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Appropriate Technology Choice

Improving learning in the digital world

24 November 2009

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An integrated use of technology enables a range of positive outcomes for children and young people. Becta’s latest publication, The impact of digital technology, shows how ICTs are playing powerful role in enhancing learner’s efficiency, greater engagement and improving performance.

The impact of digital technology: A review of the evidence of the impact of digital technologies on formal education

Publisher: Becta, November 2009-11-24

Digital skills are important to social and economic participation. There is now a growing body of national and international evidence demonstrating the positive impact of digital technologies on measurable learning outcomes.

digital learning.jpg
Image credits: Becta/ Cover page of the report

The outcome of the study shows that classes with online learning, whether completely online or blended, on average produce stronger learning outcomes than learning face-to-face alone.

Young people with a computer at home are less likely to play truant at ages 14 and 16 than those without computer access. For example, having access to a computer at home is associated with a 5.8% reduction in the likelihood of playing truant at age 16.

Researchers have pointed to well-crafted use of technology benefiting, for example:  increased learner effectiveness or performance gains , increased learner efficiency , greater learner engagement or satisfaction , and more positive student attitudes to learning.

Learners of all ages are also exhibiting new behaviours as a result of ubiquitous high functioning technologies. Changes may be relatively mundane, such as replacing the school folder with a memory stick, or more profound, as when learners voluntarily seek out expertise beyond the traditional classroom.

Though these developments are not necessarily transformational, there are very real changes in behaviour that have resulted from the exponential change in both the functionality and the cost of technology.

The document suggests ways for education in this digital world?

There are broadly three strategies:

A minimum emphasis on technology – not a comfortable option in the context of digital inequity;

Getting technology to serve the system – identifying how technology supports the current business of education to good effect; or

Merge and evolve – allowing ourselves to adapt and respond to the possibilities from technology through innovation.

Digital technologies are already requiring us to think differently about how learners learn and how teachers teach.

Source : Becta

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