Educational Technology Research Past and Present: Balancing Rigor and Relevance to Impact School Learning

 

Today, the exponential growth of technology usage in education, via such applications of distance education, Internet access, simulations, and educational games, has raised substantially the focus and importance of educational technology research. In this paper, we examine the past and present research trends, with emphasis on the role and contribution of research evidence for informing instructional practices and policies to improve learning in schools. Specific topics addressed include: (a) varied conceptions of “effective” technology uses in classroom instruction as topics for research, (b) historical trends in research approaches and topics of inquiry; (c) alternative research designs for balancing internal (rigor) and external (relevance) validity; and (d) suggested directions for future research. Attention is devoted to describing varied experimental designs as options for achieving appropriate rigor and relevance of research evidence, and using mixed-methods research for investigating and understanding technology applications in complex real-life settings.