How technology is reinventing education

Stanford Graduate School of Education Dean Dan Schwartz and other education scholars weigh in on what's next for some of the technology trends taking center stage in the classroom.

research topics in education and technology

Image credit: Claire Scully

New advances in technology are upending education, from the recent debut of new artificial intelligence (AI) chatbots like ChatGPT to the growing accessibility of virtual-reality tools that expand the boundaries of the classroom. For educators, at the heart of it all is the hope that every learner gets an equal chance to develop the skills they need to succeed. But that promise is not without its pitfalls.

“Technology is a game-changer for education – it offers the prospect of universal access to high-quality learning experiences, and it creates fundamentally new ways of teaching,” said Dan Schwartz, dean of Stanford Graduate School of Education (GSE), who is also a professor of educational technology at the GSE and faculty director of the Stanford Accelerator for Learning . “But there are a lot of ways we teach that aren’t great, and a big fear with AI in particular is that we just get more efficient at teaching badly. This is a moment to pay attention, to do things differently.”

For K-12 schools, this year also marks the end of the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funding program, which has provided pandemic recovery funds that many districts used to invest in educational software and systems. With these funds running out in September 2024, schools are trying to determine their best use of technology as they face the prospect of diminishing resources.

Here, Schwartz and other Stanford education scholars weigh in on some of the technology trends taking center stage in the classroom this year.

AI in the classroom

In 2023, the big story in technology and education was generative AI, following the introduction of ChatGPT and other chatbots that produce text seemingly written by a human in response to a question or prompt. Educators immediately worried that students would use the chatbot to cheat by trying to pass its writing off as their own. As schools move to adopt policies around students’ use of the tool, many are also beginning to explore potential opportunities – for example, to generate reading assignments or coach students during the writing process.

AI can also help automate tasks like grading and lesson planning, freeing teachers to do the human work that drew them into the profession in the first place, said Victor Lee, an associate professor at the GSE and faculty lead for the AI + Education initiative at the Stanford Accelerator for Learning. “I’m heartened to see some movement toward creating AI tools that make teachers’ lives better – not to replace them, but to give them the time to do the work that only teachers are able to do,” he said. “I hope to see more on that front.”

He also emphasized the need to teach students now to begin questioning and critiquing the development and use of AI. “AI is not going away,” said Lee, who is also director of CRAFT (Classroom-Ready Resources about AI for Teaching), which provides free resources to help teach AI literacy to high school students across subject areas. “We need to teach students how to understand and think critically about this technology.”

Immersive environments

The use of immersive technologies like augmented reality, virtual reality, and mixed reality is also expected to surge in the classroom, especially as new high-profile devices integrating these realities hit the marketplace in 2024.

The educational possibilities now go beyond putting on a headset and experiencing life in a distant location. With new technologies, students can create their own local interactive 360-degree scenarios, using just a cell phone or inexpensive camera and simple online tools.

“This is an area that’s really going to explode over the next couple of years,” said Kristen Pilner Blair, director of research for the Digital Learning initiative at the Stanford Accelerator for Learning, which runs a program exploring the use of virtual field trips to promote learning. “Students can learn about the effects of climate change, say, by virtually experiencing the impact on a particular environment. But they can also become creators, documenting and sharing immersive media that shows the effects where they live.”

Integrating AI into virtual simulations could also soon take the experience to another level, Schwartz said. “If your VR experience brings me to a redwood tree, you could have a window pop up that allows me to ask questions about the tree, and AI can deliver the answers.”

Gamification

Another trend expected to intensify this year is the gamification of learning activities, often featuring dynamic videos with interactive elements to engage and hold students’ attention.

“Gamification is a good motivator, because one key aspect is reward, which is very powerful,” said Schwartz. The downside? Rewards are specific to the activity at hand, which may not extend to learning more generally. “If I get rewarded for doing math in a space-age video game, it doesn’t mean I’m going to be motivated to do math anywhere else.”

Gamification sometimes tries to make “chocolate-covered broccoli,” Schwartz said, by adding art and rewards to make speeded response tasks involving single-answer, factual questions more fun. He hopes to see more creative play patterns that give students points for rethinking an approach or adapting their strategy, rather than only rewarding them for quickly producing a correct response.

Data-gathering and analysis

The growing use of technology in schools is producing massive amounts of data on students’ activities in the classroom and online. “We’re now able to capture moment-to-moment data, every keystroke a kid makes,” said Schwartz – data that can reveal areas of struggle and different learning opportunities, from solving a math problem to approaching a writing assignment.

But outside of research settings, he said, that type of granular data – now owned by tech companies – is more likely used to refine the design of the software than to provide teachers with actionable information.

The promise of personalized learning is being able to generate content aligned with students’ interests and skill levels, and making lessons more accessible for multilingual learners and students with disabilities. Realizing that promise requires that educators can make sense of the data that’s being collected, said Schwartz – and while advances in AI are making it easier to identify patterns and findings, the data also needs to be in a system and form educators can access and analyze for decision-making. Developing a usable infrastructure for that data, Schwartz said, is an important next step.

With the accumulation of student data comes privacy concerns: How is the data being collected? Are there regulations or guidelines around its use in decision-making? What steps are being taken to prevent unauthorized access? In 2023 K-12 schools experienced a rise in cyberattacks, underscoring the need to implement strong systems to safeguard student data.

Technology is “requiring people to check their assumptions about education,” said Schwartz, noting that AI in particular is very efficient at replicating biases and automating the way things have been done in the past, including poor models of instruction. “But it’s also opening up new possibilities for students producing material, and for being able to identify children who are not average so we can customize toward them. It’s an opportunity to think of entirely new ways of teaching – this is the path I hope to see.”

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How technology is reinventing education.

Image credit: Claire Scully

New advances in technology are upending education, from the recent debut of new artificial intelligence (AI) chatbots like ChatGPT to the growing accessibility of virtual-reality tools that expand the boundaries of the classroom. For educators, at the heart of it all is the hope that every learner gets an equal chance to develop the skills they need to succeed. But that promise is not without its pitfalls.

“Technology is a game-changer for education – it offers the prospect of universal access to high-quality learning experiences, and it creates fundamentally new ways of teaching,” said Dan Schwartz, dean of  Stanford Graduate School of Education  (GSE), who is also a professor of educational technology at the GSE and faculty director of the  Stanford Accelerator for Learning . “But there are a lot of ways we teach that aren’t great, and a big fear with AI in particular is that we just get more efficient at teaching badly. This is a moment to pay attention, to do things differently.”

For K-12 schools, this year also marks the end of the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funding program, which has provided pandemic recovery funds that many districts used to invest in educational software and systems. With these funds running out in September 2024, schools are trying to determine their best use of technology as they face the prospect of diminishing resources.

Here, Schwartz and other Stanford education scholars weigh in on some of the technology trends taking center stage in the classroom this year.

AI in the classroom

In 2023, the big story in technology and education was generative AI, following the introduction of ChatGPT and other chatbots that produce text seemingly written by a human in response to a question or prompt. Educators immediately  worried  that students would use the chatbot to cheat by trying to pass its writing off as their own. As schools move to adopt policies around students’ use of the tool, many are also beginning to explore potential opportunities – for example, to generate reading assignments or  coach  students during the writing process.

AI can also help automate tasks like grading and lesson planning, freeing teachers to do the human work that drew them into the profession in the first place, said Victor Lee, an associate professor at the GSE and faculty lead for the AI + Education initiative at the Stanford Accelerator for Learning. “I’m heartened to see some movement toward creating AI tools that make teachers’ lives better – not to replace them, but to give them the time to do the work that only teachers are able to do,” he said. “I hope to see more on that front.”

He also emphasized the need to teach students now to begin questioning and critiquing the development and use of AI. “AI is not going away,” said Lee, who is also director of  CRAFT  (Classroom-Ready Resources about AI for Teaching), which provides free resources to help teach AI literacy to high school students across subject areas. “We need to teach students how to understand and think critically about this technology.”

Immersive environments

The use of immersive technologies like augmented reality, virtual reality, and mixed reality is also expected to surge in the classroom, especially as new high-profile devices integrating these realities hit the marketplace in 2024.

The educational possibilities now go beyond putting on a headset and experiencing life in a distant location. With new technologies, students can create their own local interactive 360-degree scenarios, using just a cell phone or inexpensive camera and simple online tools.

“This is an area that’s really going to explode over the next couple of years,” said Kristen Pilner Blair, director of research for the Digital Learning initiative at the Stanford Accelerator for Learning, which runs a program exploring the use of virtual field trips to promote learning. “Students can learn about the effects of climate change, say, by virtually experiencing the impact on a particular environment. But they can also become creators, documenting and sharing immersive media that shows the effects where they live.”

Integrating AI into virtual simulations could also soon take the experience to another level, Schwartz said. “If your VR experience brings me to a redwood tree, you could have a window pop up that allows me to ask questions about the tree, and AI can deliver the answers.”

Gamification

Another trend expected to intensify this year is the gamification of learning activities, often featuring dynamic videos with interactive elements to engage and hold students’ attention.

“Gamification is a good motivator, because one key aspect is reward, which is very powerful,” said Schwartz. The downside? Rewards are specific to the activity at hand, which may not extend to learning more generally. “If I get rewarded for doing math in a space-age video game, it doesn’t mean I’m going to be motivated to do math anywhere else.”

Gamification sometimes tries to make “chocolate-covered broccoli,” Schwartz said, by adding art and rewards to make speeded response tasks involving single-answer, factual questions more fun. He hopes to see more creative play patterns that give students points for rethinking an approach or adapting their strategy, rather than only rewarding them for quickly producing a correct response.

Data-gathering and analysis

The growing use of technology in schools is producing massive amounts of data on students’ activities in the classroom and online. “We’re now able to capture moment-to-moment data, every keystroke a kid makes,” said Schwartz – data that can reveal areas of struggle and different learning opportunities, from solving a math problem to approaching a writing assignment.

But outside of research settings, he said, that type of granular data – now owned by tech companies – is more likely used to refine the design of the software than to provide teachers with actionable information.

The promise of personalized learning is being able to generate content aligned with students’ interests and skill levels, and making lessons more accessible for multilingual learners and students with disabilities. Realizing that promise requires that educators can make sense of the data that’s being collected, said Schwartz – and while advances in AI are making it easier to identify patterns and findings, the data also needs to be in a system and form educators can access and analyze for decision-making. Developing a usable infrastructure for that data, Schwartz said, is an important next step.

With the accumulation of student data comes privacy concerns: How is the data being collected? Are there regulations or guidelines around its use in decision-making? What steps are being taken to prevent unauthorized access? In 2023 K-12 schools experienced a rise in cyberattacks, underscoring the need to implement strong systems to safeguard student data.

Technology is “requiring people to check their assumptions about education,” said Schwartz, noting that AI in particular is very efficient at replicating biases and automating the way things have been done in the past, including poor models of instruction. “But it’s also opening up new possibilities for students producing material, and for being able to identify children who are not average so we can customize toward them. It’s an opportunity to think of entirely new ways of teaching – this is the path I hope to see.”

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Spark & Sustain: How all of the world’s school systems can improve learning at scale

It is more important today than ever before to improve the quality and equity of education systems around the world. Automation is expected to increase demand for highly educated workers, creating a greater need for technological, socioemotional, and cognitive skills. The rise of generative AI is accelerating these workforce transitions. In addition to preparing students for the workforce, education systems are increasingly being asked to participate in resolving broader societal issues, from rising mental health challenges among young people 1 “Education: Overview,” World Bank, updated October 11, 2023. to political polarization 2 Sarah Garland, “Can we teach our way out of political polarization?,” Hechinger Report , January 25, 2021. to combating climate change. 3 “Climate change education,” UNESCO, accessed January 4, 2024.

About the authors

This article is a collaborative effort by Jake Bryant , Felipe Child , Ezgi Demirdag, Emma Dorn , Stephen Hall , Kartik Jayaram , Charag Krishnan , Cheryl Lim , Emmy Liss, Kemi Onabanjo, Frédéric Panier, Juan Rebolledo, Jimmy Sarakatsannis , Doug Scott, Roman Tschupp, Seckin Ungur , and Pierre Vigin, representing views from McKinsey’s global Education Practice.

Student learning improvements are not keeping up with these demands. More children than ever are in school, but many are not mastering basic skills. The World Bank estimates that seven in ten students in low- and middle-income countries are living in “learning poverty,” unable to read a simple text by the end of elementary school. The same is true for nearly nine in ten students in sub-Saharan Africa. This means that the majority of the world’s children are born into education systems where they will not learn to read by the end of elementary school. 4 “70% of 10-year-olds now in learning poverty, unable to read and understand a simple text,” World Bank, June 23, 2022.

More children than ever are in school, but many are not mastering basic skills.

Much of the global discussion about educational performance revolves around a small subset of mostly high-income countries that get relatively high scores on the three major assessments: the Programme for International Assessment (PISA), the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), and the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS). In our schema below, we classify those countries as having “good” or “great” performance.

However, more than 90 percent of children live in countries where average educational outcomes are below poor, poor, or fair. 5 Based on UNESCO population data of countries with World Bank Harmonized Learning Outcome (HLO) data. Historically, many of these countries have not taken international assessments, but more recently, the introduction of regional assessments 6 Relevant regional assessments include the Southern and Eastern Africa Consortium for Monitoring Educational Quality (SACMEQ), Programme for the Analysis of Education Systems (PASEC), and Latin American Laboratory for the Assessment of the Quality of Education (LLECE). and the Early Grade Reading Assessment (EGRA) has enabled a broader global comparison of learning outcomes. The OECD suggests that approximately 20 PISA points are equivalent to a year of learning. By that measure, high school students in many sub-Saharan African countries may be ten or more years behind their peers in Europe, North America, or East Asia (Exhibit 1). 7 The translation of PISA points to a year of learning is an art, not a science. The latest analysis from the OECD suggests that approximately 20 PISA points reflect a year of learning, while the World Bank suggests a year of learning equates to 20 to 50 PISA points. There is likely some variation depending on a student’s age; typically, students in earlier grades learn more content in a single year than students in later grades.

In the decade preceding the COVID-19 pandemic, student performance in most school systems globally stagnated—or declined. Of the 73 countries with longitudinal data over the past decade, only 23 managed to achieve significant, sustained, and consistent improvements in student outcomes. In 17 systems, student performance declined by half a year of learning or more. 8 Countries are categorized as “improved” if they gained ten points on two subject tests across PISA math, PISA reading, PISA science, PIRLS reading, TIMSS math, and TIMSS science in the past decade and if they improved by ten points or more on average across tests. Countries are categorized as “declined” if they lost ten points on two subject tests in the past decade. Countries are categorized as “stagnated” if they are not categorized as “improved” or “declined.” Some of these categorized as stagnated had stable performance; others had differing performance across different tests. Countries are excluded from the analysis if they lack enough evidence (for example, if they have not taken two international tests with a decade’s worth of data). Systems that historically performed at the highest levels were most likely to experience declines (Exhibit 2). Even in high-performing countries, overall system performance may mask significant inequities; every system that participates in PISA shows gaps in performance correlated with socioeconomic status.

In the decade preceding the COVID-19 pandemic, student performance in most school systems globally stagnated—or declined.

The pandemic only exacerbated these challenges. Lost learning time widened equity gaps within and between countries, with students ending up, on average, eight months behind where they would have been absent the pandemic. Meanwhile, the pandemic’s shift to remote work and e-commerce accelerated changes in the workforce. This is creating a scissor effect: learning losses are colliding with an increasing need for higher-order skills.

The stakes are high: if historical trends continue, more than 700 million children will remain in learning poverty in 2050. The pandemic wiped out decades of educational improvements, and we cannot wait decades to make up these losses. The world’s population is growing fastest in the places where learning is the furthest behind. 9 Population growth is projected to be significant in many low- and middle-income countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa (for example, 43 percent projected population growth in the Democratic Republic of the Congo from 2019 to 2030), but flat or negative in many higher-income countries (for example, 1 percent projected population decline in Canada over the same period). “Population estimates and projections,” World Bank, updated December 20, 2023. If we do nothing, the implications for economic growth and political stability worldwide will be tremendous. However, this grim future is not inevitable. If all systems could improve student outcomes at the rate of the top improvers, an additional 350 million students could be lifted out of learning poverty in the next 30 years (Exhibit 3). This report considers what it would take to make that happen.

Systems beating the odds

At first glance, the lack of progress may seem puzzling. Over the past decades, the education community has researched, developed, and codified strong evidence on what students need to master foundational skills such as reading, writing, and critical thinking. We know what interventions work to move most students to proficiency. Over the past decade, per-capita education spending has increased in countries of all income levels. 10 Education Finance Watch 2023 , a joint report from the World Bank, the Global Education Monitoring Report, and the UNESCO Institute for Statistics, 2023. And yet our global survey of 400 education leaders globally found that only 20 percent of education improvement efforts meet their stated goals (Exhibit 4).

To understand how school systems globally can reignite growth and recover from the learning losses of the pandemic, McKinsey examined the decade prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. We conducted research across both improving and declining school systems; analyzed global data; and spoke with more than 200 system leaders, donors and philanthropists, not-for-profit leaders, academics, and educational consultants.

Our interviews all pointed to the complexity of the implementation challenge. Most school systems struggle to turn improvements into action at scale. Our research demonstrates that to make changes stick, it is not enough for leaders to know “what” interventions to use. It also requires understanding “how” to implement them well at scale. In many systems, well-intentioned changes fizzle out. Stagnating school systems tend to get stuck in a few “failure modes”:

  • Conflicting directions. Education is not seen as a priority, resulting in an inability to raise the donor or domestic funds needed to deliver. Goals are too numerous, too far out in the future, and hard to measure, and there is a lack of coherence across the individual elements of reform.
  • Leadership discontinuity. Educational change requires more time than politics often allows. Rapid electoral cycles and short tenures for ministers of education can lead to a whipsaw of priorities, which can in turn confuse and disillusion educators and families. This is exacerbated when reform efforts are tied to political structures, rather than more deeply embedded within institutions.
  • Organ rejection of reform. Improvements may falter in the face of pushback from communities and educators who feel they were not consulted. Top-down policies may not actually work once they reach the classroom.
  • Insufficient coordination and pace of change. Too much time is spent on developing strategy and not enough on creating an implementation road map with aligned budgets, timelines, and accountability.
  • Limited implementation capacity. A lack of program management and analytical capacity within government undermines reform efforts—great educators do not always make great managers. Donor technical assistance ends up overly dependent on international consultants, who leave, rather than local players.
  • Flying blind. Leaders at all levels operate without sufficient data, missing key opportunities to create transparency and to intervene.
  • Standing still. Systems try to solve today’s problems with yesterday’s solutions. Leaders may pilot new ideas but without a plan for how to measure impact and take them to scale.

Yet failure is not inevitable. The good news is that some systems are beating the odds and producing meaningful gains in student learning year after year. These outlier school systems exist on every continent and at every level of national development. The global education community can chart a new path by learning from these systems.

To identify improving systems, we looked at national systems that had achieved sustained, consistent, and significant improvements in student outcomes as measured by international assessments, 11 This included PISA, TIMSS, and PIRLS. as well as at lower-income systems with emerging evidence of improvement on regional assessments. 12 Relevant regional assessments include SACMEQ, PASEC, and LLECE. We also identified relevant subnational improvers using national assessment data. 13 This included the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) in India, the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) in the United States, the National Achievement Survey (NAS) in India, Sistema Nacional de Avaliação da Educação Básica (SAEB) in Brazil, and the General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) in England. None of the 14 systems that we profiled is perfect, and in some, the absolute level of achievement is still low, but each has meaningful lessons to impart at different stages of the educational improvement journey from below poor to poor to fair to good to great (Exhibit 5). 14 Some of these systems faltered in more recent assessments, including the 2021 PIRLS and 2022 PISA administrations, though we believe these results are largely a reflection of recent global crises. Because of that, our historical analysis is based on the decade preceding the pandemic.

Some systems are beating the odds and producing meaningful gains in student learning year after year.

Our analysis suggests that successful systems, at every level of spending and national development, use reinforcing strategies to create a virtuous cycle, enabling significant, long-term gains in student learning (Exhibit 6):

  • Anchor in the evidence. Based on clear research into what improves outcomes, successful school systems ground changes in the classroom, focusing first and foremost on teachers and the content they deliver. They choose evidence-backed strategies relevant to their starting place and prioritize foundational learning, particularly in systems with limited resources. They use technology as a tool to enhance learning, not as an end in itself.
  • Build a durable coalition for change. Successful school systems focus on a few coherent priorities, rallying stakeholders around them to ensure that everyone—from system leadership to principals to teachers—is on board. They invest in authentic, two-way communication with families, educators, and communities to design better policies and build deeper buy-in.
  • Create delivery capacity to scale. Successful systems move quickly from strategy to implementation, pacing reforms to show early traction while building stamina for the long road to impact. They build dedicated delivery teams with the organizational structures and individual skills to execute on plans over time.
  • Drive and adapt with data. Successful systems rigorously measure what matters—student learning outcomes—and use transparent data to improve their interventions. As they roll out tried-and-true methods, they also create space for innovation and measure what they innovate, which feeds back into the evidence base of what works.

Individually, these strategies may seem obvious or incremental. Together, they are transformative. Our survey suggests that systems that used all seven of the “how” levers above were six times more likely to be successful in meeting their goals for student outcomes and system transformation than those that used four or fewer (Exhibit 7).

Anchor in the evidence

Ground system strategy in better classroom instruction. The global education community knows what strategies drive learning outcomes. Successful systems focus on interventions closest to students and work outward, starting with the classroom (what is taught, how it is taught), then the school (what supports exist for students and teachers), and finally aligning the system supports (performance management, infrastructure, funding) to what is needed in the classroom (Exhibit 8).

For example, Singapore invests heavily in its instructional core throughout the curriculum and across teacher recruitment, development, and retention. Teacher candidates are drawn from the top 30 percent of their graduating class and must demonstrate core content knowledge. Once in the system, teachers complete 100 hours of professional development annually and receive coaching and weekly collaborative sessions with master and senior teachers. Professional development is practical and tailored, offered in digestible modules, and delivered in classrooms. 15 Singapore: A teaching model for the 21st century , Center on International Education Benchmarking, 2016.

In Poland, reforms in the early 2000s focused on redesigning the national curriculum—first in elementary grades and later in secondary schools—and on investments at the teacher, principal, and school level to reinforce adoption. Based on research about learning and comprehension, the curriculum was redesigned to prioritize critical thinking and reasoning where there had previously been a content overload. Teachers were engaged in the redesign to inform what strategies might lead to the best uptake; expert coaches worked with teachers to build their skills around the new curriculum. 16 Fernando M. Reimers, Audacious Education Purposes: How Governments Transform the Goals of Education Systems , New York, NY: Springer, 2020.

Start the journey where you are. To select the best interventions, school systems need to consider their starting student performance, their financial resources, and the capabilities of their teachers and school leaders. One of the biggest mistakes that school systems can make is to “lift and shift” best practices from a system that operates in a vastly different context. In our methodology, we group school systems into five performance bands, based on student learning levels: below poor, poor, fair, good, and great. While the elements of school system excellence remain the same, the interventions differ.

Education technology—great potential but mixed results

While education technology, including generative AI, has great potential to improve access and quality, it is not a silver bullet and can cause more harm than good if it becomes a distraction to proven, tried-and-true methods to deliver student outcomes. History is littered with examples of universal device and connectivity programs that did not yield improvements in student outcomes. Data from the 2022 Programme for International Assessment (PISA) questionnaire, which was issued with the assessment, creates additional reason for pause regarding the use of technology in schools, given that a arge number of students reported feeling distracted by devices while engaged in classroom instruction. While learning outcomes were often better for students who used devices in school for learning than for those who did not, the benefits were strongest for those who used their device for less than an hour a day; the impact decreased with additional use. Moreover, students who used devices at home for leisure for more than an hour a day saw a big decline in math performance. 1 Andreas Schleicher, PISA 2022 insights and interpretations , OECD, 2023.

