“Storm” … or just blustery conditions? October 29, 2014Posted by IaninSheffield in Musings, research.
Tags: Learn eNabling
My sense is that ICT, and the ICT community of which we are all a part, is at a crucial time in its evolution, as is the role of ICT in the education system
I was minded of the above when reading Nick‘s recent post on Learn eNabling in which he draws attention to the rising ‘tide of opinion and commentary’ asserting that technologies in schools have failed to make a positive impact on student learning or achievement. But those people are right. The evidence that technology has a significant impact on achievement or learning is notable by its absence. Or perhaps more accurately, by its lack of consensus.
Here’s why I think that might be. As Nick also suggested
…it is often difficult to establish hard evidence of improved pupil attainment as a result of using ICT. Isolating the impact of ICT from all other factors that can affect achievement can be problematic.
Balanskat et al, 2006
So the research is actually quite hard, or in some cases, even flawed.
The question of whether or not ICT has made significant impacts on a wide variety of student learning outcomes is still in doubt because of the variety of assumptions made in many research studies and the limited reliability of some research methods.
Cox and Marshall, 2007
The connection between the use of ICT and the achievement of students is only valid when the means of measurement is congruent with the means of teaching and learning. In some studies there is a mismatch between the methods used to assess the effects of ICT on student achievement and on how ICT is actually used in the classroom.
And how many studies go this far?
In order to understand the impact of ICT on learning, a holistic approach is needed that takes into account the socio-economic context, the learning environment, and teacher training
Punie et al, 2006
and I’d also add to that institutional strategies, goals and norms; external assessment regimes linked with school and teacher accountability; and of course ongoing political agendas.
If we take a step back for a moment, are we really saying that the increased levels of technology in schools have resulted in “no significant difference?” If so then the massive levels of investment have indeed been for naught. (Here I should point out that there is no question that substantial sums of money have been and are being spent unwisely by faculties, schools, local authorities and central government, for a whole host of reasons … but that’s another post) However I think that technologies have indeed made a difference by ‘adding value’ to the learning experience and they have done so by smoothing communications and improving the connections our students can make; they have provided easy access to vast repositories of data and information; they have provided channels through which students can ‘publish’ evidence of their learning to an authentic audience; and have given learners the tools to take control of their learning. They have made what would previously have been impossible or very difficult, achievable, manageable and (relatively) easy. I readily accept that not all students, teachers or schools are doing all of the aforementioned, but many are well on the way, so perhaps this is where the impact should be sought? If seeking a difference in students attainment isn’t a realistic endeavour, then maybe we should be looking for where learning technologies can actually make a difference?
The naysayers and righteous sceptics may indeed have a point … or perhaps they’re missing it?
Ironically, it may be that the poorly resourced, inadequately trained, poorly conceptualised and inadequately operationalised forms of ICT usage so far on offer have sapped teachers’ interests, yet it is because the ICT has not been utilised as an integral part of a transformed classroom learning experience that it has failed.
Perhaps as eNOOBs, we really do have our work cut-out? Or perhaps these are the challenges to which we need to rise?
I’ll close by providing attribution for the quotes which bookended this post – Professor David Reynolds – Building an ICT Research Network Conference … 2001!