Saturday, November 17, 2012


ACROSS THE POND: Millions of pounds (£) of technology is languishing in school cupboards because teachers are being lured into buying the latest gadgets, according to research.

Graeme Paton


By Graeme Paton, Education Editor, The Telegraph (UK) |

Teachers’ obsession with technology sees gadgets worth millions sit in cupboards

The study was based on an analysis of more than 1,000 research papers on the use of technology in education. Photo: ALAMY

9:03PM GMT 15 Nov 2012  ::  Schools spend more than £450 million a year on tablet computers, educational games and electronic whiteboards with little or no evidence that they benefit pupils, it was claimed.

Researchers said that teachers were increasingly pulled in by the “hype” of digital education without properly considering how to use it.

In some cases, schools are using “shiny new devices” as a direct replacement for books or pen and paper exercises, instead of using them to enhance pupils’ skills.

Many other schools are allowing millions of pounds’ worth of electronic items to “languish unused or underused in school cupboards”, the researchers found. The conclusion, in a report by Nesta, a charity created to support innovation, comes despite concerns over cutbacks to school budgets during the economic downturn.

Geoff Mulgan, the chief executive of the charity, said: “A tablet replacing an exercise book is not innovation – it’s just a different way to make notes.

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“There’s incredible potential for digital technology in and beyond the classroom, but as in other fields, from health care to retail, it is vital to rethink how learning is organised if we’re to reap the rewards.

“The danger is that the technology of the 21st century is being applied using teaching methods of the 20th. The emphasis is too often on shiny hardware, rather than how it’s to be used.”

The study was based on an analysis of more than 1,000 research papers on the use of technology in education. Researchers suggested that schools across Britain collectively spent more than £1.4 billion on the latest gadgets in the past three years alone.

But the study warned that there was “little tangible impact” on pupils’ education as technology was often “imported into classrooms without the necessary changes to teacher practice and school organisation to support them”.

It quoted examples of an “overabundance of 'apps’ and games that sugar-coat dull, unchallenging practice activities, like repetitive arithmetic quizzes”.

The report, called Decoding Learning, also said tablet computers were being handed to pupils with no training in how to use them.

“Tablet computers offer a window to vast swathes of information, but so does a traditional library,” it said. “To use either effectively, a child needs structured teaching to help turn information into knowledge. Instead of fetishising the latest kit, focusing on effective learning activities can help us make better use of what we’ve got.”

The study highlighted a number of ways in which technology could be used to improve pupils’ education.

One example given was that of a robotics kit for secondary schools which enables pupils to attach lights, sensors and motors to a customised control board and to then programme their machines using an app.

In another example, pupils were able to use powerful sound and digital equipment to simulate an earthquake in a geography class.

The conclusions come amid concerns over the effect that technology is having on schoolchildren.

Researchers have consistently called for access to gadgets to be limited in the early years amid fears that they erode pupils’ basic skills.

Additional Coverage -  16 November

Nesta blasts UK schools for "wasted" technology investments

IT PRO ‎- 16 hours ago

According to the organisation's Decoding Learning report, UK schools are spending £450 million a year on technology – including tablets, ...


Costly hi-tech kit lies unused in schools, says study

BBC News‎ - 19 hours ago


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Decoding Learning report

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In the last five years UK schools have spent more than £1 billion on digital technology. From interactive whiteboards to tablets, there is more digital technology in schools than ever before. But so far there has been little evidence of substantial success in improving educational outcomes.

Something is going wrong.

Nesta commissioned the London Knowledge Lab (LKL) and Learning Sciences Research Institute (LSRI), University of Nottingham, to analyse how technology has been used in the UK education systems and lessons from around the world. Uniquely, we wanted this to be set within a clear framework for better understanding the impact on learning experiences.

Decoding Learning finds proof of technology supporting effective learning, emerging technologies that show promise of impact, and exciting teacher practice that displays the potential for effective digital education.

November 2012
Rosemary Luckin, Brett Bligh, Andrew Manches, Shaaron Ainsworth, Charles Crook, Richard Noss.

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