Pitfalls and potential: Lessons from HEQCO-funded research on technology-enhanced instruction

Posted on July 21st, 2015

The Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario (HEQCO) recently released a report that reviews the findings of 13 projects funded through the council and attempts to discern evidence of impact of technology-enhanced instruction. The report questions assumptions about “digital natives” and the promise of technology, referencing the EDUCAUSE Center for Applied Research (ECAR) survey, an annual survey completed by over 100,000 students each year. The ECAR survey found that while technology is integrated into students’ daily lives, they require support and guidance in using academic technologies, students value face-to-face interactions in their learning, and that they are ready to use mobile devices in their learning. The importance of mobile devices in instruction was a finding echoed in the 2014 ECAR survey of faculty use of technology that UBC participated in. On the basis of the projects evaluated, the HEQCO report finds that there is little evidence that technology improved outcomes, but it is often difficult to isolate the effects of a given technological tool within the larger learning environment. What is clear is that any technology or tool must be used in pursuit of a clearly defined educational aim, and that both students and faculty are adequately supported to be able to utilize the chosen tool to achieve this aim.