ICT and school effectiveness

Much has been said about the intimate relationship between ICT and school effectiveness and the need to move the current technological environment into the classroom. Most of these analyses, however, have been carried out from a theoretical perspective and lack validation by empirical evidence.

After years of great efforts to equip schools and promote teacher training, we are in a position to carry out an in-depth analysis of the impact of the integration of ICT into education. As can be seen in this study by the National Institute for Educational Assessment (INEE), the empirical evidence appears to show certain contradictions, and the results obtained here do not stray much from this evidence. Although pupils with greater self-effectiveness and confidence in the use of ICT are associated with high effectiveness, we should be careful not to immerse the pupil into an excessively technological environment.

   Results obtained from this research

The results obtained from applied data analysis indicate the following issues:

  • Effective schools have minimal computer equipment (PCs connected to the Internet, acceptable computer/pupil ratios and interactive whiteboards), and do not necessarily have abundant technological resources (laptops, tablets, Wi-Fi available for pupils, etc.). There are numerous low-effectiveness schools that have widely available ICT resources, but do not use them effectively.
  • Widespread use and integration of ICT by teachers as an end in itself is shown to be a significant factor for ineffectiveness. Conversely, ICT use that is controlled, planned and oriented towards the curriculum is shown to be a factor that protects school effectiveness.
    • Effective schools are characterised by a moderate use of ICT in teaching/learning activities. Highly frequent exposure to computers and the Internet in the classroom is typical of low school effectiveness, as is the widespread use of digital technologies to study, communicate or do homework.
    • Excessively limited or non-existent use of ICT in the classroom also appears to be a factor for school ineffectiveness.
    • The use of ICT channelled towards curricular goals, such as Internet searches for information relating to topics being studied or experimentation with virtual simulators of physical or abstract systems, is associated with high effectiveness. Pupils from effective schools affirm that they perform these kinds of activities more frequently in the classroom and for homework.
  • Puplis from effective schools have greater interest and positive orientation towards ICT, believe that they are more autonomous and competent in their use and value ICT more positively as a tool for individual and social learning.
  • Although the widespread use of ICT for leisure activities is common among pupils in effective schools, filling classrooms and homes with technology without controlling and guiding use is associated with low effectiveness. Organised and regulated use of ICT in the classroom and home is associated with high effectiveness, even in settings with characteristics that are highly prone to low effectiveness.
    • It is highly advisable to orientate the use of ICT towards information activities (searching for useful information, reading news, etc.) and social activities (seeking or providing help with academic or leisure difficulties, participating in online discussions on topics of interest, etc.).
    • Although it is not appropriate to completely restrict access, it is advisable for parents and schools to control the use of the Internet, social media and video games to ensure that it is not excessive.

Given the above, it is important to emphasise that mere integration of ICT in teaching does not represent any improvement, and may even hinder the educational process. ICT should be integrated in a manner that is controlled, planned and orientated towards clear curricular goals.