Effective technology strategies start in the classroom—with an understanding of how technology will further student learning goals and provide support for teachers. They are focused on the ability of software to address specific use cases rather than just hardware distribution, are integrated into and aligned with the existing curriculum, involve significant professional learning and support for teachers, and consider putting technology in the hands of teachers rather than just students. Effective technology strategies are also tailored to journey and context—including existing infrastructure and existing teacher and principal capabilities.

As school systems progress toward good and great performance (for example, Poland and Singapore), increasing levels of school and teacher autonomy are possible, paired with effective accountability, capability building, and peer learning. Systems in the poor or below-poor performance bands (for example, Malawi and South Africa), by contrast, may be best advised to focus on foundational literacy and numeracy, ensure that instructional materials are available on a one-to-one basis, scaffold teachers through structured (or even scripted) lesson plans and in-situ coaching, and put effective assessment for instruction in place to account for greatly varying student achievement levels—a package of interventions sometimes referred to as structured pedagogy. Systems in the fair category (for example, Kenya) need to ensure the basics are in place, but they then can begin to expand selective earned autonomy, broader competency-based curricula tied to economic pathways, and incentives for teachers and school leaders to develop top talent (Exhibit 9). These imperatives to “start in the classroom” and “tailor to journey” apply equally to technology use (see sidebar, “Education technology—great potential but mixed results”).

For example, Ceará in Brazil, where performance was poor, prioritized Portuguese literacy and math in the curriculum, with a focus on elementary school, and invested heavily in supporting teachers to deliver quality content. All teachers received regular practical professional development, including classroom observations. The state government also led a long and sustainable journey to improve the quality of municipal education leaders, empowering them to provide better support for teachers and schools. From 2009 to 2019, Ceará registered an increase of nearly 12 percentage points on the National Assessment of Basic Education (Sistema Nacional de Avaliação da Educação Básica), moving from poor to fair. Ceará also saw the highest increase of any Brazilian state on the national index of educational quality in elementary education (Index of Development of Basic Education) between 2005 and 2017. 17 “The state of Ceara and the city of Sobral, in Brazil, are role models for reducing learning poverty,” World Bank, July 7, 2020.

In Punjab, India, where performance was below poor, leaders used Teaching at the Right Level to group students by level rather than age to reduce targeted learning gaps in primary school. Leaders used simple, quick one-on-one assessments to group students into levels at the start of the intervention, administered assessments throughout to track progress and adapt instruction based on students’ results, and reviewed aggregate data to make programmatic decisions. 18 Details of the Teaching at the Right Level implementation in Punjab are included in multiple years of the Pratham Foundation’s annual reports, accessed via the Pratham website. Teachers received training and support to change behaviors. While the share of students in India who could read a grade two text as measured by the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) declined from 2006 to 2014, the share in Punjab surpassed the national average and grew by 13.2 percentage points. 19 “Punjab rural: Trends over time: 2006-2014,” ASER, January 2015. Punjab moved from below poor to poor in the decade prior to the pandemic.

The journey is not perfectly linear for any system, and there are multiple paths to system improvement. In addition, in many systems, overall performance may mask inequities within the nation or region. In a single system, there can be schools ranging from below poor to great. This may require system leaders to consider a range of approaches to drive improvement based on schools’ starting points.

Build a durable coalition for change

Set fewer priorities to get more done. Education leaders are regularly pulled in too many directions. To counteract this, leaders of successful school systems define a North Star vision and choose a limited set of coherent, sustained, and evidence-based priorities (typically no more than three to six). They define these nonnegotiables based on the evidence of what works and ensure that donors and partners support this short list, channeling money and energy to what matters most.

For example, Mississippi reorganized its state education department and board to align their work against six core goals, started every meeting with a recap of these goals, and interrogated every new initiative against these priorities. 20 Emma Dorn, “ Behind the scenes of Mississippi’s school turnaround with Carey Wright ,” McKinsey, August 3, 2023. From 2010 to 2014, Kenya introduced 25 different interventions to address literacy rates and saw limited impact. 21 “Let’s Read: Understanding Kenya’s success in improving foundational literacy at scale,” RTI International, December 9, 2016. Starting in 2014, leaders pivoted and prioritized a singular evidence-based approach: Tusome. By relentlessly targeting the country’s low literacy rates through a proven approach, the initiative nearly doubled the share of students who met the government’s literacy benchmarks from 2014 to 2021. 22 Joseph Destefano et al., “Scaling up successfully: Lessons from Kenya’s Tusome national literacy program,” Journal of Educational Change , July 2018, Volume 19.

If everything is a priority, nothing is. Carey Wright, Former State Superintendent of Mississippi

Cultivate leadership beyond a single leader. True transformation can take a decade, but few leaders have that much time. Successful systems invest in civil servants who outlast political leaders and build a deep bench of talent at the central office (especially at the n-2 level 23 “N-2” is the organizational layer two levels below the minister—the individuals who report to the executive team that reports to the minister. These leaders are more likely to stay in place through political changes. ), at the middle layer, and across schools. Leaders foster institutions beyond the ministry, insulating education from politics by distancing the work from political structures and enabling a greater ecosystem of experts who can support policy development and implementation. Longevity also comes from embedding educational change into policies and procedures that are harder to reverse.

In Norway, for example, policy continuation was facilitated by the stability of senior civil servants from the Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research and Directorate for Education and Training. These trusted institutions provided a common set of evidence-based research that both parties relied on as the fact base for policy. When the 2012 PISA results were released, leaders in both political parties called the same senior civil servant to understand the data and implications for policy. 24 Li-Kai Chen, Emma Dorn, and Tore Vamraak, “ Education reform in Norway: Looking beyond politics to bring sustained change ,” McKinsey, June 21, 2019. In Morocco, ministry leaders enshrined reforms in a framework law with bipartisan support and created binding mechanisms for new leadership to manage implementation.

My initiative is now being fulfilled by a conservative government. This kind of continuity gives me hope for the future. Kristin Halvorsen, Former Minister of Education of Norway

Engage educators and families authentically. Authentic engagement is hard to do well, but successful school systems treat it as nonnegotiable. Successful systems actively collect diverse stakeholder input at the outset and throughout implementation to design and refine policies that will resonate and work in the classroom. In practice, this includes engaging teacher, principal, and student advisory boards; conducting regular surveys of parents, students, and educators to keep a pulse; and ensuring that every member of the executive cabinet visits a diverse range of schools at least twice a month. Successful systems then create compelling change stories and use a broad tool kit to influence changes at the school and classroom level.

For example, during Kaya Henderson’s tenure as school chancellor in Washington, DC, the public school system worked closely with communities to communicate how school closures would lead to more resources in remaining schools, and it sought community input on how to transform school communities. When the district made subsequent closure decisions, there was less pushback from the community than otherwise expected. Overall, public school enrollment grew during this time period for the first time in decades, pointing to strengthened public confidence in the system. 25 Emma Dorn, “ Lessons in leadership: Transforming struggling US K–12 schools ,” McKinsey, March 28, 2023. Cecilia María Vélez White, former minister of education in Colombia, held monthly meetings with principals, convened more than 1,500 teachers, shared information with unions, and went on a listening tour to a different region every week. 26 Andres Cadena, Li-Kai Chen, Felipe Child, and Emma Dorn, “ Bringing major improvements to education in Colombia ,” McKinsey, May 29, 2019.

We asked people, ‘Ten years from now, what should DCPS look like? What are your hopes and your dreams for the district and for your students?’ Kaya Henderson, Former Chancellor of DC Public Schools

Create delivery capacity to scale

Create coordination and a cadence for change. Successful systems move quickly to turn their plans into action. They create a concrete road map, pressure-test their implementation plans, and ensure the budget is oriented around priorities. They pace their changes to show quick wins in the first six months to demonstrate momentum. At the same time, they design for scale to ensure that changes have their intended impact.

For example, as part of the London Challenge initiative, London appointed dedicated advisers who were deployed to the schools that were struggling the most. The advisers provided on-the-ground coaching and brought immediate recommendations back to the central department so resources could be deployed rapidly. 27 Marc Kidson and Emma Norris, Implementing the London Challenge, Institute for Government , July 10, 2014. South Africa created free literacy workbooks, adapted them to native languages, and distributed copies to 6.5 million students across 20,000 schools. A dedicated delivery team oversaw the entire process, from development to printing and delivery of the workbooks, and 40,000 trained teachers provided support for adoption. 28 “20,000 schools to receive workbooks,” SANews, July 6, 2010. From 2011 to 2015, more than 150 million workbooks were delivered to schools. 29 “South African women and girls empowered by literacy programme to take their place in society,” UNESCO, September 7, 2015.

You can be nimble and agile. The fact that you can work at a ridiculously higher speed than government normally works makes people believe in you in a completely different way. Sir Jon Coles, Former Director of the London Challenge

Build implementation structures and skills. Many school systems struggle to access the in-house talent to implement major changes. In addition to great educators, school systems need great project managers and implementors to translate strategy at the ministry into implementation in every classroom across the system. Successful systems ensure dedicated implementation capacity within the central team, at the middle layer, and across schools. This involves establishing clear roles and responsibilities for making decisions and approving investments, as well as creating an army of changemakers in the field to bring changes to fruition. Systems can then assess their delivery capacity across this structure and hire or build missing capabilities.

For example, under Jaime Saavedra’s leadership in Peru, the ministry brought in experienced managers from within and outside of government, with a specific goal of improving management and the pace of change. At the same time, Peru also reformed the process for selecting its 15,000 school principals to ensure high-caliber management talent in schools. 30 Li-Kai Chen, Felipe Child, Emma Dorn, and Raimundo Morales, “ An interview with former Peruvian Minister of Education Jaime Saavedra ,” McKinsey, September 26, 2019. In Ceará, Brazil, the 150 highest-performing schools adopted the 150 lowest-performing schools. If the lower-performing school improved, both schools in the pair were financially rewarded. This pairing of successful and struggling schools has also worked in London and in Shanghai. In Shanghai, deputy school leaders of successful schools can only be promoted to principal or school leader if they first lead the turnaround of a struggling school. 31 Joanna Farmer and Ben Jensen, School turnaround in Shanghai: The empowered-management program approach to improving school performance , Center for American Progress, May 2013.

I ended up changing most of the top 60 positions in the ministry to ensure the right managerial skills and implementation capacity, including attracting people from the Ministry of Finance. Jaime Saavedra, Former Minister of Education of Peru

Drive and adapt with data

Measure student outcomes and make them transparent. Successful school leaders build robust data systems, identify trends, and use the data to build a shared culture of continuous improvement. They make important information public to build momentum, segment schools for accountability and support, and use data to drive improvement at every level, from system strategy to instruction in schools.

For example, in Estonia, student outcome data is linked with broader social data. The government maintains a centralized data system for all public services with a unique ID for each citizen. Families can look at their own child’s achievement data within this broader context. The ministry makes school-level data transparent to the public and regularly uses this data to support policy making. Data is sufficiently protected, and there is a high degree of trust among citizens. 32 “Building an integrated data system: Lessons from Estonia,” NCEE, May 2, 2021. In Sierra Leone, the ministry has built data systems from the ground up, digitalizing the school census and linking it to student performance data, enabling data to become the reference point for all interventions. Data on gender inequities in access has informed new policies, which have helped increase enrollment among girls. 33 Tichafara Chisaka and Kate Richards, “Supporting girls’ education in Sierra Leone through inclusive data systems,” Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data, July 19, 2021.

I made sure that we had data to inform everything we did. From day one, all policies had to be grounded in data and evidence. David Moinina Sengeh, Minister of Basic and Senior Secondary Education and Chief Innovation Officer for Sierra Leone

Roll out what works, but create space for innovation. Successful systems create space for innovation and, critically, measure what they innovate to add to the existing evidence base of what works. Most innovation in education systems will likely be oriented toward continuous improvement and sustaining practices. However, there is also a need for more-disruptive innovation, especially in systems where performance is poor or below poor and where exponential growth in achievement is needed. Innovation is needed both to improve the effectiveness of existing interventions and to create more-scalable models.

For example, structured pedagogy approaches currently provide the best evidence base for improving literacy and numeracy across low-income countries—but financial and human capital constraints mean that systems will not be able to roll out and scale such approaches rapidly enough to reach this generation of students. In Malawi, education leaders are scaling up a foundational literacy and numeracy program that uses robust, solar-powered, offline tablets in primary-school education. The intervention was first tested as a pilot with external partners, and the government has built a team strictly focused on the rollout. A big part of the innovation is in the streamlined implementation—schools and teachers can be set up to run the program within weeks. The program is being measured and tested as it scales. 34 “Building Education Foundations through Innovation & Technology: Malawi scale-up program overview,” Government of Malawi Ministry of Education, September 8, 2022.

Singapore has demonstrated that even the most successful school systems need to keep innovating, particularly as the needs of students change. This has led to new experiments and investments in social-emotional learning and 21st century skills to complement the already-strong approach to math and literacy instruction, based on emerging research on the importance of student mindsets on educational outcomes. 35 Dennis Kwek, Jeanne Ho, and Hwei Ming Wong, “Singapore’s educational reforms toward holistic outcomes,” Brookings, March 16, 2023. Singapore’s system is unique among top PISA scorers in that it continues to grow while others have stagnated.

When we talk about professional learning, we can never say we have arrived. . . . The moment we say we have arrived, that will cause our downfall. Yen Ching Chua-Lim, Deputy Director-General of Education (Professional Development), Singapore

Individually, these strategies may seem obvious or incremental. Together, they are transformative. The slow and steady work of implementation sets improving school systems apart from the rest. This is not really a story about beating the odds. It is a story about the systems that were able to change the odds. Education leaders can—and must—learn from them.

Jake Bryant is a partner in McKinsey’s Seattle office; Felipe Child is partner in the Bogota office; Ezgi Demirdag is a partner in the Istanbul office; Emma Dorn is a senior knowledge expert and associate partner in the Silicon Valley office; Stephen Hall and Roman Tschupp are partners in the Dubai office; Kartik Jayaram is a senior partner in the Nairobi office; Charag Krishnan is a partner in the New Jersey office; Cheryl Lim is a partner in the Kuala Lumpur office; Kemi Onabanjo is an expert associate partner in the Lagos office; Frédéric Panier is a partner in the Brussels office, where Pierre Vigin is an expert associate partner; Juan Rebolledo is an associate partner in the Mexico City office; Jimmy Sarakatsannis is a senior partner in the Washington, DC office; Doug Scott is a senior expert in the Chicago office; and Seckin Ungur is a partner in the Sydney office. Emmy Liss is a senior adviser to McKinsey’s Education Practice

The authors wish to acknowledge the tireless work of school system leaders, school principals, and particularly classroom teachers, who have dedicated their lives to educating youth and who are working every day to close gaps in student achievement. This research benefited from the contributions of hundreds of global education experts and McKinsey team members. Please see the larger report for a complete set of acknowledgments.

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Education Reimagined: The Impact of Advanced Technologies on Learning

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Education reform and change driven by digital technology: a bibliometric study from a global perspective

  • Chengliang Wang 1 ,
  • Xiaojiao Chen 1 ,
  • Teng Yu   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0001-5198-7261 2 , 3 ,
  • Yidan Liu 1 , 4 &
  • Yuhui Jing 1  

Humanities and Social Sciences Communications volume  11 , Article number:  256 ( 2024 ) Cite this article

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  • Development studies
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Amidst the global digital transformation of educational institutions, digital technology has emerged as a significant area of interest among scholars. Such technologies have played an instrumental role in enhancing learner performance and improving the effectiveness of teaching and learning. These digital technologies also ensure the sustainability and stability of education during the epidemic. Despite this, a dearth of systematic reviews exists regarding the current state of digital technology application in education. To address this gap, this study utilized the Web of Science Core Collection as a data source (specifically selecting the high-quality SSCI and SCIE) and implemented a topic search by setting keywords, yielding 1849 initial publications. Furthermore, following the PRISMA guidelines, we refined the selection to 588 high-quality articles. Using software tools such as CiteSpace, VOSviewer, and Charticulator, we reviewed these 588 publications to identify core authors (such as Selwyn, Henderson, Edwards), highly productive countries/regions (England, Australia, USA), key institutions (Monash University, Australian Catholic University), and crucial journals in the field ( Education and Information Technologies , Computers & Education , British Journal of Educational Technology ). Evolutionary analysis reveals four developmental periods in the research field of digital technology education application: the embryonic period, the preliminary development period, the key exploration, and the acceleration period of change. The study highlights the dual influence of technological factors and historical context on the research topic. Technology is a key factor in enabling education to transform and upgrade, and the context of the times is an important driving force in promoting the adoption of new technologies in the education system and the transformation and upgrading of education. Additionally, the study identifies three frontier hotspots in the field: physical education, digital transformation, and professional development under the promotion of digital technology. This study presents a clear framework for digital technology application in education, which can serve as a valuable reference for researchers and educational practitioners concerned with digital technology education application in theory and practice.

Introduction

Digital technology has become an essential component of modern education, facilitating the extension of temporal and spatial boundaries and enriching the pedagogical contexts (Selwyn and Facer, 2014 ). The advent of mobile communication technology has enabled learning through social media platforms (Szeto et al. 2015 ; Pires et al. 2022 ), while the advancement of augmented reality technology has disrupted traditional conceptions of learning environments and spaces (Perez-Sanagustin et al., 2014 ; Kyza and Georgiou, 2018 ). A wide range of digital technologies has enabled learning to become a norm in various settings, including the workplace (Sjöberg and Holmgren, 2021 ), home (Nazare et al. 2022 ), and online communities (Tang and Lam, 2014 ). Education is no longer limited to fixed locations and schedules, but has permeated all aspects of life, allowing learning to continue at any time and any place (Camilleri and Camilleri, 2016 ; Selwyn and Facer, 2014 ).

The advent of digital technology has led to the creation of several informal learning environments (Greenhow and Lewin, 2015 ) that exhibit divergent form, function, features, and patterns in comparison to conventional learning environments (Nygren et al. 2019 ). Consequently, the associated teaching and learning processes, as well as the strategies for the creation, dissemination, and acquisition of learning resources, have undergone a complete overhaul. The ensuing transformations have posed a myriad of novel issues, such as the optimal structuring of teaching methods by instructors and the adoption of appropriate learning strategies by students in the new digital technology environment. Consequently, an examination of the principles that underpin effective teaching and learning in this environment is a topic of significant interest to numerous scholars engaged in digital technology education research.

Over the course of the last two decades, digital technology has made significant strides in the field of education, notably in extending education time and space and creating novel educational contexts with sustainability. Despite research attempts to consolidate the application of digital technology in education, previous studies have only focused on specific aspects of digital technology, such as Pinto and Leite’s ( 2020 ) investigation into digital technology in higher education and Mustapha et al.’s ( 2021 ) examination of the role and value of digital technology in education during the pandemic. While these studies have provided valuable insights into the practical applications of digital technology in particular educational domains, they have not comprehensively explored the macro-mechanisms and internal logic of digital technology implementation in education. Additionally, these studies were conducted over a relatively brief period, making it challenging to gain a comprehensive understanding of the macro-dynamics and evolutionary process of digital technology in education. Some studies have provided an overview of digital education from an educational perspective but lack a precise understanding of technological advancement and change (Yang et al. 2022 ). Therefore, this study seeks to employ a systematic scientific approach to collate relevant research from 2000 to 2022, comprehend the internal logic and development trends of digital technology in education, and grasp the outstanding contribution of digital technology in promoting the sustainability of education in time and space. In summary, this study aims to address the following questions:

RQ1: Since the turn of the century, what is the productivity distribution of the field of digital technology education application research in terms of authorship, country/region, institutional and journal level?

RQ2: What is the development trend of research on the application of digital technology in education in the past two decades?

RQ3: What are the current frontiers of research on the application of digital technology in education?

Literature review

Although the term “digital technology” has become ubiquitous, a unified definition has yet to be agreed upon by scholars. Because the meaning of the word digital technology is closely related to the specific context. Within the educational research domain, Selwyn’s ( 2016 ) definition is widely favored by scholars (Pinto and Leite, 2020 ). Selwyn ( 2016 ) provides a comprehensive view of various concrete digital technologies and their applications in education through ten specific cases, such as immediate feedback in classes, orchestrating teaching, and community learning. Through these specific application scenarios, Selwyn ( 2016 ) argues that digital technology encompasses technologies associated with digital devices, including but not limited to tablets, smartphones, computers, and social media platforms (such as Facebook and YouTube). Furthermore, Further, the behavior of accessing the internet at any location through portable devices can be taken as an extension of the behavior of applying digital technology.

The evolving nature of digital technology has significant implications in the field of education. In the 1890s, the focus of digital technology in education was on comprehending the nuances of digital space, digital culture, and educational methodologies, with its connotations aligned more towards the idea of e-learning. The advent and subsequent widespread usage of mobile devices since the dawn of the new millennium have been instrumental in the rapid expansion of the concept of digital technology. Notably, mobile learning devices such as smartphones and tablets, along with social media platforms, have become integral components of digital technology (Conole and Alevizou, 2010 ; Batista et al. 2016 ). In recent times, the burgeoning application of AI technology in the education sector has played a vital role in enriching the digital technology lexicon (Banerjee et al. 2021 ). ChatGPT, for instance, is identified as a novel educational technology that has immense potential to revolutionize future education (Rospigliosi, 2023 ; Arif, Munaf and Ul-Haque, 2023 ).

Pinto and Leite ( 2020 ) conducted a comprehensive macroscopic survey of the use of digital technologies in the education sector and identified three distinct categories, namely technologies for assessment and feedback, mobile technologies, and Information Communication Technologies (ICT). This classification criterion is both macroscopic and highly condensed. In light of the established concept definitions of digital technology in the educational research literature, this study has adopted the characterizations of digital technology proposed by Selwyn ( 2016 ) and Pinto and Leite ( 2020 ) as crucial criteria for analysis and research inclusion. Specifically, this criterion encompasses several distinct types of digital technologies, including Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), Mobile tools, eXtended Reality (XR) Technologies, Assessment and Feedback systems, Learning Management Systems (LMS), Publish and Share tools, Collaborative systems, Social media, Interpersonal Communication tools, and Content Aggregation tools.

Methodology and materials

Research method: bibliometric.

The research on econometric properties has been present in various aspects of human production and life, yet systematic scientific theoretical guidance has been lacking, resulting in disorganization. In 1969, British scholar Pritchard ( 1969 ) proposed “bibliometrics,” which subsequently emerged as an independent discipline in scientific quantification research. Initially, Pritchard defined bibliometrics as “the application of mathematical and statistical methods to books and other media of communication,” however, the definition was not entirely rigorous. To remedy this, Hawkins ( 2001 ) expanded Pritchard’s definition to “the quantitative analysis of the bibliographic features of a body of literature.” De Bellis further clarified the objectives of bibliometrics, stating that it aims to analyze and identify patterns in literature, such as the most productive authors, institutions, countries, and journals in scientific disciplines, trends in literary production over time, and collaboration networks (De Bellis, 2009 ). According to Garfield ( 2006 ), bibliometric research enables the examination of the history and structure of a field, the flow of information within the field, the impact of journals, and the citation status of publications over a longer time scale. All of these definitions illustrate the unique role of bibliometrics as a research method for evaluating specific research fields.

This study uses CiteSpace, VOSviewer, and Charticulator to analyze data and create visualizations. Each of these three tools has its own strengths and can complement each other. CiteSpace and VOSviewer use set theory and probability theory to provide various visualization views in fields such as keywords, co-occurrence, and co-authors. They are easy to use and produce visually appealing graphics (Chen, 2006 ; van Eck and Waltman, 2009 ) and are currently the two most widely used bibliometric tools in the field of visualization (Pan et al. 2018 ). In this study, VOSviewer provided the data necessary for the Performance Analysis; Charticulator was then used to redraw using the tabular data exported from VOSviewer (for creating the chord diagram of country collaboration); this was to complement the mapping process, while CiteSpace was primarily utilized to generate keyword maps and conduct burst word analysis.

Data retrieval

This study selected documents from the Science Citation Index Expanded (SCIE) and Social Science Citation Index (SSCI) in the Web of Science Core Collection as the data source, for the following reasons:

(1) The Web of Science Core Collection, as a high-quality digital literature resource database, has been widely accepted by many researchers and is currently considered the most suitable database for bibliometric analysis (Jing et al. 2023a ). Compared to other databases, Web of Science provides more comprehensive data information (Chen et al. 2022a ), and also provides data formats suitable for analysis using VOSviewer and CiteSpace (Gaviria-Marin et al. 2019 ).

