. Teachers should consider implementing one of the methods listed in this blog post to enhance their professional growth and meet the needs of learners. School and district leaders must support this sort of learning environment and and encourage teachers to take a risk with educational technology. This sort of culture will ultimately bring all stakeholders to the table and help promote the success of all students.

Visible Learning books

Written by

Brad Currie is the Dean of Students and Supervisor of Instruction for the Chester School District in Chester, NJ. He is also the Founding Partner and Chief Information Officer for Evolving Educators LLC. Brad began his career in 2001 as a Middle School Social Studies and Computer Education Teacher for the Hanover Township School District in Whippany, New Jersey. He is a 2014 ASCD Emerging Leader, Google Certified Educator, Google Education Trainer, author of All Hands on Deck: Tools for Connecting Parents, Educators, and Communities, Personalized PD: Flipping Your Professional Development, and the newly released 140 Twitter Tips for Educators.

Latest comments

  • Liselotte,

    Great question! Hattie says in his book that teacher-student relationships have a .72 effective size. One way to establish positive relationships with students is through an advisory program. AMLE published a document called This We Believe that speaks to the importance of children having adult advocates in the school setting

  • How is ‘establishing positive relation’ rated? Do you have any material on how to establish and withhold good relationships?

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