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Surprising Science

Students Who Use the Most Technology to Learn Also Perform the Worst

Kids also need to be taught technology habits to get the most out of the Internet.

Technology isn’t a replacement for learning — it’s up to teachers to show students how to use it effectively. A recent study from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) underscored this point when its results indicated “[s]tudents who use computers very frequently at school do a lot worse in most learning outcomes, even after accounting for social background and student demographics.”

The outcome of this study isn’t suggesting technology is bad, explained Andreas Schleicher, director of the OECD’s Directorate of Education and Skills. “Technology can amplify good teaching, but it can’t replace poor teaching.”

 “Technology often increases the efficiency of already-efficient processes, but it may also make inefficient processes even more so.”

What it shows, the researchers explain, is some schools may not be using technology to its fullest capabilities. It’s important to teach kids how they should go about using technology to better themselves. The report read: “Technology often increases the efficiency of already-efficient processes, but it may also make inefficient processes even more so.”

The results of OECD’s study leaves us with a lot of questions about what kinds of habits we should be teaching, so we can get the most out of technology. For instance, too much Internet time has been shown to rob people of that reflective time, which is necessary to boost creativity. Likewise, teachers have found its better to ban smartphones and laptops from classrooms in favor of traditional pen and paper note-taking, simply because it leads to better performance.

Nicholas Carr, author of The Glass Cage: Automation and Us and The Shallows, says it’s all about creating good Internet habits. I.e., when to engage and when to separate ourselves from it:

Natalie has been writing professionally for about 6 years. After graduating from Ithaca College with a degree in Feature Writing, she snagged a job at where she had the opportunity to review all the latest consumer gadgets. Since then she has become a writer for hire, freelancing for various websites. In her spare time, you may find her riding her motorcycle, reading YA novels, hiking, or playing video games. Follow her on Twitter: @nat_schumaker

Photo Credit: SAM YEH / Getty Staff

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