(2) The application of digital technology in the field of education is an interdisciplinary research topic, involving technical knowledge literature belonging to the natural sciences and education-related literature belonging to the social sciences. Therefore, it is necessary to select Science Citation Index Expanded (SCIE) and Social Science Citation Index (SSCI) as the sources of research data, ensuring the comprehensiveness of data while ensuring the reliability and persuasiveness of bibliometric research (Hwang and Tsai, 2011 ; Wang et al. 2022 ).

After establishing the source of research data, it is necessary to determine a retrieval strategy (Jing et al. 2023b ). The choice of a retrieval strategy should consider a balance between the breadth and precision of the search formula. That is to say, it should encompass all the literature pertaining to the research topic while excluding irrelevant documents as much as possible. In light of this, this study has set a retrieval strategy informed by multiple related papers (Mustapha et al. 2021 ; Luo et al. 2021 ). The research by Mustapha et al. ( 2021 ) guided us in selecting keywords (“digital” AND “technolog*”) to target digital technology, while Luo et al. ( 2021 ) informed the selection of terms (such as “instruct*,” “teach*,” and “education”) to establish links with the field of education. Then, based on the current application of digital technology in the educational domain and the scope of selection criteria, we constructed the final retrieval strategy. Following the general patterns of past research (Jing et al. 2023a , 2023b ), we conducted a specific screening using the topic search (Topics, TS) function in Web of Science. For the specific criteria used in the screening for this study, please refer to Table 1 .

Literature screening

Literature acquired through keyword searches may contain ostensibly related yet actually unrelated works. Therefore, to ensure the close relevance of literature included in the analysis to the research topic, it is often necessary to perform a manual screening process to identify the final literature to be analyzed, subsequent to completing the initial literature search.

The manual screening process consists of two steps. Initially, irrelevant literature is weeded out based on the title and abstract, with two members of the research team involved in this phase. This stage lasted about one week, resulting in 1106 articles being retained. Subsequently, a comprehensive review of the full text is conducted to accurately identify the literature required for the study. To carry out the second phase of manual screening effectively and scientifically, and to minimize the potential for researcher bias, the research team established the inclusion criteria presented in Table 2 . Three members were engaged in this phase, which took approximately 2 weeks, culminating in the retention of 588 articles after meticulous screening. The entire screening process is depicted in Fig. 1 , adhering to the PRISMA guidelines (Page et al. 2021 ).

figure 1

The process of obtaining and filtering the necessary literature data for research.

Data standardization

Nguyen and Hallinger ( 2020 ) pointed out that raw data extracted from scientific databases often contains multiple expressions of the same term, and not addressing these synonymous expressions could affect research results in bibliometric analysis. For instance, in the original data, the author list may include “Tsai, C. C.” and “Tsai, C.-C.”, while the keyword list may include “professional-development” and “professional development,” which often require merging. Therefore, before analyzing the selected literature, a data disambiguation process is necessary to standardize the data (Strotmann and Zhao, 2012 ; Van Eck and Waltman, 2019 ). This study adopted the data standardization process proposed by Taskin and Al ( 2019 ), mainly including the following standardization operations:

Firstly, the author and source fields in the data are corrected and standardized to differentiate authors with similar names.

Secondly, the study checks whether the journals to which the literature belongs have been renamed in the past over 20 years, so as to avoid the influence of periodical name change on the analysis results.

Finally, the keyword field is standardized by unifying parts of speech and singular/plural forms of keywords, which can help eliminate redundant entries in the knowledge graph.

Performance analysis (RQ1)

This section offers a thorough and detailed analysis of the state of research in the field of digital technology education. By utilizing descriptive statistics and visual maps, it provides a comprehensive overview of the development trends, authors, countries, institutions, and journal distribution within the field. The insights presented in this section are of great significance in advancing our understanding of the current state of research in this field and identifying areas for further investigation. The use of visual aids to display inter-country cooperation and the evolution of the field adds to the clarity and coherence of the analysis.

Time trend of the publications

To understand a research field, it is first necessary to understand the most basic quantitative information, among which the change in the number of publications per year best reflects the development trend of a research field. Figure 2 shows the distribution of publication dates.

figure 2

Time trend of the publications on application of digital technology in education.

From the Fig. 2 , it can be seen that the development of this field over the past over 20 years can be roughly divided into three stages. The first stage was from 2000 to 2007, during which the number of publications was relatively low. Due to various factors such as technological maturity, the academic community did not pay widespread attention to the role of digital technology in expanding the scope of teaching and learning. The second stage was from 2008 to 2019, during which the overall number of publications showed an upward trend, and the development of the field entered an accelerated period, attracting more and more scholars’ attention. The third stage was from 2020 to 2022, during which the number of publications stabilized at around 100. During this period, the impact of the pandemic led to a large number of scholars focusing on the role of digital technology in education during the pandemic, and research on the application of digital technology in education became a core topic in social science research.

Analysis of authors

An analysis of the author’s publication volume provides information about the representative scholars and core research strengths of a research area. Table 3 presents information on the core authors in adaptive learning research, including name, publication number, and average number of citations per article (based on the analysis and statistics from VOSviewer).

Variations in research foci among scholars abound. Within the field of digital technology education application research over the past two decades, Neil Selwyn stands as the most productive author, having published 15 papers garnering a total of 1027 citations, resulting in an average of 68.47 citations per paper. As a Professor at the Faculty of Education at Monash University, Selwyn concentrates on exploring the application of digital technology in higher education contexts (Selwyn et al. 2021 ), as well as related products in higher education such as Coursera, edX, and Udacity MOOC platforms (Bulfin et al. 2014 ). Selwyn’s contributions to the educational sociology perspective include extensive research on the impact of digital technology on education, highlighting the spatiotemporal extension of educational processes and practices through technological means as the greatest value of educational technology (Selwyn, 2012 ; Selwyn and Facer, 2014 ). In addition, he provides a blueprint for the development of future schools in 2030 based on the present impact of digital technology on education (Selwyn et al. 2019 ). The second most productive author in this field, Henderson, also offers significant contributions to the understanding of the important value of digital technology in education, specifically in the higher education setting, with a focus on the impact of the pandemic (Henderson et al. 2015 ; Cohen et al. 2022 ). In contrast, Edwards’ research interests focus on early childhood education, particularly the application of digital technology in this context (Edwards, 2013 ; Bird and Edwards, 2015 ). Additionally, on the technical level, Edwards also mainly prefers digital game technology, because it is a digital technology that children are relatively easy to accept (Edwards, 2015 ).

Analysis of countries/regions and organization

The present study aimed to ascertain the leading countries in digital technology education application research by analyzing 75 countries related to 558 works of literature. Table 4 depicts the top ten countries that have contributed significantly to this field in terms of publication count (based on the analysis and statistics from VOSviewer). Our analysis of Table 4 data shows that England emerged as the most influential country/region, with 92 published papers and 2401 citations. Australia and the United States secured the second and third ranks, respectively, with 90 papers (2187 citations) and 70 papers (1331 citations) published. Geographically, most of the countries featured in the top ten publication volumes are situated in Australia, North America, and Europe, with China being the only exception. Notably, all these countries, except China, belong to the group of developed nations, suggesting that economic strength is a prerequisite for fostering research in the digital technology education application field.

This study presents a visual representation of the publication output and cooperation relationships among different countries in the field of digital technology education application research. Specifically, a chord diagram is employed to display the top 30 countries in terms of publication output, as depicted in Fig. 3 . The chord diagram is composed of nodes and chords, where the nodes are positioned as scattered points along the circumference, and the length of each node corresponds to the publication output, with longer lengths indicating higher publication output. The chords, on the other hand, represent the cooperation relationships between any two countries, and are weighted based on the degree of closeness of the cooperation, with wider chords indicating closer cooperation. Through the analysis of the cooperation relationships, the findings suggest that the main publishing countries in this field are engaged in cooperative relationships with each other, indicating a relatively high level of international academic exchange and research internationalization.

figure 3

In the diagram, nodes are scattered along the circumference of a circle, with the length of each node representing the volume of publications. The weighted arcs connecting any two points on the circle are known as chords, representing the collaborative relationship between the two, with the width of the arc indicating the closeness of the collaboration.

Further analyzing Fig. 3 , we can extract more valuable information, enabling a deeper understanding of the connections between countries in the research field of digital technology in educational applications. It is evident that certain countries, such as the United States, China, and England, display thicker connections, indicating robust collaborative relationships in terms of productivity. These thicker lines signify substantial mutual contributions and shared objectives in certain sectors or fields, highlighting the interconnectedness and global integration in these areas. By delving deeper, we can also explore potential future collaboration opportunities through the chord diagram, identifying possible partners to propel research and development in this field. In essence, the chord diagram successfully encapsulates and conveys the multi-dimensionality of global productivity and cooperation, allowing for a comprehensive understanding of the intricate inter-country relationships and networks in a global context, providing valuable guidance and insights for future research and collaborations.

An in-depth examination of the publishing institutions is provided in Table 5 , showcasing the foremost 10 institutions ranked by their publication volume. Notably, Monash University and Australian Catholic University, situated in Australia, have recorded the most prolific publications within the digital technology education application realm, with 22 and 10 publications respectively. Moreover, the University of Oslo from Norway is featured among the top 10 publishing institutions, with an impressive average citation count of 64 per publication. It is worth highlighting that six institutions based in the United Kingdom were also ranked within the top 10 publishing institutions, signifying their leading position in this area of research.

Analysis of journals

Journals are the main carriers for publishing high-quality papers. Some scholars point out that the two key factors to measure the influence of journals in the specified field are the number of articles published and the number of citations. The more papers published in a magazine and the more citations, the greater its influence (Dzikowski, 2018 ). Therefore, this study utilized VOSviewer to statistically analyze the top 10 journals with the most publications in the field of digital technology in education and calculated the average citations per article (see Table 6 ).

Based on Table 6 , it is apparent that the highest number of articles in the domain of digital technology in education research were published in Education and Information Technologies (47 articles), Computers & Education (34 articles), and British Journal of Educational Technology (32 articles), indicating a higher article output compared to other journals. This underscores the fact that these three journals concentrate more on the application of digital technology in education. Furthermore, several other journals, such as Technology Pedagogy and Education and Sustainability, have published more than 15 articles in this domain. Sustainability represents the open access movement, which has notably facilitated research progress in this field, indicating that the development of open access journals in recent years has had a significant impact. Although there is still considerable disagreement among scholars on the optimal approach to achieve open access, the notion that research outcomes should be accessible to all is widely recognized (Huang et al. 2020 ). On further analysis of the research fields to which these journals belong, except for Sustainability, it is evident that they all pertain to educational technology, thus providing a qualitative definition of the research area of digital technology education from the perspective of journals.

Temporal keyword analysis: thematic evolution (RQ2)

The evolution of research themes is a dynamic process, and previous studies have attempted to present the developmental trajectory of fields by drawing keyword networks in phases (Kumar et al. 2021 ; Chen et al. 2022b ). To understand the shifts in research topics across different periods, this study follows past research and, based on the significant changes in the research field and corresponding technological advancements during the outlined periods, divides the timeline into four stages (the first stage from January 2000 to December 2005, the second stage from January 2006 to December 2011, the third stage from January 2012 to December 2017; and the fourth stage from January 2018 to December 2022). The division into these four stages was determined through a combination of bibliometric analysis and literature review, which presented a clear trajectory of the field’s development. The research analyzes the keyword networks for each time period (as there are only three articles in the first stage, it was not possible to generate an appropriate keyword co-occurrence map, hence only the keyword co-occurrence maps from the second to the fourth stages are provided), to understand the evolutionary track of the digital technology education application research field over time.

2000.1–2005.12: germination period

From January 2000 to December 2005, digital technology education application research was in its infancy. Only three studies focused on digital technology, all of which were related to computers. Due to the popularity of computers, the home became a new learning environment, highlighting the important role of digital technology in expanding the scope of learning spaces (Sutherland et al. 2000 ). In specific disciplines and contexts, digital technology was first favored in medical clinical practice, becoming an important tool for supporting the learning of clinical knowledge and practice (Tegtmeyer et al. 2001 ; Durfee et al. 2003 ).

2006.1–2011.12: initial development period

Between January 2006 and December 2011, it was the initial development period of digital technology education research. Significant growth was observed in research related to digital technology, and discussions and theoretical analyses about “digital natives” emerged. During this phase, scholars focused on the debate about “how to use digital technology reasonably” and “whether current educational models and school curriculum design need to be adjusted on a large scale” (Bennett and Maton, 2010 ; Selwyn, 2009 ; Margaryan et al. 2011 ). These theoretical and speculative arguments provided a unique perspective on the impact of cognitive digital technology on education and teaching. As can be seen from the vocabulary such as “rethinking”, “disruptive pedagogy”, and “attitude” in Fig. 4 , many scholars joined the calm reflection and analysis under the trend of digital technology (Laurillard, 2008 ; Vratulis et al. 2011 ). During this phase, technology was still undergoing dramatic changes. The development of mobile technology had already caught the attention of many scholars (Wong et al. 2011 ), but digital technology represented by computers was still very active (Selwyn et al. 2011 ). The change in technological form would inevitably lead to educational transformation. Collins and Halverson ( 2010 ) summarized the prospects and challenges of using digital technology for learning and educational practices, believing that digital technology would bring a disruptive revolution to the education field and bring about a new educational system. In addition, the term “teacher education” in Fig. 4 reflects the impact of digital technology development on teachers. The rapid development of technology has widened the generation gap between teachers and students. To ensure smooth communication between teachers and students, teachers must keep up with the trend of technological development and establish a lifelong learning concept (Donnison, 2009 ).

figure 4

In the diagram, each node represents a keyword, with the size of the node indicating the frequency of occurrence of the keyword. The connections represent the co-occurrence relationships between keywords, with a higher frequency of co-occurrence resulting in tighter connections.

2012.1–2017.12: critical exploration period

During the period spanning January 2012 to December 2017, the application of digital technology in education research underwent a significant exploration phase. As can be seen from Fig. 5 , different from the previous stage, the specific elements of specific digital technology have started to increase significantly, including the enrichment of technological contexts, the greater variety of research methods, and the diversification of learning modes. Moreover, the temporal and spatial dimensions of the learning environment were further de-emphasized, as noted in previous literature (Za et al. 2014 ). Given the rapidly accelerating pace of technological development, the education system in the digital era is in urgent need of collaborative evolution and reconstruction, as argued by Davis, Eickelmann, and Zaka ( 2013 ).

figure 5

In the domain of digital technology, social media has garnered substantial scholarly attention as a promising avenue for learning, as noted by Pasquini and Evangelopoulos ( 2016 ). The implementation of social media in education presents several benefits, including the liberation of education from the restrictions of physical distance and time, as well as the erasure of conventional educational boundaries. The user-generated content (UGC) model in social media has emerged as a crucial source for knowledge creation and distribution, with the widespread adoption of mobile devices. Moreover, social networks have become an integral component of ubiquitous learning environments (Hwang et al. 2013 ). The utilization of social media allows individuals to function as both knowledge producers and recipients, which leads to a blurring of the conventional roles of learners and teachers. On mobile platforms, the roles of learners and teachers are not fixed, but instead interchangeable.

In terms of research methodology, the prevalence of empirical studies with survey designs in the field of educational technology during this period is evident from the vocabulary used, such as “achievement,” “acceptance,” “attitude,” and “ict.” in Fig. 5 . These studies aim to understand learners’ willingness to adopt and attitudes towards new technologies, and some seek to investigate the impact of digital technologies on learning outcomes through quasi-experimental designs (Domínguez et al. 2013 ). Among these empirical studies, mobile learning emerged as a hot topic, and this is not surprising. First, the advantages of mobile learning environments over traditional ones have been empirically demonstrated (Hwang et al. 2013 ). Second, learners born around the turn of the century have been heavily influenced by digital technologies and have developed their own learning styles that are more open to mobile devices as a means of learning. Consequently, analyzing mobile learning as a relatively novel mode of learning has become an important issue for scholars in the field of educational technology.

The intervention of technology has led to the emergence of several novel learning modes, with the blended learning model being the most representative one in the current phase. Blended learning, a novel concept introduced in the information age, emphasizes the integration of the benefits of traditional learning methods and online learning. This learning mode not only highlights the prominent role of teachers in guiding, inspiring, and monitoring the learning process but also underlines the importance of learners’ initiative, enthusiasm, and creativity in the learning process. Despite being an early conceptualization, blended learning’s meaning has been expanded by the widespread use of mobile technology and social media in education. The implementation of new technologies, particularly mobile devices, has resulted in the transformation of curriculum design and increased flexibility and autonomy in students’ learning processes (Trujillo Maza et al. 2016 ), rekindling scholarly attention to this learning mode. However, some scholars have raised concerns about the potential drawbacks of the blended learning model, such as its significant impact on the traditional teaching system, the lack of systematic coping strategies and relevant policies in several schools and regions (Moskal et al. 2013 ).

2018.1–2022.12: accelerated transformation period

The period spanning from January 2018 to December 2022 witnessed a rapid transformation in the application of digital technology in education research. The field of digital technology education research reached a peak period of publication, largely influenced by factors such as the COVID-19 pandemic (Yu et al. 2023 ). Research during this period was built upon the achievements, attitudes, and social media of the previous phase, and included more elements that reflect the characteristics of this research field, such as digital literacy, digital competence, and professional development, as depicted in Fig. 6 . Alongside this, scholars’ expectations for the value of digital technology have expanded, and the pursuit of improving learning efficiency and performance is no longer the sole focus. Some research now aims to cultivate learners’ motivation and enhance their self-efficacy by applying digital technology in a reasonable manner, as demonstrated by recent studies (Beardsley et al. 2021 ; Creely et al. 2021 ).

figure 6

The COVID-19 pandemic has emerged as a crucial backdrop for the digital technology’s role in sustaining global education, as highlighted by recent scholarly research (Zhou et al. 2022 ; Pan and Zhang, 2020 ; Mo et al. 2022 ). The online learning environment, which is supported by digital technology, has become the primary battleground for global education (Yu, 2022 ). This social context has led to various studies being conducted, with some scholars positing that the pandemic has impacted the traditional teaching order while also expanding learning possibilities in terms of patterns and forms (Alabdulaziz, 2021 ). Furthermore, the pandemic has acted as a catalyst for teacher teaching and technological innovation, and this viewpoint has been empirically substantiated (Moorhouse and Wong, 2021 ). Additionally, some scholars believe that the pandemic’s push is a crucial driving force for the digital transformation of the education system, serving as an essential mechanism for overcoming the system’s inertia (Romero et al. 2021 ).

The rapid outbreak of the pandemic posed a challenge to the large-scale implementation of digital technologies, which was influenced by a complex interplay of subjective and objective factors. Objective constraints included the lack of infrastructure in some regions to support digital technologies, while subjective obstacles included psychological resistance among certain students and teachers (Moorhouse, 2021 ). These factors greatly impacted the progress of online learning during the pandemic. Additionally, Timotheou et al. ( 2023 ) conducted a comprehensive systematic review of existing research on digital technology use during the pandemic, highlighting the critical role played by various factors such as learners’ and teachers’ digital skills, teachers’ personal attributes and professional development, school leadership and management, and administration in facilitating the digitalization and transformation of schools.

The current stage of research is characterized by the pivotal term “digital literacy,” denoting a growing interest in learners’ attitudes and adoption of emerging technologies. Initially, the term “literacy” was restricted to fundamental abilities and knowledge associated with books and print materials (McMillan, 1996 ). However, with the swift advancement of computers and digital technology, there have been various attempts to broaden the scope of literacy beyond its traditional meaning, including game literacy (Buckingham and Burn, 2007 ), information literacy (Eisenberg, 2008 ), and media literacy (Turin and Friesem, 2020 ). Similarly, digital literacy has emerged as a crucial concept, and Gilster and Glister ( 1997 ) were the first to introduce this concept, referring to the proficiency in utilizing technology and processing digital information in academic, professional, and daily life settings. In practical educational settings, learners who possess higher digital literacy often exhibit an aptitude for quickly mastering digital devices and applying them intelligently to education and teaching (Yu, 2022 ).

The utilization of digital technology in education has undergone significant changes over the past two decades, and has been a crucial driver of educational reform with each new technological revolution. The impact of these changes on the underlying logic of digital technology education applications has been noticeable. From computer technology to more recent developments such as virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and artificial intelligence (AI), the acceleration in digital technology development has been ongoing. Educational reforms spurred by digital technology development continue to be dynamic, as each new digital innovation presents new possibilities and models for teaching practice. This is especially relevant in the post-pandemic era, where the importance of technological progress in supporting teaching cannot be overstated (Mughal et al. 2022 ). Existing digital technologies have already greatly expanded the dimensions of education in both time and space, while future digital technologies aim to expand learners’ perceptions. Researchers have highlighted the potential of integrated technology and immersive technology in the development of the educational metaverse, which is highly anticipated to create a new dimension for the teaching and learning environment, foster a new value system for the discipline of educational technology, and more effectively and efficiently achieve the grand educational blueprint of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (Zhang et al. 2022 ; Li and Yu, 2023 ).

Hotspot evolution analysis (RQ3)

The examination of keyword evolution reveals a consistent trend in the advancement of digital technology education application research. The emergence and transformation of keywords serve as indicators of the varying research interests in this field. Thus, the utilization of the burst detection function available in CiteSpace allowed for the identification of the top 10 burst words that exhibited a high level of burst strength. This outcome is illustrated in Table 7 .

According to the results presented in Table 7 , the explosive terminology within the realm of digital technology education research has exhibited a concentration mainly between the years 2018 and 2022. Prior to this time frame, the emerging keywords were limited to “information technology” and “computer”. Notably, among them, computer, as an emergent keyword, has always had a high explosive intensity from 2008 to 2018, which reflects the important position of computer in digital technology and is the main carrier of many digital technologies such as Learning Management Systems (LMS) and Assessment and Feedback systems (Barlovits et al. 2022 ).

Since 2018, an increasing number of research studies have focused on evaluating the capabilities of learners to accept, apply, and comprehend digital technologies. As indicated by the use of terms such as “digital literacy” and “digital skill,” the assessment of learners’ digital literacy has become a critical task. Scholarly efforts have been directed towards the development of literacy assessment tools and the implementation of empirical assessments. Furthermore, enhancing the digital literacy of both learners and educators has garnered significant attention. (Nagle, 2018 ; Yu, 2022 ). Simultaneously, given the widespread use of various digital technologies in different formal and informal learning settings, promoting learners’ digital skills has become a crucial objective for contemporary schools (Nygren et al. 2019 ; Forde and OBrien, 2022 ).

Since 2020, the field of applied research on digital technology education has witnessed the emergence of three new hotspots, all of which have been affected to some extent by the pandemic. Firstly, digital technology has been widely applied in physical education, which is one of the subjects that has been severely affected by the pandemic (Parris et al. 2022 ; Jiang and Ning, 2022 ). Secondly, digital transformation has become an important measure for most schools, especially higher education institutions, to cope with the impact of the pandemic globally (García-Morales et al. 2021 ). Although the concept of digital transformation was proposed earlier, the COVID-19 pandemic has greatly accelerated this transformation process. Educational institutions must carefully redesign their educational products to face this new situation, providing timely digital learning methods, environments, tools, and support systems that have far-reaching impacts on modern society (Krishnamurthy, 2020 ; Salas-Pilco et al. 2022 ). Moreover, the professional development of teachers has become a key mission of educational institutions in the post-pandemic era. Teachers need to have a certain level of digital literacy and be familiar with the tools and online teaching resources used in online teaching, which has become a research hotspot today. Organizing digital skills training for teachers to cope with the application of emerging technologies in education is an important issue for teacher professional development and lifelong learning (Garzón-Artacho et al. 2021 ). As the main organizers and practitioners of emergency remote teaching (ERT) during the pandemic, teachers must put cognitive effort into their professional development to ensure effective implementation of ERT (Romero-Hall and Jaramillo Cherrez, 2022 ).

