Minister must go back to class - Digital strategy

AT first sight, the Government’s new strategic plan for digital technology in schools seems like a good idea. After all, it is five years since there has been any significant investment in new technology in our education system.

It has announced details of how some of the more than €200m earmarked in its Capital Development Plan for schools will be spent. Much of it will go to schools in the form of accessing information and communication technology.

Yesterday, Education Minister Jan O’Sullivan trumpeted the new digital strategy, saying the investment is centred on how information technology can improve learning for students.

That is where the problem lies. Ms O’Sullivan assumes ICT alone will improve education standards in Irish schools. In fact, there is growing scientific evidence that the use of laptops, smartphones, and tablets in the classroom is actually detrimental to learning.

A significant recent study by the OECD bears this out, concluding that the higher the level of ICT use in classroom and the home, the greater the negative effect on learning outcomes.

Ms O’Sullivan and her advisers need to go back to the classroom to learn that ICT in schools may do more harm than good. Modern technology will never replace the teacher who not only instructs but inspires students.


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