Laptops might help pupils get to grips with technology, but they don't appear to be improving grades.
Investment to create technology-centric classrooms may not improve grades, according to results from the Kyrene School District in Arizona, USA. In this area, results have stagnated, despite $33 million being invested in laptops, software and interactive screens for classrooms.
The New York Times
reports a huge swing in finances in the area, which favours technology over teaching budgets, and education experts are apparently concerned that there's little proof the approach is improving basic learning.
Advocates for the sweeping changes seen in schools in the area say that digital devices let students learn at their own pace, gathering skills needed in a modern economy and enable schools to hold the attention of a generation weaned on gadgets. They also claim that traditional, standardised tests don't capture the breadth of skills that computers can help develop.
Tom Vander Ark, the former executive director for education at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation claimed that 'the data is pretty weak. It’s very difficult when we’re pressed to come up with convincing data. When it comes to showing results, we better put up or shut up.'
Despite his realistic view, he went on to say that the shift towards technology-centric classrooms is 'one of the three or four biggest things happening in the world today.'
Critics are saying that lack of evidence that grades are improving is likely due to an over-emphasis on digital skills, such as creating Facebook pages and PowerPoint presentations, at the expense of maths, reading and writing fundamentals.
With limited education budgets, should schools be prioritising budgets for other areas of teaching over technology? Did you have access to anything more exotic than a PC at school? Let us know in the forum