Individual Review of OECD report: Students, Computers and Learning
Submitted By Osama Alarabi
Module Leader Dr. James Stanfield
Technology in school is not blending with education
|OECD||The Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development|
|PISA||Program for International Student Assessment|
A report about learners and technology in education has noted that even with students’ use of computers and Internet in school, there are no efficient benefits of this deployment. Although on title of this reported it has stated, “making the connection” what actuality it was advocating for is making the disconnection. Many researchers and educators critiqued this report. They questioned it is purpose, reliability and validity. Moreover, others have emphasized on the missing key aspect of it. Viewing both the article and education views the big pictures about it started to look unblemished. Still, there are some aspects regarding educational technology were missed or not given the right weight to describe the benefits of such implementation. This article has its pros and cons, but it seems that its cons overawed the pros.
First of all, Andreas Schleicher, the OECD’s director, and here his opinion about the report in the below webinar video between 0:43 seconds and 0:59 seconds where he indicated that this report is overdo and there were much changes which has happened within technology development.
Additionally, Kate Shuttworth mentioned on “Student Failure Claims Inaccurate and Simplistic – PPTA‘ that “Mr. Schleicher was not aware of the research and said he could not comment.”
It is easy to blame others or things when failing to achieve one’s objectives and goals. This is what driven a lot of educators who fear technology either because of a fair of it replacing them or being unable to understand and use it effectively in teaching and learning. Technology is a tool like any other when it is utilized correctly it bears fruit of knowledge, but when it is misused or misconducted it may lead to unpleasant outcomes. What the report emphasis is the negative side of technology such as “classroom technology can be a distraction and result in pupils cutting and pasting “prefabricated” homework answers from the Internet.”
Next, Some of researchers’ opinions and educators’ reflections on the OECD report to highlight its issues and interpretation as fallow :
1- Maria Perifanou conducted a survey on what are your thoughts of the report? . IT was based on 13 distinguished experts saying on this matter, and listed the result using a blog titled “OECD Report Questions The Value Of Technology In School”. The finding of the survey is “teachers’ training should be the first priority in the post-2015 education agenda worldwide if we want to have a fruitful and efficient use of technology in classroom”.
This survey has demonstrate that Prof. Alec Couros’s thought “The report confirms what we’ve known for years: that no amount of technology can fix bad teaching; that what is worth measuring is not easily assessed in standardised ways; and that preparing students for a rapidly changing future won’t help them perform on outdated tests”. Scored the highest among thoughts, 70% strongly agreeing out of the participants, while Prof. Mark Brown’s thought “It is unfortunate the latest OECD report fails to adequately recognise that the music we enjoy in our classrooms is produced by the harmonic mix of a whole symphonic orchestra working together rather than from the sound of a single flute”. With only 14.8% strongly agreeing.
2- Dr Mark William Johnson on “E-learning Failure? The OECD report into Technology in Schools and a Scientific Problem” said that the report conclusion about technology in education is a judgment about an element of knowledge that captured the interest of investors; part of it delivered their goals, and the other portion wasn’t successful in doing so. Politics seems to be the drive power of the report research efforts, and political forces determined that experiments in technology in education should end because of the findings of a misleading report. Yet, there is a threat of slamming this door by decreasing the fund to technology in educational environment.
3- Audrey Watters on “Ed-Tech Might Make Things Worse… So Now What?”stated that the report provoked what many has anticipated exactly by implying that a lot of “schools are doing it wrong”. The reading of PISA results appears to experience a substantial bias, clearly confirming obtained philosophies regarding policies and practices. Furthermore, these results offer media an opportunity to craft scary headlines about an impending nonsensical, such as:
- From The Irish Times: “Lack of computers in schools may be a blessing – OECD report”
- From the BBC: “Computers ‘do not improve’ pupil results, says OECD”
- From The Register: “Don’t bother buying computers for schools, says OECD report”
- From CNBC: “Schools wasting money on computers for kids: OECD”
- From The Age: “Are iPads in schools a waste of money? OECD report says yes”
- From Bloomberg: “Computers Look Like an Obstacle to Learning”
It is easy not to consider such a report, as it heavily depends on PISA framework. The reason for that is technology has benefits beyond what PISA can measures.
4- Prof. Larry Cuban on “Lack of Computers in Schools May Be a Blessing”–OECD Report (Part 1) wrote that the report brings to governments and policy makers an extraordinary opportunity to rethink and question the values and expenditures on digital equipment and application when the effects in so many nations show insignificant benefits on investment.
5- Prof. Larry Cuban on “OECD Report: Puzzles To Solve (Part 2)” noted, “The OECD report does suggest one tantalizing (and possible) reason, however. Maybe, just maybe, the thinking and writing skills necessary to navigate the Internet and read with understanding web articles and documents, as the OECD report says, can be just as well taught in conventional lessons without use of tablets, laptops, and top-of-the-line software (pp. 15-16). The puzzle remains.”
6- Benjamin Herold on “Why Ed Tech Is Not Transforming Teaching” found that Investigators have recognized numerous causes, counting teachers’ attitudes about what creates effective instruction, their lack of technology expertise, inconsistent training and support from administrators, federal, state, and local policy makers whom offer teachers neither the time nor the incentive to explore and experiment.
