It is always comforting to know that a policy developed by Clifton Hall, and very much one that flew in the face of conventional wisdom, has been proven to be an educationally sound one. Today’s OECD report concludes that investing heavily in computers and classroom technology does not improve pupils’ performance.
Clifton Hall’s leadership team was always very much of the opinion that technology was an excellent tool, but only one of many potential resources to assist pupils to engage effectively in their learning. As with everything we do, moderation is key. The study also shows that schools who use such technology moderately, around once or twice a week result in ’somewhat better outcomes’ than students who use computers rarely. Worryingly, those who use computers very frequently at school actually lower their overall attainment.
I have always been an advocate of considering how children learn and what the most effective means are to achieve that end. Computers clearly have an important role to play as they are now an intrinsic part of our social, industrial and commercial lives.
However, blanket use of technology is unwise. What students do need to be taught is that anything they search for on an internet site should be viewed with an appropriate amount of scepticism. In other words, the ability to take in information and assess it is critically important. If we use information found to simply regurgitate others’ ideas or opinions we do nothing to improve our own understanding. The ‘copy and paste’ phenomenon is of particular concern to teachers worldwide.
We need to ensure that our desire to learn drives our use of technology and not the other way around. It is a brilliant resource and a brilliant tool but only if we use it with the respect that our own imaginations and understanding deserve.