Why tech is (not) best

Published: May 17th, 2016

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has just published research that looks at the impact of computer usage on academic performance, and the guardian is claiming the findings show that ‘students who use digital devices in class perform worse in exams’… obviously the headline is a bit of a shocker, but when you read through the detail, there’s actually some truth in it…

And that truth is what we’ve been pushing for a while. Technology is NOT the solution for raising standards or improving performance. It’s the HOW it is used that’s the important bit. Take the Modern Classroom approach, for example. There are three key elements to consider when designing a Modern Classroom. Space. Pedagogy. Technology. They are not mutually exclusive. They are intrinsically linked.

Now take the Massachusetts Institute of Technology research. One group of undergrads had access to technology during lectures. The other did not. It’s as simple as that. So no guidance or instruction on HOW to use the technology. It was just available. And according to the findings, it became more of a distraction as a result.

But when we look at examples where technology is used as an enabler to enhance teaching and learning experiences, such as the iTec and Future Classroom Lab (FCL) projects, we see very different results. And would probably see a very different headline in the papers!

So in the same way that you shouldn’t always believe what you read – don’t rely on technology alone as a solution. It’s only ever one part of the story.