Literature Review on the Impact of Digital Technology on Learning and Teaching

This literature review was commissioned by the Scottish Government to explore how the use of digital technology for learning and teaching can support teachers, parents, children and young people in improving outcomes and achieving our ambitions for education in Scotland

Annex 1: Research protocol

The inclusion criteria

The table below sets out the criteria by which literature was selected.

Table A1.1: The criteria for study inclusion

Characteristics of the literature Inclusions
Time period Post 2005
Language and geography No exclusions
Type of publication Peer reviewed journal articles
Un-peer reviewed academic research outputs (reports; working papers; discussion papers; conference papers)
Government/EC and government/EC commissioned research outputs
Publications of other research organisations/think tanks/advocacy bodies
Evidence provided by practitioners in conference/workshop settings
Population groups 5-18 years olds
Settings ISCED 1, 2 and 3
Formal teaching in school setting (compulsory and non-compulsory)
Out of school and non-formal learning directed by teachers
Lesson preparation, delivery and assessment
Type of policies/ interventions in scope Use of digital teaching and learning tools and materials (i.e. digital media and online environments)
Out-of-school learning
Pedagogical developments using ICT
Teacher training and support for ICT
Digital capacity and resources
Types of outcome within scope (see also section 2.1.3 below) Raising attainment (especially in literacy, numeracy, science learning and ICT skills)
Tackling inequalities/promoting inclusion for 'protected' groups and low-socio-economic status families/areas (e.g. impacts on attainment (as above), progression, health and wellbeing)
Improving transversal employability skills (e.g. 'skills for learning, life and work' as outlined in the Curriculum for Excellence Senior Phase)
Improving efficiency for teachers (especially reducing their time spent on developing teaching resources and improving the quality of assessment)
Enhancing parental engagement (especially greater satisfaction with school communications and the ability to engage more parents in their children's education)
Study designs No exclusions on design

Search strategy

The search included the sources below.

Table A1.2: Sources of material

Type of source Sources to be consulted
Journal databases EBSCO databases (includes the Education Resources Information Centre); Scopus
Specific journals Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis
Educational Review
European Journal of Education
British Journal of Educational Technology
International Journal of Learning
International Review of Education
Journal of Digital Learning in Teacher Education
The International Journal of E-Learning and Educational Technologies in the Digital Media
Journal of Interactive Media in Education
International Journal of Mobile and Blended Learning
International Journal of Virtual and Personal Learning Environments
Research in Learning Technology
International Journal of E-Assessment
Research institutions and agencies Professional Education and Leadership research cluster, University of Stirling
Moray House School of Education, University of Edinburgh
Learning Sciences Research Institute, University of Nottingham;
Institute of Educational Technology, Open University
The London Knowledge Lab, University College London
Centre for Technology Enhanced Learning, Lancaster University
Faculty of Education University of Hull
Technology Enhanced Learning Group, Durham University
Digital Learning Research Cluster, University of Wolverhampton
Technology, Innovation and Play for Learning Research Group, Manchester Metropolitan University
Education Endowment Foundation Teaching and Learning Toolkit
Open Education Europa Portal
Government and government agencies Scottish Government Library Services
Education Scotland
Scottish Qualifications Authority
UK Department for Education
Education Ministries and educational/curriculum agencies in other countries
European Commission including Eurydice
Website searches Google Scholar

The draft terms in Table A1.3 below were used to search for journal articles held on databases hosted on Ebsco ( Terms were also translated so that searches could be undertaken in French and German to widen the material collected. Selected search results were exported to reference management software (Zotero) to compile a bibliography.

Table A1.3: Initial database search terms

Primary AND AND
Online Teach* Impact
ICT Educat* Effect
Web Learn* Outcome
Internet Instruct* Achieve*
Digital Class* Progress*
Computer Pedagog* Academic
CAL Support Participat*
'Open educational resources' Assess* Skill*

'Digital resources'



Media Tuition Attain*
Tech* School Competenc*
Virtual Student Disadvantage*
VLE Pupil 'Low-socioeconomic'
'Learning platforms'   Inclu*


    'Basic skills'
    'Skills for Life'
    'ICT skills'
    'Parent engagement'

Scope of the literature review: definitions

  • Learners are those in education in primary and secondary schools between the ages of five and 18; school staff include classroom teachers, school senior managers, school administrators, and newly qualified teachers.
  • Attainment can be measured by progress against tested standards and the achievement of qualifications. The focus is on four key areas of the curriculum: literacy, numeracy, science learning, and ICT skills.
  • Inclusion and equalities can be measured by positive impacts for the protected groups defined in the Equalities (Scotland) legislation and for those from low socio-economic status families/areas or who may not be able to attend school (due to exclusion or illness). Positive impacts could include attainment, progression, health and wellbeing, and in the short term increased access to and/or engagement with learning.
  • Improved transitions can be measured by the attainment of employability skills, such as collaboration and team working, following instructions/planning tasks, knowledge and understanding of pathways to employment, and the use of digital tools to demonstrate skills and competences reflecting the emphasis on 'skills for learning, life and work' in the senior phase of Curriculum for Excellence.
  • Efficiency can be measured by reducing the time teachers spend on developing resources for teaching from the collaboration and sharing/reuse of resources for teaching and assessment, and improving the quality of teaching and assessment.
  • Parental engagement can be measured by parents' greater satisfaction with school communications and the ability to engage more parents.


Email: Catriona Rooke

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