The burst word “digital transformation” reveals that we are in the midst of an ongoing digital technology revolution. With the emergence of innovative digital technologies such as ChatGPT and Microsoft 365 Copilot, technology trends will continue to evolve, albeit unpredictably. While the impact of these advancements on school education remains uncertain, it is anticipated that the widespread integration of technology will significantly affect the current education system. Rejecting emerging technologies without careful consideration is unwise. Like any revolution, the technological revolution in the education field has both positive and negative aspects. Detractors argue that digital technology disrupts learning and memory (Baron, 2021 ) or causes learners to become addicted and distracted from learning (Selwyn and Aagaard, 2020 ). On the other hand, the prudent use of digital technology in education offers a glimpse of a golden age of open learning. Educational leaders and practitioners have the opportunity to leverage cutting-edge digital technologies to address current educational challenges and develop a rational path for the sustainable and healthy growth of education.

Discussion on performance analysis (RQ1)

The field of digital technology education application research has experienced substantial growth since the turn of the century, a phenomenon that is quantifiably apparent through an analysis of authorship, country/region contributions, and institutional engagement. This expansion reflects the increased integration of digital technologies in educational settings and the heightened scholarly interest in understanding and optimizing their use.

Discussion on authorship productivity in digital technology education research

The authorship distribution within digital technology education research is indicative of the field’s intellectual structure and depth. A primary figure in this domain is Neil Selwyn, whose substantial citation rate underscores the profound impact of his work. His focus on the implications of digital technology in higher education and educational sociology has proven to be seminal. Selwyn’s research trajectory, especially the exploration of spatiotemporal extensions of education through technology, provides valuable insights into the multifaceted role of digital tools in learning processes (Selwyn et al. 2019 ).

Other notable contributors, like Henderson and Edwards, present diversified research interests, such as the impact of digital technologies during the pandemic and their application in early childhood education, respectively. Their varied focuses highlight the breadth of digital technology education research, encompassing pedagogical innovation, technological adaptation, and policy development.

Discussion on country/region-level productivity and collaboration

At the country/region level, the United Kingdom, specifically England, emerges as a leading contributor with 92 published papers and a significant citation count. This is closely followed by Australia and the United States, indicating a strong English-speaking research axis. Such geographical concentration of scholarly output often correlates with investment in research and development, technological infrastructure, and the prevalence of higher education institutions engaging in cutting-edge research.

China’s notable inclusion as the only non-Western country among the top contributors to the field suggests a growing research capacity and interest in digital technology in education. However, the lower average citation per paper for China could reflect emerging engagement or different research focuses that may not yet have achieved the same international recognition as Western counterparts.

The chord diagram analysis furthers this understanding, revealing dense interconnections between countries like the United States, China, and England, which indicates robust collaborations. Such collaborations are fundamental in addressing global educational challenges and shaping international research agendas.

Discussion on institutional-level contributions to digital technology education

Institutional productivity in digital technology education research reveals a constellation of universities driving the field forward. Monash University and the Australian Catholic University have the highest publication output, signaling Australia’s significant role in advancing digital education research. The University of Oslo’s remarkable average citation count per publication indicates influential research contributions, potentially reflecting high-quality studies that resonate with the broader academic community.

The strong showing of UK institutions, including the University of London, The Open University, and the University of Cambridge, reinforces the UK’s prominence in this research field. Such institutions are often at the forefront of pedagogical innovation, benefiting from established research cultures and funding mechanisms that support sustained inquiry into digital education.

Discussion on journal publication analysis

An examination of journal outputs offers a lens into the communicative channels of the field’s knowledge base. Journals such as Education and Information Technologies , Computers & Education , and the British Journal of Educational Technology not only serve as the primary disseminators of research findings but also as indicators of research quality and relevance. The impact factor (IF) serves as a proxy for the quality and influence of these journals within the academic community.

The high citation counts for articles published in Computers & Education suggest that research disseminated through this medium has a wide-reaching impact and is of particular interest to the field. This is further evidenced by its significant IF of 11.182, indicating that the journal is a pivotal platform for seminal work in the application of digital technology in education.

The authorship, regional, and institutional productivity in the field of digital technology education application research collectively narrate the evolution of this domain since the turn of the century. The prominence of certain authors and countries underscores the importance of socioeconomic factors and existing academic infrastructure in fostering research productivity. Meanwhile, the centrality of specific journals as outlets for high-impact research emphasizes the role of academic publishing in shaping the research landscape.

As the field continues to grow, future research may benefit from leveraging the collaborative networks that have been elucidated through this analysis, perhaps focusing on underrepresented regions to broaden the scope and diversity of research. Furthermore, the stabilization of publication numbers in recent years invites a deeper exploration into potential plateaus in research trends or saturation in certain sub-fields, signaling an opportunity for novel inquiries and methodological innovations.

Discussion on the evolutionary trends (RQ2)

The evolution of the research field concerning the application of digital technology in education over the past two decades is a story of convergence, diversification, and transformation, shaped by rapid technological advancements and shifting educational paradigms.

At the turn of the century, the inception of digital technology in education was largely exploratory, with a focus on how emerging computer technologies could be harnessed to enhance traditional learning environments. Research from this early period was primarily descriptive, reflecting on the potential and challenges of incorporating digital tools into the educational setting. This phase was critical in establishing the fundamental discourse that would guide subsequent research, as it set the stage for understanding the scope and impact of digital technology in learning spaces (Wang et al. 2023 ).

As the first decade progressed, the narrative expanded to encompass the pedagogical implications of digital technologies. This was a period of conceptual debates, where terms like “digital natives” and “disruptive pedagogy” entered the academic lexicon, underscoring the growing acknowledgment of digital technology as a transformative force within education (Bennett and Maton, 2010 ). During this time, the research began to reflect a more nuanced understanding of the integration of technology, considering not only its potential to change where and how learning occurred but also its implications for educational equity and access.

In the second decade, with the maturation of internet connectivity and mobile technology, the focus of research shifted from theoretical speculations to empirical investigations. The proliferation of digital devices and the ubiquity of social media influenced how learners interacted with information and each other, prompting a surge in studies that sought to measure the impact of these tools on learning outcomes. The digital divide and issues related to digital literacy became central concerns, as scholars explored the varying capacities of students and educators to engage with technology effectively.

Throughout this period, there was an increasing emphasis on the individualization of learning experiences, facilitated by adaptive technologies that could cater to the unique needs and pacing of learners (Jing et al. 2023a ). This individualization was coupled with a growing recognition of the importance of collaborative learning, both online and offline, and the role of digital tools in supporting these processes. Blended learning models, which combined face-to-face instruction with online resources, emerged as a significant trend, advocating for a balance between traditional pedagogies and innovative digital strategies.

The later years, particularly marked by the COVID-19 pandemic, accelerated the necessity for digital technology in education, transforming it from a supplementary tool to an essential platform for delivering education globally (Mo et al. 2022 ; Mustapha et al. 2021 ). This era brought about an unprecedented focus on online learning environments, distance education, and virtual classrooms. Research became more granular, examining not just the pedagogical effectiveness of digital tools, but also their role in maintaining continuity of education during crises, their impact on teacher and student well-being, and their implications for the future of educational policy and infrastructure.

Across these two decades, the research field has seen a shift from examining digital technology as an external addition to the educational process, to viewing it as an integral component of curriculum design, instructional strategies, and even assessment methods. The emergent themes have broadened from a narrow focus on specific tools or platforms to include wider considerations such as data privacy, ethical use of technology, and the environmental impact of digital tools.

Moreover, the field has moved from considering the application of digital technology in education as a primarily cognitive endeavor to recognizing its role in facilitating socio-emotional learning, digital citizenship, and global competencies. Researchers have increasingly turned their attention to the ways in which technology can support collaborative skills, cultural understanding, and ethical reasoning within diverse student populations.

In summary, the past over twenty years in the research field of digital technology applications in education have been characterized by a progression from foundational inquiries to complex analyses of digital integration. This evolution has mirrored the trajectory of technology itself, from a facilitative tool to a pervasive ecosystem defining contemporary educational experiences. As we look to the future, the field is poised to delve into the implications of emerging technologies like AI, AR, and VR, and their potential to redefine the educational landscape even further. This ongoing metamorphosis suggests that the application of digital technology in education will continue to be a rich area of inquiry, demanding continual adaptation and forward-thinking from educators and researchers alike.

Discussion on the study of research hotspots (RQ3)

The analysis of keyword evolution in digital technology education application research elucidates the current frontiers in the field, reflecting a trajectory that is in tandem with the rapidly advancing digital age. This landscape is sculpted by emergent technological innovations and shaped by the demands of an increasingly digital society.

Interdisciplinary integration and pedagogical transformation

One of the frontiers identified from recent keyword bursts includes the integration of digital technology into diverse educational contexts, particularly noted with the keyword “physical education.” The digitalization of disciplines traditionally characterized by physical presence illustrates the pervasive reach of technology and signifies a push towards interdisciplinary integration where technology is not only a facilitator but also a transformative agent. This integration challenges educators to reconceptualize curriculum delivery to accommodate digital tools that can enhance or simulate the physical aspects of learning.

Digital literacy and skills acquisition

Another pivotal frontier is the focus on “digital literacy” and “digital skill”, which has intensified in recent years. This suggests a shift from mere access to technology towards a comprehensive understanding and utilization of digital tools. In this realm, the emphasis is not only on the ability to use technology but also on critical thinking, problem-solving, and the ethical use of digital resources (Yu, 2022 ). The acquisition of digital literacy is no longer an additive skill but a fundamental aspect of modern education, essential for navigating and contributing to the digital world.

Educational digital transformation

The keyword “digital transformation” marks a significant research frontier, emphasizing the systemic changes that education institutions must undergo to align with the digital era (Romero et al. 2021 ). This transformation includes the redesigning of learning environments, pedagogical strategies, and assessment methods to harness digital technology’s full potential. Research in this area explores the complexity of institutional change, addressing the infrastructural, cultural, and policy adjustments needed for a seamless digital transition.

Engagement and participation

Further exploration into “engagement” and “participation” underscores the importance of student-centered learning environments that are mediated by technology. The current frontiers examine how digital platforms can foster collaboration, inclusivity, and active learning, potentially leading to more meaningful and personalized educational experiences. Here, the use of technology seeks to support the emotional and cognitive aspects of learning, moving beyond the transactional view of education to one that is relational and interactive.

Professional development and teacher readiness

As the field evolves, “professional development” emerges as a crucial area, particularly in light of the pandemic which necessitated emergency remote teaching. The need for teacher readiness in a digital age is a pressing frontier, with research focusing on the competencies required for educators to effectively integrate technology into their teaching practices. This includes familiarity with digital tools, pedagogical innovation, and an ongoing commitment to personal and professional growth in the digital domain.

Pandemic as a catalyst

The recent pandemic has acted as a catalyst for accelerated research and application in this field, particularly in the domains of “digital transformation,” “professional development,” and “physical education.” This period has been a litmus test for the resilience and adaptability of educational systems to continue their operations in an emergency. Research has thus been directed at understanding how digital technologies can support not only continuity but also enhance the quality and reach of education in such contexts.

Ethical and societal considerations

The frontier of digital technology in education is also expanding to consider broader ethical and societal implications. This includes issues of digital equity, data privacy, and the sociocultural impact of technology on learning communities. The research explores how educational technology can be leveraged to address inequities and create more equitable learning opportunities for all students, regardless of their socioeconomic background.

Innovation and emerging technologies

Looking forward, the frontiers are set to be influenced by ongoing and future technological innovations, such as artificial intelligence (AI) (Wu and Yu, 2023 ; Chen et al. 2022a ). The exploration into how these technologies can be integrated into educational practices to create immersive and adaptive learning experiences represents a bold new chapter for the field.

In conclusion, the current frontiers of research on the application of digital technology in education are multifaceted and dynamic. They reflect an overarching movement towards deeper integration of technology in educational systems and pedagogical practices, where the goals are not only to facilitate learning but to redefine it. As these frontiers continue to expand and evolve, they will shape the educational landscape, requiring a concerted effort from researchers, educators, policymakers, and technologists to navigate the challenges and harness the opportunities presented by the digital revolution in education.

Conclusions and future research

Conclusions.

The utilization of digital technology in education is a research area that cuts across multiple technical and educational domains and continues to experience dynamic growth due to the continuous progress of technology. In this study, a systematic review of this field was conducted through bibliometric techniques to examine its development trajectory. The primary focus of the review was to investigate the leading contributors, productive national institutions, significant publications, and evolving development patterns. The study’s quantitative analysis resulted in several key conclusions that shed light on this research field’s current state and future prospects.

(1) The research field of digital technology education applications has entered a stage of rapid development, particularly in recent years due to the impact of the pandemic, resulting in a peak of publications. Within this field, several key authors (Selwyn, Henderson, Edwards, etc.) and countries/regions (England, Australia, USA, etc.) have emerged, who have made significant contributions. International exchanges in this field have become frequent, with a high degree of internationalization in academic research. Higher education institutions in the UK and Australia are the core productive forces in this field at the institutional level.

(2) Education and Information Technologies , Computers & Education , and the British Journal of Educational Technology are notable journals that publish research related to digital technology education applications. These journals are affiliated with the research field of educational technology and provide effective communication platforms for sharing digital technology education applications.

(3) Over the past two decades, research on digital technology education applications has progressed from its early stages of budding, initial development, and critical exploration to accelerated transformation, and it is currently approaching maturity. Technological progress and changes in the times have been key driving forces for educational transformation and innovation, and both have played important roles in promoting the continuous development of education.

(4) Influenced by the pandemic, three emerging frontiers have emerged in current research on digital technology education applications, which are physical education, digital transformation, and professional development under the promotion of digital technology. These frontier research hotspots reflect the core issues that the education system faces when encountering new technologies. The evolution of research hotspots shows that technology breakthroughs in education’s original boundaries of time and space create new challenges. The continuous self-renewal of education is achieved by solving one hotspot problem after another.

The present study offers significant practical implications for scholars and practitioners in the field of digital technology education applications. Firstly, it presents a well-defined framework of the existing research in this area, serving as a comprehensive guide for new entrants to the field and shedding light on the developmental trajectory of this research domain. Secondly, the study identifies several contemporary research hotspots, thus offering a valuable decision-making resource for scholars aiming to explore potential research directions. Thirdly, the study undertakes an exhaustive analysis of published literature to identify core journals in the field of digital technology education applications, with Sustainability being identified as a promising open access journal that publishes extensively on this topic. This finding can potentially facilitate scholars in selecting appropriate journals for their research outputs.

Limitation and future research

Influenced by some objective factors, this study also has some limitations. First of all, the bibliometrics analysis software has high standards for data. In order to ensure the quality and integrity of the collected data, the research only selects the periodical papers in SCIE and SSCI indexes, which are the core collection of Web of Science database, and excludes other databases, conference papers, editorials and other publications, which may ignore some scientific research and original opinions in the field of digital technology education and application research. In addition, although this study used professional software to carry out bibliometric analysis and obtained more objective quantitative data, the analysis and interpretation of data will inevitably have a certain subjective color, and the influence of subjectivity on data analysis cannot be completely avoided. As such, future research endeavors will broaden the scope of literature screening and proactively engage scholars in the field to gain objective and state-of-the-art insights, while minimizing the adverse impact of personal subjectivity on research analysis.

Data availability

The datasets analyzed during the current study are available in the Dataverse repository: https://doi.org/10.7910/DVN/F9QMHY

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This research was supported by the Zhejiang Provincial Social Science Planning Project, “Mechanisms and Pathways for Empowering Classroom Teaching through Learning Spaces under the Strategy of High-Quality Education Development”, the 2022 National Social Science Foundation Education Youth Project “Research on the Strategy of Creating Learning Space Value and Empowering Classroom Teaching under the background of ‘Double Reduction’” (Grant No. CCA220319) and the National College Student Innovation and Entrepreneurship Training Program of China (Grant No. 202310337023).

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Wang, C., Chen, X., Yu, T. et al. Education reform and change driven by digital technology: a bibliometric study from a global perspective. Humanit Soc Sci Commun 11 , 256 (2024). https://doi.org/10.1057/s41599-024-02717-y

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What 126 studies say about education technology

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J-PAL North America's recently released publication summarizes 126 rigorous evaluations of different uses of education technology and their impact on student learning.

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In recent years, there has been widespread excitement around the transformative potential of technology in education. In the United States alone, spending on education technology has now exceeded $13 billion . Programs and policies to promote the use of education technology may expand access to quality education, support students’ learning in innovative ways, and help families navigate complex school systems.

However, the rapid development of education technology in the United States is occurring in a context of deep and persistent inequality . Depending on how programs are designed, how they are used, and who can access them, education technologies could alleviate or aggravate existing disparities. To harness education technology’s full potential, education decision-makers, product developers, and funders need to understand the ways in which technology can help — or in some cases hurt — student learning.

To address this need, J-PAL North America recently released a new publication summarizing 126 rigorous evaluations of different uses of education technology. Drawing primarily from research in developed countries, the publication looks at randomized evaluations and regression discontinuity designs across four broad categories: (1) access to technology, (2) computer-assisted learning or educational software, (3) technology-enabled nudges in education, and (4) online learning.

This growing body of evidence suggests some areas of promise and points to four key lessons on education technology.

First, supplying computers and internet alone generally do not improve students’ academic outcomes from kindergarten to 12th grade, but do increase computer usage and improve computer proficiency. Disparities in access to information and communication technologies can exacerbate existing educational inequalities. Students without access at school or at home may struggle to complete web-based assignments and may have a hard time developing digital literacy skills.

Broadly, programs to expand access to technology have been effective at increasing use of computers and improving computer skills. However, computer distribution and internet subsidy programs generally did not improve grades and test scores and in some cases led to adverse impacts on academic achievement. The limited rigorous evidence suggests that distributing computers may have a more direct impact on learning outcomes at the postsecondary level.

Second, educational software (often called “computer-assisted learning”) programs designed to help students develop particular skills have shown enormous promise in improving learning outcomes, particularly in math. Targeting instruction to meet students’ learning levels has been found to be effective in improving student learning, but large class sizes with a wide range of learning levels can make it hard for teachers to personalize instruction. Software has the potential to overcome traditional classroom constraints by customizing activities for each student. Educational software programs range from light-touch homework support tools to more intensive interventions that re-orient the classroom around the use of software.

Most educational software that have been rigorously evaluated help students practice particular skills through personalized tutoring approaches. Computer-assisted learning programs have shown enormous promise in improving academic achievement, especially in math. Of all 30 studies of computer-assisted learning programs, 20 reported statistically significant positive effects, 15 of which were focused on improving math outcomes.

Third, technology-based nudges — such as text message reminders — can have meaningful, if modest, impacts on a variety of education-related outcomes, often at extremely low costs. Low-cost interventions like text message reminders can successfully support students and families at each stage of schooling. Text messages with reminders, tips, goal-setting tools, and encouragement can increase parental engagement in learning activities, such as reading with their elementary-aged children.

Middle and high schools, meanwhile, can help parents support their children by providing families with information about how well their children are doing in school. Colleges can increase application and enrollment rates by leveraging technology to suggest specific action items, streamline financial aid procedures, and/or provide personalized support to high school students.

Online courses are developing a growing presence in education, but the limited experimental evidence suggests that online-only courses lower student academic achievement compared to in-person courses. In four of six studies that directly compared the impact of taking a course online versus in-person only, student performance was lower in the online courses. However, students performed similarly in courses with both in-person and online components compared to traditional face-to-face classes.

The new publication is meant to be a resource for decision-makers interested in learning which uses of education technology go beyond the hype to truly help students learn. At the same time, the publication outlines key open questions about the impacts of education technology, including questions relating to the long-term impacts of education technology and the impacts of education technology on different types of learners.

To help answer these questions, J-PAL North America’s Education, Technology, and Opportunity Initiative is working to build the evidence base on promising uses of education technology by partnering directly with education leaders.

Education leaders are invited to submit letters of interest to partner with J-PAL North America through its  Innovation Competition . Anyone interested in learning more about how to apply is encouraged to contact initiative manager Vincent Quan .

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15 EdTech research papers that we share all the time

We hope you saw our recent blog post responding to questions we often get about interesting large-scale EdTech initiatives. Another question we are often asked is: “What EdTech research should I know about?” 

As Sara’s blog post explains, one of the Hub’s core spheres of work is research, so we ourselves are very interested in the answer to this question. Katy’s latest blog post explains how the Hub’s research programme is addressing this question through a literature review to create a foundation for further research.  While the literature review is in progress, we thought we would share an initial list of EdTech papers that we often reach for. At the Hub we are fortunate enough to have authors of several papers on this list as members of our team. 

All papers on this list are linked to a record in the EdTech Hub’s growing document library – where you will find the citation and source to the full text. This library is currently an alpha version. This means it’s the first version of the service and we’re testing how it works for you. If you have any feedback or find any issues with our evidence library, please get in touch.

Tablet use in schools: a critical review of the evidence for learning outcomes

This critical review by our own Bjӧrn Haßler, Sara Hennessy, and Louis Major has been cited over 200 times since it was published in 2016. It examines evidence from 23 studies on tablet use at the primary and secondary school levels. It discusses the fragmented nature of the knowledge base and limited rigorous evidence on tablet use in education. 

Haßler, B., Major, L., & Hennessy, S. (2016) Tablet use in schools: a critical review of the evidence for learning outcomes . Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 32(2), 139-156.

The impact and reach of MOOCs: a developing countries’ perspective

This article challenges the narrative that Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are a solution to low and middle-income countries’ (LMIC) lack of access to education, examining the features of MOOCs from their perspectives. It argues that a complicated set of conditions, including access, language, and computer literacy, among others, challenge the viability of MOOCs as a solution for populations in LMIC. 

Liyanagunawardena, T., Williams, S., & Adams, A. (2013) The impact and reach of MOOCs: a developing countries’ perspective. eLearning Papers , 33(33).

Technology and education – Why it’s crucial to be critical

A thought-provoking read, Selwyn’s book chapter argues that technology and education should continuously be viewed through a critical lens. It points to how the use of technology in education is entwined with issues of inequality, domination, and exploitation, and offers suggestions for how to grapple with these issues. 

Selwyn, N. (2015) Technology and education – Why it’s crucial to be critical. In S. Bulfin, N. F. Johnson & L. Rowan (Eds.), Critical Perspectives on Technology and Education (pp. 245-255). Basingstoke and St. Martins, New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Moving beyond the predictable failure of Ed-Tech initiatives

This article argues that a narrow vision of digital technology, which ignores the complexity of education, is becoming an obstacle to improvement and transformation of education. Specifically, the authors critically reflect on common approaches to introducing digital technology in education under the guise of promoting equality and digital inclusion.

Sancho-Gil, J.M., Rivera-Vargas, P. & Miño-Puigcercós, R. (2019) Moving beyond the predictable failure of Ed-Tech initiatives. Learning, Media and Technology , early view. DOI: 10.1080/17439884.2019.1666873

Synergies Between the Principles for Digital Development and Four Case Studies

The REAL Centre’s report, which includes contributions from the Hub’s own ranks, is one of the few we’ve seen that provides an in-depth exploration of how the Principles for Digital Development apply to the education sector. It uses four case studies on the work of the Aga Khan Foundation, Camfed, the Punjab Education and Technology Board, and the Varkey Foundation. 

REAL Centre (2018). Synergies Between the Principles for Digital Development and Four Case Studies. Cambridge, UK: Research for Equitable Access and Learning (REAL) Centre, Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge .

Education technology map: guidance document

This report by the Hub’s Jigsaw colleagues accompanies a comprehensive map of 401 resources with evidence on the use of EdTech in low-resource environments. The evidence mapping reviews certain criteria of the resources from sources such as journal indices, online research, evaluation repositories, and resource centres and experts. The type of criteria it maps include: the geographical location of study, outcomes studied, and type of EdTech introduced.  While not inclusive of the latest EdTech research and evidence (from 2016 to the present), this mapping represents a strong starting point to understand what we know about EdTech as well as the characteristics of existing evidence.

Muyoya, C., Brugha, M., Hollow, D. (2016). Education technology map: guidance document. Jigsaw, United Kingdom.

