Report: Use of ICT in Education can make a difference


Following on from discussions that I heard taking place at the ULearn conference I was interested to read this morning (via eSchool News) a new report that concludes that when implemented carefully – with adequate attention paid to training, support, and evaluation – technology has been found to have a significant positive impact on student learning across all areas of the curriculum.

Produced by Cisco Systems and the Metiri Group, the report summarizes general trends and representative studies in areas such as television and video use, calculators, engagement devices such as interactive whiteboards, portable or handheld devices, virtual learning, in-school computing, and one-to-one computing. The report aims to provide educators with sound data about technological innovations that researchers say are working. Its goal is to help school leaders make better decisions about technology investments.

Key conclusions from the report include observations that…

  • educators have been “overly confident that they could easily accomplish the depth of school change required to realize the potential technology holds for learning–not an easy task.
  • educators did not make as much effort as they could have in documenting technology’s effect on student learning, the way teachers used the technology, or how efficient it was.

Both of these findings ring true for me in the NZ situation, although I believe we are seeing the development of emphasis on a more critical approach to the use of ICTs and to the adoption of Action Research practices by teachers.

The report refers to and provides substance to the arguments made by Larry Cuban in his book “Oversold and Underused” – but in my view, provides a more optomistic view of where we could see things going, provided sufficient attention is paid to the recommendation that schools take a more critical look at what they are trying to do with technology, what their expectations of its use might be, and what they are doing to identify and document the impact that it is making in order to make informed decisions about its use.

I’d recommend this report as essential background reading for facilitators, principals, ICT coordinators and any teachers who may be doing research or completing studies in this area.

The full report can be downloaded here from the Cisco site as a PDF document.

3 thoughts on “Report: Use of ICT in Education can make a difference

  1. Derek

    I would have to say that your “call” for more action research in schools rings lots of bells for me. I am intellectually drawn to the notions that I first read in work by John Hattie in which (as I recall) he maintains that in education we are essentially steeped in a mythological view of our ‘craft’…. it makes sense so we should do it this way. My ‘Mantra’ to the staff with whom I work is ‘data data data’.. we have far too little of it and, if I may be so bold, too little desire to gather such data.

    The cry “I don’t have time for this’ is frankly wearing a little thin for me. As professionals, I’d suggest that we must make time.. if we really value the progression of our ‘craft’.



  2. Derek

    An intersting report. What took my eye, though was your comment about Larry Cuban’s work and the ‘optimisitc’, ‘glass half full -v- half empty’ discourses around ICT in schools. Larry is often protrayed as the arch pessimist in relation to kid’s use of ICTs, but is this really the ccase? The commentators constantly focus on the “Oversold” aspects of his work. But what about the “Underused”?? Surely even the use of such a phrase in the title implies the author is not quite the doomsayer he is often portrayed as. If you claim something is ‘underused’ in education you must still be advocating its merits – that it has a ‘use’.
    These are the words of someone who clearly believes there is potential and value. It just remains to be fully realised and won’t be if we continue to use ICTs the ways we (ie: ‘they’ in the US?) currently use them OR (and this is also central to his critique) DON’T use them.


  3. Hi Derek. This does make interesting reading. Two things intrigued me. The report was sponsored by Cisco so one assumes they would have looked hard for research to back a positive view point towards the benefits of ICT. Given this they didn’t identify any ‘rigorous’ resarch that looked at authentic learning. (Authentic learning is the ability to engage in academic pursuits that are characterized by relevancy, deep and rigorous academic
    inquiry, and knowledge production.) This definition jumped out after attending ULearn where many of the presentations were about different aspects of Authentic learning.

    The second thing for me also follwed on from Ulearn and this was the statement
    “The power behind games is in the concentrated attention of the user to an environment that continuously reinforces knowledge,
    scaffolds learning, provides leveled, appropriate challenges, and provides context to the learning of content.”
    The whole area of gaming is new to me and after Lisa Garlineau’s presentation one I will look at more closely.

    Very interesting. Thanks.

Leave a Reply