Upgrading Education with Technology: Insights from Experimental Research
Andre Joshua Nickow
- Journal of Economic Literature (Forthcoming)
In recent years, there has been widespread interest around the potential for technology to transform learning. As investment in education technology continues to grow, students, parents, and teachers face a seemingly endless array of education technologies from which to choose—from digital personalized learning platforms to online courses to text message reminders to submit financial aid forms. Amid the excitement, it is important to step back and understand how technology can help—or in some cases hinder learning. This review article synthesizes and discusses rigorous evidence on the effectiveness of technology-based approaches to education in developed countries, and outlines areas for future inquiry. In particular, we examine randomized controlled trials and regression discontinuity studies across the following categories of education technology: (1) access to technology, (2) computer-assisted learning, (3) technology-enabled behavioral interventions in education, and (4) online learning. We hope this synthesis will advance academic understanding of how technology can improve education, outline key areas for new experimental research, and help drive improvements to the policies, programs, and structures that contribute to successful teaching and learning.
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