Scaling Access & Impact: Realizing the Power of EdTech

Commissioned by Omidyar Network and written by RTI, this executive summary (with the full report expected soon) is a useful examination of the factors needed to enable, scale, and sustain equitable EdTech on a national basis. Four country reports on Chile, China, Indonesia, and the United States examine at-scale access and use of EdTech across a broad spectrum of students. It also provides a framework for an ecosystem that will allow EdTech to be equitable and able to be scaled.  

S caling Access & Impact: Realizing the Power of EdTech (Executive Summary). Omidyar Network.

Perspectives on Technology, Resources and Learning – Productive Classroom Practices, Effective Teacher Professional Development

If you are interested in how technology can be used in the classroom and to support teacher professional development, this report by the Hub’s Björn Haßler and members of the Faculty of Education at the University of Cambridge emphasizes the key point that technology should be seen as complementary to, rather than as a replacement for, teachers. As the authors put it, “the teacher and teacher education are central for the successful integration of digital technology into the classroom.” The report is also accompanied by a toolkit (linked below) with questions that can be used to interrogate EdTech interventions.

Haßler, B., Major, L., Warwick, P., Watson, S., Hennessy, S., & Nichol, B. (2016). Perspectives on Technology, Resources and Learning – Productive Classroom Practices, Effective Teacher Professional Development . Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge. DOI:10.5281/zenodo.2626440

Haßler, B., Major, L., Warwick, P., Watson, S., Hennessy, S., & Nichol, B. (2016). A short guide on the use of technology in learning: Perspectives and Toolkit for Discussion . Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge. DOI:10.5281/zenodo.2626660

Teacher Factors Influencing Classroom Use of ICT in Sub-Saharan Africa

In this paper, the Hub’s Sara Hennessy and co-authors synthesise literature on teachers’ use of ICT, with a focus on using ICT to improve the quality of teaching and learning. They find evidence to support the integration of ICT into subject learning, instead of treating it as a discrete subject, and to provide relevant preparation to teachers during pre- and in-service training to use ICT in classrooms. Although this evidence has been available for a decade, the implications of the paper’s findings are still not often reflected in practice.  

Hennessy, S., Harrison, D., & Wamakote, L. (2010). Teacher Factors Influencing Classroom Use of ICT in Sub-Saharan Africa. Itupale Online Journal of African Studies, 2, 39- 54.

Information and Communications Technologies in Secondary Education in Sub-Saharan Africa: Policies, Practices, Trends, and Recommendations

This landscape review by Burns and co-authors offers a useful descriptive starting point for understanding technology use in sub-Saharan Africa in secondary education, including the policy environment, key actors, promising practices, challenges, trends, and opportunities. The report includes four case studies on South Africa, Mauritius, Botswana, and Cape Verde. 

Burns, M., Santally, M. I., Halkhoree, R., Sungkur, K. R., Juggurnath, B., Rajabalee, Y. B. (2019) Information and Communications Technologies in Secondary Education in Sub-Saharan Africa: Policies, Practices, Trends, and Recommendations. Mastercard Foundation.

The influence of infrastructure, training, content and communication on the success of NEPAD’S pilot e-Schools in Kenya

This study examines the impact of training teachers to use ICT, on the success of NEPAD’S e-Schools. The e-Schools objectives were to impart ICT skills to students, enhance teachers’ capacities through the use of ICT in teaching, improve school management and increase access to education. Unlike other studies on the subject, Nyawoga, Ocholla, and Mutula crucially recognise that while teachers received technical ICT training, they did not receive training on pedagogies for integrating ICT in teaching and learning. 

Nyagowa, H. O., Ocholla, D. N., & Mutula, S. M. (2014). T he influence of infrastructure, training, content and communication on the success of NEPAD’S pilot e-Schools in Kenya . Information Development, 30(3), 235-246 .

Education in Conflict and Crisis: How Can Technology Make a Difference?

This landscape review identifies ICT projects supporting education in conflict and crisis settings. It finds that most of the projects operate in post-conflict settings and focus on the long-term development of such places. The report hones in on major thematic areas of professional development and student learning. It also presents directions for further research, including considerations of conflict sensitivity and inclusion in the use of ICT. 

Dahya, N. (2016) Education in Conflict and Crisis: How Can Technology Make a Difference? A Landscape Review . GIZ.

Does technology improve reading outcomes? Comparing the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of ICT interventions for early-grade reading in Kenya

This randomized controlled trial contributes to the limited evidence base on the effects of different types of ICT investments on learning outcomes. All groups participated in the ‘base’ initiative which focused on training teachers and headteachers in literacy and numeracy, books for every student, teacher guides that matched closely with the content of the students’ book, and modest ICT intervention with tablets provided only for government-funded instructional supervisors. The RCT then compared outcomes from three interventions:  (1) base program plus e-readers for students, (2) base program plus tablets for teachers, and (3) the control group who were treated only with the base program. The paper finds that the classroom-level ICT investments do not improve literacy outcomes significantly more than the base program alone, and that cost considerations are crucial in selecting ICT investments in education.

Piper, B., Zuilkowski, S., Kwayumba, D., & Strigel, C. (2016). Does technology improve reading outcomes? Comparing the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of ICT interventions for early-grade reading in Kenya. International Journal of Educational Development (49), 204-214.

[FORTHCOMING] Technology in education in low-income countries: Problem analysis and focus of the EdTech Hub’s work

Informed by the research cited in this list (and much more) – the Hub will soon publish a problem analysis. It will define our focus and the scope of our work. To give a taste of what is to come, the problem analysis will explain why we will prioritise teachers, marginalised groups, and use a systems lens. It will also explore emergent challenges in EdTech research, design, and implementation.

EdTech Hub. (2020). Technology in education in low-income countries: Problem analysis and focus of the Hub’s work (EdTech Hub Working Paper No. 5). London, UK. https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.3377829

It is important to note that we have included a mix of research types at varying levels of rigour, from landscape reviews and evidence maps, to critical reviews and case studies. Our list is not comprehensive and has some obvious limitations (they are all in English, for one). If you are interested in exploring more papers and evidence, don’t forget to check out the EdTech Hub’s growing document library , where you will find not just links to the full papers in this list but over 200 resources, with more being added each day.

What interesting EdTech research have you recently read, and what did you take away from it? Let us know in the comments section or on Twitter at @GlobalEdTechHub and use #EdTechHub

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The Hottest Topics in Edtech in 2021

  • Professional Development & Well-Being

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For a few years now, we’ve shared the hottest edtech trends of the year based on the topics resonating with educators at the annual ISTE conference. Although the topics themselves often don’t change much from year to year, the approach to them does. But 2020 was a year like no other, and thus new topics emerged on the list and others moved up a few notches. 

Digital citizenship, professional learning and social-emotional learning still made the list like they did the year before, but they took on new urgency as schooling moved online. Meanwhile, topics like e-sports, online learning design and creativity were new to the list. 

All these topics will be well represented at ISTELive 21 this year. The fully online conference will run for four days, June 26-30. Here’s a look at the trending topics and why they are especially important now.

1. Digital citizenship

Digital citizenship has been a hot topic for educators for nearly a decade — but it has quickly evolved in the past two years — especially in the past year as remote and hybrid learning has shifted learning online. 

In the beginning, digital citizenship was focused on safety, security and legality (protect your passwords, keep your identity secret, and cite sources when using intellectual property). Now the focus is on making sure students feel empowered to use digital tools and platforms to do good in the world — and that they do so responsibly. 

The DigCitCommit movement was born out of this shift to focus on the opportunities of the digital world rather than the dangers. DigCitCommit breaks down digital citizenship into five focus areas: 

Inclusive: Open to multiple viewpoints and being respectful in digital interactions. Informed: Evaluating the accuracy, perspectif and validity of digital media and social posts. Engaged: Using technology for civic engagement, problem solving and being a force for good. Balanced : Prioritizing time and activities online and off to promote mental and physical health.  Alert : Being aware of online actions and their consequences and knowing how to be safe and ensuring others are safe online.

Look for digital citizenship sessions at ISTELive 21 that focus on global collaboration, media literacy and social justice projects. 

2. Online learning design

One of the biggest challenges educators have faced in responding to the pandemic has been how to effectively move lessons that were designed for an in-person classroom online. Many educators around the world had to make that transition in less than a week in spring 2020 and, in some cases, less than a day. 

What many discovered immediately was that you just can’t simply upload worksheets to Google Classroom and expect the same learning success.

Michele Eaton, author of the book,  T he Perfect Blend: A Practical Guide to Designing Student-Centered Learning , says good in-person teaching doesn’t equate with good online teaching. 

 “I have a strong belief that if all we ever do is replicate what we do face to face, then online learning will just be a cheap imitation of the classroom experience.” In her post,  4 tips for creating successful online content , Eaton outlines ways educators can design online lessons that are interactive, reduce cognitive load, and build in formative assessments. 

Look for ISTELive 21 sessions that focus on online learning strategies and ideas for the hybrid classroom. Check out ISTE’s Summer Learning Academy, a course designed to help educators take what they learned from teaching in online and hybrid settings and moving to the next level.  

3. Equity and inclusion

The COVID-19 pandemic exposed many of the ugly inequities that have existed in education for a long time. It also created a few new ones. When school moved online, many young learners and students with disabilities were unable to access learning without parental help, which was often unavailable because parents were working.

The lack of devices and bandwidth hampered many rural and low income students. Most districts were able to secure funding to get hotspots and laptops or tablets into the hands of students who needed them, but those solutions were not always ideal. Hotspots were at times unreliable and devices would be in disrepair. Because of these problems and others, many teachers reported a high percentage of missing students — those who never showed up online.

Patricia Brown, an instructional technology coach for Ladue School district in Missouri, said the pandemic has been a watershed moment. In the blog, COVID-19 Thrusts Digital Equity to the Forefront , Brown shares some of the complexities of the inequities wrought by the pandemic.

 “It’s definitely bringing some attention to things that a lot of people have been talking about and nobody was listening to,” Brown said. “Now, when it affects people in their own communities, they are realizing they don’t have it together like they thought they had it together. People are having their eyes opened.”

Those inequities aren’t just limited to ensuring students have devices and internet access. Brown says there are multiple dimensions of digital equity. One focus is on the need for professional learning and providing support for teachers, students and families.

“When we talk about equity, we can talk a lot about devices and curriculum, but we also have to think about the basic needs that our kids and our families have,” Brown said. “We need to think about those basic needs, whether that’s providing lunches or breakfasts, or social-emotional resources for families or having counselors and social workers available,” Brown said. “That’s part of equity, too, providing what is needed for your population or for your community.”

4. Social-emotional learning and cultural competence

We’ve lumped these two important topics together because much of the anxiety and trauma students have faced during the pandemic relate to both. Social-emotional learning, or SEL, involves the skills required to manage emotions, set goals and maintain positive relationships, which are necessary for learning but also a tall order for students facing a barrage of COVID-related issues like family job loss, stressed parents and the illness or death of friends or relatives. 

The pandemic has caused enormous emotional stress and trauma to students across the board, but the emotional effects have disproportionately affected students of color, English language learners and students in other marginalized groups. 

That’s why in order to help students process their emotions, it’s important for educators to have cultural competence, which is the ability to understand, communicate with and interact with people across cultures. 

In the blog, 3 Ways Teachers Can Integrate SEL Into Online Learning , educator Jorge Valenzuela writes that “dealing with the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic has caused multiple traumas — which have been heightened by news and graphic images of the murder of George Floyd and the outrage and fear that followed.” 

That is why he says all educators should seek out cultural competence training in addition to learning about restorative justice, trauma-informed teaching and culturally responsive teaching. 

5. Professional development

Teacher professional development, especially related to edtech, is nothing new, of course. But the pandemic changed that, too. No longer are teachers attending daylong face-to-face lectures at the district office or out-of-town seminars and events. 

Because of social distancing, the urgency to quickly learn new skills, and increasingly tight budgets, many educators have formed professional learning communities within their schools and districts. Some of these are grouped by grade level, others by content area. In her post, 4 Benefits of an Active Professional Learning Community , Jennifer Serviss explores how PLCs enhance teaching and learning. 

Many educators have sought PD online — some for the first time. Those used to attending conferences in person might feel at sea trying to plan for and navigate a virtual conference. In her post,   10 Tips for Getting the Most out of a Virtual PD Event , Nicole Zumpano, a regional edtech coordinator, shares ideas for making the most out of virtual PD. 

It can seem daunting to choose the most worthwhile online conferences and courses in a learning landscape flooded with choices. Probably the best way to select: Look to the trusted sources. ISTE offers online courses and a slate of virtual events to prepare educators for the future of learning. 

Esports — aka competitive video gaming — has exploded as a form of entertainment in the past decade, and now it’s naturally finding its way into schools, clubs and after-school programs. Many educators are embracing esports as a way to engage hard-to-reach students who don’t necessarily gravitate to athletic sports or academic pursuits. Research indicates that 40% of students involved in esports have never participated in school activities. 

Esports also promote interest in STEM careers and are a pipeline to jobs in the burgeoning esports industry.

Kevin Brown, an esports specialist with the Orange County Department of Education in California, says educators can tap esports in the classroom to support just about every subject because esports connect student interests to learning in a positive way.

Brown says esports have seen explosive growth in the last few years. The North America Scholastic Esports Federation started as a regional program in Southern California with 25 clubs and 38 teams. In 2½ years, it has grown to include more than 1,000 clubs and 11,000 students in North America.

Many educators mistakenly believe that if they aren’t gamers themselves, they can’t incorporate esports in the curriculum or organize a club. Not true, says Joe McAllister, an education esports expert for CDW who helps schools and districts get programs off the ground. 

He often sees reluctance from people who say, “Oh, I don't really play video games.”

“That’s OK. Do you do enjoy kids growing and learning and providing them structure? Of course, that’s what teachers do,” he said. “The content and strategy for the games, that’s all out there on YouTube and Twitch. Most students will bring that to the table.”

Esports was the topic of a daylong series of events at ISTE20 Live in December and will be a focus again at ISTELive 21. In the meantime, check out the ISTE Jump Start Guide " Esports in Schools ."

7. Augmented and virtual reality

Pokemon Go may have introduced the terms virtual and augmented reality to a majority of educators in 2017, but there’s a lot more learning potential in AR/VR than chasing around imaginary creatures. The game that took the world by storm has faded in popularity these days but AR/VR has not. 

The reason for that, says Jaime Donally, author of the ISTE book, The Immersive Classroom: Create Customized Learning Experiences With AR/VR , is because AR/VR deepens learning. It allows students to see the wonders of the world up close and it grants them access to experiences that they wouldn’t be able to get any other way, such as an incredibly detailed 3D view of the human body or a front row seat to unfolding world events. 

The technology is becoming more affordable and sophisticated all the time, allowing students to do more than consume AR/VR experiences. They can actually create them. 

Most of the AR experiences in the past 10 years involved using a trigger image to superimpose an object or video on top. The trigger image is similar to a barcode telling the mobile device precisely what to add to the image. Newer AR technology eliminates the trigger image and places objects in your space by surface tracking. In the past four years, this technology is included on most mobile devices and uses ARKit for the Apple platform and ARCore for Android, Donally explained, which opens up even more possibilities for students and educators.

8. Project-based learning

At first blush, it seemed like project-based learning, or PBL, would be one of those educational strategies that would have to go by the wayside during remote and online learning. After all, you can’t really organize collaborative projects when students are not together in the same room, right?

“Wrong,” says Nichlas Provenzano, a middle school technology teacher and makerspace director in Michigan.

When the pandemic hit, Provenzano was teaching an innovation and design class, and it wasn’t immediately clear how he could teach that class remotely. He decided to implement genius hour, the ultimate PBL strategy. Genius hour is an instructional approach that allows students to  decide what they want to learn and how they want to learn it. The teacher’s job is to support the student by offering resources and helping them understand complex material.

He told his students to create something using the resources they had at home. One student submitted images demonstrating his ability to build a side table that he designed himself. 

Another student hydro-dipped some shoes and then created a website to demonstrate the process.

“This approach to personalized learning was a huge success in my middle school class just like it was in my high school class,” Provanzano says in the video, “ The emphasis on personalization increases engagement, but more importantly, it builds the skills necessary to be lifelong learners long after they leave our classrooms.

Learn how to infuse project-based learning in your classroom by enrolling in the ISTE U course, Leading Project-Based Learning With Technology .

9. Creativity  

Of course creativity is nothing new. Cave drawings dating back to the late Stone Age continue to awe and inspire us, as do the ivory, stone and shell artifacts created by ancient peoples. Nevertheless, creativity is considered a hot topic because educators are embracing more creative and less traditional methods for students to demonstrate skills and content knowledge. 

Tim Needles, an art teacher from Smithtown High School in New York, loves to show teachers how to incorporate creativity into all topic areas. In his video “ Digital Drawing Tools for Creative Online Learning ,” he demonstrates how to “draw with code,” using the Code.org lesson called Artist . It merges math and computer science with art.

Needles who has presented at ISTE’s Creative Constructor Lab, is also a big fan of sketchnoting, a method of taking notes by drawing pictures. Sketchnoting is not just a fun method for getting information on paper, it’s a proven strategy backed by learning science to help students recall information.

Nichole Carter, author of Sketchnoting in the Classroom , says that sketchnoting is not about drawing the perfect piece of art. It’s about getting the content on the page. That’s why she says it’s important for teachers to help student improve their visual vocabulary. Watch the video below to understand more about this. 

These nine topics represent a mere fraction of the content you'll fine at ISTELive 21. Register today to ensure the best registration price, then return to the site in March to browse the program. 

Diana Fingal is director of editorial content for ISTE. 

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Research Topics & Ideas: Education

170+ Research Ideas To Fast-Track Your Project

Topic Kickstarter: Research topics in education

If you’re just starting out exploring education-related topics for your dissertation, thesis or research project, you’ve come to the right place. In this post, we’ll help kickstart your research topic ideation process by providing a hearty list of research topics and ideas , including examples from actual dissertations and theses..

PS – This is just the start…

We know it’s exciting to run through a list of research topics, but please keep in mind that this list is just a starting point . To develop a suitable education-related research topic, you’ll need to identify a clear and convincing research gap , and a viable plan of action to fill that gap.

If this sounds foreign to you, check out our free research topic webinar that explores how to find and refine a high-quality research topic, from scratch. Alternatively, if you’d like hands-on help, consider our 1-on-1 coaching service .

Overview: Education Research Topics

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Education-Related Research Topics & Ideas

Below you’ll find a list of education-related research topics and idea kickstarters. These are fairly broad and flexible to various contexts, so keep in mind that you will need to refine them a little. Nevertheless, they should inspire some ideas for your project.

  • The impact of school funding on student achievement
  • The effects of social and emotional learning on student well-being
  • The effects of parental involvement on student behaviour
  • The impact of teacher training on student learning
  • The impact of classroom design on student learning
  • The impact of poverty on education
  • The use of student data to inform instruction
  • The role of parental involvement in education
  • The effects of mindfulness practices in the classroom
  • The use of technology in the classroom
  • The role of critical thinking in education
  • The use of formative and summative assessments in the classroom
  • The use of differentiated instruction in the classroom
  • The use of gamification in education
  • The effects of teacher burnout on student learning
  • The impact of school leadership on student achievement
  • The effects of teacher diversity on student outcomes
  • The role of teacher collaboration in improving student outcomes
  • The implementation of blended and online learning
  • The effects of teacher accountability on student achievement
  • The effects of standardized testing on student learning
  • The effects of classroom management on student behaviour
  • The effects of school culture on student achievement
  • The use of student-centred learning in the classroom
  • The impact of teacher-student relationships on student outcomes
  • The achievement gap in minority and low-income students
  • The use of culturally responsive teaching in the classroom
  • The impact of teacher professional development on student learning
  • The use of project-based learning in the classroom
  • The effects of teacher expectations on student achievement
  • The use of adaptive learning technology in the classroom
  • The impact of teacher turnover on student learning
  • The effects of teacher recruitment and retention on student learning
  • The impact of early childhood education on later academic success
  • The impact of parental involvement on student engagement
  • The use of positive reinforcement in education
  • The impact of school climate on student engagement
  • The role of STEM education in preparing students for the workforce
  • The effects of school choice on student achievement
  • The use of technology in the form of online tutoring

Level-Specific Research Topics

Looking for research topics for a specific level of education? We’ve got you covered. Below you can find research topic ideas for primary, secondary and tertiary-level education contexts. Click the relevant level to view the respective list.

Research Topics: Pick An Education Level

Primary education.

  • Investigating the effects of peer tutoring on academic achievement in primary school
  • Exploring the benefits of mindfulness practices in primary school classrooms
  • Examining the effects of different teaching strategies on primary school students’ problem-solving skills
  • The use of storytelling as a teaching strategy in primary school literacy instruction
  • The role of cultural diversity in promoting tolerance and understanding in primary schools
  • The impact of character education programs on moral development in primary school students
  • Investigating the use of technology in enhancing primary school mathematics education
  • The impact of inclusive curriculum on promoting equity and diversity in primary schools
  • The impact of outdoor education programs on environmental awareness in primary school students
  • The influence of school climate on student motivation and engagement in primary schools
  • Investigating the effects of early literacy interventions on reading comprehension in primary school students
  • The impact of parental involvement in school decision-making processes on student achievement in primary schools
  • Exploring the benefits of inclusive education for students with special needs in primary schools
  • Investigating the effects of teacher-student feedback on academic motivation in primary schools
  • The role of technology in developing digital literacy skills in primary school students
  • Effective strategies for fostering a growth mindset in primary school students
  • Investigating the role of parental support in reducing academic stress in primary school children
  • The role of arts education in fostering creativity and self-expression in primary school students
  • Examining the effects of early childhood education programs on primary school readiness
  • Examining the effects of homework on primary school students’ academic performance
  • The role of formative assessment in improving learning outcomes in primary school classrooms
  • The impact of teacher-student relationships on academic outcomes in primary school
  • Investigating the effects of classroom environment on student behavior and learning outcomes in primary schools
  • Investigating the role of creativity and imagination in primary school curriculum
  • The impact of nutrition and healthy eating programs on academic performance in primary schools
  • The impact of social-emotional learning programs on primary school students’ well-being and academic performance
  • The role of parental involvement in academic achievement of primary school children
  • Examining the effects of classroom management strategies on student behavior in primary school
  • The role of school leadership in creating a positive school climate Exploring the benefits of bilingual education in primary schools
  • The effectiveness of project-based learning in developing critical thinking skills in primary school students
  • The role of inquiry-based learning in fostering curiosity and critical thinking in primary school students
  • The effects of class size on student engagement and achievement in primary schools
  • Investigating the effects of recess and physical activity breaks on attention and learning in primary school
  • Exploring the benefits of outdoor play in developing gross motor skills in primary school children
  • The effects of educational field trips on knowledge retention in primary school students
  • Examining the effects of inclusive classroom practices on students’ attitudes towards diversity in primary schools
  • The impact of parental involvement in homework on primary school students’ academic achievement
  • Investigating the effectiveness of different assessment methods in primary school classrooms
  • The influence of physical activity and exercise on cognitive development in primary school children
  • Exploring the benefits of cooperative learning in promoting social skills in primary school students

