Impact of technology in primary schools

I’ve just been reading through some of the preliminary findings of the Study of the impact of technology in primary schools (STEPS) project, a study commissioned by the Executive Agency of the European Commission Directorate General Education and Culture (EACEA) and undertaken by the European Schoolnet and empirica GmbH between January 2008 and June 2009, with the support of national correspondents, researchers, policy-makers, teachers and pupils in 30 countries.

Although the main reports from the study have yet to be released, there are some preliminary findings available on the site in the form of presentations from some of the countries involved. The study aimed to identify the impact of ICT on learning and learners, on teachers and teaching and on primary school development plans and strategies. It sought to identify the main drivers and enablers for effective and efficient use of ICT, and to propose recommendations on the integration of ICT in education for policy makers and stakeholders.

All in all the impression I get is that it’s  a (predictably) mixed bag. Some of the themes that emerged for me from my scan of the reports include:

  • the broad consensus about the positive impact of ICT on learning (although many of the reports referred to student motivation and attention as indicators of this – I’d have hoped for something a little higher up Maslow’s scale).
  • a general move away from computers in labs to computer in classroom contexts
  • across all the countries participating they reported an average ratio of 8 internet-connected computers per 100 students
  • little or no correlation found between the ‘impact optimism’ and the level of school equipment, sophistication of use, or even teacher skills.
  • factors influencing ICT uptake in these schools identified as; Access, Motivation and Competence (of teachers)

Certainly lots more to read here – but the first impression is that, apart from the more generally available broadband in many of these countries, NZ compares remarkably well in terms of things like the computer to student ratios and types of activities computers are used for etc. Will be interesting to see the final reports when they are released.

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