Traditional attitudes ‘are holding back technology in schools’

28 Mar 19

Digital technology can transform education but is being held back by teachers still heavily reliant upon traditional approaches.

A new report explores assumptions about the transformative power of computers in classrooms by asking what conditions are needed for their successful use.

The study by the European Expert Network on the Economics of Education (EENEE) said although there were signs that schools were going digital, there is limited evidence of the extent to which they have made progress by using new technology.

“Although there are indications that teaching practices are changing, pedagogical practices remain overall resistant to innovation,” the report said.

“Traditional models of instruction and assessment still dominate the sector and serve as significant barriers to wider conceptions of educational outcomes.”

EENEE’s report, ‘Education outcomes enhanced by the use of digital technology: Reimagining the school learning ecology’, builds on work first conducted by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.

This argued that the links between students, computers and learning are not straightforward – and the real contributions technology can make to education have yet to be fully realised.

The introduction of computers into schools is often guided by assumptions among teachers both about their use and about today’s digital society, and EENEE challenged the trustworthiness of ideas that are taken for granted.

It highlighted competing pressures on schools to introduce new technology and said there was no single pedagogical model to guide its successful use.

A key message is that as the teacher’s role is vital in the effective design, delivery and support of learning using technology, it is therefore essential to address teachers’ broader attitudes and beliefs about education.

Furthemore, it said decision makers needed to have a much better understanding of whether the investment in digital technology in schools actually contributes to an improvement in educational outcomes – and hence the wider return on investment.

  • Gavin O'Toole, expert on Latin America
    Gavin O'Toole

    A freelance journalist. He has written six books about Latin America and taught the politics of the region at Queen Mary, University of London.

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