The Organization for Economic Co-operation Development (OECD) recently issued a report on the impact of technology – think, of computers in the classroom -– on fundamental learning.
The bottom line:
“Students who use computers very frequently at school do much worse [in reading, science and math], even after accounting for social background and student demographics.”
More specifically …
“In the report Students, Computers and Learning: Making The Connection the OECD researchers conclude that pupils in countries that have invested heavily in information and communication technologies (ICT) have shown “no appreciable improvements” in student achievement in reading, mathematics or science.
The OECD also said that technology in schools has done little to bridge the skills divide between advantaged and disadvantaged students. “ Source
What’s the problem?
Here’s my take from the OECD data and analysis:
Mindless exploration … students just wander around the internet without a mindful construct … and aren’t able to reconstruct the logic of the route the got them to a plausible answer.
Gaming mentality … the computers add sizzle and fun, but distract from serious learning … and make it more difficult to engage students in classical analog learning experiences (think, reading a book)
Outsourcing thought … why memorize something if you can just look it up? … answer studies show that excessive Googling weakens memories (see Digital amnesia: Is Google dulling your memory? ) …. why struggle with a problem that somebody else has already solved? …. answer: brain muscles don’t get exercised and don’t strengthen.
Cut & paste … plagiarism is devolving from a sin to a virtue (why reinvent the wheel?) … it’s increasingly prevalent and decreasingly subject to sanctions … but, how much learning occurs when a student is mechanically cutting & pasting – often without even reading the whole passage being copied?
I’m certainly pro-technology, but starting to worry that it may be dumbing us down.
The teaching nuns worried that calculators would make us less adept and solving problems in our heads or using paper & pencil.
They were probably right.
Now, we may be at a point that “plugging & chugging” using Excel is making us less able to conceptualize problems and solve them systematically.
Something to think about …