A draft of this post has been waiting for me to hit ‘submit’ for many months now… oops.
A news piece on the BBC revealed that:
High levels of computer technology in schools can improve attainment to an extent, a four-year study has found.
(My emphasis added to the very key phrase ‘to an extent’, but the results are worth looking at a little closer)
Lots of call for conference papers and research proposals to publish. Meanwhile, what a difference six months makes. I’ve recently had two research proposals based round exploring Second Life as an educational tool rejected. One reviewer at least clearly had problems appreciating what on earth Second Life is.
Now comes this call for research proposals from Eduserve. And what do I find? Not only does it make explicit mention of Second Life, but you can even submit your application INSIDE Second Life!
Well, not today, but back in February. Recently came across an old issue of THES with this news story about new students starting university with very weak skills in writing, numeracy and general problem solving.
Feedback from a range of British universities found that many courses were moving first year material into the second year, second year material into third year and creating new courses to teach students how to learn. (At Paisley we have introduced one new first year module called ‘Programmer Development’ – I think its quite a good one, actually. The goal is the same – help students learn how they can further develop their own programming skills. I am aware of some courses at other universities which now avoid teaching programming in the first year at all.)
A lot of blame is set on over-assessment and league tables in schools – with teaching directed purely at getting passes and grades. Teaching to the exam, rather than teaching for the sake of education.
That the students now starting university watch more television and play more computer games than previous generations does not seem to have helped much.