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EMF Studies

09 October 2015

Information and Communications Technology in Education

ICT in Education
by Tom Butler Ph.D.

ICT in Education: Fundamental Problems and Practical Recommendations (Pdf copy here)

There is a dearth of scientific evidence and evidence-based practice to justify current levels of information and communication technology use in the classroom and in the home. In contrast, there is a growing body of scientific studies across several disciplines that highlight the direct and indirect negative effects of ICT use on human cognition, learning and behaviour.

This paper considers objective evidence from peer-reviewed scientific studies in cognitive psychology, neuroscience, and related disciplines, as well as the field of education itself, to review the fundamental problems that beset ICT use in education. The paper highlights, for example, that: 


(1) Screens lead to sleep disruption and deprivation, which impacts on learning, and is associated with obesity, and other physical disorders, such as computer vision syndrome; 

(2) Computer use in class disrupts the learning process and impairs learning outcomes for users and non-users alike; 

(3) Learning with books and paper is superior in comparison to learning with e-books; 

(4) Taking notes with pen and paper, as opposed to touch typing lecture notes in class, leads to better learning outcomes; 

(5) Smart phone, iPAD and laptop use result in student distraction and multitasking, which, impair learning and lead to neural addiction problems, such as Internet addiction disorder and other psychological maladies; 

(6) There are islands of success in an ocean of failure when it comes to ICT and educational technologies, with researchers arguing that there is little evidence to support the proposition that ICT and/or EdTech improve pedagogy or learning outcomes; 

(7) Finally, basic education about ICT is one topic that needs to find a place in the curriculum. However, as with all ICT initiatives, the introduction of programmes at primary and secondary schools level need to be considered mindfully, with the strengths and limitations of the proposed enabling technologies clearly in focus. All this should give educators, administrators and politicians pause for thought. The paper concludes by discussing its findings, offering practical recommendations, and by suggesting a change in emphasis in pedagogy in and through ICT.
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Dr. Tom Butler:
"I am a Professor in Business Information Systems at University College Cork, where I teach undergraduate, postgraduate, executive education, and PhD courses. At undergraduate level, the modules I teach concentrate on software systems, IT architectures, and information systems. Here, I bring over 24 years' experience as an IT professional to bear in rendering complex technical concepts accessible to students. At postgraduate level, I leverage over 15 years of research experience publishing in premier journals and conferences to inform the learning of MSc, MBA, and PhD students." 

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