Secondary Education

  • Investigating the effects of school discipline policies on student behavior and academic success in secondary education
  • The role of social media in enhancing communication and collaboration among secondary school students
  • The impact of school leadership on teacher effectiveness and student outcomes in secondary schools
  • Investigating the effects of technology integration on teaching and learning in secondary education
  • Exploring the benefits of interdisciplinary instruction in promoting critical thinking skills in secondary schools
  • The impact of arts education on creativity and self-expression in secondary school students
  • The effectiveness of flipped classrooms in promoting student learning in secondary education
  • The role of career guidance programs in preparing secondary school students for future employment
  • Investigating the effects of student-centered learning approaches on student autonomy and academic success in secondary schools
  • The impact of socio-economic factors on educational attainment in secondary education
  • Investigating the impact of project-based learning on student engagement and academic achievement in secondary schools
  • Investigating the effects of multicultural education on cultural understanding and tolerance in secondary schools
  • The influence of standardized testing on teaching practices and student learning in secondary education
  • Investigating the effects of classroom management strategies on student behavior and academic engagement in secondary education
  • The influence of teacher professional development on instructional practices and student outcomes in secondary schools
  • The role of extracurricular activities in promoting holistic development and well-roundedness in secondary school students
  • Investigating the effects of blended learning models on student engagement and achievement in secondary education
  • The role of physical education in promoting physical health and well-being among secondary school students
  • Investigating the effects of gender on academic achievement and career aspirations in secondary education
  • Exploring the benefits of multicultural literature in promoting cultural awareness and empathy among secondary school students
  • The impact of school counseling services on student mental health and well-being in secondary schools
  • Exploring the benefits of vocational education and training in preparing secondary school students for the workforce
  • The role of digital literacy in preparing secondary school students for the digital age
  • The influence of parental involvement on academic success and well-being of secondary school students
  • The impact of social-emotional learning programs on secondary school students’ well-being and academic success
  • The role of character education in fostering ethical and responsible behavior in secondary school students
  • Examining the effects of digital citizenship education on responsible and ethical technology use among secondary school students
  • The impact of parental involvement in school decision-making processes on student outcomes in secondary schools
  • The role of educational technology in promoting personalized learning experiences in secondary schools
  • The impact of inclusive education on the social and academic outcomes of students with disabilities in secondary schools
  • The influence of parental support on academic motivation and achievement in secondary education
  • The role of school climate in promoting positive behavior and well-being among secondary school students
  • Examining the effects of peer mentoring programs on academic achievement and social-emotional development in secondary schools
  • Examining the effects of teacher-student relationships on student motivation and achievement in secondary schools
  • Exploring the benefits of service-learning programs in promoting civic engagement among secondary school students
  • The impact of educational policies on educational equity and access in secondary education
  • Examining the effects of homework on academic achievement and student well-being in secondary education
  • Investigating the effects of different assessment methods on student performance in secondary schools
  • Examining the effects of single-sex education on academic performance and gender stereotypes in secondary schools
  • The role of mentoring programs in supporting the transition from secondary to post-secondary education

Tertiary Education

  • The role of student support services in promoting academic success and well-being in higher education
  • The impact of internationalization initiatives on students’ intercultural competence and global perspectives in tertiary education
  • Investigating the effects of active learning classrooms and learning spaces on student engagement and learning outcomes in tertiary education
  • Exploring the benefits of service-learning experiences in fostering civic engagement and social responsibility in higher education
  • The influence of learning communities and collaborative learning environments on student academic and social integration in higher education
  • Exploring the benefits of undergraduate research experiences in fostering critical thinking and scientific inquiry skills
  • Investigating the effects of academic advising and mentoring on student retention and degree completion in higher education
  • The role of student engagement and involvement in co-curricular activities on holistic student development in higher education
  • The impact of multicultural education on fostering cultural competence and diversity appreciation in higher education
  • The role of internships and work-integrated learning experiences in enhancing students’ employability and career outcomes
  • Examining the effects of assessment and feedback practices on student learning and academic achievement in tertiary education
  • The influence of faculty professional development on instructional practices and student outcomes in tertiary education
  • The influence of faculty-student relationships on student success and well-being in tertiary education
  • The impact of college transition programs on students’ academic and social adjustment to higher education
  • The impact of online learning platforms on student learning outcomes in higher education
  • The impact of financial aid and scholarships on access and persistence in higher education
  • The influence of student leadership and involvement in extracurricular activities on personal development and campus engagement
  • Exploring the benefits of competency-based education in developing job-specific skills in tertiary students
  • Examining the effects of flipped classroom models on student learning and retention in higher education
  • Exploring the benefits of online collaboration and virtual team projects in developing teamwork skills in tertiary students
  • Investigating the effects of diversity and inclusion initiatives on campus climate and student experiences in tertiary education
  • The influence of study abroad programs on intercultural competence and global perspectives of college students
  • Investigating the effects of peer mentoring and tutoring programs on student retention and academic performance in tertiary education
  • Investigating the effectiveness of active learning strategies in promoting student engagement and achievement in tertiary education
  • Investigating the effects of blended learning models and hybrid courses on student learning and satisfaction in higher education
  • The role of digital literacy and information literacy skills in supporting student success in the digital age
  • Investigating the effects of experiential learning opportunities on career readiness and employability of college students
  • The impact of e-portfolios on student reflection, self-assessment, and showcasing of learning in higher education
  • The role of technology in enhancing collaborative learning experiences in tertiary classrooms
  • The impact of research opportunities on undergraduate student engagement and pursuit of advanced degrees
  • Examining the effects of competency-based assessment on measuring student learning and achievement in tertiary education
  • Examining the effects of interdisciplinary programs and courses on critical thinking and problem-solving skills in college students
  • The role of inclusive education and accessibility in promoting equitable learning experiences for diverse student populations
  • The role of career counseling and guidance in supporting students’ career decision-making in tertiary education
  • The influence of faculty diversity and representation on student success and inclusive learning environments in higher education

Research topic idea mega list

Education-Related Dissertations & Theses

While the ideas we’ve presented above are a decent starting point for finding a research topic in education, they are fairly generic and non-specific. So, it helps to look at actual dissertations and theses in the education space to see how this all comes together in practice.

Below, we’ve included a selection of education-related research projects to help refine your thinking. These are actual dissertations and theses, written as part of Master’s and PhD-level programs, so they can provide some useful insight as to what a research topic looks like in practice.

  • From Rural to Urban: Education Conditions of Migrant Children in China (Wang, 2019)
  • Energy Renovation While Learning English: A Guidebook for Elementary ESL Teachers (Yang, 2019)
  • A Reanalyses of Intercorrelational Matrices of Visual and Verbal Learners’ Abilities, Cognitive Styles, and Learning Preferences (Fox, 2020)
  • A study of the elementary math program utilized by a mid-Missouri school district (Barabas, 2020)
  • Instructor formative assessment practices in virtual learning environments : a posthumanist sociomaterial perspective (Burcks, 2019)
  • Higher education students services: a qualitative study of two mid-size universities’ direct exchange programs (Kinde, 2020)
  • Exploring editorial leadership : a qualitative study of scholastic journalism advisers teaching leadership in Missouri secondary schools (Lewis, 2020)
  • Selling the virtual university: a multimodal discourse analysis of marketing for online learning (Ludwig, 2020)
  • Advocacy and accountability in school counselling: assessing the use of data as related to professional self-efficacy (Matthews, 2020)
  • The use of an application screening assessment as a predictor of teaching retention at a midwestern, K-12, public school district (Scarbrough, 2020)
  • Core values driving sustained elite performance cultures (Beiner, 2020)
  • Educative features of upper elementary Eureka math curriculum (Dwiggins, 2020)
  • How female principals nurture adult learning opportunities in successful high schools with challenging student demographics (Woodward, 2020)
  • The disproportionality of Black Males in Special Education: A Case Study Analysis of Educator Perceptions in a Southeastern Urban High School (McCrae, 2021)

As you can see, these research topics are a lot more focused than the generic topic ideas we presented earlier. So, in order for you to develop a high-quality research topic, you’ll need to get specific and laser-focused on a specific context with specific variables of interest.  In the video below, we explore some other important things you’ll need to consider when crafting your research topic.

Get 1-On-1 Help

If you’re still unsure about how to find a quality research topic within education, check out our Research Topic Kickstarter service, which is the perfect starting point for developing a unique, well-justified research topic.

Research Topic Kickstarter - Need Help Finding A Research Topic?

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Research topics and ideas in psychology

53 Comments

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Special education

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Research title related to students

Ngirumuvugizi Jaccques

Good idea I’m going to teach my colleagues

Anangnerisia@gmail.com

You can find our list of nursing-related research topic ideas here: https://gradcoach.com/research-topics-nursing/

FOSU DORIS

Write on action research topic, using guidance and counseling to address unwanted teenage pregnancy in school

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Rhod Tuyan

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Mercedes Bunsie

parental involvement and students academic performance

Abshir Mustafe Cali

Science education topics?

Karen Joy Andrade

How about School management and supervision pls.?

JOHANNES SERAME MONYATSI

Hi i am an Deputy Principal in a primary school. My wish is to srudy foe Master’s degree in Education.Please advice me on which topic can be relevant for me. Thanks.

NKWAIN Chia Charles

Every topic proposed above on primary education is a starting point for me. I appreciate immensely the team that has sat down to make a detail of these selected topics just for beginners like us. Be blessed.

Nkwain Chia Charles

Kindly help me with the research questions on the topic” Effects of workplace conflict on the employees’ job performance”. The effects can be applicable in every institution,enterprise or organisation.

Kelvin Kells Grant

Greetings, I am a student majoring in Sociology and minoring in Public Administration. I’m considering any recommended research topic in the field of Sociology.

Sulemana Alhassan

I’m a student pursuing Mphil in Basic education and I’m considering any recommended research proposal topic in my field of study

Kupoluyi Regina

Kindly help me with a research topic in educational psychology. Ph.D level. Thank you.

Project-based learning is a teaching/learning type,if well applied in a classroom setting will yield serious positive impact. What can a teacher do to implement this in a disadvantaged zone like “North West Region of Cameroon ( hinterland) where war has brought about prolonged and untold sufferings on the indegins?

Damaris Nzoka

I wish to get help on topics of research on educational administration

I wish to get help on topics of research on educational administration PhD level

Sadaf

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Afriyie Saviour

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wysax

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William AU Mill

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ChRISTINE

Would like to request for suggestions on a topic in Economics of education,PhD level

Would like to request for suggestions on a topic in Economics of education

George

Hi 👋 I request that you help me with a written research proposal about education the format

Sarah Moyambo

l would like to request suggestions on a topic in managing teaching and learning, PhD level (educational leadership and management)

request suggestions on a topic in managing teaching and learning, PhD level (educational leadership and management)

Ernest Gyabaah

I would to inquire on research topics on Educational psychology, Masters degree

Aron kirui

I am PhD student, I am searching my Research topic, It should be innovative,my area of interest is online education,use of technology in education

revathy a/p letchumanan

request suggestion on topic in masters in medical education .

D.Newlands PhD.

Look at British Library as they keep a copy of all PhDs in the UK Core.ac.uk to access Open University and 6 other university e-archives, pdf downloads mostly available, all free.

Monica

May I also ask for a topic based on mathematics education for college teaching, please?

Aman

Please I am a masters student of the department of Teacher Education, Faculty of Education Please I am in need of proposed project topics to help with my final year thesis

Ellyjoy

Am a PhD student in Educational Foundations would like a sociological topic. Thank

muhammad sani

please i need a proposed thesis project regardging computer science

also916

Greetings and Regards I am a doctoral student in the field of philosophy of education. I am looking for a new topic for my thesis. Because of my work in the elementary school, I am looking for a topic that is from the field of elementary education and is related to the philosophy of education.

shantel orox

Masters student in the field of curriculum, any ideas of a research topic on low achiever students

Rey

In the field of curriculum any ideas of a research topic on deconalization in contextualization of digital teaching and learning through in higher education

Omada Victoria Enyojo

Amazing guidelines

JAMES MALUKI MUTIA

I am a graduate with two masters. 1) Master of arts in religious studies and 2) Master in education in foundations of education. I intend to do a Ph.D. on my second master’s, however, I need to bring both masters together through my Ph.D. research. can I do something like, ” The contribution of Philosophy of education for a quality religion education in Kenya”? kindly, assist and be free to suggest a similar topic that will bring together the two masters. thanks in advance

betiel

Hi, I am an Early childhood trainer as well as a researcher, I need more support on this topic: The impact of early childhood education on later academic success.

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Research Method

Home » 500+ Educational Research Topics

500+ Educational Research Topics

Educational Research Topics

Education is a fundamental human right that plays a vital role in shaping the future of individuals, communities, and societies. In order to improve the effectiveness of education, it is crucial to engage in rigorous educational research that seeks to understand how people learn, what factors influence their learning outcomes, and how educational systems can be designed to promote equitable access and success for all learners. Educational research topics cover a wide range of issues, from exploring new teaching methods to examining the impact of technology on learning. In this blog post, we will delve into some of the most important and relevant educational research topics, highlighting their significance and potential impact on the field of education.

Educational Research Topics

Educational Research Topics are as follows:

  • The effects of personalized learning on student academic achievement
  • The impact of teacher expectations on student achievement
  • The effectiveness of flipped classroom models on student engagement and learning outcomes
  • The impact of classroom design on student behavior and learning
  • The relationship between socio-economic status and student academic achievement
  • The effectiveness of differentiated instruction on student academic achievement
  • The impact of technology on student learning outcomes
  • The effectiveness of online learning versus traditional classroom instruction
  • The influence of teacher expectations on student achievement
  • The role of parental involvement in student success
  • The relationship between school culture and student engagement
  • The impact of teacher training on student achievement
  • The effectiveness of peer tutoring programs
  • The relationship between socioeconomic status and academic achievement
  • The effectiveness of project-based learning
  • The impact of standardized testing on student motivation and achievement
  • The role of homework in student learning
  • The relationship between teacher-student rapport and academic achievement
  • The effectiveness of differentiated instruction
  • The relationship between student self-esteem and academic achievement
  • The impact of school size on student achievement
  • The role of school discipline policies in student behavior and achievement
  • The effectiveness of character education programs
  • The relationship between school funding and student achievement
  • The impact of school start times on student achievement
  • The effectiveness of arts education programs
  • The relationship between teacher feedback and student learning
  • The impact of school climate on student achievement
  • The effectiveness of online assessment tools
  • The relationship between teacher expectations and student behavior
  • The impact of school resources on student achievement
  • The effectiveness of teacher collaboration
  • The relationship between student motivation and academic achievement
  • The impact of class size on student achievement
  • The role of student-teacher trust in academic achievement
  • The effectiveness of student-led conferences
  • The relationship between student self-efficacy and academic achievement
  • The impact of school culture on teacher job satisfaction
  • The effectiveness of inquiry-based learning
  • The relationship between teacher stress and student achievement
  • The impact of school safety measures on student achievement
  • The effectiveness of flipped classroom instruction
  • The relationship between teacher diversity and student achievement
  • The impact of technology integration on teacher job satisfaction
  • The effectiveness of project-based assessment
  • The relationship between school climate and teacher job satisfaction
  • The impact of teacher job satisfaction on student achievement
  • The effectiveness of service-learning programs
  • The relationship between school leadership and teacher job satisfaction
  • The impact of parent-teacher communication on student achievement
  • The effectiveness of online professional development for teachers
  • The relationship between student engagement and teacher job satisfaction
  • The impact of peer mentoring programs on student achievement
  • The effectiveness of cooperative learning
  • The relationship between teacher-student ethnicity match and student achievement
  • The impact of school discipline policies on teacher job satisfaction
  • The relationship between teacher quality and student academic achievement
  • The effectiveness of technology integration in the classroom
  • The impact of parent involvement on student academic achievement
  • The relationship between teacher leadership and student academic achievement
  • The effectiveness of peer tutoring on student academic achievement
  • The impact of class size on student academic achievement
  • The effectiveness of project-based learning on student academic achievement
  • The impact of teacher diversity on student academic achievement
  • The relationship between student engagement and academic achievement
  • The effectiveness of student-centered learning on academic achievement
  • The impact of teacher-student relationships on academic achievement
  • The relationship between homework and academic achievement
  • The effectiveness of cooperative learning on academic achievement
  • The impact of school culture on academic achievement
  • The relationship between teacher collaboration and academic achievement
  • The effectiveness of online learning on academic achievement
  • The impact of standardized testing on student academic achievement
  • The relationship between teacher burnout and student academic achievement
  • The effectiveness of mindfulness interventions on student academic achievement
  • The impact of cultural competency on student academic achievement
  • The relationship between teacher job satisfaction and student academic achievement
  • The effectiveness of social-emotional learning on academic achievement
  • The impact of parent-teacher communication on academic achievement
  • The relationship between student-teacher relationships and academic achievement
  • The effectiveness of inquiry-based learning on academic achievement
  • The impact of learning environment on academic achievement
  • The relationship between student attendance and academic achievement
  • The effectiveness of feedback on academic achievement
  • The impact of teacher expectations on student behavior
  • The relationship between teacher training and academic achievement
  • The effectiveness of teacher professional development on academic achievement
  • The impact of teacher beliefs on student academic achievement
  • The relationship between classroom management and academic achievement
  • The effectiveness of bilingual education on academic achievement
  • The impact of cultural background on academic achievement
  • The relationship between teacher turnover and academic achievement
  • The effectiveness of tutoring programs on academic achievement
  • The impact of teacher salaries on academic achievement
  • The relationship between teacher-student racial matching and academic achievement
  • The effectiveness of college preparatory programs on academic achievement
  • The impact of high-stakes testing on academic achievement
  • The relationship between student well-being and academic achievement
  • The effectiveness of service learning on academic achievement.
  • The effects of technology on student learning outcomes.
  • The relationship between parental involvement and student achievement.
  • The impact of teacher feedback on student motivation and learning.
  • The effectiveness of online learning compared to traditional classroom instruction.
  • The role of emotional intelligence in academic success.
  • The relationship between sleep and academic performance.
  • The effectiveness of peer tutoring on student achievement.
  • The impact of early childhood education on later academic success.
  • The effects of social media on academic performance and well-being.
  • The impact of teacher expectations on student achievement.
  • The effectiveness of differentiated instruction on student learning outcomes.
  • The relationship between teacher burnout and student performance.
  • The effectiveness of inclusive education for students with disabilities.
  • The impact of teacher training and professional development on student outcomes.
  • The effects of school culture and climate on student engagement and achievement.
  • The relationship between homework and student achievement.
  • The effectiveness of gamification in education.
  • The impact of nutrition on student academic performance.
  • The effects of gender on academic achievement and attitudes towards learning.
  • The effectiveness of project-based learning on student engagement and learning outcomes.
  • The relationship between school attendance and academic performance.
  • The impact of teacher-student relationships on academic achievement and well-being.
  • The effectiveness of cooperative learning on student learning outcomes.
  • The effects of parental involvement in homework on student achievement.
  • The relationship between student engagement and academic performance.
  • The impact of classroom size on student learning outcomes.
  • The effectiveness of feedback in online learning environments.
  • The effects of poverty on student academic achievement.
  • The relationship between student motivation and academic achievement.
  • The impact of school leadership on student outcomes.
  • The effectiveness of formative assessment on student learning outcomes.
  • The effects of school funding on student achievement.
  • The relationship between student self-regulation and academic performance.
  • The impact of cultural diversity on academic achievement and student attitudes towards learning.
  • The effectiveness of technology integration in the classroom.
  • The effects of teacher diversity on student achievement and attitudes towards learning.
  • The relationship between teacher expectations and student engagement.
  • The impact of school policies on student academic performance and behavior.
  • The effectiveness of metacognitive strategies on student learning outcomes.
  • The effects of parental involvement on student behavior and well-being.
  • The relationship between teacher collaboration and student achievement.
  • The impact of school transitions on student academic performance and well-being.
  • The effectiveness of inquiry-based learning on student engagement and learning outcomes.
  • The effects of standardized testing on student motivation and learning.
  • The relationship between student self-efficacy and academic performance.
  • The impact of cultural competency training on teacher attitudes and student outcomes.
  • The effectiveness of blended learning on student achievement and engagement.
  • The effects of teacher beliefs and attitudes on student outcomes.
  • The relationship between student achievement and post-secondary success.
  • The impact of extracurricular activities on student academic performance and well-being.
  • The effectiveness of flipped classroom models in higher education
  • The relationship between teacher-student rapport and academic performance
  • The effects of parental involvement on student achievement
  • The effectiveness of differentiated instruction in mixed-ability classrooms
  • The impact of teacher collaboration on student learning outcomes
  • The effectiveness of project-based learning in K-12 education
  • The relationship between classroom climate and student motivation
  • The effects of social media use on academic performance
  • The impact of inclusive education on students with disabilities
  • The effectiveness of online learning in higher education
  • The relationship between school size and academic achievement
  • The effects of school uniforms on student behavior and academic performance
  • The impact of student-centered learning on student achievement
  • The effectiveness of cooperative learning in K-12 education
  • The relationship between teacher expectations and student achievement
  • The effects of school funding on student achievement
  • The impact of teacher training on student outcomes
  • The effectiveness of peer tutoring in K-12 education
  • The effects of class size on student achievement
  • The impact of bilingual education on student outcomes
  • The effectiveness of gamification in education
  • The relationship between standardized testing and student achievement
  • The effects of homework on student achievement
  • The impact of parental involvement on college retention rates
  • The effectiveness of problem-based learning in K-12 education
  • The effects of teacher feedback on student learning outcomes
  • The impact of school discipline policies on student behavior and academic performance
  • The effectiveness of computer-assisted instruction in K-12 education
  • The relationship between teacher burnout and student outcomes
  • The effects of teacher-student racial/ethnic matching on academic performance
  • The impact of extracurricular activities on student achievement
  • The effectiveness of blended learning in higher education
  • The relationship between school leadership and student achievement
  • The effects of parental involvement on student attendance
  • The impact of peer influence on student achievement
  • The effectiveness of outdoor learning in K-12 education
  • The relationship between teacher autonomy and student outcomes
  • The effects of teacher diversity on student achievement
  • The impact of early childhood education on later academic achievement
  • The effectiveness of mindfulness practices in education
  • The relationship between teacher evaluation and student achievement
  • The effects of student self-assessment on learning outcomes
  • The impact of cultural competence on teacher-student relationships and academic performance
  • The effectiveness of online discussion forums in higher education
  • The relationship between school climate and student mental health
  • The effects of student-teacher race/ethnicity matching on academic performance
  • The impact of college majors on post-graduation outcomes.
  • The impact of technology on student engagement and academic performance
  • The effectiveness of project-based learning compared to traditional teaching methods
  • The impact of school uniforms on student behavior and academic performance
  • The relationship between teacher diversity and student outcomes
  • The effectiveness of peer mentoring for at-risk students
  • The impact of school funding on student achievement
  • The relationship between parent-teacher communication and student success
  • The effectiveness of social media for educational purposes
  • The impact of inclusive education on academic achievement
  • The effectiveness of teacher mentoring programs for new teachers
  • The relationship between school funding and student outcomes
  • The impact of teacher diversity on student achievement
  • The effectiveness of using games in the classroom for learning
  • The impact of teacher collaboration on teacher retention
  • The effectiveness of using graphic novels in the classroom for literacy development
  • The impact of standardized testing on student motivation and performance
  • The effectiveness of teacher coaching on teacher practice and student learning
  • The relationship between parent-teacher communication and student outcomes
  • The impact of peer mentoring on academic achievement
  • The effectiveness of teacher professional learning communities on student outcomes
  • The relationship between teacher personality and classroom climate
  • The impact of arts education on student creativity and academic achievement
  • The effectiveness of technology in teaching math
  • The relationship between teacher autonomy and teacher motivation
  • The impact of student-led conferences on parent involvement and academic performance
  • The effectiveness of differentiated instruction for gifted and talented students
  • The relationship between school discipline policies and student mental health
  • The impact of teacher leadership on school improvement
  • The effectiveness of using social media in education
  • The relationship between teacher beliefs and teacher effectiveness
  • The impact of school size on student outcomes
  • The effectiveness of using simulations in the classroom for learning
  • The relationship between parent involvement and teacher satisfaction
  • The impact of outdoor education on student learning and development
  • The effectiveness of using digital portfolios in the classroom for assessment
  • The relationship between teacher collaboration and teacher professional growth
  • The effectiveness of using multimedia in the classroom for learning
  • The relationship between school choice and student achievement
  • The impact of teacher empathy on student motivation and engagement
  • The effectiveness of using mindfulness practices in the classroom
  • The relationship between teacher creativity and student engagement
  • The impact of student ownership on academic performance
  • The effectiveness of using project-based learning in science education
  • The relationship between teacher job satisfaction and teacher retention
  • The impact of using drama in the classroom for learning
  • The effectiveness of using educational apps in the classroom
  • The relationship between teacher feedback and student achievement
  • The impact of peer assessment on student learning
  • The effectiveness of using simulations in social studies education
  • The impact of teacher-parent partnerships on student outcomes
  • The effectiveness of using podcasts in the classroom for learning
  • The relationship between teacher collaboration and teacher well-being
  • The impact of school culture on parent involvement
  • The effectiveness of using debate in the classroom for critical thinking skills.
  • The impact of teacher-student ratio on academic performance
  • The effectiveness of outdoor education on student learning
  • The impact of teacher gender on student engagement and achievement
  • The relationship between teacher feedback and student self-efficacy
  • The effectiveness of blended learning for language education
  • The impact of teacher-student relationships on student attendance
  • The relationship between teacher diversity and school culture
  • The effectiveness of cultural responsiveness in the classroom
  • The impact of school choice on student outcomes
  • The relationship between classroom design and student engagement
  • The effectiveness of differentiated instruction for gifted students
  • The impact of student mobility on academic achievement
  • The relationship between teacher experience and classroom management
  • The effectiveness of technology in teaching mathematics
  • The impact of teacher burnout on student performance
  • The relationship between teacher job satisfaction and student outcomes
  • The effectiveness of arts education on student development
  • The impact of standardized testing on student motivation and academic performance
  • The relationship between teacher-student trust and academic achievement
  • The effectiveness of online learning for adult education
  • The impact of school culture on teacher retention
  • The relationship between student motivation and academic success
  • The effectiveness of game-based learning for science education
  • The impact of teacher training on student outcomes in special education
  • The relationship between teacher beliefs and classroom management
  • The effectiveness of project-based learning for social studies education
  • The impact of school leadership on teacher job satisfaction
  • The relationship between teacher support and student mental health
  • The effectiveness of experiential learning for environmental education
  • The impact of teacher collaboration on student outcomes
  • The relationship between school climate and student achievement
  • The effectiveness of technology in teaching foreign languages
  • The impact of teacher evaluation on instructional quality
  • The relationship between school diversity and student achievement
  • The effectiveness of multicultural education for promoting social justice
  • The impact of teacher-student relationships on student self-esteem
  • The relationship between teacher turnover and student outcomes
  • The effectiveness of inquiry-based learning for mathematics education
  • The impact of school discipline policies on student behavior
  • The relationship between teacher expectations and student engagement
  • The effectiveness of technology in teaching literacy
  • The impact of teacher autonomy on classroom innovation
  • The relationship between school climate and teacher job satisfaction.
  • The relationship between classroom size and student achievement
  • The impact of school leadership on student outcomes
  • The effectiveness of different types of assessment methods
  • The influence of teacher attitudes on student motivation and engagement
  • The relationship between parental involvement and student achievement
  • The effectiveness of different teaching strategies for diverse learners
  • The impact of early childhood education on academic success
  • The relationship between teacher training and student outcomes
  • The effectiveness of different types of feedback on student learning
  • The impact of student-centered learning on academic performance
  • The effectiveness of differentiated instruction for diverse learners
  • The impact of teacher-student relationships on academic success
  • The relationship between school culture and student outcomes
  • The effectiveness of flipped classrooms compared to traditional classrooms
  • The impact of classroom management on student behavior and academic performance
  • The effectiveness of peer tutoring on student learning
  • The impact of parental involvement on student behavior and social-emotional development
  • The effectiveness of co-teaching for students with disabilities
  • The impact of bilingual education on academic achievement
  • The relationship between teacher beliefs and student achievement
  • The effectiveness of online learning compared to traditional classroom instruction
  • The impact of school culture on teacher satisfaction and retention
  • The relationship between teacher experience and student achievement
  • The effectiveness of technology-enhanced learning environments
  • The impact of teacher-student race/ethnicity matching on academic performance
  • The effectiveness of inquiry-based learning for science education
  • The relationship between school discipline policies and student outcomes
  • The effectiveness of teacher professional development on student learning
  • The impact of teacher preparation programs on teacher effectiveness
  • The relationship between classroom climate and student engagement
  • The effectiveness of teacher collaboration on student learning
  • The impact of social-emotional learning on academic performance
  • The relationship between teacher motivation and student achievement
  • The effectiveness of technology in teaching English as a second language
  • The impact of teacher autonomy on student outcomes
  • The relationship between teacher feedback and student motivation
  • The effectiveness of self-regulated learning strategies for academic success
  • The impact of single-sex education on student achievement
  • The relationship between teacher personality and student engagement
  • The effectiveness of experiential learning for history education
  • The impact of teacher-student relationships on student mental health
  • The relationship between school safety and student outcomes
  • The effectiveness of mindfulness practices on student behavior and academic performance.
  • The impact of technology on classroom learning
  • The effectiveness of differentiated instruction in diverse classrooms
  • The relationship between teacher burnout and student achievement
  • The impact of teacher-student relationships on academic performance
  • The effectiveness of teacher professional development on instructional practice
  • The effectiveness of online learning during the pandemic
  • The impact of teacher burnout on student achievement
  • The effectiveness of early childhood education programs
  • The impact of parental involvement on student success
  • The relationship between teacher expectations and student performance
  • The impact of school safety measures on student well-being
  • The relationship between school culture and teacher satisfaction
  • The effectiveness of using manipulatives in math education
  • The impact of homework on student achievement
  • The relationship between teacher preparation programs and teacher retention
  • The effectiveness of using technology for literacy development
  • The impact of social-emotional learning programs on student behavior and academic achievement
  • The relationship between school leadership and teacher morale
  • The effectiveness of using virtual reality in science education
  • The impact of teacher gender on student achievement
  • The relationship between parental involvement and student motivation
  • The effectiveness of project-based learning in social studies education
  • The impact of school climate on student attendance
  • The relationship between teacher experience and student outcomes
  • The effectiveness of using game-based learning in language arts education
  • The relationship between school funding and teacher quality
  • The effectiveness of using inquiry-based learning in science education
  • The impact of teacher expectations on student motivation
  • The relationship between school facilities and student achievement
  • The effectiveness of using music in the classroom for learning
  • The impact of teacher diversity on student outcomes
  • The effectiveness of using graphic organizers in the classroom for writing
  • The impact of teacher evaluation systems on teacher performance
  • The relationship between school size and student achievement
  • The effectiveness of using digital storytelling in the classroom
  • The impact of teacher feedback on student learning
  • The relationship between teacher professional development and student outcomes
  • The effectiveness of using problem-based learning in math education
  • The impact of school discipline policies on student outcomes
  • The relationship between teacher expectations and student self-esteem
  • The effectiveness of using visual aids in the classroom for learning
  • The impact of school culture on teacher collaboration
  • The relationship between school climate and student behavior
  • The effectiveness of using drama in language arts education
  • The impact of teacher motivation on student engagement
  • The relationship between school culture and student academic identity
  • The effectiveness of using mobile devices in the classroom for learning
  • The relationship between school climate and teacher retention
  • The effectiveness of using games for social-emotional learning
  • The impact of teacher-student racial matching on student achievement.
  • The relationship between parental involvement and academic achievement
  • The impact of inclusive education on social and emotional development
  • The effectiveness of blended learning on student outcomes
  • The impact of school culture on student behavior and attitudes
  • The effectiveness of flipped classroom models on student engagement
  • The relationship between teacher autonomy and student motivation
  • The impact of bilingual education on cognitive development
  • The effectiveness of cooperative learning strategies in the classroom
  • The effectiveness of classroom management strategies on student behavior
  • The impact of standardized testing on teaching and learning
  • The effectiveness of peer tutoring on academic achievement
  • The relationship between teacher training and student achievement
  • The impact of cultural diversity on classroom dynamics and learning
  • The effectiveness of technology in teaching and learning writing
  • The relationship between school facilities and student learning
  • The impact of teacher collaboration on instructional quality
  • The effectiveness of project-based learning in science education
  • The relationship between parent involvement and school climate
  • The impact of teacher feedback on student learning and motivation
  • The effectiveness of assessment tools in measuring student learning
  • The relationship between student attitudes and academic achievement
  • The impact of college readiness programs on student success
  • The effectiveness of using graphic organizers for teaching reading comprehension
  • The relationship between teacher leadership and school improvement
  • The impact of special education programs on student outcomes
  • The effectiveness of using digital tools in teaching and learning history
  • The relationship between school culture and student attendance
  • The impact of teacher expectations on student self-efficacy
  • The effectiveness of using peer assessment in student writing
  • The impact of teacher preparation programs on instructional quality
  • The impact of teacher-student ratio on student outcomes
  • The relationship between student engagement and academic achievement in online learning
  • The impact of teacher tenure policies on student outcomes
  • The relationship between school safety and student learning
  • The effectiveness of using game-based learning in the classroom.
  • The impact of COVID-19 on online learning in K-12 education
  • The effectiveness of differentiated instruction in a diverse classroom
  • The impact of early literacy intervention programs on reading comprehension
  • The effectiveness of inquiry-based learning in science education
  • The relationship between parent involvement and student academic success
  • The impact of teacher feedback on student writing
  • The effectiveness of using digital tools for formative assessment
  • The relationship between teacher burnout and student engagement
  • The relationship between school climate and bullying prevention
  • The impact of school discipline policies on student behavior and academic achievement
  • The effectiveness of using virtual reality in history education
  • The relationship between teacher expectations and student self-efficacy
  • The impact of teacher-student relationships on student well-being
  • The effectiveness of using games for math learning in elementary school
  • The relationship between teacher training and technology integration in the classroom
  • The impact of school culture on student mental health
  • The effectiveness of using project-based learning in social studies education
  • The relationship between teacher autonomy and job satisfaction
  • The impact of socio-economic status on access to higher education
  • The effectiveness of using technology for language learning
  • The relationship between school size and student outcomes
  • The impact of school leadership on teacher retention
  • The effectiveness of using active learning strategies in college classrooms
  • The relationship between teacher collaboration and student achievement
  • The impact of school-based mental health services on student well-being
  • The effectiveness of using assistive technology for special education students
  • The relationship between teacher job satisfaction and student performance
  • The impact of school-based health education programs on student health behaviors
  • The effectiveness of using simulations in science education
  • The effectiveness of using educational games for literacy development
  • The relationship between school culture and student academic achievement
  • The impact of teacher professional development on student outcomes
  • The effectiveness of using experiential learning in business education
  • The impact of teacher diversity on student engagement
  • The effectiveness of using graphic organizers in the classroom for reading comprehension
  • The relationship between school climate and teacher collaboration
  • The impact of school-based social-emotional learning programs on student behavior and academic performance
  • The effectiveness of using mobile devices for language learning
  • The relationship between teacher autonomy and teacher creativity
  • The effectiveness of using game-based learning for STEM education
  • The relationship between school climate and student motivation
  • The effectiveness of using mindfulness practices in the classroom for student well-being.
  • The effectiveness of personalized learning strategies
  • The effectiveness of mindfulness interventions in reducing stress and anxiety in students
  • The impact of teacher communication styles on student engagement
  • The relationship between bilingual education and cognitive development
  • The effectiveness of using virtual simulations in science education
  • The impact of school start times on student performance and well-being
  • The effectiveness of using art in language arts education
  • The impact of teacher-student race matching on student motivation and achievement
  • The relationship between school culture and student mental health
  • The effectiveness of inquiry-based learning in social studies education
  • The impact of peer mentoring on student success in college
  • The relationship between teacher burnout and student behavior
  • The effectiveness of using manipulatives in science education
  • The effectiveness of using gamification in math education
  • The impact of teacher-student gender matching on student attitudes towards STEM subjects
  • The relationship between student engagement and academic performance
  • The effectiveness of using social media in language learning
  • The relationship between school climate and parent involvement
  • The effectiveness of using technology in physical education
  • The effectiveness of using multimedia in history education
  • The impact of teacher motivation on student engagement and achievement
  • The relationship between school culture and parent satisfaction
  • The impact of teacher feedback on student motivation and self-regulation
  • The relationship between school climate and student attitudes towards diversity
  • The effectiveness of using blended learning in literacy education
  • The impact of teacher-student relationships on college success
  • The effectiveness of using digital portfolios for assessment
  • The impact of teacher diversity on school culture and climate
  • The relationship between school leadership and teacher professional development
  • The effectiveness of using inquiry-based learning in art education
  • The impact of teacher-student personality matching on academic achievement
  • The relationship between school climate and student creativity
  • The effectiveness of using coding in math education
  • The impact of teacher mentoring on new teacher retention
  • The relationship between school culture and student motivation
  • The effectiveness of using peer feedback in writing instruction
  • The impact of teacher diversity on student attitudes towards diversity
  • The relationship between school culture and student resilience
  • The effectiveness of using case-based learning in business education
  • The impact of teacher-student trust on student engagement and academic achievement.

