Computers Destroy Learning!

“Investing heavily in school computers and classroom technology does not improve pupils’ performance…”

That’s according to a new global study by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). And we all need to sit up and take notice of “global” research.

In case you’re not familiar with OECD, they are “an international economic organisation of 34 countries, founded in 1961 to stimulate economic progress and world trade”. They also administer the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), the test most often cited by ed reformers in the US as conclusive evidence that our students are falling behind their counterparts in the rest of the world. Especially Finland. Or maybe it’s Singapore this week.

Anyway, as you might expect, the conclusions reached in this study are based primarily on PISA data.

The report from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development 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 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.

Several other quotes from the OECD’s education director also make clear the organization equates test scores with learning, and learning with traditional knowledge transfer classroom practice.

He said making sure 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 warned classroom technology can be a distraction and result in pupils cutting and pasting “prefabricated” homework answers from the internet.

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.

However, the supporters for the use of technology in schools quoted at the end of the article didn’t present a very good case. As evidenced by this image

showing students playing games in a computer lab, and the usual statements about preparing students for a future that “hasn’t yet been invented”.

Probably the only valid conclusions found in this study said that the highest achieving students were the ones who made “moderate” use of technology.

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