Evaluating ICTs in education

I’ve just read an interesting paper titled “Knowledge Maps: ICTs in Education”(PDF file) from the Information for Development (InfoDev) Programme of the World Bank. The paper is subtitled “What do we know about the effective uses of information and communication technologies in education in developing countries?”, and although the focus is on the use of ICTs in developing countries, there is a lot we can learn from the summary of key points in relation to how we are going here in New Zealand.

The report is referred to as a ??Knowledge Map?? of what is known (and what isn??t) about ICT use in education. It shows that important gaps remain in the current knowledge base, and that there appears to be a dearth of useful resources attempting to translate what is known to work (and not work) in this field for policymakers and donor staff working on education issues in developing countries. Many of the points identified do, in my view however, provide some reassurance for the approaches that are being taken within the NZ ICTPD schools cluster programme, for instance:

  1. On-going teacher training and support is critical to the successful utilization of ICTs in education
  2. Positive impact more likely when linked to pedagogy
  3. There is often a mismatch between methods used to measure effects and type of learning promoted
  4. Communities of practice can be important tools to support teacher professional development
  5. ICTs can promote learner autonomy
  6. Teacher professional development is a process, not an event
  7. Introducing technology alone will not change the teaching and learning process
  8. ICTs seen as tools to help teachers create more ‘learner-centric’ learning environments
  9. Preparing teachers to benefit from ICT use is about more than just technical skills
  10. How teachers use ICTs is dependent on their general teaching styles

The section on Teachers, Teaching and ICTs would be particularly useful to schools involved in the ICTPD clusters, or those anticipating becoming a cluster in the near future.

A couple of points made were of interest for other reasons:

  1. ICT use in schools in the United States is not great, and
  2. In OECD countries, the use of ICTs to promote ‘computer literacy’ is seen as less important than in using ICTs as teaching and learning tools

The first is of interest given the extent to which the US is held up as an example of ways in which ICTs may be integrated into learning and teaching, with this report reinfocing what we may already assume, that this is true in isolated contexts only and is not systemically true.

The second point is interesting in view of the fact that there appears to be an increasing interest being shown in some areas of the NZ context on promoting computer literacy – again.

Overall a most useful read – some good data to mull over and use as a starting point for discussions in our own context.

One thought on “Evaluating ICTs in education

  1. Thanks for this link Derek,

    I was especially captured by

    3.There is often a mismatch between methods used to measure effects and type of learning promoted.

    Is something that has always troubled me, (and many of our cluster teachers), about the relevance of ict_pd baseline survey data questions.

    In terms of the online survey I think that we probably need to better investigate –

    What are the measures that sustain the behaviours that contribute to high quality effective integration of ICT into teaching and learning in New Zealand schools?

    … and design a system of feedback that supports these bahaviours and capacities rather than ask teachers to respond to simplistic questions like

    “What proportion of your units of work contains ICT based learning activities?” or

    “Please indicate the average frequency with which some or all students have done any of the following during your lessons over the last year – E- mailing other students or experts about a current topic or problem?”

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