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Published on EduTech

Key topics related to the use of new technologies in education, michael trucano, this page in:.

they come in all shapes, colors and sizes ...

Global Lead for Innovation in Education, Sr. Education & Technology Policy Specialist

Fantastic list and just the kind of resource for those in education dealing with the fast-changing world of technology. Starting with the right question is key to sorting the promising and appropriate, from the promises and the hype.

This is a great list. I am currently working with USAID on some related topics. Are there also a set of 'better' questions for each topic? If so, can this be shared? Would be fascinating and super helpful.

share this!

February 23, 2024

This article has been reviewed according to Science X's editorial process and policies . Editors have highlighted the following attributes while ensuring the content's credibility:

fact-checked

Generative AI can accelerate study time, research shows

by IU Internationale Hochschule

Generative AI can accelerate study time, research shows

Time plays a crucial role in higher education learning and influences learning progress and the achievement of academic goals. Shortening learning time through AI-supported, personalized approaches can help to reduce drop-out rates and increase enrollment rates.

Researchers from the International University of Applied Sciences (IU) have shown for the first time at scale the positive effect of generative AI in higher education within a large and diverse treatment group (n = ca. 1,000 IU students). Results show that generative AI can help to accelerate learning progress.

The research paper , "Revolutionising Distance Learning: A Comparative Study of Learning Progress with AI-Driven Tutoring," is in preprint .

The research tested whether the use of the AI-supported learning assistant Syntea, which was made available in almost all IU online courses in October 2023, influences the learning progress of distance learning students.

Analysis by the IU research team shows that by using Syntea, the average time taken by IU distance learners to complete a course reduced by 27% compared to baseline. This means that for a three-year bachelor program students will be able to save almost 10 months of their study time. This is based on the assumption that this effect will be extrapolated on the total study time.

Dr. Sven Schütt, CEO, of IU International University of Applied Sciences, stated, "This landmark study underscores the revolutionary impact our AI learning companion Syntea is having on higher education. And as we continue to innovate, that impact will only increase. The findings suggest that education is on the brink of unprecedented improvement, paving the way for possibilities we couldn't have imagined just a year ago.

"Extrapolating this finding to the 15-year educational journey of the average bachelor student implies the potential to accelerate in average four years of education, opening up completely new opportunities to reshape our education system."

The research focused on the new Syntea feature, "Exam Trainer" which was released for several IU courses (around 40) in October 2023, continuing the history of the LLM (large language models) enabled innovation Syntea started in early 2022.

In the future, it is planned that the trainer function will be available for half of IU's courses. The trainer feature prepares students for the exam giving them the next exam-like question, thus providing personal feedback in the same style as you would have in the exam. By doing so, IU students receive a lot more feedback compared to students at other universities, which helps them progress faster.

Provided by IU Internationale Hochschule

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More From Forbes

Technology, education and acceptance as pillars of societal progress.

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Founder and CEO of Haroun Education Ventures, Inc.

I firmly believe in the transformative power of education. It’s not just a way to impart knowledge, but also a means to solve the world’s most pressing issues. The recent shift towards online learning, accelerated by the pandemic, is a testament to this. By leveraging online platforms, we can reach students far and wide, breaking down geographic and socio-economic barriers.

The Role Of Cloud Computing

Cloud computing is the backbone of modern education and communication, making it a vital tool for enabling online learning and virtual collaboration. Platforms like Amazon Web Services have drastically reduced the costs and complexities of data storage and access, revolutionizing the way we disseminate and consume educational content. This technology is critical for scaling up educational resources, ensuring that learning materials are accessible to a global audience efficiently and reliably.

Cloud computing allows us to store vast amounts of educational content and make it accessible to anyone with an internet connection. This approach is about more than just providing education; it's about ensuring that it is of high quality, up-to-date and relevant, no matter where the learner is. The future of education lies in leveraging these technological advancements to create a world where knowledge knows no boundaries, and every individual has the opportunity to learn, grow and contribute to society.

Bridging The Global Educational Divide With Technology

I urge leaders everywhere in the world to realize that if we're going to progress as a society, we need to take the long view and invest in education. Just like JFK created the Peace Corps to spread American values around the globe, I believe a Global Edtech Corps should be created to do the same with online education.

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It goes without saying that we should pay teachers more. Countless potential educators, whether they’re government executives or recent college grads, are discouraged from entering the field because of the low salaries. In the meantime, platforms like Teachable and Udemy make it possible for anyone to spread their knowledge around the world, from sourdough recipes to business strategies.

I also challenge our tech pioneers to make education available to everyone on the planet using technology. Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook played an instrumental role in the Arab Spring, and Elon Musk’s Starlink satellite system is already proving invaluable in global education by providing high-speed internet in remote and rural areas around the world. Students and educators in these areas can now access educational resources, online courses and information that was previously out of reach thanks to these satellites.

Acceptance Through Education

The beauty of online platforms is their inclusivity; anyone, from any corner of the world, can gain access to education. Universal accessibility plays a crucial role in cultivating a society where diversity is not just acknowledged but celebrated.

But online education is more than just a mode of learning; it's a vehicle for fostering acceptance and breaking down societal barriers. In addition to technology and education, acceptance is the third pillar that will help us move forward as a society. Like legs on a stool, each one of these is equally vital and supports the other two.

Education, at its core, is about broadening horizons and fostering understanding among diverse groups of people. Through online courses, individuals from varied backgrounds come together, share perspectives and learn to respect and appreciate differences. This process naturally leads to the elimination of stereotypes and prejudices, paving the way for a more harmonious and cohesive society. As we embrace this educational revolution, we're doing more than just teaching subjects; we're nurturing a global community of enlightened, empathetic individuals.

Forbes Business Council is the foremost growth and networking organization for business owners and leaders. Do I qualify?

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110+ Exceptional Education Research Topics Ideas

Letters that make up the words of education

Topics for education research usually comprise school research topics, research problems in education, qualitative research topics in education, and concept paper topics about education to mention a few.

If you’re looking for research titles about education,  you’re reading the right post! This article contains 110 of the best education research topics that will come in handy when you need to choose one for your research. From sample research topics in education, to research titles examples for high school students about education – we have it all.

Educational Research Topics

Research title examples for college students, quantitative research titles about education, topics related to education for thesis, research titles about school issues, ph.d. research titles in education, elementary education research topics, research title examples about online class, research titles about modular learning, examples of research questions in education, special education research titles.

The best research titles about education must be done through the detailed process of exploring previous works and improving personal knowledge.

Here are some good research topics in education to consider.

What Are Good Research Topics Related to Education?

  • The role of Covid-19 in reinvigorating online learning
  • The growth of cognitive abilities through leisure experiences
  • The merits of group study in education
  • Merits and demerits of traditional learning methods
  • The impact of homework on traditional and modern education
  • Student underdevelopment as a result of larger class volumes
  • Advantages of digital textbooks in learning
  • The struggle of older generations in computer education
  • The standards of learning  in the various academic levels
  • Bullying and its effects on educational and mental health
  • Exceptional education tutors: Is the need for higher pay justifiable?

The following examples of research titles about education for college students are ideal for a project that will take a long duration to complete. Here are some education topics for research that you can consider for your degree.

  • Modern classroom difficulties of students and teachers
  • Strategies to reform the learning difficulties within schools
  • The rising cost of tuition and its burden on middle-class parents
  • The concept of creativity among public schools and how it can be harnessed
  • Major difficulties experienced in academic staff training
  • Evaluating the learning cultures of college students
  • Use of scientific development techniques in student learning
  • Research of skill development in high school and college students
  • Modern grading methods in underdeveloped institutions
  • Dissertations and the difficulties surrounding their completion
  • Integration of new gender categories in personalized learning

These research topics about education require a direct quantitative analysis and study of major ideas and arguments. They often contain general statistics and figures to back up regular research. Some of such research topics in education include:

  • The relationship between poor education and increased academic fees
  • Creating a social link between homeschool and traditional schoolgoers
  • The relationship between teacher satisfaction and student performance
  • The divide between public and private school performance
  • The merits of parental involvement in students’ cognitive growth.
  • A study on child welfare and its impact on educational development
  • The relationship between academic performance and economic growth
  • Urbanization in rural areas and its contribution to institutional growth
  • The relationship between students and professors in dissertation writing
  • The link between debt accumulation and student loans
  • Boarding schools and regular schools: The role these two school types play in cognitive development

Educational-related topics used for a thesis normally require a wide aspect of study and enough educational materials.  Here are some education research topics you can use for write my thesis .

  • The difficulties of bilingual education in private universities
  • Homework and its impact on learning processes in college education
  • Dissertation topic selection: Key aspects and research obligations
  • Social media research topics and their educational functions
  • A detailed educational review of student learning via virtual reality techniques
  • Ethnicities in universities and their participation in group activities
  • The modern approach to self-studying for college students
  • Developing time management skills in modern education
  • Guidelines for teacher development in advanced educational institutions
  • The need for religious education in boarding schools
  • A measure of cognitive development using digital learning methods

A research title about school issues focuses on activities surrounding the school environment and its effects on students, teachers, parents, and education in general. Below are some sample research titles in education, relating to school issues.

  • Learning English in bilingual schools
  • A study of teachers’ role as parent figures on school grounds
  • Addressing the increased use of illegal substances and their effects in schools
  • The benefits of after-class activities for foreign students
  • Assessing student and teacher relationships
  • A study of the best methods to implement safety rules in school
  • Major obstacles in meeting school schedules using boarding students as a case study
  • The need for counseling in public and private schools: Which is greater?
  • Academic volunteering in understaffed public schools
  • Modern techniques for curbing school violence among college students
  • The advantages and disadvantages of teacher unions in schools

As you create your proposed list of research topics in education, consider scientific journals for referencing purposes. Here are some Ph.D. research titles for education.

  • The modern methods of academic research writing
  • The role of colleges in advanced mental care
  • The merits and demerits of Ph.D. studies in Europe and Africa
  • Interpersonal relationships between students and professors in advanced institutions
  • A review of community colleges: merits and demerits
  • Assessing racism in academic ethnic minorities
  • The psychological changes of students in higher education
  • The questionable standards of student loan provisions
  • The merits of personalized teaching techniques in colleges
  • The wage gap between private and public university teachers
  • Teacher responsibilities in private universities versus public universities

The research topics in elementary education in 2023 are very different from the elementary education research topics from five or ten years ago. This creates interesting grounds for different research titles for elementary education.

Here are some elementary education title research ideas.

  • Assessing quick computer literacy among elementary school pupils.
  • The role of video games in childhood brain development
  • Male vs female role models in early education periods
  • The advantages of digital textbooks in elementary schools
  • The impact of modern curriculums on elementary education
  • Lack of proper school grooming is a cause of violence.
  • Should elementary school children be taught about LGBTQ?
  • A review of the need for sexual education in elementary schools
  • The effects of emotional dependence in early childhood learners.
  • The need for constant technology supervision of elementary school students
  • Advantages of computer-guided education in elementary schools

Here are some research title examples for students taking online classes.

  • The academic difficulties experienced by online students.
  • A study of decreased attention in online classes
  • The upsides and downsides of online education
  • The rising fees of online and traditional education in universities
  • A detailed study on the necessity of college internships
  • The need to provide college scholarships based on environmental achievements
  • How online education terminates university fraternities and sororities.
  • The role of academic supervisors in career selection
  • Why interactive assignments improved learning capabilities during the pandemic
  • Merits of education in online learning environments
  • Why online lessons are the least effective for some college students

The modular learning approach focuses primarily on learning outcomes. Here are some examples of research titles about modular learning.

  • Modular learning and the role of teachers in its execution
  • Teaching techniques of religious institutions
  • Potential risks of accelerated learning
  • Modular learning on students’ future performances
  • The general overview of modular learning amongst students
  • The modern Advantages and disadvantages of inclusive classes
  • Observing student developments in modular learning
  • Music therapy for fostering modular learning techniques
  • The creation of a personalized curriculum for students.
  • Applications of modular learning both in home-schooling?
  • The benefits of modular learning towards creating a more holistic educational system

These research title examples about education answer important questions and they can also be argumentative essay topics .

