Use of Instructional Technology and its impact on Student Learning

Introduction
Use of instructional technology improves student learning. It involves the use of instructional strategies that enhance the learning process. In the classroom, instructional technology such as computers, tablets, digital calculators, smart boards, and videos among others are used with the purpose of improving the learning experience. Among the impacts of instructional technology include use of various programs such as computerized cognitive tutor to allow learners to use real-life situations in solving math problems. Technology that uses visualization, simulation and modeling improve understanding of scientific concepts. Students access various resources such as virtual libraries enhancing learning. Schools that utilize instructional technology report improved academic performance. To improve student learning and achievement of academic success, high schools should developing one-to-one technology programs, invest in internet and computer programs such as icurio program, and utilize video conferencing software. Instructional technology improves student learning.
Use of instructional technology
Instructional technology involves the use of various technologies to improve learning. Technology is currently more and more integrated into society. Use of laptops, tablets, IPads, and smartphones is now a common practice. The widespread and rapid adoption of technological innovation is changing the way daily lives are conducted. This includes changes in how knowledge is taught and digested in classrooms (Hanimoglu, 2018). The 2001 Act of Elementary and Secondary Education authorized an emphasis on the integration of technology in every area of K-12 education. This includes areas such as special education, science, language, and mathematics among others. The National Education Technology plan of 2010 by the US Department of Education reinforced the mandate. The current legislation requires that education leaders at all levels develop strategies that promote effective use of technology in the classroom (Hanimoglu, 2018). The purpose of the legislation is to enhance learning and academic achievement for learners.
In the classroom, instructional technology such as computers, tablets, digital calculators, smart boards, and videos among others are used with the purpose of improving the learning experience. Based on cognitive research, with active participation, interaction with instructors, group participation, and connection to the real world, learning becomes more effective (Weathersbee, 2008). Instructional technology allows these characteristics to occur enhancing learning. Unlike in traditional setting where the lecture is a common method of disseminating information, with instructional technology, programs such as PowerPoint are available for supporting active participation. Through the use of technology, learners may intentionally be grouped to use a computer which enhances content understanding (Weathersbee, 2008). With technology, immediate feedback is given associated with reinforced learning. Additionally, with technology, learners are able to connect learning in real-world situations. This gives learners opportunities to enhance their knowledge.
Impact of instructional technology on student learning
Research has been conducted on the impact of technology on learning. For a long time, instructors have used technology in giving instructions in mathematics. Unlike in traditional teaching where students are expected to apply basic knowledge in solving maths problems, instructors are using various programs such as computerized cognitive tutor to allow learners to use real-life situations in solving problems leading to higher order thinking skills (Hanimoglu, 2018). Research also shows that instructors who use computer-assisted learning in algebra students report better academic performance compared to those who rely on traditional classes. Replacing algebra prospectus with integrative interactive software improves students’ learning (Weathersbee, 2008). For instance, schools that use interactive whiteboard increased students’ participation, attitude, and academic achievement.
With technology-based applications, learning science has been enhanced. Technology that uses visualization, simulation and modeling improve understanding of scientific concepts (Schwarz, 2012). This is associated with greater understanding and higher test scores. Research shows that the use of computer-based assessment in subjects such as science through embedding it in a game or through the internet yields positive impacts. Additionally, instructional technology provides efficient, reliable, and valid feedback which is beneficial to the learning process (Hanimoglu, 2018). The technology also helps in the accurate measuring of complex competencies in science.
Technology allows students to access various resources such as virtual libraries. When a school’s library is outdated or lacks some titles, students can use digital resources in compiling the required research. Software such as Encylopedia Britannica is useful as they provide legitimate content. Communicating through digital platforms also improve language skills. Research shows the integration of technology tools with the improvement of writing skills (Weathersbee, 2008). Through challenging learning experiences, the literacy level of students improved. By believing in the value of technology use, teachers use it in addressing student and professional needs. The practice promotes students learning.
Various studies conducted on the impact of instructional technology on learning show that favorable outcomes. For instance, in schools where students and staff were given laptops, learners were motivated leading to improved academic performance. When technology is used in the classroom, learners are more excited, focussed, and interested in studying a subject. Even with some subjects that can get monotonous, streaming videos, and virtual tutoring and lessons make learning more engaging. Studies identify communication and empowerment as sources of motivation for learners (Hanimoglu, 2018). Real-time communication with learners motivates learners towards learning.
Additionally, those students who are shy are empowered through technology use and are empowered to control their learning. This shows that unlike in traditional classroom setting where teachers controlled everything, with instructional technology, students have room for self-discoveries. Students are given independence which gives them opportunities to work on their own and be more innovative (Weathersbee, 2008). When students are motivated towards learning, they are able to understand content in a deeper way leading to improved academic performance. With instructional technology, students have improved their academic performance.
Recommendations
Developing one-to-one technology programs
Education leaders should take advantage of advanced technology to improve students’ learning. A one-to-one technology program involves providing each student with a tablet or a laptop. Such a program has been effective in Mooresville High School. Every student was given a laptop which they would take home daily. This helps in completing projects and homework assignments. Since the implementation of the program, the school has seen students’ improvement (Blackboard, 2010). Mooresville High School is part of the Mooresville Graded School District in North Carolina State. The high school serves grades 9 to 12.
The digital conversion initiative was developed in 2007. Laptops were provided to the student in high school in 2008 as part of the initiative. At the start of 2009-2010, student in the high school had received a laptop. With laptops and internet connection, teachers in the school adopted the flipped classroom. This involves teachers recording lectures on videos and then assigning them to learners. The students watch the videos as homework and then spend class time handling their assignments (Blackboard. 2010). This is done individually or in groups. Teachers on the other side circle classroom to answer questio ns and offer additional help.
Figure 1: Graduation Rate
After the implementation of the program, the school witnessed improvement. For instance, the rate of graduation increased. The graduation rate increased from 64% in 2006 to 93% in 2013. It continued to increase from 93.2% in 2015 to 94.5% in 2017 (Figure 1). In budgeting for the laptops, leasing for a certain number of years, for instance for three years costs approximately $250 per student yearly (Hull & Duch, 2016). Therefore, leasing the tools for five years would cost approximately $400 per year per student. To lease the laptops for 1876 students in Mooresville High School in the next five years would cost $3,752,000. This may be costly for schools but involving the community, private sector, and the government would help achieve the goal of providing every student with a laptop to enhance their learning (Greaves et al., 2010). By incorporating instructional technology into the classroom through the one-to-one program, Mooresville High School will be more successful in connecting students to their dreams (Mooresville High School, 2018).
Provide programs on the internet and computers.
Internet and computer programs will ensure that students access various educational resources essential for enhancing learning. For instance, Mooresville high school adopted icurio program which provides teachers and students with over 330,000 digital resources. Teachers can access lesson plans, assign projects, design presentations, and give tests. On the other hand, students access various educational resources including videos, games, educational activities, and simulations (Greaves et al., 2010). The programs enable teachers to provide improved learning. This enhances students learning evident in improved academic achievement.
According to State Standardized Test Performance, Mooresville high school performed above average in 2018 (Mooresville High School, 2018). The test is used as a tool for measuring students’ comprehension and application of knowledge. For example, the school test score average has increased since the implementation of the program. The score increased from 66.82 average standard score in 2011 to 70.33 in 2013, to 73.75 average standard score in 2018 (figure 2). This indicates that establishing such a program will enhance students’ academic performance (Hull & Duch, 2016). Therefore, education leaders should invest in the implementation of such programs to improve learning. Through the program, the average standard score will increase.

