Want to read my dissertation?

The Impact of Digital Education on Learning and Teaching

A doctoral thesis presented by
Jared Matas
The School of Education
In partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of
Doctor of Education
College of Professional Studies
Northeastern University
Boston, Massachusetts


The purpose of this study was to identify how teachers can transform teaching and learning by integrating 21st century digital technology. In this paper, teacher action research was used to investigate the impact of digital education on teaching and learning. The main research question was ‘How can teachers integrate digital technology into their teaching practice in order to transform teaching and learning?’ The study was conducted in a suburban Jewish day school in the Northeast, in the teacher-researcher’s seventh and eighth grade social science classes. In an iterative cycle of research, reflection and revision, the teacher-researcher integrated technology interventions into his teaching while also collecting data. Two surveys and one interview were conducted to triangulate the data collected from examining student work and the teacher’s reflexive journal. The findings from the study suggest: (a) student motivation can lead to deeper student engagement; (b) digital projects can represent a ‘high water mark’ of student learning; (c) the teacher’s technological-pedagogical content knowledge (TPACK) is vitally important and (d) technology has tremendous potential to contribute to constructivist learning environment. Teacher choices determine whether student enthusiasm translates into deeper engagement with course content. Digital assignments that encourage deeper student learning were identified as representing a ‘high water mark’ of student learning, where the finished project captures the depth of the students’ conceptual understanding. This did not always occur and was dependent on alignment between the assignment goals, students and technology. The implications for this research are that teachers must learn to apply their emerging TPACK in order to effectively integrate technology into their teaching. Even when teaching with technology, teaching and teacher still matter.

Download available here.

Webinar with Dr. Jared Matas: The Impact of Digital Education on Teaching and Learning

Join local and virtual students, faculty and alumni to learn from one of our newly minted EdDs, Jared Matas, about The Impact of Digital Education on Teaching and Learning on May 7, 2014, 11:30am  EST.   In webinar format, Jared will present on his dissertation research, discussing findings from his teacher action-research conducted in a middle school social science classroom.  Asst. Dean Deborah Skolnick Einhorn will respond to Jared, with additional time for questions and answers.   Please find Jared’s bio below, as well as login details via WebEx.   We look forward to learning with you! 


Dr. Jared Matas (presenting at Hebrew College)          

The Impact of Digital Education on Teaching and Learning

May 7, 2014, 11:30  EST

Hebrew College and virtually via WebEx

RSVP, if possible: deinhorn@hebrewcollege.edu


Dr. Jared Matas has been teaching at JCDS, Boston’s Jewish Community Day School for over a decade. He started as a DeLeT intern in 2003, taught kindergarten for several years, and currently teaches middle school social science and provides technology support to teachers. Jared recently successfully defended his dissertation in pursuit of his doctorate of education in the Hebrew College/Northeastern University joint program with a specialization in Jewish Educational Leadership. Jared has been a coach and consultant in support of teacher development through the CJP Congregational Educational Initiative and the CJP Tech Teacher Fellows. 



Topic: Dr. Jared Matas on The Impact of Digital Education on Teaching and Learning 
Date: Wednesday, May 7, 2014 
Time: 11:30 am, Eastern Daylight Time (New York, GMT-04:00) 
Meeting Number: 802 594 024 
Meeting Password: Shoolman 

To join the online meeting (Now from mobile devices!) 
1. Go to https://hebrewcollege.webex.com/hebrewcollege/j.php?MTID=m45a4e71f5753c2f5931cd6c56c6f85bd 
2. If requested, enter your name and email address. 
3. If a password is required, enter the meeting password: Shoolman 
4. Click “Join”. 

To view in other time zones or languages, please click the link: 

To join the audio conference only 
Call-in toll number (US/Canada): 1-650-479-3208 

Access code:802 594 024

#JEDLAB hosts MIT Media Lab’s Frank Moss

I recently attended a JEDLAB meet-up with former MIT MediaLab director Frank Moss. A major take away for me was the strategic importance of making our institutions the place where the important conversations are taking place.  According to Moss, when the Internet was starting to blow up in the mid-1990s, everyone turned to the MediaLab because they were  already exploring the opportunities and challenges of ubiquitous digital connectivity that the Internet would unleash. When your institution is able to frame the questions and explore interesting answers to the issues that matter to people, everyone wants to be part of your conversation. If we in Jewish education assumed that role today, we could become a ‘beacon of innovation,’ offering ideas about how to live a life in this new world we live in. 

