BBC Radio 4’s current affairs program ‘Analysis’ is reporting on emerging evidence that computers have harmed, rather than helped educational progress. There is still much debate among even the most enthusiastic supporters of schools technology about how computers should best be used.

Despite record investment in computers in the USA and UK, recent studies (not the ones funded by educational software companies) have shown a significant drop in core subjects (Math, English) in schools that place strong emphasis on Information Technology. Evidence also suggests that whilst information technology has great potential in the classroom, teachers have not yet found better use for computers than as a big library. Very few schools have been able to use the new technology for cultural exchange, or to build practical educational networks with other schools. Teachers do not know whether computers should be seen as an exciting but peripheral educational ‘accessory’, or if computers can actually be used to solve the most pressing problems of literacy and numeracy – the sorts of things that get kids through exams.”

The Economist had a similar article a month or two back, about Israeli schools that had similar results, along with an interesting comparison between how people see computers now, and how people in the early 20th century saw film strips in the classroom.