Recently, I've been reading in our Trends class about research that compares the effectiveness of face to face instruction with various types of computer assisted instruction. And for my Research and Info. class I've been reading about teacher use of technology in English language classrooms. The results of these studies are all over the board. Technology certainly doesn't seem to hurt, but it just isn't clear if it helps. Ultimately, those studies that drew conclusions about why learning outcomes were better or they stayed flat speculated that it had a lot to do with the impact that the teacher made on the class. How they used the technology. Also, some studies looked at the instructional design of elearning programs and concluded that the successful programs were the ones with instructional design based on best practice.
So it would seem that in the end, it comes down to what we all know - good teachers matter. It seems to me that the investments we need to make aren't just in technology. It's technology and training for teachers. Whether those teachers are university professors, or online instructional designers, or grade school teachers. This is an idea that needs to be sold. Paying for training can be expensive, but in the end it should be well worth it.
Laura Davis is an entrepreneur and educator. Her background covers teaching, school management, and community development work.