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OECD report on technology in schools faces critique from head teachers
A global report by the OECD claims investing in school computers does not improve student performance. The report argues instead that frequent use of computers is associated with lower results. The findings are based on the international PISA tests, which are taken in 70 countries worldwide. The OECD’s education director Andreas Schleicher however states that the report’s findings should not be used as an excuse not to use technology, but rather as a prompt to find more effective ways of integrating and using it in the classroom. While the report found that frequent use of technology use in school was associated with lower reading ability it also points to some benefits. Moderate computer use was associated with greater ability to navigate online texts, a skill believed to be increasingly important in academia and the workplace.
Several teachers and head teachers have critiqued the OECD’s report. Former head master at Sherborne Preparatory School in Dorset Peter Tait in a blog post said technology itself cannot be blamed for its lack of impact. Tait argued that too often technology is introduced without a clear plan for how it will be used. He further claimed that the time needed to integrate technology into the curriculum has not been sufficiently addressed by policy makers and educational experts. Head teacher Karin George of Westfields Junior School in Hampshire in a BBC Radio 4 interview argued that the extensive use of technology at her school contributes to the development of skills such as collaboration, independence and confidence. She argued that rather than only focusing on evidence in the form of SATS results, schools should be evaluating whether they are producing well rounded individuals who are prepared for life as working adults. In her view, children need to learn how to use technology appropriately and schools are in a unique position to help teach this.
The impact of technology on behaviour in the classroom
The UK government has announced a review of poor pupil behaviour and the possible impact of mobile devices in education. Government advisor and former teacher Tom Bennett will lead the review and examine whether there is a link between mobile devices, distraction and disruptive behaviour. The review will further explore what additional training teachers may need to effectively deal with low level behavioural challenges in the classroom. The Department for Education has stated that if used effectively, technology can enhance students’ educational experience. FK&Y’s extensive research for Techknowledge for Schools has found that while teachers do welcome training on behavioural issues related to using mobile devices, technology is overall believed to have a positive impact on students’ learning. Teachers and pupils report that technology can make lessons more creative, engaging and collaborative, with a focus on independent learning. Read more about the planned review.