Sunday, November 28, 2004

Research: Computers make learning worse?

A recent European Study, involving tens of thousands of students in 31 countries, organized by the OECD in 2004, reached the conclusion that students who use computers a lot, have worse maths and reading scores.

The belief that there is an educational benefit in ICT has underpinned a huge investment by schools and governments in computers.

The poor scores may tell more about the tests than the technology. A bit like medieval scribes complaining about handwriting skills after the introduction of the printing press. I wonder if they were testing 21stC literacy’s?

Still it is worth thinking about. Recently Prince Charles said, ‘I simply do not believe that a passion for a subject or a skill, combined with inspiring teaching, can be replaced by computer driven modules.’

With the risk of being accused of being a Luddite, there is some truth to the Prince’s comments. Mind you the luddites were not against 18th C technology – their worry was the inappropriate use of the technology as seen in the factories of the day. They were eventually proved right.

There is no doubt that computers currently suffer from ‘over promise and under delivery’. In the hands of sympathetic teachers they demonstrate excellent results but, unless teachers are given proper support, they can divert teacher time and energy, particularly when they ‘crash’. Equally, talented teachers without computers can also produce excellent learning results. Computers are, as they say, a tool, but they are a powerful one in the right hands. In some situations computers crowd out more effective teaching methods and hinder student creativity.

When I visit schools I always look to see how many computers are in use and what exactly they are being used for. Often I am, like Price Charles, less than impressed.

It seems it is another case of, it’s not what you have but how you use it!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Over promised and under used. A great tool used so badly by many schools and diverting energy in some cases from creative teaching!