[LINK] Low marks for computers in schools

Bernard Robertson-Dunn brd at iimetro.com.au
Wed Jun 18 10:37:10 AEST 2008

Low marks for computers in schools
Justine Ferrari
June 18, 2008
Australian IT

THE digital education revolution remains a long way off, with a report 
suggesting the use of computers in schools is limited, largely 
ineffective and teachers are sceptical about their application.

The report, commissioned by the federal Government, highlights an 
"avoidance culture" among many teachers who are unwilling to use 
computers and says there is little evidence of profound improvements in 
student learning or teaching.

The report, Partnerships in ICT (Information and Communications 
Technology) Learning, says Australia remains in the early phase of 
integrating computers into the classroom and the curriculum, and is yet 
to determine how they can be used effectively.

It says computers and other information technology do not guarantee 
improvements in student performance and teachers are sceptical about 
their use. "There were examples of teachers unwilling to be involved in 
projects because they saw ICT use as more work, peripheral to the main 
game in schools, avoidable, not guaranteeing improved learning outcomes 
and outside their experience and expertise," it says.

One of the authors, John Pegg from the University of New England, said 
the federal Government's program to deliver computers into high schools 
was the easy, albeit expensive, stage.

Professor Pegg said considerable differences existed in "e-maturity" 
between schools, teachers, academics and city and rural areas. "It isn't 
a level playing field; the adoption of computers and information 
technology across the nation is patchy," he said.

Professor Pegg said many schools were still teaching computer skills 
rather than using computers as a teaching tool.

"Googling isn't learning," he said. "Computers are highly motivational 
for the kids; they're great for capturing kids' attention but in terms 
of learning it's not really clear. If teachers don't change their 
teaching to support that ... you can expect no difference."

Professor Pegg said it was just as important for teachers to know when 
not to use computers. A study by the European Commission released last 
year found computers improved student achievement in English and 
slightly in science, but not in maths. The effects were most evident in 
primary schools.

The Australian report trialled a model for developing better use of 
computers based on a partnership between schools and universities.

The study highlighted the lack of assessment about the use of computers.

"Processes and learning gains should be tested in some form. It is not 
sufficient to report that there are benefits to embedding ICT into the 
curriculum based on hunches or feelings that it was effective," the 
report says.


Bernard Robertson-Dunn
Sydney Australia
brd at iimetro.com.au

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