How does investment in computers and classroom technology affect pupils’ performance?
The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) reported this week that investing heavily in school computers and classroom technology does not improve pupils’ performance.
According to them “frequent use of computers in schools is more likely to be associated with lower results”. The government’s expert on pupil behaviour—Tom Bennett —seemed to agree with the findings when he added that teachers had been “dazzled” by school computers. “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, OECD’s Education Director. “Those students who use tablets and computers very often tend to do worse than those who use them moderately.”
This summer the GDST invested in updating our wireless technology in advance of allowing senior girls to bring into school their own digital devices to use in lessons. OECD use the PISA tests as their basis for judging the best performing countries worldwide and those countries notoriously teach large groups by rote. I have long argued that they are not always the best achieving as it depends on what is being used as the guide. How well children can assimilate facts and apply knowledge is important and education is more than learning a series of facts.
I am sure, however, there is some truth to the report that said that children who spend excessive amounts of time looking at their digital devices can expect to lose two grades on their GCSEs. For example, they would achieve 7 A and 2 B grades against the possibility of 9 A grades. I understand why that might be as we are all aware that so much time can be wasted chatting by text and looking and responding to social media.
Computers are here to stay and children need to learn how to use them and most importantly in a way to best advantage their learning whilst at the same time being aware of how much they can become time wasters and an addiction. It would be Luddite of schools to pretend they don’t exist and I am pleased that the Trust has invested in significantly upgrading our wireless provision.