From Dr. Mary Byrne:
Students, Computers, and Learning
Making the Connection
How Computers are Related to Students’ Performance (September 15, 2015)
We expect schools
to educate our children to become critical consumers of Internet services and electronic media,
helping them to make informed choices and avoid harmful behaviours. And we expect schools to
raise awareness about the risks that children face on line and how to avoid them.
This report provides a first-of-its-kind internationally comparative analysis of the digital skills that
students have acquired, and of the learning environments designed to develop these skills. This
analysis shows that the reality in our schools lags considerably behind the promise of technology.
In 2012, 96% of 15-year-old students in OECD countries reported that they have a computer at
home, but only 72% reported that they use a desktop, laptop or tablet computer at school, and in
some countries fewer than one in two students reported doing so. And even where computers are
used in the classroom, their impact on student performance is mixed at best. 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 a lot worse
in most learning outcomes, even after accounting for social background and student demographics.
The results also show no appreciable improvements in student achievement in reading, mathematics
or science in the countries that had invested heavily in ICT for education. And perhaps the most
disappointing finding of the report is that technology is of little help in bridging the skills divide
between advantaged and disadvantaged students. Put simply, ensuring that every child attains
a baseline level of proficiency in reading and mathematics seems to do more to create equal
opportunities in a digital world than can be achieved by expanding or subsidising access to
high‑tech devices and services. Last but not least, most parents and teachers will not be surprised
by the finding that students who spend more than six hours on line per weekday outside of school
are particularly at risk of reporting that they feel lonely at school, and that they arrived late for
school or skipped days of school in the two weeks prior to the PISA test.
You might also find it interesting that at elite private schools, https://waldorfeducation.org/waldorf_education
computer information use is limited https://waldorfeducation.org/RelId/629873/ISvars/default/Tablets_out%252c_imagination_in%253a_the_schools_that_shun_technology.htm
and Silicon Valley parents send their children to Waldorf Schools where is not a computer in sight http://www.theguardian.com/teacher-network/2015/dec/02/schools-that-ban-tablets-traditional-education-silicon-valley-London, encouraging the development of imagination rather than the “career readiness” agenda imposed on public schools.
Note the following quotes from The Guardian (Dec. 2, 2015):
The pedagogy emphasises the role of imagination in learning and takes a holistic approach that integrates the intellectual, practical and creative development of pupils.But the fact that parents working for pioneering technology companies are questioning the value of computers in education begs the question – is the futuristic dream of high-tech classrooms really in the best interests of the next generation?Beverly Amico, leader of outreach and development at the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America, explains that their approach uses “time-tested truths about how children learn best”. Teachers encourage students to learn curriculum subjects by expressing themselves through artistic activities, such as painting and drawing rather, than consuming information downloaded onto a tablet.“It is hard work,” admits Ian Young, a class teacher at Steiner Academy Hereford, where digital devices are only introduced into classrooms after students have reached secondary school age. . . .He adds: “Teaching is about human contact and interaction. I don’t think we are doing children any favours by teaching them through machines at that young age.”
Unless, as board members, you can answer the above question and respond to assertions that early introduction of classroom computer use is counterproductive to student learning with data to support your response, you must entertain the possibility that plans described by SPS to expand computer use in early grades are likely to needlessly result in an inferior education for Springfield’s public school children when compared to the children of the elite technology culture. In other words, public schools may be responsible for creating a class system based on education delivery models.
Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.
Mary Byrne, Ed.D.