Using Technology To Enhance Connections Between Home And School: A Research Synthesis


Penuel, W.R., Kim, D., Michalchik, V., Lewis, S., Means, B., Murphy, R., Korbak, C., Whaley, A., & Allen, J.E. (2002). Using technology to enhance connections between home and school: A research synthesis. Prepared for the Planning and Evaluation Services, U.S. Department of Education. Menlo Park, CA: SRI International.


As families’ access to advanced computer and telecommunications technologies has increased, new opportunities to forge home-school connections supported by new and advanced technologies have become possible. Many new programs have been implemented in recent years that make available to students desktop computers for use at home. Other programs provide laptop computers that can be taken back and forth between home and school. Still other programs are aimed at linking families with schools through the use of the Internet and other information technologies, providing parents with up-to-date information on school events or their children’s progress in school.

Although evaluation studies of some of these programs’ effectiveness have been conducted, to date there have been no comprehensive reviews of these studies. Most of these studies do not appear in published journals and can be difficult for decision-makers to find. Leaders in schools, districts, and state departments of education need data on program effectiveness and on issues faced by schools when implementing these kinds of programs to make good decisions about where to invest technology dollars. Researchers and evaluators need to be able to identify and understand gaps in knowledge of programs’ effectiveness, in order to design future evaluation studies that address these gaps.

The purpose of this report is to synthesize research on the effectiveness of programs that use technology to improve links between home and school, with the aim of guiding future evaluation and policy. To develop this report, we conducted a comprehensive review of research on the subject of technology-supported programs that link home and school. We also gathered data from interviews and observations of selected programs to learn more about how the programs are implemented and their prospects for sustainability and replicability. The report also includes findings from case studies of eight programs conducted in spring 2001.

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