Here are some titles of research about education questions.

  • What impacts do learning approaches provide for students?
  • How can schools manage their increasing gender differences?
  • What fosters the provision of learning needs?
  • What are the best educational recruitment methods?
  • How can cognitive development improve education?
  • How can you assess the moral growth of institutions?
  • What are the primary causes of educational differences in geographical locations?
  • How can institutions address increasing mental health needs?
  • Why is early intervention essential in students with mental health setbacks?
  • What are the characteristics of mental health deterioration among students?
  • What techniques are acceptable in regulating the violence of students in institutions

Some of the research title examples about education include:

  • How do schools create more personalized learning methods?
  • Evaluating mental health setbacks during education
  • The impact of modern technology on special education
  • The cognitive improvements via specialized learning in dyslexic children
  • The psychological link between dyslexia and bullying in high school
  • Impact of social isolation in special education classes
  • The difficulties in providing specialized learning environments
  • A study of orphan students with disabilities and their aptitudes for learning
  • How special classes improve the self-esteem of disabled students.
  • How to use modern teaching techniques in unique learning environments.
  • A study of the application of digital games to autistic learning

Final words about education research topics

We have provided some reliable examples of a research topic about education you can use for write my thesis . You can use these research titles in education to cultivate your ideas, create inspiration, or for online research. Remember always to select a topic that you’re naturally passionate about and do diligent research, and reach out to our professional writing services if you need any help.

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Race and lgbtq issues in k-12 schools, what teachers, teens and the u.s. public say about current curriculum debates.

Demonstrators outside a school board meeting in Glendale, California, on June 20, 2023. (David McNew/Getty Images)

Pew Research Center conducted this study to better understand how public K-12 teachers, teens and the American public see topics related to race, sexual orientation and gender identity playing out in the classroom.

The bulk of the analysis in this report is based on an online survey of 2,531 U.S. public K-12 teachers conducted from Oct. 17 to Nov. 14, 2023. The teachers surveyed are members of RAND’s American Teacher Panel, a nationally representative panel of public school K-12 teachers recruited through MDR Education. Survey data is weighted to state and national teacher characteristics to account for differences in sampling and response to ensure they are representative of the target population.

For the questions for the general public, we surveyed 5,029 U.S. adults from Nov. 9 to Nov. 16, 2023. The adults surveyed are members of the Ipsos KnowledgePanel, a nationally representative online survey panel. Panel members are randomly recruited through probability-based sampling, and households are provided with access to the Internet and hardware if needed. To ensure that the results of this survey reflect a balanced cross section of the nation, the data is weighted to match the U.S. adult population by gender, age, education, race and ethnicity and other categories.

For questions for teens, we conducted an online survey of 1,453 U.S. teens from Sept. 26 to Oct. 23, 2023, through Ipsos. Ipsos recruited the teens via their parents, who were part of its KnowledgePanel. The survey was weighted to be representative of U.S. teens ages 13 to 17 who live with their parents by age, gender, race and ethnicity, household income, and other categories. The survey on teens was reviewed and approved by an external institutional review board (IRB), Advarra, an independent committee of experts specializing in helping to protect the rights of research participants.

Here are the questions used for this report , along with responses, and the survey methodology .

Throughout the report, references to White, Black and Asian adults include those who are not Hispanic and identify as only one race. Hispanics are of any race. The views and experiences of teachers and teens who are Asian American or part of other racial and ethnic groups are not analyzed separately in this report due to sample limitations. Data for these groups is incorporated into the general population figures throughout the report.

All references to party affiliation include those who lean toward that party. Republicans include those who identify as Republicans and those who say they lean toward the Republican Party. Democrats include those who identify as Democrats and those who say they lean toward the Democratic Party.

Political leaning of school districts is based on whether the majority of those residing in the school district voted for Republican Donald Trump or Democrat Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election.

Amid national debates about what schools are teaching , we asked public K-12 teachers, teens and the American public how they see topics related to race, sexual orientation and gender identity playing out in the classroom.

A pie chart showing that about 4 in 10 teachers say current debates about K-12 education have had a negative impact on their job.

A sizeable share of teachers (41%) say these debates have had a negative impact on their ability to do their job. Just 4% say these debates have had a positive impact, while 53% say the impact has been neither positive nor negative or that these debates have had no impact.

And 71% of teachers say teachers themselves don’t have enough influence over what’s taught in public schools in their area.

In turn, a majority of teachers (58%) say their state government has too much influence over this. And more say the federal government, the local school board and parents have too much influence than say they don’t have enough.

Most of the findings in this report come from a survey of 2,531 U.S. public K-12 teachers conducted Oct. 17-Nov. 14, 2023, using the RAND American Teacher Panel. 1 The survey looks at teachers’ views on:

  • Race and LGBTQ issues in the classroom ( Chapter 1 )
  • Current debates over what schools should be teaching and the role of key groups ( Chapter 2 )

It follows a fall 2022 survey of K-12 parents that explored similar topics.

This report also includes some findings from a survey of U.S. teens ages 13 to 17 ( Chapter 3 ) and a survey of U.S. adults ( Chapter 4 ). For details about these surveys, refer to the Methodology section of this report. Among the key findings:

  • 38% of teens say they feel comfortable when topics related to racism or racial inequality come up in class (among those who say these topics have come up). A smaller share (29%) say they feel comfortable when topics related to sexual orientation or gender identity come up.
  • Among the American public , more say parents should be able to opt their children out of learning about LGBTQ issues than say the same about topics related to race (54% vs. 34%).

What do teachers think students should learn about slavery and gender identity?

A diverging bar chart showing that most teachers think students should learn that the legacy of slavery still affects Black Americans today.

We asked public K-12 teachers what they think students should learn in school about two topics in particular:

  • Whether the legacy of slavery still affects the position of Black people in American society today.
  • Whether a person’s gender can be different from or is determined by their sex at birth.

For these questions, elementary, middle and high school teachers were asked about elementary, middle and high school students, respectively.

The legacy of slavery

Most teachers (64%) say students should learn that the legacy of slavery still affects the position of Black people in American society today.

About a quarter (23%) say students should learn that slavery is part of American history but no longer affects the position of Black people in American society. Just 8% say students shouldn’t learn about this topic in school at all.

Majorities of elementary, middle and high school teachers say students should learn that the legacy of slavery still has an impact on the lives of Black Americans.

Gender identity

A diverging bar chart showing that most elementary school teachers say students shouldn’t learn about gender identity at school.

When it comes to teaching about gender identity – specifically whether a person’s gender can be different from or is determined by their sex assigned at birth – half of public K-12 teachers say students shouldn’t learn about this in school.

A third of teachers think students should learn that someone can be a boy or a girl even if that is different from the sex they were assigned at birth.

A smaller share (14%) say students should learn that whether someone is a boy or a girl is determined by their sex at birth.

Views differ among elementary, middle and high school teachers. But teachers across the three levels are more likely to say students should learn that a person’s gender can be different from their sex at birth than to say students should learn gender is determined by sex at birth.

Most elementary school teachers (62%) say students shouldn’t learn about gender identity in school. This is much larger than the shares of middle and high school teachers who say the same (45% and 35%).

What parents and teens say

Parents of K-12 students are more divided on what their children should learn in school about these topics.

In the 2022 survey , 49% of parents said they’d rather their children learn that the legacy of slavery still affects the position of Black people in American society today, while 42% said they’d rather their children learn that slavery no longer affects Black Americans.

When it comes to gender identity, 31% of parents said they’d rather their children learn that gender can be different from sex at birth. An identical share said they would rather their children learn gender is determined by sex at birth. Another 37% of parents said their children shouldn’t learn about gender identity in school.

Teens, like parents, are more divided than teachers on these questions. About half of teens (48%) say they’d rather learn that the legacy of slavery still affects the position of Black Americans today. Four-in-ten would prefer to learn that slavery no longer affects Black Americans.

And teens are about evenly divided when it comes to what they prefer to learn about gender identity. A quarter say they’d rather learn that a person’s gender can be different from their sex at birth; 26% would prefer to learn that gender is determined by sex at birth. About half (48%) say they shouldn’t learn about gender identity in school.

For more on teens’ views about what they prefer to learn in school about each of these topics, read Chapter 3 of this report.

Should parents be able to opt their children out of learning about certain topics?

Most public K-12 teachers (60%) say parents should not be able to opt their children out of learning about racism or racial inequality in school, even if the way these topics are taught conflicts with the parents’ beliefs. A quarter say parents should be able to opt their children out of learning about these topics.

In contrast, more say parents should be able to opt their children out of learning about sexual orientation or gender identity (48%) than say parents should not be able to do this (33%).

On topics related to both race and LGBTQ issues, elementary and middle school teachers are more likely than high school teachers to say parents should be able to opt their children out.

How teachers’ views compare with the public’s views

A diverging bar chart showing that 54% of Americans say parents should be able to opt their children out of learning about LGBTQ issues.

Like teachers, Americans overall are more likely to say parents should be able to opt their children out of learning about sexual orientation or gender identity (54%) than to say they should be able to opt their children out of learning about racism or racial inequality (34%).

Across both issues, Americans overall are somewhat more likely than teachers to say parents should be able to opt their children out.

For more on the public’s views, read Chapter 4 of this report.

How often do topics related to race and LGBTQ issues come up in the classroom?

A horizontal stacked bar chart showing that topics related to racism and racial inequality come up in the classroom more often than LGBTQ issues.

Most teachers who’ve been teaching for more than a year (68%) say the topics of sexual orientation and gender identity rarely or never came up in their classroom in the 2022-23 school year. About one-in-five (21%) say these topics came up sometimes, and 8% say they came up often or extremely often.

Topics related to racism or racial inequality come up more frequently. A majority of teachers (56%) say these topics came up at least sometimes in their classroom, with 21% saying they came up often or extremely often.

These topics are more likely to come up in secondary school than in elementary school classrooms.

How do teachers’ views differ by party?

As is the case among parents of K-12 students and the general public, teachers’ views on how topics related to race and LGBTQ issues should play out in the classroom differ by political affiliation.

  • What students should learn about slavery: 85% of Democratic and Democratic-leaning teachers say students should learn that the legacy of slavery still affects the position of Black people in American society today. This compares with 35% of Republican and Republican-leaning teachers who say the same.

A diverging bar chart showing that teachers’ views on parents opting their children out of learning about race, LGBTQ issues differ widely by party.

  • What students should learn about gender identity: Democratic teachers are far more likely than Republican teachers to say students should learn that a person’s gender can be different from the sex they were assigned at birth (53% vs. 5%). Most Republican teachers (69%) say students shouldn’t learn about gender identity in school.
  • Parents opting their children out of learning about these topics: 80% of Republican teachers say parents should be able to opt their children out of learning about LGBTQ issues, compared with 30% of Democratic teachers. And while 47% of Republican teachers say parents should be able to opt their children out of learning about racism and racial inequality, just 11% of Democratic teachers say this.

A majority of public K-12 teachers (58%) identify with or lean toward the Democratic Party. About a third (35%) identify with or lean toward the GOP. Americans overall are more evenly divided: 47% are Democrats or Democratic leaners, and 45% are Republicans or Republican leaners .

  • For details, refer to the Methodology section of the report. ↩

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About Pew Research Center Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping the world. It conducts public opinion polling, demographic research, media content analysis and other empirical social science research. Pew Research Center does not take policy positions. It is a subsidiary of The Pew Charitable Trusts .

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The survey revealed surprising areas of agreement among Americans regarding education, including support for a free, public education for every child, and teaching basic literacy, numeracy and civics. (Photo/iStock)

How Americans really feel about the teaching of controversial topics in schools

Americans are united on core principles like the importance of public education and parental involvement, but diverge on the details, a new USC study suggests.

While Americans overwhelmingly agree on the fundamental value of public education, a new study by researchers at USC reveals deep partisan divides on sensitive topics like LGBTQ+ inclusion and racial justice in K-12 curricula.

Drawing from a nationally representative survey of more than 3,900 U.S. adults, the study offers a more nuanced picture of public opinion than the heated debates dominating headlines. The research also provides insights for policymakers and educators navigating the complexities of public education in an increasingly polarized America.

“We were surprised and hopeful to find such strong bipartisan support for public education and its purpose,” said Anna Saavedra , co-author of the study, research scientist and co-director at the Center for Applied Research in Education at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences.

“That said, there are major partisan differences in beliefs about what children should be learning in public schools, particularly regarding topics related to LGBTQ and race. Local districts have the challenge of reconciling these differences in the coming years,” said Saavedra, who is also the director of research for the USC EdPolicy Hub based at the USC Rossier School of Education.

The researchers conducted an internet-based survey from September to October, targeting a nationally representative sample of American households drawn from the USC Dornsife Center for Economic and Social Research’s Understanding America Study .

The survey reflected a diverse range of political affiliations, with 40% identifying as Democrat or leaning Democrat, 34% as Republican or leaning Republican, and 27% as independent or belonging to other political parties. The sample included 1,763 households with at least one K-12 child living in the home, and 2,142 households without children currently in the home.

The survey asked participants about the purposes of education, parental control over classroom content and potentially contested topics in K-12 curricula, including LGBTQ inclusion and discussions about race.

Despite the current political climate , the survey revealed surprising areas of agreement among Americans regarding education.

For example, Americans across the political spectrum overwhelmingly agree on the importance of a free, public education for every child; its core functions of teaching basic literacy, numeracy and civics; and positioning children to have a financially secure future.

The researchers also discovered that 58% of Democrats and 54% of Republicans believe protecting democracy is a very important goal of education, while 36% of adults with other affiliations agree. The survey also showed widespread agreement that parents should play an important role in their children’s education.

“In an election year, when the partisan stakes seem so high, we were heartened to find such high levels of agreement around core purposes of education, including both teaching the basics and also strengthening our fragile democracy,” said Morgan Polikoff , co-author of the study and associate professor of education at USC Rossier.

Unsurprisingly, the majority of respondents were in favor of elementary students discussing kindness and its significance (90%) and teaching about standing up for others (88%). More than half (54%) are OK with teachers assigning a book depicting a romance between a boy and a girl (54%).  

Americans remain split on classroom conversations

Divides were deepest on LGBTQ topics in schools. Among Democrats, 80-86% support high school students learning about such topics, while less than 40% of Republicans approve. Support wanes for teaching the topics to elementary students among Democrats (40%-50%), and only 10% approval from Republicans.

“Our survey highlights the deep divisions about not just what children should be learning in school, but also when. Policymakers need to really think about these nuances if they are going to craft policies that reflect what Americans really want,” Polikoff said.

At the high school level, most people (65%) support discussing various kinds of families. Additionally, 64% approve of discussing how anyone in America can marry the person they love, no matter their gender, and 61% approve of teachers displaying photos of their same-sex spouses on their desks.

The researchers also found that more than half of adults support discussing race-related topics in high school classrooms. While Democrats support elementary school children learning about slavery, civil rights and race-based inequality, Republicans do not.

Other findings included:

  • Fewer than half of Republicans approve of high school students learning about current race-related issues, such as the use of race in college admissions (47%), how discriminatory policies like unfair housing and unequal access to health care have harmed minorities (41%) and how criminal justice policies affect people of color relative to white Americans (40%).
  • Topics closely linked to the experiences of minority racial backgrounds tend to garner less support. For example, the scenario least favored by Republicans (36%) involves a math project where students analyze national data on the frequency of students of different races being sent to the principal’s office.
  • While nearly 60% of all respondents agree that children should learn about historical racism, even if it makes them feel guilty, there is a stark divide along party lines. Democrats largely support this approach (81%), while only 33% of Republicans agree.

“We hope our study results will provide renewed bipartisan enthusiasm to work together to improve public education, and with some concrete tools to do so,” Saavedra said.

Read the report online .

Editor’s note: Interviews with Professors Saavedra and Polikoff are available on the USC Dornsife Google Drive .

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An Assessment of the National Institute of Standards and Technology Center for Neutron Research: Fiscal Year 2023

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An Assessment of the National Institute of Standards and Technology Center for Neutron Research

Fiscal year 2023.

Since 1959, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has annually enlisted the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to convene expert panels comprising individuals from academia, industry, and various scientific and engineering fields. Their primary task is to evaluate the quality and efficacy of the six NIST measurements and standards laboratories, as well as the sufficiency of resources available to these laboratories.

This report assesses the NIST Center for Neutron Research (NCNR), with a focus on scientific and technical programs; portfolio of scientific and technical expertise; the adequacy of the budget, facilities, instrumentation, and human resources; and the effectiveness of NCNR dissemination efforts.

  • Engineering and Technology — Policy, Reviews and Evaluations

Suggested Citation

National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. An Assessment of the National Institute of Standards and Technology Center for Neutron Research: Fiscal Year 2023 . Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/27431. Import this citation to: Bibtex EndNote Reference Manager

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Why the Tech Industry Won’t Disrupt Health Care

  • John Glaser,
  • Sara Vaezy,
  • Janet Guptill

research topics in education and technology

Digital transformation will most likely come from established health systems. Here’s what they need to do.

At first glance, it looks like health care in the United States is ripe for disruption. Digital technology advances have the power to help address the shortcomings of care delivery: It costs too much, its quality isn’t what it could and should be, and millions of people live hundreds of miles from the nearest hospital and/or don’t have a primary care doctor. But for many reasons, the incumbents — established health systems — will be extremely hard to displace. Instead, the winners will be health systems that team up with digital tech companies.

We’ve all watched digital innovators demolish certain industries: video and record stores, neighborhood movie theaters, travel agents. A one-time #18 on the Fortune 500, photo film giant Eastman Kodak was felled by digital photography. But some industries and players successfully fend off digital competitors and incorporate their innovations into their daily operations. An Economist article observed that even though most banking has moved online, the average large bank is 138 years old. Walmart, the world’s largest brick-and-mortar retailer, is also the second-largest online retailer.

  • John Glaser is an executive in residence at Harvard Medical School. He previously served as the CIO of Partners Healthcare (now Mass General Brigham), a senior vice president at Cerner, and the CEO of Siemens Health Services. He is co-chair of the HL7 Advisory Council and a board member of the National Committee for Quality Assurance.
  • Sara Vaezy is executive vice president and chief strategy and digital officer at Providence, where she is responsible for corporate strategy, artificial intelligence strategy, marketing, digital, and experience for the integrated delivery network, which includes 51 hospitals and 1,000 clinics serving 5 million patients annually. She also is a member of the National Committee for Quality Assurance’s board of directors and the Harvard Executive Education faculty.
  • Janet Guptill is president and CEO of the Scottsdale Institute, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to helping its more than 60 large, integrated health systems leverage information and technology to create effective, affordable, and equitable health care centered on whole person care.

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    The focus of this Research Topic is to explore the impact of recent technological innovations and advances (such as AI, AI-powered Chatbots, Learning Analytics, Virtual and Augmented Reality, and remote and virtual labs) on different education systems, both from the educational and the psychological perspective.

  7. Current Trends (and Missing Links) in Educational Technology Research

    To understand the topics educational technology researchers have been studying over the past 5 years, I used the Elsevier Scopus ( n.d.) API to collect all articles from the most-highly-cited journals in the field of educational technology as identified by Google Scholar ( n.d. ), which included TechTrends, Computers & Education, Educational Tec...

  8. Education reform and change driven by digital technology: a ...

    The study highlights the dual influence of technological factors and historical context on the research topic. Technology is a key factor in enabling education to transform and upgrade, and the ...

  9. What 126 studies say about education technology

    To address this need, J-PAL North America recently released a new publication summarizing 126 rigorous evaluations of different uses of education technology. Drawing primarily from research in developed countries, the publication looks at randomized evaluations and regression discontinuity designs across four broad categories: (1) access to ...

  10. Educational Technology

    Topics Educational Technology Featured Educational technology refers not only to the hardware and software used in an educational setting, but how technological resources are used to support teaching and learning.

  11. 15 EdTech research papers that we share all the time

    Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 32 (2), 139-156. The impact and reach of MOOCs: a developing countries' perspective This article challenges the narrative that Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are a solution to low and middle-income countries' (LMIC) lack of access to education, examining the features of MOOCs from their perspectives.

  12. ISTE

    The Hottest Topics in Edtech for 2022! By Diana Fingal December 9, 2022 Topics Education Leadership For a few years now, we've shared on this blog the hottest edtech trends of the year based on the topics resonating with educators who submit proposals to present at the annual ISTE conference.

  13. Education

    About Pew Research Center Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping the world. It conducts public opinion polling, demographic research, media content analysis and other empirical social science research. Pew Research Center does not take policy positions.

  14. The Hottest Topics in Edtech in 2021

    1. Digital citizenship Digital citizenship has been a hot topic for educators for nearly a decade — but it has quickly evolved in the past two years — especially in the past year as remote and hybrid learning has shifted learning online.

  15. 170+ Research Topics In Education (+ Free Webinar)

    To develop a suitable education-related research topic, you'll need to identify a clear and convincing research gap, and a viable plan of action to fill that gap. If this sounds foreign to you, check out our free research topic webinar that explores how to find and refine a high-quality research topic, from scratch.

  16. 500+ Educational Research Topics

    Educational Research Topics are as follows: The effects of personalized learning on student academic achievement The impact of teacher expectations on student achievement The effectiveness of flipped classroom models on student engagement and learning outcomes The impact of classroom design on student behavior and learning

  17. (PDF) Impact of modern technology in education

    The importance of technology in schools cannot be ignored. In fact, with the onset of computers in education, it has become easier for teachers to impart knowledge and for students to acquire it ...

  18. Key topics related to the use of new technologies in education

    As part of this process, we have developed a master list of master list of 50+ key topics related to the use of new technologies in education of potential operational relevance to the World Bank in its strategic advice, lending activities and research going forward.

  19. Trends and Topics in Educational Technology, 2023 Edition

    In this editorial, we present trends and popular topics in educational technology for the year 2022. We used a similar public internet data mining approach (Kimmons & Veletsianos, 2018) to ...

  20. PDF Trends and Topics in Educational Technology, 2023 Edition

    Our analysis pro-vides a snapshot of educational technology trends in 2022 from four diferent perspectives, afording insights into what is of interest in the field as institutions, educators, learners, and researchers adjust to the post-pandemic 'normal' and adopt educational technologies, resources, and practices at a more mature level.

  21. Generative AI can accelerate study time, research shows

    Researchers from the International University of Applied Sciences (IU) have shown for the first time at scale the positive effect of generative AI in higher education within a large and diverse ...

  22. 100+ Education Research Topics & Ideas for Your Paper

    Updated 05 Feb 2024 Education research plays a crucial role in advancing our understanding of teaching and learning. However, for students, finding a compelling research topic can be a daunting task. That's why we're here to help! In this article, we have curated a collection of the latest education research topics and ideas to inspire you.

  23. Technology, Education And Acceptance As Pillars Of Societal ...

    In addition to technology and education, acceptance is the third pillar that will help us move forward as a society. Like legs on a stool, each one of these is equally vital and supports the other ...

  24. 110+ Strong Education Research Topics & Ideas In 2023

    This article contains 110 of the best education research topics that will come in handy when you need to choose one for your research. From sample research topics in education, to research titles examples for high school students about education - we have it all. Contents Educational Research Topics Research Title Examples for College Students

  25. Race and LGBTQ Issues in K-12 Schools

    Amid national debates about what schools are teaching, we asked public K-12 teachers, teens and the American public how they see topics related to race, sexual orientation and gender identity playing out in the classroom.. A sizeable share of teachers (41%) say these debates have had a negative impact on their ability to do their job. Just 4% say these debates have had a positive impact, while ...

  26. Controversial school topics: How Americans really feel

    The survey asked participants about the purposes of education, parental control over classroom content and potentially contested topics in K-12 curricula, including LGBTQ inclusion and discussions about race. Despite the current political climate, the survey revealed surprising areas of agreement among Americans regarding education.

  27. An Assessment of the National Institute of Standards and Technology

    Read online, download a free PDF. Since 1959, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has annually enlisted the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to convene expert panels comprising individuals from academia, industry, and various scientific and engineering fields.

  28. Why the Tech Industry Won't Disrupt Health Care

    Sara Vaezy is executive vice president and chief strategy and digital officer at Providence, where she is responsible for corporate strategy, artificial intelligence strategy, marketing, digital ...