Have you joined the tech revolution?

#Hashtag la revolutionGovernments, including here in New Zealand, frequently rely on OECD data to guide policy-making decisions. In recent years, that data has largely been from PISA (you can access the 2012 topline results for science, reading and maths here) and TALIS surveys. In the last few years, reliance on OECD data has come under scrutiny for being too narrow in its focus compared with the weight it is given at policy level.  For example, Hundreds of scholars criticise PISA (including those from NZ), The Pisa methodology: do its education claims stack up? and Does PISA still matter?

Encouragingly, there seems to be groundswell at the OECD to look at how their current programme might be reformed. I recently spoke with Prof. Barbara Ischinger and heard her talk about the need for the OECD to look more broadly at global competencies (see my post from #ConnectAU15), and they have been releasing interesting reports from their Innovative Learning Environments programme.

Thoughts on the technological revolution…

This month, Andreas Schleicher posted on the way digital technologies are integrated into learning internationally. Arguably, he is a little late to this discussion but full marks for getting there eventually….

In his post – Are schools ready to join the technological revolution? (May 29, 2015) – which must surely prompt howls of “too late, we kicked off the revolution years ago..” – Schleicher makes a series of observations related to possible correlations between technology in schools and student achievement:

  • He suggests school leaders don’t have an accurate sense of (or an appetite for?) what is possible with technologies for learning, pointing out that “only around 37% of schools in Europe have high-end equipment and high-speed Internet connectivity, a figure which ranges from 5% in Poland to virtually 100% in Norway. But when asked, between 80% and 90% of school principals say that their schools are adequately equipped when it comes to computers and Internet connectivity.”
  • He highlights links between tech use and poor student performance: “Students who use computers moderately at school have somewhat better learning outcomes than students who rarely use computers; but students who use computers frequently at school do a lot worse, even after accounting for their socio-economic status and other background factors.”

And he ventures some thoughts about the reasons behind these:

  • He asks if “building deep, conceptual understanding and higher-order thinking requires intensive teacher-student interactions, and technology just distracts from this valuable human engagement.”
  • He ponders whether “we haven’t yet become good enough at the kind of pedagogies that make the most of technology; that adding 21st-century technologies to 20th-century teaching practices will just dilute the effectiveness of teaching.”

He concludes by offering three points to explore possible causes (that many of us have known for quite some time…):

  • “…education is a personalised service, so technology can only go so far in improving learning outcomes.
  • “the impact of technology on education delivery remains suboptimal because we tend to overestimate the digital skills of both teachers and students, because of often naïve policy design and implementation strategies, because of a poor understanding of pedagogy, and because of the generally poor quality of educational software and courseware.
  • “technologies can support new, inquiry-based pedagogies that focus on learners as active participants.”

He argues by calling for government investment in “capacity development and change-management skills” by developing sound evidence (Best Evidence Synthesis, anyone?) and feed this evidence back to institutions.

HIs final point may state what we all know as teachers already but which governments don’t always bake into policy –  “it is vital that teachers become active agents for change, not just in implementing technological innovations, but in designing them too.”

What might this mean for schools?

For me, his post raises some thoughts. It is encouraging – though possible slightly late in the day – that the OECD is coming to the future-oriented party and considering the role of digital technologies as a legitimate part of the landscape. The strong focus on teacher agency and advocacy for pedagogical conversations also aligns well with the widespread educational conversation that is occurring internationally around student-centred systems and inclusive models of education.

The post also prompts some questions for further consideration:

  • Do schools leaders need on-going, deep mentored support – at a national level – around what student-centred, tech-rich learning could look like in ways that are effective?
  • Do schools need to move on from technology as innovation towards conversations around what concepts, such as the Key Competencies, actually look like when deeply embedded in practice?
  • Are conversations around future-oriented learning superficial and distracting us from some of the approaches to learning design that have been understood for many years but have still not been effectively embedded in teaching and learning (student agency, learning to learn and metacognition spring to mind..).

It’s all interesting food for thought – and good to see the OECD, with all its influence, finally at the table.


Image credit: ‘#hashtag La Revolution’ – Stefano (BY NC-2.0)

11 thoughts on “Have you joined the tech revolution?

  1. A very timely read for me! Thanks, Karen. I am currently having a go at mapping out our vision around technology at our school. Being in a new team, I have learnt lots around thresholds and adaptive change. Your question about time to move on from technology being the innovation to conversations around the concepts resonates for me. The difficulty is know whether educators really actually are aware enough of the impact technology is able to have on learning including agency, learning to learn and metacognition…. Do they even value the ubiquity and collaboration that derives from it?

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    1. Hi Claire! You have such a wonderful opportunity at your place to reimagine what’s possible. There are possibilities to help your staff look at different aspects of effective pedagogy (e.g. NZC or the 7 principles from the ‘Spirals’ paper) and explore/create examples of what each one looks like in a digitally rich environment. What people vale is associated with what they believe ‘works’ for their learners – so there might be a bit of unpacking of values/beliefs and why they think certain approaches work or don’t work. Can’t wait to hear more! Good luck:)

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  2. Thanks Karen – this is AWESOME – i love your blogs – and posts – happenstance i am writing a Digital and Collaborative essay the third on these issues and will upload and tweet a link when its finished late tonight
    (draft is here https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BynJrjHmkHOLZngwUndydXNWY0E/view?usp=sharing)
    This new info requires a total rethink of my prject, paradigm and procedures which while dpressing is also pretty damn exciting

    to answer your questions:

    Do schools leaders need on-going, deep mentored support – at a national level – around what student-centred, tech-rich learning could look like in ways that are effective?

    i say yes yes and HELL YES

    Do schools need to move on from technology as innovation towards conversations around what concepts, such as the Key Competencies, actually look like when deeply embedded in practice?

