The BBC is reporting that a global OECD study suggests investing heavily in school computers and classroom technology does not improve pupils’ performance.
The think tank says frequent use of computers in schools is more likely to be associated with lower results.
The OECD’s education director Andreas Schleicher says school technology had raised “too many false hopes”.
Tom Bennett, the government’s expert on pupil behaviour, said teachers had been “dazzled” by school computers.
The report from the OECD examines the impact of school technology on international test results, such as the Pisa tests taken in more than 70 countries and tests measuring digital skills.
It says that education systems which have invested heavily in information and communications technology have seen “no noticeable improvement” in Pisa test results for reading, mathematics or science.
“If you look at the best-performing education systems, such as those in East Asia, they’ve been very cautious about using technology in their classrooms,” said Mr Schleicher.
“Those students who use tablets and computers very often tend to do worse than those who use them moderately.”
Annual global spending on educational technology in schools has been valued at £17.5bn, by technology analysts Gartner. In the UK, the spending on technology in schools is £900m.
The British Educational Suppliers Association (BESA) says schools have £619m in budgets for ICT, with £95m spent on software and digital content.
But Mr Schleicher says the “impact on student performance is mixed at best”.
The report says:
- Students who use computers very frequently at school get worse results
- Students who use computers moderately at school, such as once or twice a week, have “somewhat better learning outcomes” than students who use computers rarely
- The results show “no appreciable improvements” in reading, mathematics or science in the countries that had invested heavily in information technology
- High achieving school systems such as South Korea and Shanghai in China have lower levels of computer use in school
- Singapore, with only a moderate use of technology in school, is top for digital skills
“One of the most disappointing findings of the report is that the socio-economic divide between students is not narrowed by technology, perhaps even amplified,” said Mr Schleicher.
He said making sure that all children have a good grasp of reading and maths is a more effective way to close the gap than “access to hi-tech devices”…
He suggests that classroom technology can be a distraction and warns of pupils cutting and pasting “prefabricated” homework answers from the internet.
The study shows that “there is no single country in which the internet is used frequently at school by a majority of students and where students’ performance improved”…
But Mr Schleicher says the findings of the report should not be used as an “excuse” not to use technology, but as a spur to finding a more effective approach.
He gave the example of digital textbooks which can be updated as an example of how online technology could be better than traditional methods…
There is a lot more in the full article including a number of useful charts but are you surprised by these findings from the OECD or do you share the concerns that too much reliance on technology, computers and the internet in class can be a distraction from learning?
Or could you argue that familiarity with technology is an essential skill in its own right, regardless of its impact on learning traditional skills?
Please give us your insights and reactions in the comments or via Twitter…
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