Computers and other classroom technology do not improve the performance of students, a worldwide study by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has found.
Rather, the role of technology in the classroom as a tool for boosting education may have been overplayed and can negatively affect test results.
Research conducted by the organisation found that frequent use of computers in schools is often connected with lower academic results.
Andreas Schleicher, director at the OECD, explained that too much emphasis has been put on providing high-tech equipment to students, when more resources should be put into teaching reading and mathematics.
"The results also show no appreciable improvements in student achievement in reading, mathematics or science in the countries that had invested heavily in ICT for education," he wrote in the Students, Computers and Learning: Making the Connection study.
"And perhaps the most disappointing finding of the report is that technology is of little help in bridging the skills divide between advantaged and disadvantaged students.
"Put simply, ensuring that every child attains a baseline level of proficiency in reading and mathematics seems to do more to create equal opportunities in a digital world than can be achieved by expanding or subsidising access to high-tech devices and services."
The OECD research found no noticeable improvements for schools that had invested in technology on the results of pupils taking the Pisa test for reading, mathematics and science.
"Even where computers are used in the classroom, their impact on student performance is mixed at best," wrote Schleicher.
He did note that students who tend to use computers moderately at school had better "learning outcomes" than those who use computers rarely. But students who use computers very frequently tend to get worse exam and test results.
However, Schleicher said that the full potential of technology in education has yet to be realised, and the OECD's report leaves many questions unanswered about its impact on the sector.
Schleicher said that a better strategy is needed to establish how teachers can drive education change through technology to ensure that it is put to effective use.
Technology may not directly benefit student learning, but its proliferation in the education sector is not likely to decrease, especially when firms like Microsoft set up academies to boost IT skills in schools.
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