    Ditto – we are studying that now at WHS with VUW, York University, Unitec and NZCER

    Are conversations around future-oriented learning superficial and distracting us from some of the approaches to learning design that have been understood for many years but have still not been effectively embedded in teaching and learning (student agency, learning to learn and metacognition spring to mind..).

    I think student agency is the key time to get off the stage, move away from the guide on the side and out into the playground, community and surrounding hills, trees and beaches ie deconstruct teaching and reconstruct learning as student initiated play, work and fun towards agreed upon goals and leaving students to their own devices rather then force feeding content grain to the paltry in the hope of assessment foie gras. Livin with rather than leading the digital revolution and dissolving the digital divide with 5G

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    1. Thanks, Tony, for your generous swords here. I really like your comment about the way student agency might be part of experiences that draw students out into the community. It would good to hear more about how you see this happening. We do know that student agency is strongly connected to them being able to talk about what they are learning, what their next steps, how to get there and whether they’ve achieve it. It would interesting to link this to concepts of citizenship. Would be keen to hear your thoughts on this:)

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  3. Reblogged this on tonycairns and commented:

    tonycairns June 14, 2015 at 12:32 pm
    Thanks Karen – this is AWESOME – i love your blogs – and posts – happenstance i am writing a Digital and Collaborative essay the third on these issues and will upload and tweet a link when its finished late tonight
    (draft is here https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BynJrjHmkHOLZngwUndydXNWY0E/view?usp=sharing)
    This new info requires a total rethink of my prject, paradigm and procedures which while dpressing is also pretty damn exciting

    to answer your questions:

    Do schools leaders need on-going, deep mentored support – at a national level – around what student-centred, tech-rich learning could look like in ways that are effective?

    i say yes yes and HELL YES

    Do schools need to move on from technology as innovation towards conversations around what concepts, such as the Key Competencies, actually look like when deeply embedded in practice?

    Ditto – we are studying that now at WHS with VUW, York University, Unitec and NZCER

    Are conversations around future-oriented learning superficial and distracting us from some of the approaches to learning design that have been understood for many years but have still not been effectively embedded in teaching and learning (student agency, learning to learn and metacognition spring to mind..).

    I think student agency is the key time to get off the stage, move away from the guide on the side and out into the playground, community and surrounding hills, trees and beaches ie deconstruct teaching and reconstruct learning as student initiated play, work and fun towards agreed upon goals and leaving students to their own devices rather then force feeding content grain to the paltry in the hope of assessment foie gras. Livin with rather than leading the digital revolution and dissolving the digital divide with 5G

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    Reply

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  4. Teachers presently teaching have based their pedagogy and practices around an out-dated model. So who provides this “on-going, deep mentored support”. Who is going to model this new “change”. Most of us are groping around in the dark trying to integrate technology in some meaningful way. Knowing full well that making change is not going to impact student performance on outdated assessment tools.
    Some of us are desperately trying to make a shift, but many of us have no idea what that shift even looks like. So now not only are you a lone nut, but you’re a lone nut who understands the end game but has no idea how that works in the present educational climate.

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    1. SUCH an important comment, Cheryl – and I couldn’t agree more. There is a plethora of buzz words out there that aren’t strongly associated with any shared vision. I do think the consensus is growing but it’s time for the education community, and those in policy-making/govt decision-making roles, to enable the curation of stories of practice, discussion, indicators of effective learning and so on. There does seem to be a groundswell, though, of educators who are sharing what is happening in schools which is really encouraging. The ‘change’ won’t come from a single, mandated source but from networked, professional conversations in which we all have a role and a voice:)

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  5. Kia Ora Karen

    It is encouraging to hear the groundswell of dissent that is growing around PISA and TIMMS international league tables. As I see it the greatest dilemma with these meta-analsysis processes is they are blunt, they do not measure apples with apples, but squeeze results to fit their frameworks of analysis – and of course, the biggest dilemma is that they don’t necessarily measure what matters!! Politicians who have followed the OECD recommendations have seen results in their countries fall further and further behind, which to my way of thinking, is showing that where politicians choose policy that follows economic rather than education principles, it doesn’t work!

    Do we need a tech revolution? Yes – but this is perhaps a broader conversation about change in education. What type of citizen do we want to develop? What skill-sets do they need for this century? What type of adaptive, flexible education system do we need to become that personalizes learning, so it works for all learners? I think we need a national dialogue so, across our system, school leaders understand what change is needed and how our teachers need to become those change leaders.

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    1. Great questions, Cherie and I agree with your comments about PISA being too narrow – and I think even the OECD can see this too, now. The phrase ‘tech revolution’ is not I would personally use (I was quoting the article:) given that (a) it pre-supposes that tech is the driver for learning and it shouldn’t be and (b) it sounds kind dated given the developments in the last few years, as you say. The national dialogue is the way forward and, I believe, is beginning to happen. Arguably, this blog conversation, networks of schools sharing practice, video stories of student-centred learning in action are all sympotamatic of that conversation gaining momentum. And it’s good to be part of it!

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