Poster Paper: Integrating Technology in the Classroom –Continuous Learning, Impacts and Lessons from New York City

Saturday, November 10, 2018
Exhibit Hall C - Exhibit Level (Marriott Wardman Park)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Rekha Balu and Emma Alterman, MDRC

This paper examines the implementation and impact of an initiative in New York City schools to integrate technology, content mastery and writing instruction into a single intervention designed to improve student writing. Prior literature focuses on coaching teachers to improve writing instruction, teachers differentiating assignments to help students revise their writing, or technology initiatives to push tools into the classroom. But few interventions and little research focuses on integration of all of these approaches. Such integration could promote ongoing improvement in instruction and student writing.

The initiative, Drive to Write, was developed by New Visions for Public Schools, a New York City school support network that serves public schools with professional development, data infrastructure, leadership training, and more. The program features coaching and professional development to help teachers integrate writing into their history classes and identify student writing needs, and to encourage students to organize and revise their writing based on regular comments from teachers. The program relies on the free, cloud-based Google Suite of tools. Teachers distribute assignments using Google Classroom, manage assignments with Doctopus, interact with students on Google Docs, and provide feedback and assessment through Goobric. Teachers receive monthly professional development sessions and biweekly coaching sessions with New Visions coaches, who specialize in educational technology and writing pedagogy. The coaching itself and the nature of the writing and revision cycle encourages a continuous improvement approach to teacher-student interactions.

Our study looks at a sample of 23 New Visions-affiliated schools in New York City, half of which are implementing Drive to Write by using the G Suite with coaching and professional development and half of whom are conducting business as usual. The impact evaluation will address whether there is an effect at the end of the 2017-18 school year of Drive to Write professional development and coaching on writing performance of students in program schools, relative to schools implementing their own approaches to writing instruction and technology use.

Thanks to novel data on teacher-student interactions online, the implementation study explores whether the combination of online tools and coaching increases the amount and timeliness of teacher feedback to students and whether it increases the extent of differentiation in tasks assigned to students from the beginning to the end of the year. This paper also will report on program improvements made between a pilot year and full implementation year.

The paper contributes to a growing literature about how technology can improve instruction, and what coaching is needed to help teachers integrate technology into packed lesson plans and overloaded class schedules. As more schools and districts incorporate technology-driven learning solutions into their instruction, policymakers must consider what structure and support is necessary for teachers and students to realize the full potential of these solutions.