Future 2: Average Standard Score
In addition to improvement in average standard score, the school has recorded continuous improvement in state-wide performance associated with digital conversion. In 2011, the school has a state-wide performance of 77.5% of high schools in North Carolina. In 2018, the school performed better than 82.5% of high schools in North Carolina (figure 3). The data indicate that technology integration into the classroom has a positive impact on student learning (Greaves et al., 2010). Utilizing programs like icurio will help improve learning in schools.
Paying for such subscriptions costs approximately $75 per student per year. Schools should also utilize programs such as BrainPOP and Discovery Education which will ensure that learners, as well as teachers, access a variety of online resources. Subscribing to these programs would cost approximately $703,500 for 1,876 students for five years. From the resources, teachers can acquire various instructional techniques. Students will be able to conduct their research in depth (Hull & Duch, 2016). Implementing the program will enable the high school to perform better than all schools in North Carolina.
Budget for technology integration in classroom
Programs
Estimated Cost over 5 years
(for 1876 students)
One-to-one technology program $3,752,000
icurio/ BrainPOP/Discovery Education programs $703,500
Video conferencing software $250,000
Total $4,705,500

Figure 3: State-wide Performance
Develop video conferencing and online discussion boards programs
With online discussion boards and video conferencing programs promote student learning. The program enables teachers to communicate with students after school. The programs enable students to work together on group projects (Hull & Duch, 2016). Teachers are able to host review sessions before test administration. Teachers are able to save time with online assessments. Instead of spending more time grading in a traditional setting, with technology programs, teachers get immediate feedback on how students are understanding content based on immediate feedback provided by the programs. With the information, teachers modify their strategies to improve teaching (Greaves et al., 2010).
Additionally, with the information, teachers are able to identify students that need additional help essential for producing innovative leaders into the world, the goal of Mooresville high school (Mooresville High School, 2018). Eventually, the teachers are able to deliver quality learning associated with improved academic performance for students. Video conferencing equipment will cost approximately $50,000 per year depending on class size. For five years the cost will be approximately $250,000. An estimate of $4,705,500 is required to enhance learning through instructional technology.
Conclusion
It is clear that instructional technology impacts student learning positively. After digital conversion in Mooresville High School, graduation rate, average standard score, and state-wide performance have all increased. This is after developing one-to-one technology programs where every student in the school, as well as teachers, are provided with a laptop. The school invested in internet and computer programs such as icurio enabling students and teachers to access more resources for learning. The school also utilizes video conferencing software which promotes communication between students and teachers associated with enhanced performance. However, the high school needs to invest more on internet and computer programs such as BrainPOP and Discovery Education to provide access to a variety of resources to students and teachers. The cost of instructional technology in the classroom may be costly. However, the technology enables schools to realize their mission. Additionally, students are able to achieve their dreams through academic excellence.

References
Blackboard (2010). Mooresville Graded School District: Digital Conversion Success for Every Child, Every Day, 1-12.
Greaves, T., Hayes, J., Wilson, L., Gielniak, M., & Peterson, R. (2010). Project RED, The Technology Factor: Nine Keys to Student Achievement and Cost-Effectiveness. Sheldon, CT: MDR.
Hanimoglu, E. (2018). The Impact Technology Has Had on High School Education over the Years. World Journal of Education, 8 (6), 96-106.
Hull, M. & Duch, K. (2016). One-to-one technology and student outcomes, 1-50.
Mooresville High School (2018). Mooresville High School Improvement Plan 2018-2019, 1- 23.
Schwarz, A. (2012). Mooresville’s Shining Example (It’s Not Just About the Laptops). The New York Times. Available at https://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/13/education/mooresville-school-district-a-laptop- success-story.html
Weathersbee, J. (2008). Impact of Technology Integration in Public Schools on Academic Performance of Texas School Children, 1-65.