I’m asking because I recently asked myself this question.
Do I really (truly) believe in the power of technology to transform education?
It’s easy to come back with a quick “of course I do” answer, yet I’m not sure that is the case for everyone.
A recent report in the Boston Globe points to a study conducted by the “Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development”, in which technology use in schools is being linked to lower levels of achievement:
Laptops, tablets, and similar devices are ever more prevalent in today’s classrooms. Yet greater availability and use of technology at school doesn’t necessarily lead to better educational outcomes, a recent report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development shows.
The report, which included data on nearly 60 countries, examined students’ computer use at home and in school as well as their performance on written and digital tests. It found that while students who use computers moderately at school have somewhat better outcomes than those who don’t use them at all, those who use them very frequently tend to do significantly worse, even after accounting for students’ and schools’ socioeconomic status.
As a proponent of technology use in schools, this is again one of those times where I have to take a hard look at the impact technology integration has for our students and their learning.
A few things jump out at me when I read this report, specifically the measures being used to gauge student achievement. They used data from 60 countries to examine performance on written and digital tests.
This is not a new problem. I don’t think many people would argue that technology infused into our schools helps to increase test scores. Yet, this is the measure they have chosen to use and so it must be addressed.
I wonder if one of the measurements was a research project how the scores would change?
I wonder if one of the measurements was based on authentic learning tasks and assessments how the scores would change?
I wonder if one of the measurements was based on engagement and personal connection to the material how the scores would change?
I wonder if one of the measurements was based on personalization of learning tasks how the scores would change?
I asked myself this question and came up with an answer that is completely biased and based on my own experiences:
Technology has transformed my own personal learning.
I am able to learn faster and deeper because of my 24/7 access to technology. I don’t have to worry as much about recall and facts because I have access to all of that information in my pocket. I am able to learn how to create a WordPress website through online tutorials, video guides, Skype conversations, and trial and error because I have this access.
And when I think about my job as a teacher and now as an administrator I came up with a similar answer:
Technology has transformed how I could teach, how my students learned, and how I am able to lead.
And so I look at these results with open eyes and a humble mindset. There is no way my students would have ever had the opportunity to collaborate with global peers unless they had technology. There is no way I would have given my students the opportunity of choice and inquiry-based learning unless I had an online PLN to push me, and great online resources to read and guide me.
Technology may or may not improve test scores. But then again, I’m not so sure test scores have a correlation to what a student is going to achieve in life and how well they’ll be able to prepare themselves for anything.
That’s what I care about, and that’s why I still answer a resounding YES when asked this question (especially when I ask myself)!