Are School Computers Dumbing Down Our Kids?

Why don't PCs, laptops and devices help in education?

The economic crash may have given Irish schoolchildren an unexpected academic boost. Ireland ranks fifth from bottom in the use of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) in schools in OECD countries. Irish kids average a paltry 16 minutes per school day online, below the OECD average of 25 minutes and lagging far behind Australia’s impressive 58 minutes. Obviously Ireland falling behind other countries in providing Smart Schools is bad news, right?

Well no, apparently.

According to an OECD report released today, technology in the classroom does not automatically mean better academic achievement. In fact, spending more time than the average 25 minutes may even be detrimental to learning outcomes!

Every three years the OECD runs the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), an international survey to test 15 year old’s skills and knowledge. Today’s report, called Students, Computers and Learning: Making The Connection, is the first to assess digital skills. It states that “Overall, 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.”

Low tech teaching methods do not prove to be as great a disadvantage as we may have feared.

“Ensuring that every child reaches a baseline level of proficiency in reading and mathematics will do more to create equal opportunities in a digital world than solely expanding or subsidising access to high-tech devices and services,” OECD report

The study involved 31 countries in total and recommends that money needs to be spent more wisely on ICT in schools, “School systems need to find more effective ways to integrate technology into teaching and learning to provide educators with learning environments that support 21st century pedagogies and provide children with the 21st century skills they need to succeed in tomorrow’s world.”

Or in other words, do teach kids the basics. Don’t just throw brand new technological devices at them and hope for the best.


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