The MediaLab is a remarkable place, and when I’m not envious that I didn’t get a chance to be a student there, I am impressed and appreciative of their contributions. The computer programming language Scratch, a descendant of Logo (remember programming the turtle to move across the screen in the 80s?) , has been a key element of the technology program at my school – as featured in the New York Times! 

Here are some other takeaways from the meeting with Moss:

  • Framing the questions is just as important as getting the right answers.
  • Fail, fail, fail – but then learn from that failure.
  • Teach kids to take risks with learning. 
  • Empathy is the most important thing we can teach kids. 
  • Teachers are key to implementing innovation in a school.
  • How could Jewish world attract enough funding to allow room for creativity AND failure?

This April, a small group of Jewish educators came together to read The Sorcerers and Their Apprentices: How the Digital Magicians of the MIT Media Lab Are Creating the Innovative Technologies That Will Transform Our Lives, and imagine what MediaLab concepts would like like in Jewish education. Since then JEDLAB has expanded into a network of over 1700 educators, lay leaders, communal professionals and others ‘passionate about redesigning the Jewish education ecosystem.’ JEDLAB has been featured in The Forward and e-JewishPhilanthropy.com

The MediaLab/JEDLAB ethos is a powerful source of inspiration for me. I look forward to keep learning and collaborating with this unique network.



Students and technology


Tweet of the week

Like asking fish to describe water, it can be hard for our digital native students to understand what we mean when we encourage them to reflect on how technology can be used for learning. As digital immigrants, we can help our students by providing perspective into how using technology changes learning, both in and out of the classroom. I try to be explicit with my students about the choices I make about using technology in my teaching. For example, as I experiment with going paperless, I ask my students what it’s like for them to read a chapter in print or on the screen. We talk in class about whether or not it’s worth it to save the trees on photocopying by reading a document online, and if it’s easier or harder to remember the information.

Do you ‘think with your students’ about how they use technology? What should we be thinking about with them?

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Integrating or innovating technology?

One of the most meaningful sessions I attended at ISTE13 was a presentation by 5th grade teacher Julie Ramsay, about the difference between integrating and innovating using technology in the classroom. Ramsay articulated a clear and powerful vision for teaching and learning, based on 21st century skills and encouraging students to engage in higher-order thinking. Ramsay emphasized the different between integration technology into education, which is when a teacher uses technology but keeps teaching with the same goals and pedagogy. Innovating technology recognizes the potential of current technologies to really transform classroom teaching, resulting in different pedagogies, different goals and different leaning outcomes. Technology can be used to get students to engage in higher-order critical thinking.Technology is a tool that opens up possibilities for a smart teacher to have students involved in higher order thinking, but it is still just the tool. The tool can’t define the learning. The teacher always plays a critical role in shaping student learning. If a project is called the ‘PowerPoint project’ that’s missing the point.

 Ramsay shared a number of captivating examples to illustrate her point.

  • Student presentations can be ‘innovated’ using technology, making it easier to assign students engaging and meaningful presentations in a format that appeals to today’s learner. Ramsay demonstrated how a linear PowerPoint slide presentation assignment can be transformed so that students create interactive Choose-Your-Own-Adventure stories.
  • Student work can and should be shared online, so that it can have a global audience, rather than the audience of one (the teacher). Wikispaces and LiveBinders are two websites that make it easy.
  • Students can engage in ‘books chats’ on student-blogs on websites such as Kidblog.
  • Another good idea I liked is to have the students do a tech tools scavenger hunt, looking at previous students’ work. This way students get familiar with the wide range of tech tools that are available, and will be able to make choices about the most appropriate tool to use to create each assignment.
  • Kids need time to explore their passion. One way to do this is modeled after the 20% time that Google employees receive to work on projects they are interested in that are not directly related to their specific job responsibilities. Giving students an ‘Innovation Day’ or ‘Genius Hour’ allows them to learn and share about areas they are passionate about that might not be on the school curricula. Most of these projects are not digital, but by documenting the students’ experiences with video, the event becomes ‘amplified’ and receives a larger audience. 

Ramsay’s presentation was a breath a fresh air amid the numerous sales pitches disguised as presentations by corporate sponsors and their fans. While it seemed that many people at ISTE were distracted by the new and shiny, Ramsay articulated a clear, focused and powerful rationale for using technology to innovate teaching and learning. I hope more educators continue to be influenced by her ideas, choosing to prioritize pedagogy over products, and encouraging learners to use technology to become producers not just consumers. 

 < This was also cross-posted on the Avi Chai Educational Technology Blog. >