Literature Review

Using Technology to Improve Education

Dara Easterling


Improvements in education have taken many forms from learning theories to technology to involvement opportunities. One of the most influential and constantly changing has been that of digital technology. Digital technology in the form of computers allow the use of teaching aids via the Internet and online learning resources had been a contributing factor to improving assignment research activities. The one theory, in particular, was the cognitive learning theory that bridges the learning with the brain in mind and how learning and understanding occur. Cotton (2000) described the learning achievements effects, with the brain and factors in mind, in terms of increased parental involvement. It is more likely that the higher the level of interaction that there has been, then the more likely as a result for positive things to come about. Also, its influence on success or failure rate had been key to determining whether educational environments can be improved. This review reported factors in whole and in part and how they could improve the educational system of learning and connectedness.   

Cognitive Learning Theory

Learning theories provided a structure within education to assist people in the ways to learn and in what ways they were able to learn. The theories were numerous and encompassed the thought processes from the brain and outside learned factors. Prawat (1999) addressed at least two theorists, Dewey and Vygotsky, in relation to cognitive learning and involvement. Cognitive learning theory was one of the theories developed that addressed building up learning for understanding through brain-based and internally focused activities. The definition of cognitive learning theory, in relation to education, can be interpreted in many ways whether it is learning, motivation, technology, or involvement. There were other theories and perspectives that used the same basis of cognitive learning theory and were still being used in many ways in education.

Technology and cognitive learning theory, namely social cognitive theory, is focused on the use of mass media to lend a hand to parents in terms of influencing children’s learning.  Mass media and television remain the “primary source of mass media that exerts a considerable influence over attitudes, beliefs, awareness, and behavior, making it potentially one of the most powerful teachers in today’s society” (Saunders & Prinz, 2008, p. 611). Through mass media learning can occur based on the social aspect of the environment and it’s influencing of behaviors and innate knowledge.  Because mass media was so encompassing, it reached those who would not otherwise be accessible through other means like phone call or letters. Also, the methods used within mass media addressed those cognitive needs through modeling, building upon self-efficacy, and the ability to build up internally and externally. As with all things, there were some benefits and challenges associated with using mass media as a leveler for parents. The learning, in particular, was affected through influences on the brain, which in turn affects behavior. When separated by beliefs and society the head was split and Prawat (1999) attributed that to mean taking meaning from learning and validation.

On the other hand there is the point to be made that emotions in the educational environment affect learning and motivation when focused on “parental involvement … academic motivation with the objectives; to investigate the morally and financially involvement of the parents in their children academic motivation in rural areas at primary level” (Ghazi, Shahzad, Khan, & Hukamdad, 2010, p. 93). They concluded that negative reinforcements were used to garner motivation in learning. In terms of the cognitive process, it was shown that a negative mood occurred when less than positive consequences happened during the learning process. Vlierberghe, Braet, Bosmans, Rossel, & Bogels (2010) had described this area on concern using the cognitive framework of Young’s Schema Theory. They concluded how maladaptive schemas and negative environment after youth and adults cognitively. Digital technology was shown, when implemented in learning, to allow success to occur when experiences and the learning were accompanied with positive feedback, motivation and involvement. Some of those types of feedback, motivation, and involvement, as described by Bird (2006) were certificates, words or praise, a note or e-mail, and volunteering opportunities at the school and via technology.

 Parental Involvement

Communication with parents in educational settings evolved with the use of digital technology. Initially, there were communications from school to parent in the form of newsletters and memos. With the advent of online learning resources and Internet based software, communication took a new form; some of those newer forms are school websites and e-mails. Ramirez (2006) found both are of importance in school communication and that online communication like e-mail is not a cure all for keeping parents informed and updated. Internet based software went one step further and provided all involved with a way to communicate, educate, and increase involvement through interaction. Methods such as implementing technology have continued to increase parental involvement in an educational setting. By implementing technology, parents have been given a way in which to communicate more quickly and interactively than before.

The speed at which technology had been show to move creates that instant interaction and feedback. Online learning resources like student information systems and web-based software like LightSpan have been implemented for that purpose. Student information systems were described by Bird (2006) as a method of communication that is new and gives parents immediate access to information about their child and provides them with a chance to affect learning growth. Online learning software was a type of digital technology focused on using an “evaluation framework used in a statewide, multiyear technology evaluation and investigates whether evaluation findings are reflective of the program’s implementation or rather reveal a limitation of the technology” (Giancola, 2001, p. 369). One type of digital technology evaluated was LightSpan, which bridged the gap from school to home through communication and learning elements. LightSpan allowed students to learn in small groups or individually while at school and home on Reading and Math skills.  The evaluation of software use showed that students not only exceled in the key skills but also that they became more independent users of it.

Ramirez (2006) focused primarily on the benefits of communication in general and as it related to Epstein the types of involvement, most specifically Type 2, which were described in detail in his article. The Type 2 level of involvement by Epstein was based on communicating. Another element addressed by Sheehey and Sheehey (2008) in relation to parental involvement and technology was the relative understanding of how to use it and whether was understood by those involved. The parents and teachers had to have some prior learning or familiarity with the method in order to use it to be able to communicate and interact. Some of the ways that technology had been addressed previously is through school workshops and meeting and now it is addressed online and through paper-based methods too.

