Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Further thoughts on OECD report

Much was made of the OECD report published on 15th October on computers and technology in schools. The reporting appeared to focus entirely on whether technology improved results for the Pisa tests. Not very surprisingly technology has little measurable impact on how well a student does when they are sat in front of a paper based summative test. I assume that the share price of pen and pencil manufactures have soared as clearly the greatest impact on outcome is the pen and pencil if we are comparing tools that are used to facilitate summative testing.

But within the report, in the forward, was a clarion call from Andreas Schleicher for education systems to embrace technology, understand the potential and invest in teachers. There are so many quotable passages in the second half of the forward that I’ve simply placed them below my comments in their entirety. They stand on their own and provide the best argued and most comprehensive rationale for how technology is changing the education landscape that I have seen in a very long time. All credit to Andreas Schleicher for being so clear and concise in summing up the challenges.

Two quotes stand out however. Andreas Schleicher says:

‘To deliver on the promises technology holds, countries will need a convincing strategy to build teachers’ capacity. And policy-makers need to become better at building support for support for this agenda.’

And:

‘If we want to mobilise support for more technology-rich schools, we need to invest in capacity development and change-management skills, develop sound evidence and feed this evidence back into institutions, and back all that up with sustainable financing’

Well said and can we act on this now as a country, please. There are so many pockets of excellence where these things are happening, these need sharing.

Finally, I must say something about the comments around banning mobile devices in schools. I am clear: Just as we address issues around the misuse of drugs and provide guidance and advice on sex education to our young people we have a moral responsibility and duty to address the use of mobile devices. Simply telling young people to put them away in school will on one level remove the widely reported issues of misuse in lessons but will drive underground the issues we know exist around improper use. We should be encouraging young people to use their devices in appropriate ways, asking them to show us what they are doing on their devices, making sure teachers can look at web browser histories and challenge inappropriate use. Simply driving the use of these devices out of the classroom will have wider issues and create more problems. Schools have a role to provide advice and support for young people so that can become successful citizens. With the government driving essential services online and business rapidly adopting mobile and personal technology the duty to educate is clear.

Take a look at what the IPACA folks are doing around their UMOD scheme (Use My Own Device). http://www.ipaca.uk.com they providing advice and support for students to use their own devices to ensure that they are safe, well informed and understand how to navigate the complex online world that is now a part of our culture. They have also embraced some work we have done on Digital Maturity in education - check out Gary Sparacklen's blog for more on that.

Quotes from the OECD report:
The following text from the forward by Andreas Schleicher sets out the challenges we face in education systems in a near perfect manner. The need for coherent, country based strategies is clear but getting these in place in a way that avoids reactionary responses is maybe the single greatest challenge we all face.

 ‘Technology can amplify great teaching but technology cannot replace poor teaching’ and ‘If we want students to become smarter than a smartphone, we need to think harder about the pedagogies we are using to teach’

 ‘We need to get this right in order to provide educators with the learning environments that support 21st Century pedagogies and provide children with the 21st Century skills they need to succeed on tomorrow’s world.’…….‘Why should students be limited to a textbook that was printed two years ago, maybe designed ten years ago, when they could have access to the world’s best and most up-to-date textbook.’

‘Perhaps more importantly technology can support new pedagogies and collaborative workspaces. For example, technology can support new pedagogies that focus on learners as active participants with tools for inquiry-based pedagogies and collaborative workspaces.

‘To deliver on the promises technology holds, countries will need a convincing strategy to build teachers’ capacity. And policy-makers need to become better at building support for support for this agenda.’

‘……….technology can enhance experiential learning, foster project-based and inquiry-based pedagogies, facilitate hands-on activities and cooperative learning, deliver formative real-time assessment and support learning and teaching communities, with new tools such as remote and virtual labs, highly interactive non-linear courseware based on state-of-the-art instructional design, sophisticated software for experimentation and simulation, social med and serious games.

‘If we want to mobilise support for more technology-rich schools, we need to invest in capacity development and change-management skills, develop sound evidence and feed this evidence back into institutions, and back all that up with sustainable financing’

‘…..it is vital that teachers become active agents for change, not just in implementing technological innovations, but in designing them too.’