In recent years, there has been widespread excitement around the transformative potential of technology in education. In the United States alone, spending on education technology has exceeded $13 billion. Programs and policies to promote the use of education technology (or “ed tech”)—including hardware distribution, educational software, text message campaigns, online courses, and more—may expand access to quality education, support students’ learning in innovative ways, and help families navigate complex school systems. However, the rapid development of education technology in the United States is occurring in a context of deep and persistent inequality. Depending on how programs are designed, how they are used, and who can access them, education technologies could alleviate or aggravate existing disparities. While access to computers and internet is expanding, approximately five million school-age children still do not have a broadband internet connection at home, putting them at a disadvantage for homework assignments, access to online resources, and digital literacy development. Low-income students and students of color in particular disproportionately lack access to technology. It is important to step back and understand how technology can help—or in some cases hinder—student learning. This executive summary synthesizes the experimental literature on technology-based education interventions, focusing on literature from developed countries. Is shares key results and highlights areas for future inquiry.
J-PAL Evidence Review
Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (USA)
ICT in education