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    Sep 16, 2015

    Computers 'don't improve' students' results


    COMPUTERS do not noticeably improve students' academic results and can even hamper performance, said an Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) report released yesterday. The report looked at the impact of technology in classrooms across many countries, including Singapore.

    While almost three quarters of students in the countries and territories surveyed used computers at schools, the report by the OECD found that technology had made no noticeable improvement in results.

    Conversely, in high-achieving schools in parts of Asia, where smartphones and computers have become an integral part of people's everyday lives, technology was far less prevalent in the classrooms.

    In South Korea, students used computers for an average of nine minutes at school and in Hong Kong, only 11 minutes - just a fraction of the 58 minutes spent in Australia, 42 in Greece and 39 in Sweden. For Singapore, it was 20 minutes.

    The report noted that Australia has one of the largest shares of students who often browse the Internet at school for schoolwork. South Korea has one of the smallest shares and Singapore an average share.

    "Where computers are used in the classroom, their impact on student performance is mixed at best," OECD's education director Andreas Schleicher said in a foreword to the report, the think-tank's first on the topic.

    "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."

    The report measured the impact of technology use at school on international test results, such as the OECD's Pisa tests taken in dozens of countries around the world and other exams measuring digital skills.

    It found that education systems which have invested heavily in information and communications technology (ICT) have seen "no noticeable improvement" in results for reading, mathematics or science.

    The report noted that South Korea and Singapore are the two best-performing countries in digital reading. But students in the two countries are not more exposed to the Internet at school than those in other OECD countries.

    "This suggests that many of the evaluation and task-management skills that are essential for online navigation may also be taught and learnt with conventional, analogue pedagogies and tools," the report said.

    The OECD urged schools to work with teachers to turn technology into a more powerful tool in the classroom and develop more sophisticated software for experimentation and simulation, social media and games.

    "The real contributions ICT can make to teaching and learning have yet to be fully realised and exploited," it concluded.


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