September 17 2015
Principal’s Message Sept 16, 15
Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:16
Today I would like to talk briefly about how computers and other forms of technology are used at NIS so that parents can understand how our use of technology benefits the students’ learning.
At the Primary School we have a class set of laptops which classes book out to use when appropriate. The Year 5 and 6 students also each have their own tablet computer which they use to enhance their learning when it is appropriate. We have interactive whiteboards in each of the Year 1 to 3 classrooms and data projectors in the Year 4 to 6 classrooms and Library. We also have around 10 iPads which are used by the Chinese Studies classes and other classes as appropriate.
At the Kindergarten the teachers have laptops and iPad’s which they use with the students, but apart from that we have made a conscious choice to steer clear of having the students use computers at the Kindergarten as much as possible.
Yesterday the OECD released a report into the effectiveness of using computers in the classrooms around the world (http://www.oecd.org/education/new-approach-needed-to-deliver-on-technologys-potential-in-schools.htm). Researchers from the OECD looked at computer use in countries all around the world to see if they improved student learning. The results were surprising for many. The OECD researchers concluded that “Overall, students who use computers moderately at school tend to have somewhat better learning outcomes than students who use computers rarely. But students who use computers very frequently at school do much worse, even after accounting for social background and student demographics”.
At NIS we see that computers can be a great tool for learning when used well. Unfortunately some schools have fallen into the trap of using computers unwisely, spending large amounts of money on technology that simply does not improve students’ learning, and in fact, often distracts the students from their learning. These schools look impressive to outsiders as the technology looks very attractive, but ultimately, it is not always being used wisely to improve learning, and they are an unnecessary financial burden on the parents who have to pay for these very costly resources.
At the Kindergarten the students focus on hands on learning activities and learning through play. In this we are following the advice of the US National Association for the Education of Young Children which states that:
“Technology should not be used for activities that are not educationally sound, not developmentally appropriate, or not effective (electronic worksheets for preschoolers, for example). Passive use of technology and any type of screen media is an inappropriate replacement for active play, engagement with other children, and interactions with adults”. (Taken from: http://www.naeyc.org/content/technology-and-young-children)
Similarly, in the lower primary classes at NIS we promote learning through engaging hands on activities and well structured lessons and use technology only when it genuinely enhances the students’ learning. As students move through the lower primary years they do have set Information Technology lessons where they learn specific computing skills and use computers to undertake activities and perform research. However , these lessons are always undertaken purposefully in order to enhance learning, rather than replacing other types of lessons which are more effective.
Similarly, upper primary students use computers and iPads to build their computer skills as they are some-thing that is important. Children do need to know how to use computers effectively to enhance their learning and be part of the digital world. In these years we aim to build their skills in these areas, as well as focus on how to use computers safely as there can be a lot of dangers online. Students also learn how to conduct research well online, and learn how to use the computers to organise and present information.
In all these years, NIS focuses on using technology to enhance the students’ learning, rather than using technology to replace other types of learning which are much more beneficial for the students.