New report – digital technologies are having a positive impact on student achievement

CoverA new report on digital technologies in schools, released today by the 2020 Trust, indicates that over 75% of schools are noticing an impact on student achievement as a result of using digital technologies in classrooms.

But Trust Chair, Laurence Millar, says the rapid growth of personal digital devices used by students for learning appears to be creating new challenges for schools.

“It is encouraging to see that most schools (75%) already include personal digital devices in their ICT (information and communication technology) plans or are planning to within the next 12 months,” said Laurence Millar.

“80% schools reported that students are using personal digital devices with 49% schools indicating that the devices are being used in all classes (25%) or most classes (24%).”

“Our survey also indicates that students in half of all schools are starting to bring their own devices to schools, although only 12% schools reported that more than half of students were doing this.”

But he says teachers might not be ready for this as only 14% schools reported that all their teachers have the skills to manage classrooms with personal student devices.

“We hear anecdotal evidence that some teachers ask their students to switch their devices off during classes. In our view, that defeats the purpose of having the devices in the first place.”

“Our report confirms that most schools are still in the early stages of adoption of 1:1 learning devices. The survey also reported a slight backward trend in the adoption of digital technologies by teachers.”

“Back in 2011, schools reported about half of teachers were in the top two stages of technology adoption – ‘adaptation to other contexts’ and ‘creative application to new contexts’. However the 2014 report indicates a drop to 35%, suggesting that teachers are now feeling more challenged by the technologies than they were 3 years ago.”

“This is understandable given the rapid shift from teacher-led learning in specialised computer laboratories, which is where we have come from in the 1990’s to today’s ubiquitous 24/7 access using personalised digital devices.”

“In higher decile schools, there is a noticeable reduction in the number of school-owned computers, but the national average of one school-provided computer for every three students has remained the same as in 2011.”

“While there is a growing use of personal digital devices in schools, most of these are being provided by the schools themselves and only a small percentage of schools (11%) allow students to take the devices home.”

“We understand the reasons for this. Schools are accountable for assets purchased with operating grant funds and devices taken home are much more likely to be damaged, lost or even stolen.”

“But, if devices are available to students only during school hours, it is going to be a real challenge to realise the hoped-for transformations in learning outcomes and student achievement from this new future-focused learning environment.”

“Nearly all schools (91%) are now using digital technologies to communicate with their parents and caregivers—this includes the school’s website and learning management systems. But only a few have opened their facilities to provide digital skills training for parents and caregivers (14%) and the wider community (16%).”

“With over half of all schools connected to ultrafast internet broadband, this creates a special opportunity for schools to become community digital hubs. But 66% of schools say they need more information to understand exactly what this means.”

Background information

The 2020 Trust has carried out the Digital Technologies in New Zealand Schools survey every 2-3 years since 1993. It provides a unique base of information on the ways that schools are integrating ICTs to enhance learning and the challenges they face.

The 2014 survey received funding support from InternetNZ, What Just Changed, the Science Learning Hub at Waikato University, Microsoft, Network for Learning (N4L), Te Puni Kokiri, Chorus, HP, ResearchNZ and the Ministry of Education.

A summary “report card” that allows schools to compare their individual position with national averages was published in Interface magazine last week and a printed copy of the full survey report is being sent to every school this week. An electronic copy of the report can be downloaded from the Trust’s website, and the data from the survey will be made available for access.

About 2020 Trust

The 2020 Trust is a registered not-for-profit charitable trust that was set up in 1996 by the Wellington City Council to promote digital literacy, initially for Wellington citizens, and in the year 2000 the scope was extended to include all New Zealanders. Our vision is for all New Zealanders to be able to fully participate in a digital world. In order to achieve this vision, everyone needs the opportunity and the skills to become digitally literate.

Further information:
Laurence Zwimpfer
Ph 027 430 6737