Lessons from Ed-Tech

A reflection on the consequences of transitioning traditional schooling to remote instruction & the role Ed-Tech is playing

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npj Science of Learning authors Robert Fairlie and Prashant Loyalka evaluated the effectiveness of Ed-Tech as a substitute for traditional schooling across China and Russia in a recent article. Robert Fairlie reflected on their findings in this Behind the Paper interview. 


What is your area of focus in the science of learning?

Educational technology.

Why did you think a review in this space was necessary?

COVID-19 has created an unprecedented disruption to education and a major part of this is the switch to online education.

Is Ed-Tech is an effective substitute for traditional schooling?

We find evidence that it can be but most likely in limited quantities.

Based on your research, what kind of modifications to Ed-Tech would improve its value to students?

One of the key things is that it needs to be interactive and perhaps broken up with non-tech activities. Students cannot be expected to have perfect attention spans, and this could help.

Overall, do you think student academic outcomes might be influenced by the experience of remote instruction during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Yes. Interactions with other students and teachers are very different right now and much more limited. This is likely to be hurt.

What next? What further research is needed in this area?

We hope to conduct more research on how computer assisted learning works (CAL). There are interesting questions about the gamification of CAL and adaptive learning of CAL that we know less about in the literature.

Robert Fairlie

Professor of Economics, University of California

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