World Economy

ICT Investments in Schools Not Producing Results

ICT Investments in Schools Not Producing ResultsICT Investments in Schools Not Producing Results

Computers do not noticeably improve school pupils’ academic results and can even hamper performance, an OECD report said Tuesday that looked at the impact of technology in classrooms across the globe.

While almost three quarters of pupils in the countries surveyed used computers at schools, the report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development found technology had made no noticeable improvement in results.

Conversely, in high-achieving schools in parts of Asia, where smartphones and computers have become an integral part of people’s everyday lives, technology was far less prevalent in the classrooms.

In South Korea, students used computers for an average of nine minutes at school and in Hong Kong, only 11 minutes–just a fraction of the 58 minutes spent in Australia, 42 in Greece and 39 in Sweden, reports AFP.

“Where computers are used in the classroom, their impact on student performance is mixed at best,” OECD’s education director Andreas Schleicher said in a foreword to the report, the think-tank’s first on the topic.

“Students who use computers very frequently at school do a lot worse in most learning outcomes, even after accounting for social background and student demographics.”

The report measured the impact of technology use at school on international test results, such as the OECD’s Pisa tests taken in dozens of countries around the world and other exams measuring digital skills.

It found that education systems which have invested heavily in information and communications technology have seen “no noticeable improvement” in results for reading, mathematics or science.

The OECD urged schools to work with teachers to turn technology into a more powerful tool in the classroom and develop more sophisticated software for experimentation and simulation, social media and games.

 Tech Is ‘Distracting’

One of the reasons that technology in the classroom leads to poorer performance among pupils is that it can be distracting, the OECD said. In addition, syllabuses have not become good enough to take make the most of the technologies available.

The OECD also expressed concerns about plagiarism, saying that if students copy and paste answers to questions, it is unlikely to help them become smarter.

“If we want students to become smarter than a smartphone, we need to think harder about the pedagogies we are using to teach them. Technology can amplify great teaching but great technology cannot replace poor teaching,” the OECD said.

Unsurprisingly, it also found that over-use of computers can be detrimental to a child’s education.

“Students who use computers moderately at school tend to have somewhat better learning outcomes than students who use computers rarely. But students who use computers very frequently at school do much worse, even after accounting for social background and student demographics,” the OECD said.

And students who spend more than six hours per day online outside of school are more likely to report that they feel lonely at school, arrive late or be truant, according to the report.

“The real contributions ICT can make to teaching and learning have yet to be fully realized and exploited,” it concluded.