Digital Technology and Student Learning

Mal Lee

June 2014

There is no significant linear connection between the use of digital technologies and enhanced student attainment.

It is time to appreciate the traditional, simplistic way of looking at the impact of digital technology on student learning has to fundamentally change and for all associated with schools to understand that the impact of digital technology on student learning can be profound if an apposite school ecology is created.

We need to recognise that the impact of the digital technology on student learning is complex, far more deep seated than previously thought, is largely non-linear in nature, and appears to emanate in the main from the ever-evolving digital operational base and the associated tightly integrated ecology found in those schools that have infused the use of the digital technology in all facets of their operations.

That profound impact is evidenced increasingly in those pathfinder – early adopter – schools in the UK, US, NZ and Australia where all the teachers in the school by using the digital technology in their everyday teaching have moved the school from a paper to digital operational base.

Those schools have, often unwittingly, created digitally based, tightly integrated strongly educationally focussed ever-evolving school ecologies that simultaneously address the many factors that enhance each child’s learning.

That ecology is not simply amplifying the impact of the suite of variables known to enhance student learning but is also facilitating the emergence of an additional suite a set of variables, intended and unintended, that have the potential to markedly lift school attainment globally.

What needs to be understood by all, and in particular government and the media, is that at best there is limited direct connection between the use of a particular digital instructional technology and improved learning in the academic curriculum.

It is particularly important that the school principal, the principal orchestrator of the apposite ecology within each school, understands that reality and the necessity of the new focus.

It is imperative the more deep seated, and in many respects more complex, all pervasive and tightly interrelated impact of the digital technology is understood. Educators need appreciate today it is the total school 24/7/365 use of the digital technology, by all within the school’s community that is key to helping shape the desired teaching and learning.

To read the full article – click here Digital Technology and Student Learning

About Mal Lee

Mal Lee is an educational consultant and author specializing in the evolution of teaching and schooling from the traditional paper based mode to one that is digital, and in turn networked, and the impact of the technology on that evolution. Mal’s is a macro focus examining all the elements associated with the development, leadership and operation of schools operating within a digital, and increasingly as networked school communities. Most importantly his is a positive approach that envisions how educators and school communities might best use the ever-evolving, ever more pervasive technology in the home, on the move and in the classroom to provide an ever better schooling for the full range of students. Mal is a former director of schools, secondary college principal, technology company director and a member of the Mayer Committee that identified the Key Competencies for Australia’s schools. A Fellow of the Australian Council for Educational Administration (FACEA) Mal has been closely associated with the use of digital technology in schooling, particularly by the school leadership for the last two decades. A historian by training Mal has written extensively, particularly in the Practising Administrator, the Australian Educational Leaders and Access, Educational Technology Guide on the astute use of technology in the development of schoolings. Mal has released four publications with ACER Press. In 2008 Mal and Professor Michael Gaffney edited and had published Leading a Digital School. In 2009 he co-authored with Dr Arthur Winzenried The Use of Instructional Technology in Schools – Lessons to be Learned, and with Chris Betcher, The Interactive Whiteboard Revolution – Teaching with IWBs. In 2010 Mal joined with Associate Professor Glenn Finger (Griffith University) in the writing of his most significant work yet for ACER Press on Developing Networked School Communities: a guide to realizing the vision – on the next phase of schooling. Copies of the books can be obtained from the ACER Press website at -
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