We’ve included a range of links to research and discussion around the role of technology in learning.

It's not 'just' about the technology

Why Access to Computers Won’t Automatically Boost Children’s Grades

Steve Higgins, Durham University, The Conversation, September 2015.

This paper follows and discusses the 2015 release of the OECD Report: ‘Students, Computers and Learning: Making the Connection” (source) showing that the ‘Field of Dreams’ thinking – If you build it, they will come – does not hold for ICT: “it was not the amount of digital technology used in schools that was linked with scores in the PISA tests, but what teachers ask pupils do with computers or tablets that counts…[and] just increasing the provision and use of computers or other digital tools for students, either at home or at school, is unlikely to result in significant improvements in educational outcomes.”

Similarly, the research points to the role of the technology as a catalyst and accelerant: “In the end, technology can amplify great teaching, but great technology cannot replace poor teaching.

Students With Laptops Did Better in HSC Science

Simon Crook, Manula Sharma, Rachel Wilson, The Conversation, September 2015.

In this paper, Crook, Sharma and Wilson discuss their 2014 research at Sydney University (source) into several 1:1 laptop programs in Australian School, particularly focusing on secondary school Science outcomes. This research was enabled by the much-criticised Federal Government ‘Digital Education Revolution (DER)’ project that provided a simple laptop to every Year 9-12 student in government schools.

Many suppose that in an examination-focused environment like NSW the role of laptops would be minimal, however the study identified the somewhat surprising outcome that “those who had been schooled with a laptop did better to varying degrees and that this was statistically significant in biology, chemistry and physics”.

Again, the cause of the outcome can be traced to teacher use and adoption of appropriate strategies for use: “the physics students and teachers consistently reported performing more ‘higher-order’ activities such as simulations and spreadsheets with their laptops”.

“What Can Technology Do for Tomorrow’s Children?”

Innovation in education...[is] about how technological tools can empower students to become who they want to be, and who we need them to be — the kind of children and young people who ask, “What can I improve? How can I help? What can I build?” - Arne Duncan, US Secretary of Education, April 2015.

New Digital Literacies

An Education for the 21st Century Means Teaching Coding In Schools

Leon Sterling, Swinburne University of Technology, The Conversation, May 2015.

Sterling explores the current conversation about the presence of ‘coding’ in the curriculum. Noting that teaching kids to ‘code’ doesn’t necessarily mean that all will go on to careers as software developers, he identifies some important elements in the discussion:

  • The National Curriculum has a focus on helping students develop algorithms
  • There are present and forecast skills shortages that could be targeted by this – these are skills in high demand
  • Irrespective of the particular programming languages and tools, the key skills for the 21st century will involve the understanding and harnessing of data, information, and knowledge.

ICT Is Failing In Schools – Here’s Why

Michael Phillips, Monash University, The Conversation, November 2015.

In this paper, Phillips explores the latest national data (source) that demonstrates that student ICT skills are actually decreasing, with just 55% of Year 6 and 52% of Year 10 students meeting the level of ‘competence’.
Phillips points to four key contributors:

  1. Curriculum taking too long to introduce – the time from concept to implementation is often several years
  2. Teachers are not equipped with the skills they need
  3. There are often too many tools from which for teachers to choose
  4. Outdated skills – related to point (1), above, time to implement means that newer technologies (e.g. cloud-based tools) are in popular use despite curriculum focusing on previous paradigms and approaches.
A shared vision for student-centred learning

Are laptops in schools dangerous?

Here is a snapshot of the most recent media discussion over the use of laptops in schools which begun with an editorial piece. Join the conversation and keep informed with these articles in response to the original piece.

Choose a school that is not only investing in technology, but in developing teaching methods that integrate it into the learning process.

- Enrique Dans, IE Business School, September 2015