 Success Strategies

Success strategies, school-wide or otherwise, was defined by Clark, Lotto, & McCarthy (1980)

Positive changes in any one of the following four variables: 1) student achievement, 2) student attributes toward the school or themselves as learners, 3) teacher attitudes toward the school or students as learners, 4) community/parent attitudes toward school (¶10).

Bergin & Bergin (2009) addressed strategies for success with regards to involvement and relationships with students, parents, and teachers in an effort to bring forth achievement and school success. All involved had to have a positive attitude in order to create success through meaningful relationships. Sahinkarakas (2011) related the language learning process to the cognitive learning theory addressed early and how the need is being met emotionally and in turn success occurs not only through relationships by through action. Technology in that instance is one of those motivators that influences all involved.

As stated with regards to student learning and involvement, “teachers have one more “tool” to try when dealing with children’s behavior” (Clark & Huber, 2005, p. 183). According to Hall & Sabey (2007) the connection between technologies, involvement, and learning was of importance and that there is a need to provide new tools, expansive learning opportunities, and diversity in it to create success. Berthelsen and Walker (2008) addressed it as well in their findings on parents whose children were in the initial stages of education. They focused on parents involved in the child’s education through written and oral communication, classroom volunteering, and assisting with fundraisers. As a result students’ achievement increased and social involvement and interaction increased. One of the most important things garnered from their research was that “while the frequency of family–school contact can foster relationships, the quality of contacts makes the largest difference” (Berthelsen and Walker, 2008, p. 41).


Educational learning and communication has been affected by the use of digital technology but it had shown to be vital in the process. Learning in conjunction with technology affects the brain and behavior and therefore affect other factors such as student success and the level of parental involvement.  The implementations of technology methods were shown to be useful dependent on ability and access level and willingness to use. Therefore, the successes of the learning and interaction were affected or changed. Communication between parents and schools using technology was shown through literature to be just one of the factors that increased parental involvement and interaction in the educational environment.


Bergin, C., & Bergin, D. (2009). Attachment in the classroom. Educational Psychology Review, 21(2), 141-170. doi:10.1007/s10648-009-9104-0

Berthelsen, D. & Walker, S. (2008). Parents’ involvement in their children’s education. Family Matters, 79, 34-41. Retrieved from Academic Search Complete database.

Bird, K. (2006) How do you spell parental involvement? S-I-S. T.H.E. Journal, 33(7), 38-42. Retrieved from Academic Search Complete database.

Clark, D., Lotto, L., & McCarthy, M. (1980). Factors associated with success in urban elementary schools. The Phi Delta Kappan, 61(7), 467-470. Retrieved from ERIC Database.

Clark, P., & Huber, L. (2005). Enhancing early childhood teacher growth and development through professional development school partnerships. Journal of Early Childhood Teacher Education, 26(2), 179-186. doi:10.1080/10901020590955743

Cotton, K. (2000). The schooling practices that matter most. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Dalton, B. & Grisham, D.L. (2011). 10 ways to use technology to build vocabulary. The Reading Teacher, 64(5), 306-317. doi: 10.1598/RT.64.5.1

Giancola, S. (2001). Technology programs …for all or for some? Journal of Science Education and Technology, 10(4), 369-385. Retrieved from Education Research Complete database.

Ghazi, S.R., Ali, R., Shahzad, S., Khan, M.S., & Hukamdad. (2010). Parent involvement in children academic motivation.  Asian Social Science, 6(4), 93-100. Retrieved from Academic Search Complete database.

Hall, K., & Sabey, B. (2007). Focus on the facts: Using informational texts effectively in early elementary classrooms. Early Childhood Education Journal, 35(3), 261-268. doi:10.1007/s10643-007-0187-2

Prawat, R.S. (1999).  Cognitive theory at the crossroads: Head fitting, head splitting, or somewhere in between?  Human Development, 42, 59-77. Retrieved from Education Research Complete database.

Ramirez, F. (2001). Technology and parental involvement. Clearing House, 75(1), 30-31. Retrieved from Academic Search Complete database.

Sahinkarakas, S. (2011). Young students’ success and failure attributions in language learning. Social Behavior & Personality: An International Journal, 39(7), 879-885. doi:10.2224/sbp.2011.39.7.879

Sanders, M.R. & Prinz, R.J. (2008).  Using the mass media as a population level strategy to strengthen parenting skills.  Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology, 37(3), 609-621. doi:10.1080/15374410802148103

Sheehey, P. and Sheehey, P. (2007).  Elements for successful parent-professional collaboration: The fundamental things apply as time goes by. Teaching Exceptional Children Plus, 4(2), 1-12. Retrieved from Education Research Complete database.

Van Vlierberghe, L., Braet, C., Bosmans, G., Rosseel, Y., & Bögels, S. (2010). Maladaptive schemas and psychopathology in adolescence: On the utility of Young’s Schema Theory in youth. Cognitive Therapy & Research, 34(4), 316-332. doi: 10.1007/s10608-009-9283-5

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