top of page


The Triple E Framework for educators is used to measure how well technology tools integrated into lessons are helping students engage in, enhance and extend learning goals. Developed in 2011 by Professor Liz Kolb at the University of Michigan, School of Education, the Triple E Framework was created to address the desire for K-12 educators to bridge research on education technologies and teaching practice in the classroom. The Triple E Framework is meant to be used as a coaching tool to support teachers in their instructional choices around and with technology tools.


Often by putting a piece of technology in front of the students or in their hands, they become interested or "engaged" in the activity. However, we can look a little more deeply at engagement by considering if the technology is not just capturing the interest of the student, but if it is actually engaging them actively in the content (not just the bells and whistles of the software).

Magnifying glass.png
Finger iPad.png


Does the technology allow students to focus on the task of the assignment or activity with less distraction (Time on Task)?

Does the technology motivate students to start the learning process?

Does the technology cause a shift in the behavior of the students, where they move from passive to active social learners?




Technology can create opportunities for students to move beyond engagement in content, where the technology may simply be replacing a traditional method of instruction, but it is not actually doing anything different than the traditional method was doing. We call this the "value-added" aspect of technology. Value-added enhancement of learning through technology is when the tool is somehow aiding, assisting, scaffolding learning in a way that could not easily be done with traditional methods.


Does the technology tool aid students in developing a more sophisticated understanding of the concept?

Does the technology create scaffolds to make it easier to understand oncepts or ideas? 

Does the technology create paths for students to demonstrate their understanding of the learning goals in a way that they could not do with traditional tools?





Educators are always looking for ways to connect student learning to the authentic world. If technology can somehow aid or enhance the ability to create these real-world connections, then learning is being extended outside of the classroom walls and into student's everyday lives. In addition, another piece of extension are non-content related skills (often called "soft skills"). In the digital age, educators are often looking to help their students to start developing P21 skills, that many employers are asking for.





Does the technology create opportunities for students to learn outside of their typical school day?

Does the technology allow students to build grit skills, that they can use in their everyday lives?

Does the technology create a bridge between school learning and everyday life experiences?


Engagement in technology-enhanced lessons does not necessarily correlating with achievement. 

  • Studies on engagement uncovered that while students may be physically present and appear to be actively involved in using the technology tools, in reality they might still be cognitively disengaged from the learning goals (Linnenbrink &Piintrich, 2003).  


Engagement should create an environment of active time-on-task learning.

  • The tool should help focus student’s attention on the learning goals and the task at hand and not distract from it (Wartella, 2015). 

  • Active learning is when students are actively focused on the learning goals and not just “busy” doing what looks like learning.  “active learning occurs when children are “minds-on”—that is, engaged in thinking, reflecting, and effortful mental activity…swiping, tapping, and physically engaging with an app is not the same as “minds-on” activity. “ Ellen Wartella (2015).


Engagement should create an environment of co-use or joint media engagement.

  • A recent report by the Joan Ganz Cooney Center (Vassy et al., 2015) emphasized the importance of social in learning with technology devices for children. 

  • Researchers have promoted the ability to connect with others through media or while using media together as key ways children deepen their learning (e.g., Hirsh-Pasek et al., 2015; Guernsey,2012; Takeuchi & Stevens, 2011).

  • “joint media engagement, and socially interactive learning more generally, offer young children an environment that can help them learn through the Vygotskian notion of scaffolding, or extending children’s learning beyond what they would learn left on their own.”  Ellen Wartella (2015) .

  • American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents co-use technology with their children in limited quantities.  (The American Academy of Pediatrics, 2013)

  • Significance of a "human" as part of co-use in early learning with technology tools.  "Co-using media together allows parents to bridge the gaps in their child’s knowledge of the media content and use of the media device." (Zach & Barr, 2016).

Triple E Research


Enhancement rarely occurs through applications that only use "drill and practice" methods.

  • "Drill and practice" software has not been successful in showing positive achievements for student learning outcomes (Wenglinsky, 1998).


Enhancement encourages the use of technology to add-value by allowing students to explore, create and problem-solve (higher-level thinking).

  • Digital technology use for creating and exploring rather than Drill and Practice, have been found to positively effect student achievement while drill and practice has had negative effects on student achievement scores (National Association of Educational Progress, NAEP via Wenglinsky, 2006).

  • Supporting or scaffolding technology that creates opportunities for children deepen their learning through social use (e.g., Hirsh-Pasek et al., 2015; Guernsey,2012; Takeuchi & Stevens, 2011).

  • Value-added strategies such as promoting student self-reflection, self-assessment, and self-explanation through technology can enhance learning outcomes (Means et al. 2009).


Enhancement encourages the quality of use over the quantity.

  • Studies are finding that the quality of work done with computers is much more important to determining student achievement than the quantity of time spent with devices (Wenglinsky, 2006).

  • OECD Report found that of 70 countries, the top performing countries on the PISA exam (math and literacy), were not the countries that had students using technology the most often in their learning.  In math, the top performances on the paper-based math exams were achieved by the students who had the very lowest use of computers in school learning (OECD, 2015).


Extension is rarely present when technology only provides individual isolated content knowledge.

  • Studies have found that reinforcing knowledge or giving isolated content knowledge did not lead to student achievement gains. For example secondary students using technology for content-specific tasks (such as reading or evaluating primary documents in history class) had no correlation on student achievement, but students using computers for more generic academic tasks in school had positive correlation to student achievement.(Wenglinsky, 2006)

  • Knowledge should be situated in authentic contexts and tasks (Brown, Collins, and Duguid, 1989; Lave & Wenger, 1990)


Connecting the student's everyday life experiences with school learning.

  • "Education is not a preparation for life; education is life itself."  (Dewey, 1897)

  • Researchers believe that technology tools need to encourage meaningful learning, where the technology is extending the learning from student’s preexisting knowledge and helping them create new knowledge (Wartella, 2015).

bottom of page