More technology in schools doesn’t guarantee smartness in kids
It has become a recent trend to push for more and more technology in schools, but you may want to pause before you laud schools for implementing hi-tech computers and gadgets in classrooms, along with other technological resources.
According to an Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) report released in September, too much technology in schools could be a bad thing.Many schools around the world have invested in technology in the past few years and 72% of students in OECD countries have an access and also use computers at school. With this, one may expect the implementation of technology to have a positive impact on kids but OECD report says otherwise.
1 The OECD report
The OECD report is a “first of its kind” analysis of students’ digital skills and its comparison among their counterparts across the world. The report suggests that there is a fine distinction between technology being helpful or harmful.
Students who use computers moderately at schools tend to do slightly better than students who hardly use computers. But those students who moderately use computers do significantly better than the students who frequently use computers, as per the report.
To come to this assessment in their report, OECD analyzed the data from the ‘Programme for International Student Assessment’ (PISA), an exam taken by 15-year olds across the globe,ranging from China to US and Spain.
The report proves that even though countries have invested heavily in information and communication technology (ICT) in schools, “PISA results show no appreciable improvements in student achievement in reading, mathematics or science”.
2 Reality Check
The glossy image of students of every school using computers should not blur out the reality. It is high time that we take a reality check and evaluate the true impact of technology in schools.
Not to forget that some of the world’s top performers in Mathematics and digital reading, like from Korea and China, have considerably low rates of computer usage in schools. On the other hand, countries that have been knee deep into technology for schoolwork, showed a drop in reading scores from 2000-2012.
In most countries, disadvantaged schools have just as much, if not more ICT resources. Increased exposure to technology in schools will not magically make the disadvantaged students to get on par with their affluent friends. To bridge this gap and put them on the same level as their advantaged peers, the infrastructure of the school must improve.
The report clearly states that unless the current gaps in reading, writing and mathematics skills are not narrowed, inequalities in digital skills will persistently exist,regardless of equal access to internet services, which may even be costless.
3 What’s the verdict?
The necessity of digital skills cannot be denied and it is increasing rapidly. The end point shouldn’t be to disregard technology but to leverage technology effectively with minimum usage.
Technology in schools acts as a mere tool, and we should not forget that it cannot alter human pace of learning and congenital understanding. What the schools must concentrate on are the teachers and the school leaders.Unless you train the teachers in these digital skills, even the best tool or the best software doesn’t have much use.
Educate the teachers and impart healthy skepticism about computer programs in classes. The report concludes stating, “The key elements for success are the teachers, school leaders and other decision makers who have the vision, and the ability, to make the connection between students, computers and learning.”We shouldn’t argue for any technology in schools but push for optimum technology in schools, which will impact positively.