Schoolzone blog: Is IT investment is a waste of money?

Is IT investment is a waste of money?


15 Sept 2015

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Apparently so, according to the OECD. They've today published a report that states:

The report doesn't say that technology can't help, just that, so far, it doesn't appear to be doing so particularly well. It says, for example that "technology can amplify great teaching, but great technology cannot replace poor teaching." This reads like a truism, but one could argue that the vast majority of schools in OECD countries covered by the study don't have "great technology".

However, the overall findings are certainly not good news for a country which has spent millions on developing the use of technology, yet worries about its international performance. Here's a striking chart from the report (page153):


A faint glimmer of hope comes from the fact that the UK wasn't involved in the study, so if we think we make much better use of IT than any other country in the world... well, OK, it's a very, very faint glimmer.

We could also argue that the point of using IT in schools is mostly to make students better at using IT. Oops: the report doesn't offer much hope there either - the solid blue line above shows that, to a certain extent, the more children use IT at school, the worse they are at digital reading - and it's the same for other IT skills, too.

It may be that the 15 year olds covered by this report have had so much exposure to IT before that age that there's no correlation between school use and digital skills (the report also looks at the correlation for home use), but one would still hope that all this investment would have some correlation with basic skills.

All very depressing stuff for schools who may feel that IT investment has been a waste of money and for suppliers of hardware and digital learning resources who may fear that schools will think that it has. Teachers often tell us - and always have - that they often feel far behind their students in their IT skills, so maybe it's time to rethink the purpose of IT in schools from the ground up.

This is a very significant report and makes essential reading - we can't do it justice in this blog.



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