Students, Computers and Learning
MAKING THE CONNECTION PISA, September 2015
Summary PISA results show no appreciable improvements in student achievement in reading, mathematics or science in the countries that had invested heavily in ICT for education. The connections among students, computers and learning are neither simple nor hard-wired; and the real contributions ICT can make to teaching and learning have yet to be fully realised and exploited. But as long as computers and the Internet continue to have a central role in our personal and professional lives, students who have not acquired basic skills in reading, writing and navigating through a digital landscape will find themselves unable to participate fully in the economic, social and cultural life around them.
- The foundation skills required in a digital environment can and should be taught.
- Improve equity in education first.
- Teachers, parents and students should be alerted to the possible harmful aspects of Internet use.
One interpretation of these findings is that it takes educators time and effort to learn how to use technology in education while staying firmly focused on student learning. Meanwhile, online tools can help teachers and school leaders exchange ideas and inspire each other, transforming what used to be an individual’s problem into a collaborative process. In the end, technology can amplify great teaching, but great technology cannot replace poor teaching.
Mr Schleicher, OECD's education director, said the report should not be used as an "excuse" not to use technology, but as a spur to finding a more effective approach.
The government's behaviour expert Tom Bennett said there might have been unrealistic expectations, but the "adoption of technology in the classroom can't be turned back". England's schools minister Nick Gibb said: "We want all schools to consider the needs of their pupils to determine how technology can complement the foundations of good teaching and a rigorous curriculum, so that every pupil is able to achieve their potential."
This report cannot, nor should not be used as an excuse to decrease the use of technology in schools. The media have been very quick to present the negative aspects in headlines, rather than the positive view of how to best use technologies in education.
Many schools still believe the now reassessed work of Marc Prensky (2001), titled Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants. Teachers have mistakenly held the belief that because young people have grown up with computers and the internet, they are naturally proficient with new digital technologies and spaces, while older people will always be a step behind and apart in their dealings with the digital. While this may be true of a very small number of students, the vast majority still need to be taught the foundation skills.
Schools need to be clear about how their curricula are ensuring students are digitally literate, as students who have not acquired basic skills in reading, writing and navigating through a digital landscape will find themselves unable to participate fully in the economic, social and cultural life around them.
It should be noted that OECD have used a very narrow definition about use of computers and learning. There is almost no mention of the way in which students have become creators of digital content, rather than simply consumers. It is also a correlational study, thus, it doesn't explain causation, it just means that less tech correlates to better test scores, of a test meant to evaluate offline skills.
Contributed by Jill Duman, Norfolk CC on behalf of the E2BN Board