Recent research conducted in Britain on behalf of Nesta identifies evidence that technology supports learning effectively. It also examines emerging technologies with a high educational impact as well as pedagogical practices advantageously exploiting the potential of digital education.
Britain spends millions of pounds each year on acquiring technology for its schools. However, one question remains: does this investment improve learning? To find out more, the British organization Nesta (National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts) funded a study by researchers from the London Knowledge Lab (LKL) and the Learning Sciences Research Institute (LSRI) of the University of Nottingham.
The researchers chose to study how technology can support different learning activities rather than focusing on types of technologies.
Indeed, all of their discoveries show that technology alone has no impact on learning. It always depends on how it is used.
Here are some key points where researchers have found technology benefits.
- It improves evaluation;
- It allows you to learn by doing;
- It varies the opportunities to practice;
- It makes the whole world a place to learn;
- It makes learning a more social process.
In conclusion, the researchers note that the evidence exists when we put learning at the heart of the matter. Technology improves learning by promoting connections between learning activities and raising their level.
No one technology is THE best for learning, it depends on the context, they write. Different technologies can support different forms of learning, individually or jointly.
Among the promises, they identified that some learning activities, such as “learning by assessment”, were poorly supported by technological innovation. Others, on the contrary, are saturated: this is the case of "learning by doing", for which a multitude of games offering repetitive exercises exist, particularly in mathematics.
The study underlines the importance of changing the attitude of stakeholders towards technologies in order to avoid their occasional use for a specific task in favor of global integration. How to get there? This requires, according to the researchers, the sharing of ideas, collaboration between teachers and professional development. Also, they absolutely need management support in order to explore the full potential of the tools available to them. Finally, they should not hesitate to seek relevant expertise in the community.
Luckin, R., Bligh B., Sleeves A., Ainsworth S., Crook C., Noss R. (November 2012)
Decoding Learning: The proof, promise and potential of digital education. National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (Nesta).