Systematic review-based op ed on digital classroom draws a reaction from Prime Minister of Sri Lanka

Posted on November 17, 2016  /  0 Comments

As can be seen, the language used by Sujata Gamage in her op ed on the education proposal in the 2017 Budget Speech was very nuanced and academic. But the problem was that politicians tend not to read to the end, choosing to form their opinion from the headline.

In this instance, the headline was “Can tabs do what PCs or bricks could not do for education?” But looking at that headline, I do not see anything near the kind of attack common in many of mine. It after all ends with a question mark.

The literature on digital classrooms is very clear that the acceptance and use of technology by teachers is essential to the success of digital devices in classrooms. Our own systematic survey of the literature shows that given sufficient tech support and if teachers are convinced of the utility of the technology, they will use technology in the classroom. Digital Bangldesh’s initiative on multimedia projectors for classrooms is an initiative which has shown success.

According to the 2014 OECD report on ICT in the classroom, even with generous support from the Government to train teachers and provide the technology, the use of technology in the classroom is limited in those countries. Also, technology investments are not directly correlated with learning outcomes and neither is technology use. For example, education achievements begin to go down if students use the Internet for more than 1-2 hours in school or outside of school.

The Government’s free tabs thrust is aimed at youth aged 16-18, most likely using tabs outside of the class. I am yet to uncover research on the topic and the ICTA has great responsibility in doing some exploring before action can be taken.

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But anyway, it drew blood.

The Premier was also critical of the opinion piece focusing on 2017 Budget move on granting tabs for students ( saying FT was even opposing that move when it was beneficial for all, rather than being exclusive resources limited only to the wealthy.

He concluded his comments on FT stating “Any way (such reporting) will help the FT to increase its circulation. I have asked the Finance Minister to put a 800% tax on Toilet paper, because FT will be the alternative.”

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We are pleased that an op ed based on a LIRNEasia’s systematic review has attracted the attention of the Prime Minister. If only we can get him to consider the full article in a calmer frame of mind over a cup of tea. Of course, we’d be pleased to share the findings of the systematic review again. It was made public last year.

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