These days, schools are generally seen as innovative if students are fitted with iPads, Smart Boards adorn the walls, and schools otherwise embrace technology with more passion than a tango dance.
Yet a recent OECD report found that students don’t perform any better when technology is used extensively in classrooms. In fact:
“…students who use computers very frequently at school do a lot worse in most learning outcomes, even after accounting for social background and student demographics.”1
So is there such a thing as too much technology? If this report is anything to go by, clearly there is.
Don’t get me wrong. As a teacher, I see the value in incorporating technology into classroom learning. It can be an effective tool for student engagement. And the role of technology in all our lives will no doubt continue to increase for everyone.
Even toddlers embrace technology.
In fact, amongst the toddlers of my friends and family lies the ability to access their parent’s favourite contacts in their iPhones before making a call to a person of their choice, and update their parents Facebook status with a string of emojis that make Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop’s renowned emoji use pale in comparison. These types of examples could go on an on (I don’t know how long the expectation will persist that teachers are meant to teach students about technology – in many cases, it’s the students who are teaching the teachers. And if the technological skills of this present age’s toddlers are any indication, this will surely be the case ten-fold in a few years from now).
But if we’re going to take the recent OECD report seriously, at least in regards to education, perhaps we should be backing away from our compulsive use of technology somewhat.
Plus, there are benefits in putting pen (or pencil) to paper.
Just ask author Cecelia Ahern who is known to have written all her drafts by longhand. And Ahern has written a stack of books.
Or as John Cleese states:
“We don’t know where get our ideas from. What we do know is that we do not get them from our laptops.”
Perhaps we would all do well to take a little inventory of how much and for what purposes we’re using technology for.
- OECD (2015) Students, Computers and Learning; Making the Connection, PISA, OECD Publishing. ↩