Do We Really Need ICT in Education Evaluations?


Back when One Laptop Per Child started, they made an interesting point around evaluations of computer usage in schools. Their core belief was that all evaluations were flawed because we don't have the right tools to assess the impact of ICT in education, and therefore talking about testing the efficacy of 1:1 computing was wasted effort.

Nicholas Negroponte holding electricity

I've heard this refrain repeated often since then, and not just by those promoting technology in schools. Its a equal thought from those that feel geek lust is clouding our judgment and we should focus on teachers, not technology. Its also promoted by those that point out changes to educational methodologies have often happened by force of will, not empirical results.

Now, Nicholas Negroponte is putting forth the idea that one computer per child is like electricity - such an accepted benefit for society that we've moved on from discussing its impact to just looking for the right models to fund it.

While we may have differencing opinions on OLPC or its benefits, the basic questioning of ICT4E evaluations is compelling. Starting with the simple question of "Do we need assessments?", the November Educational Technology Debate is Assessing ICT4E Evaluations, and we've already started with two compelling positions:

  • ICT in Education Assessments are Biased and Inaccurate
    Would accurate ICT4E assessment be great? Definitely. The more we know about education and teaching, the better we can educate. However, the most remarkable thing about any ICT4E assessments to decide on the introduction of ICT in education would be their uniqueness in history. One reason such assessments are so scarce is that there are few (if any) historical examples of assessments of any kind done before the introduction of an educational reform. Even less examples where the outcomes of the assessments really mattered in decision making. Read more....

  • ICT4E Assessments Help Avoid Wasteful Tragedy
    ICTs can be powerful, essential tools for learning: understanding, interpreting and communicating about the real world OR they can be black holes into which we pour our money, intelligence and time, getting very little in return. Still, yes we do need to assess ICT4E initiatives more particularly when we are working in environments with scarce resources as in the developing world where investment in ICT can constitute what Unwin (2004) describes as a 'wasteful tragedy' if it is not managed and utilized properly. Read more....

If you have an opinion on either position - and I bet you have many - please click on through to the Assessing ICT4E Evaluations debate and join in the conversation.

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