Mar 31, 2011 by Terri Zezula

Computerized learning

Having built a career in the world of education and computerized learning, I have always tried to maintain a healthy, objective skepticism towards what I do. When it comes to professional integrity, my top priorities are ensuring that the solutions I work with are developed and vetted based on reliable research, and that these solutions are delivering real results for educators and students.

So, which computerized learning systems work and which ones don’t? Given how differently organizations formulate and interpret the numbers, it’s challenging to get at a singular accurate answer. I know for a fact that all too often schools and districts implement these computerized learning solutions—with the best of intentions—and find that they don’t work as promised. Why?

Quite simply, making these solutions work takes work. They are not “plug and play,” nor are they designed to be a one-size-fits-all magic bullet. Computerized solutions— Fast ForWord®and Reading Assistant™among them—take careful planning, hours of professional development, and a deep staff and leadership commitment to following implementation protocols.

These systems do not do the work of teachers; they are tools to supplement teacher instruction and inform educators’ decisions.  They are not, nor were they ever meant to be, a substitute for highly qualified educators. But when implemented and used correctly, computerized learning systems can and dohelp educators identify and address individual student needs and deliver results.

Scientific Learning offers an entire library of success stories and research, as well as independent reviewsthat demonstrate product effectiveness. But look at every single success and behind it you will not just find a product. You will find that the people using that product held a deep commitment to following the plan and making it work.

In conclusion, we must realize that none of these are new arguments. Even 10 years ago when computer-based learning was still very much in its infancy, researchers knew that these systems should not be expected to work on their own; they need to be embedded within great instructional practices. For a look back at key e-learning principles that still stand strong today, read the 2000 article, Changing How and What Children Learn in School with Computer-Based Technologies , by Roschelle, Pea, Hoadley, Gordin and Means.

Another Resource:

Technology and Education Achievement:

Related Reading:

Video Games: A New Perspective on Learning Content and Skills

Can You Predict Student Reading Growth?