Journalists often seem to get it wrong when it comes to reporting educational research, and they seem to love it when they can go with a headline like “Schools wasting money on useless technology”. I made that up, but the reporting of the recent OECD research, the Decoding Learning research from Nesta in 2012 and other work is quite often presented in those sort of terms.
Everything is not all that it seems but, importantly, what can we do about it?
In Britain, there are economic forces at work and, perhaps surprisingly, psychological ones too.
At the forthcoming ResearchEd Tech conference , I’ll be speaking on the topic “How do you know what you know? What does the research REALLY say? A list of pitfalls when it comes to interpreting tech research reports, with examples, and suggestions as to how to “defend” yourself.”, in which I will explore these issues. But I won’t be dwelling long on individual research reports, because I think it’s important to examine the underlying factors that cause apparently poor reporting to happen time and again.
If, in the meantime, you’d like to read some insightful articles about recent research, may I direct you to the following:
"Tech doesn't improve student results - study" - why news reports like this are damaging (and missing the point). An in-depth read by ClaireAmosNZ, in fact an astonishing achievement in that Claire manages to balance passion (and, I think, some anger or, at least, weariness, with all this) with clear, cool-headed logic. Me, I would just go into a rant. In fact, I have been trying to stop myself ranting since the reports of the report first came out.
I would also like to say that, for some reason, I hadn’t been aware of Claire’s blog until recently. She writes longer articles than mine, but they are so interesting and well-written that they don’t prompt me to quote Polonius (“brevity is the soul of wit”). Now, Crispin Weston on the other hand…
The second article I’d like to recommend is Crispin’s Assessing the evidence for ed tech. As always, this article is meticulously detailed, being a blow by blow account of how people who have criticised the reports are wrong. I haven’t finished the article yet, but so far I pretty much disagree with everything in it. However, I enjoy being in such a position – not because I’m a masochist, but because there is little that is more beautiful than a finely-wrought argument (even if it’s wrong!)
I have to warn you though: Crispin’s predilection for long-form journalism has got out of hand: this article is 14,000 words long. I should normally suggest making a cup of tea before reading a long article, but in this case I suggest a pot. A very large pot <grin>.
Go on, read it. It’s a well-considered, non-knee-jerk reaction to the report and its opponents.
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