Whether students learn from computers or with computers, research indicates the following conditions under which computer technology is most likely to have a positive impact on learning.
- Access: Computers will enhance learning only when students have easy access to them in their classroom. Using computers once or twice a week will have negligible impact on student learning.
- Integration: Computers make their greatest impact on student learning when their use is tightly linked to content standards and integrated into ongoing classroom work, rather than taught as a separate or stand-alone subject.
- Broad-based reform: The computer is just one tool in a broad-based reform effort to improve student learning. Just as computer use needs to be integrated within the on-going instructional program, so technology planning needs to occur within the context of the entire school or district strategic planning process.
- The long term: Like any other reform effort, computer use is not a one-time event. It is not simply a matter of "buy them, install them and sit back to enjoy the difference they make." It will require a long-term effort on the district's part to fund, support and assess their use.
- Professional development: Having a swimming pool does little good if no one can swim, and learning to swim well is not done in a couple of after-school workshops. To empower teachers and students to learn with computers, districts will need to plan for ongoing staff development that takes place in large groups, one-on-one, and online.
- Teaching style: For technology to have the impact research says it can, many teachers will have to learn more than new technology skills; they will need learn new instructional strategies and new roles. Districts will need to ensure that teachers have the opportunity and support to transform their approach to teaching.
- Balance: Like any reform effort, one does not throw out the baby with the bath water. There is always a balance. Yes, teachers need to teach facts; but they also must help students acquire and use the intellectual and workplace skills demanded by the 21st Century.
- Vision: As the research on effective principals demonstrates again and again,
- leadership is the single most important factor affecting the successful integration of technology in education. Principals and superintendents must have a vision of how technology will support student learning and teacher productivity.