Technology can only help education if it’s done right — Camara

16 Sep 2015

An OECD report into negative impacts that technology can have on education has come in for criticism from Irish-based Camara Education, however it does agree that significant waste exists in the sector.

Yesterday, the OECD’s findings claimed that little positive results have emerged from many countries’ drive to spend big on technology in the classroom.

Being more specific, the OECD said that pushing students towards overusing technology in the classroom can do more harm than good.

Wise up, educators

This, agreed Camara CEO John Fitzsimons, will remain the case until educators wise up and make the curriculum determine the technology, rather than the other way around.

“What we mean by education driving technology is currently schools/projects select the hardware first,” Fitzsimons, currently on school visits in Ethiopia, said.

“We espouse choosing the educational outcome first (for example, numeracy in primary schools) and then selecting the total solution (teacher/principal training, technical support, hardware, software etc) to achieve that.”

Technology in schools a balancing act

The OECD report assessed 31 countries, including Ireland, and asked students to use a keyboard and mouse to navigate texts by using tools like hyperlinks, as well as make a chart from data or use onscreen calculators.

It found that students who use computers “moderately” tend to learn better than those who use computers “rarely,” the report said.

“But students who use computers very frequently at school do much worse, even after accounting for social background and student demographics.”

More harm then good

However, Fitzsimons said he thinks the report was overly negative, and could do more harm then good in the long run.

This, it must be noted, was addressed by the OECD, which argued that technology was “the only way to dramatically expand access to knowledge”.

“To deliver on the promises technology holds, countries need to invest more effectively and ensure that teachers are at the forefront of designing and implementing this change.”

Too much negativity spread around

However, the use of negative statements, which fed into some media coverage of the report, has not gone unnoticed by Fitzsimons.

“Yes, they have highlighted how it should be done,” he said, “however, they also have made conclusions that have fed the media such as ‘students who use computers very frequently at school get worse results’.

“My main point was that in only highlighting the negative initiatives, the OECD has significantly damaged the sector, [challenging] the scaling of successful proven initiatives.”

The findings of the report in question are here:

Main image via Shutterstock

Gordon Hunt
By Gordon Hunt

Gordon Hunt joined Silicon Republic in October 2014 as a journalist. He spends most of his time avoiding conversations about music, appreciating even the least creative pun and rueing the day he panicked when meeting Paul McGrath. His favourite thing on the internet is the ‘Random Article’ link on Wikipedia.

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