It’s been sparked by a study which found that large investment in classroom technology and frequent use of technology in lessons has created poorer results in English, Maths and Science.
The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) is a worldwide study by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) of 15-year-old school pupils’ scholastic performance on mathematics, science, and reading. And they found that increasing the use of technology has not increased the standard in these areas.
But is the real question about technology use and test results, or perhaps what we want as an outcome of education?
We frequently hear both teachers and heads saying that the testing and examination system is outdated and not perhaps valuable in equipping our children for modern lives in our modern world, as when originally implemented.
And there is a view that children need to be conversant with the use of technology and this may be more valuable to them in the workplace than detailed writing technique or naming the parts of a sentence, for example, both of which are part of English assessments, yet must sometimes seem rather irrelevant to the students.
Maybe as parents, it’s time for us to change our view and expectations of educational results and be clear about what we want from education, what we want our children to be skilled in or to know.
School results have always relied very heavily on knowledge, and the ability of students to be able to regurgitate it in specific forms in particular exams. So the focus in classrooms leans towards gaining those measurable but narrow outcomes.
However, some are now questioning whether the focus in our classrooms should be on skills and other forms of education like creativity for example, and whether these would more usefully equip our young people to cope outside school.
This idea came up in a recent programme by the Panorama team;, ‘Could A Robot Do My Job?’ investigating the use of robots and how much these would be replacing us in the workplace. Although this is already happening in industry, what was clear from this programme was the real need for people with creative ideas who could invent and build programmes and technology, and be skilled in using it. Which suggests that technological skill and creative mental ability may be far more use to a young person in later years than naming the parts of speech or Pythagoras’ Theorem! And raises the question as to what educational approaches and activities would develop these skills.
Judgement of how educated a young person is has up until now been based on test results and educational activities designed towards that aim. But maybe that’s as outdated a notion of education as not having the use of technology as part of education would be?
And maybe it requires us to rethink what we want for our young people as an outcome of their education.
Technology use in the classroom may lower expected results, but what use are those expected results to the future of a young person in a technologically charged world?