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Monday, December 08, 2003

Expensive research states obvious... shock! 

Hey look, in depth research into how teachers, parents and students use the internet for learning .

"The project set out to identify how educational websites are used in the home, using case studies of 8 families. Children and parents were interviewed separately and then together; and children were also observed and videotaped using specific sites. While some parents were persuaded of the educational value of the web, or at least felt that it was unavoidable, some were still skeptical about its benefits relative to ?older? media. Some mothers argued that the information was not always reliable and that using the internet for project work was a form of ?cheating? ? although fathers were generally more positive. Education was one of the main reasons given for families? computer purchase. However, parents reported that their children mostly tended to use the computer for entertainment rather than education. Some argued that children aged 8-12 are too young to be using the internet in this way. When computers were used for education, it was usually for homework projects, and for simple information retrieval. Children claimed to prefer using the computer to reading books for information ? even though they did not always know how to find it.

Most parents and children were very critical of sites they found slow and frustrating to use. They questioned whether sites were effectively ?personalised? to the child?s educational level. Several children were able to subvert the educational purpose of the games in order to accumulate rewards more easily; and they often avoided reading written text or instructions, going straight to the activities. Within the terms of our sample, we found little intensive use of educational sites: this was because of parents? lack of knowledge of the sites available; because of the limited nature of homework assignments; because of the greater appeal for children of other (entertainment) uses of the computer; and because of the lack of engagement offered by the sites that they had used."

This research has been published by the Economic Social and Research Council. I would like to know how much they spent on this research because I could have told them the outcome. Teachers don't recommend use of the net enough, parents don't trust the net enough and kids just love playing games online.

In general I would agree that that 'educational' sites are dull, generally slow and lack the hook to keep kids interested. But the main problem here is that most children in school today are seemingly incapable of independent research. If they were taught this skill they would soon learn that online there are an infinite number of exciting, educational sites worthy of their exploration (A lot of them are blogs too!).

Update From the ESRC financial reports:

"By 2005/06 our funding from the Government's science budget will be over £119million..."

Speaks for itself really.
Noted at 10:20 AM. |

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