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Computers 'do not improve' pupil results...It's not the computer, it's what your students do with them!!

It is frequently said, but seems to be lost in translation - computers alone do nothing to improve's what the students do with them!! Underpinning that is the assumption that, if students are learning skills such as problem solving, inquiry, evaluation, and collaboration, we actually assess them on those skills rather than ones that were required 10...20...or more years ago. 

Which is why I sighed deeply when I read the following article (shared by John Owen) a couple of days ago. I guess the title says it all: "Computers 'do not improve' pupil results, says OECD"! I agree. They don't. But I don't agree with the underlying assumptions. For example,

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. [My emphasis]

Really? Digital textbooks! What about active, applied learning experiences that encourage and support learner agency? What about learning experiences that are 'global', student-directed, that include 'wicked' problems? How about instances where teachers become facilitators and mentor / coaches?

The good news is, there are examples of this happening. One from New Zealand is particularly heartening. In this Radio New Zealand podcast (13 mins 30 secs), Jennifer Palmer (a Year 12 student at Orewa College), speaks eloquently and confidently about how a combination of active learning and inquiry and use of the affordances of mobile, connected devices, has helped her and her classmates learn.

Would love to hear your thoughts and experiences :)

Image: Educational Postcard about one-to-one device and the effect. CC ( BY NC ) licensed Flickr image by Ken Whytock:

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Comment by Mark Curcher on September 30, 2015 at 2:52

So now this in todays Guardian - which mentions the same OECD report.  No screens at all, at school or home until age 12.

Why stop at screens, those books can give kids all kind of bad ideas as well.  Facepalm.

Comment by Hazel Owen on September 23, 2015 at 15:47
Comment by Hazel Owen on September 21, 2015 at 11:14

Thanks @Mark for sharing the link to Audrey's great response. As she says, "education technology in and of itself is surely not progressive". I feel that the message (a need for shifts in ways we learn...and teach) and the medium (in this case technology) have become confused. Technology, for me, has always been a way to open up a range of affordances - complementary to other ways of learning - that may enhance learning experiences.

Audrey identifies that "Students are objects in the education system, shaped and molded by institutional and societal expectations". As such, for me, the three key areas we need to be targeting when thinking about learning and ways we assess learning are 1) Education policy / government level; 2) community and parents; and 3) teachers / principals / leadership in the education sectors.

Technology in the context of this bigger picture is (possibly) one small piece of the puzzle. It is not the panacea for all education and learning challenges :)

Comment by Mark Curcher on September 19, 2015 at 21:22

Audrey Watters has just made a really great blog post on this -  

Comment by Leigh Hynes on September 17, 2015 at 20:44

What Hazel said.

Comment by Monika Kern on September 17, 2015 at 18:32

I am working on a blog post as we speak... 

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