7- Dr. James Stanfiled and Angelika Strohmayer on “Outdated Exams are Holding Children Back – Not Computers in The Classroom” revealed that “if an exam is expected to test a student’s knowledge of a clearly defined subject area which is covered in a single textbook, then having access to the internet in the classroom may well prove to be an unnecessary distraction. Instead, the text book alone may be sufficient.”
8- Monica Bulger on “Is Using Technology for Learning A Good Idea?’highlighted that for better ways to measure educational technology use
- “Ask the children. As part of the demographic data collected by PISA tests, adding questions about use of technology in the classroom would be a stronger and more accurate measure”.
- “Limiting the questions to frequency of Internet browsing may not address the rich classroom practices of technology engagement”.
- “If truly aiming to measure the effects of potentially excessive classroom Internet use on student learning outcomes, more precise measures (e.g., daily use) would be more effective”.
9- Mona Chalabi on “The Pisa Methodology: Do Its Education Claims Stack Up?” found that the methodology for collecting the data might be clear, but their interpretation and analysis become ambiguous resulting in misleading information. This lack of statistical transparency has also been a target point for criticism toward both PISA result and OECD report.
10- Prof. Judy Robertson on “Classroom computers kipper-slapped in OECD report” noted that “technology really is effective, but we’re not measuring it the effects properly”. Sure, technology may have lots of benefits, which PISA test was unable by all mean to measure it. On the other hand, Teachers need support in learning to use technology but also how to use it effectively in the service of learning. As the OECD report put it: “In the end, technology can amplify amplify great teaching, but great technology cannot replace poor teaching”.
11- Melanie Nathan on “Can Blended Learning Solve the Problems with Technology in Schools?” said that the problem occurs when institutes deals with technology as an extra tool rather than an integral segment of daily tutoring. Sitting kids down in front of computer stations and running them through a preset series of tasks every day, definitely this would not be effective to enhance the classroom experience. Blended learning creates a balance between traditional teaching methods and modern technological tools to achieve better educational outcomes.
In my opinion, I would like also to highlight that to give someone a car, this doesn’t grantee that it’s going to take that person anywhere. In real life situations, a training course should be given to users whom are going to deal with any sort of applied technology, but in education environments it is a reverse situation, where technology comes first then human training. Moreover, teachers, careers and learners not only need to know how to drive technology implementation right, but also learn about the technical road map rules to safely enjoy learning journey, and gain a valuable experience through traveling across knowledge scaffolding. Although blended learning as pedagogical theory was not mentioned in the report, noteworthy literatures might show considerable successful learning benefits outcomes just from implementing its practice and pedagogy in education environment.
OECD report described students activities using technology as they were engaged in nine activities using computers at school: chat on line; use e-mail; browse the Internet for schoolwork; download, upload or browse material from the school’s website; post work on the school’s website; play simulations at school; practice and repeat lessons, such as for learning a foreign language or mathematics; do individual homework on a school computer; and use school computers for group work and to communicate with other students. However, To replace papers with e-documents and hand written assignments with emails will not change education and bring it any closer to 21st century expectation. However, if we use technology in the actual learning process to form learners’ knowledge, this will create magic and close the gap between learners, educators, careers and technology. In the same context, if we considered blended learning practices and pedagogy, which is not mentioned in the report, it may change the findings about the outcomes of the use of technology in education.
As reported in a section of the OECD report where Andreas Schleicher’ foreword. He says “Perhaps most importantly, technology can support new pedagogies that focus on learners as active participants with tools for inquiry-based pedagogies and collaborative workspaces.” However, there was no indication or mention to any literature using blended learning practices.
A consideration to educators’ training and careers’ awareness workshop should be taking especially when investing billions in technology to enhance learning, as it is crucial for the development our children and youth. Moreover, technology in education environment shouldn’t be used as an additional tool in or out classroom, where it should be used in knowledge building and learning process.
Moreover, OCED report has noted that there has been a raise awareness of the possible harmful aspects of Internet use. This a controversial point in the report as miss use of technology is global problem and this could happen whether we used technology within or without education environment as there is no control over human behavior towards everything in life, so why to blame educational technology for something happens in leisure, entertainment or business purposes other than education.
Additionally, OECD report creates an emphasis on “Overall, the evidence from PISA, as well as from more rigorously designed evaluations, suggests that solely increasing access to computers for students, at home or at school, is unlikely to result in significant improvements in education outcomes. Furthermore, both PISA data and the research evidence concur on the finding that the positive effects of computer use are specific – limited to certain outcomes, and to certain uses of computers.” So, let us look on the achievements that contradicts this suggestion, for example world wide web, social media, future learn, MOOCs, sole (self organized learning environment), ground zero project, individuals using voice over IP and web conferences softwares and eBooks where many has students and learners gain benefits and successfully learn a lot.
The only statement that could justify this report is its recommendation “the successful integration of technology in education is not so much a matter of choosing the right device, the right amount of time to spend with it, the best software or the right digital textbook. 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.”
In conclusion, as human nature we tend to blame others or thing to cover up our weakness. While this report was controversial and generated a lot of criticism to it is purpose, validity and reliability. Yet the report seems to fail to make the connection. Different opinions were viewed in a relation to the report findings, and some topics were highlighted to draw some attention to what was missing in it.