How to innovate in school? Prohibition or interaction?

We have now an increasing set of data (and indicators) to assess the impact of technology in education. John Hattie provided a complete analysis framework of what works in education and the impact of specific technology appears to be significantly less than collaborative ways of learning for instance.

What happen when politics (and politicians) come into play and ask the one million dollar question: is technology good for our schools and our students? Let’s have a look at three very different countries: China, France and the US.

In the past months, China’s education ministry banned harmful apps in schools and France banned smartphone use in schools. In the same period of time, Silicon Valley tycoons founded a smartphone free school.

Captura de pantalla 2019-02-13 a las 18.47.27

The prohibition – ban smartphone use – or the subjective interpretation – what is “harmful” and what is not– can’t be considered as a scientific approach to assess the impact of technology in learning.

But what if politicians could be trusted? Shall we consider with them that use of apps and smartphones must be banned or restricted for the sake of learning and learners? Is it a signal that innovation in education has gone too far?

A recent study by the London School of Economics found that “in schools where mobiles were banned, the test scores of 16-year-olds improved by 6.4%”. The main variables in this study seem to be on the one hand “distraction” and its impact on “impressionable” students’ attention and on the other hand “danger” represented by potentially harmful contents.

In France an experimentation that took place in a lower secondary school came to a more drastic conclusion:”on ne pouvait pas vivre sans, maintenant on se parle” (we couldn’t live without it, now we talk to each other). Talking to each other is in that case the chosen indicator to assess student’s quality of learning (and quality of life).

Talking to each other or improving test scores are two (very different) indicators of learning achievements. And it would be simplistic to attribute better learning achievements to the smartphone ban or limitation.

But we will all agree that concentration on tasks, quality of dialog between students and teachers, students mental health, are essential indicators to design successful (and pleasant) learning paths.

This is what I call the “Art of interaction” i.e. the capacity of teachers and students to engage into a continuous and granular conversation about learning.

And the role of technology should be redefined (and not banned) in this context with digital tools specifically designed for true interaction and genuine participation between students and with the teacher.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Subscribe now

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers