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New International Report on Students and Computer Use

What impact does students’ use of computers at home and at school have on their learning? A new report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) looks into questions about students’ technology use that are on the minds of many parents and teachers and comes up with some surprising findings.

The report looked at 15-year-olds’ computer use across 31 nations and regions in 2012 and suggests that the promises of new technology have so far not been achieved.

In one particularly surprising finding, students’ moderate computer use at school was somewhat positively correlated with their scores on the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), however very frequent computer use at school was negatively correlated with PISA scores.

After adjusting for variation in per capita income, the report also found that countries that spent less on equipping schools with computers increased PISA scores faster than countries that spent more.

The authors acknowledge that the report leaves many questions unanswered. They write,

One interpretation of all this is that building deep, conceptual understanding and higher-order thinking requires intensive teacher-student interactions, and technology sometimes distracts from this valuable human engagement. Another interpretation is that we have not yet become good enough at the kind of pedagogies that make the most of technology; that adding 21st century technologies to 20th century teaching practices will just dilute the effectiveness of teaching.

Read the entire report here.

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