1.2.1 Improved cognitive and non-cognitive skills of students

Changes to educational curricula spurred by the introduction of online content and research tools have the potential, over the medium term, to improve cognitive and noncognitive skills.4

A May 2009 review carried out for the United States Department of Education5 examined available studies of ICT-enabled instruction in order to explore the effectiveness of such methods in the United States. The review found a statistically significant increase in performance among students who took all or part of a course online, rather than with traditional classroom instruction. But the review also noted:

1. The relatively small number of controlled studies on the subject,

2. The fact that most studies were based upon university and graduate students, and

3. That the introduction of online media alone had less of an impact than a deeper reorganization of the way instruction was presented or oriented.

Recent developments in m-education show a positive impact from the use of mobile phones in schools.

A recent GSM Association report illustrates this through a number of examples:

  • In a school in New Mexico, teachers are using mobile computing devices to regularly assess kindergartners’ reading progress and then tailor instruction to help them develop oral fluency. Within the first three years of use, the share of students reading at benchmark levels rose from 29 per cent to 93 per cent.
  • In India, primary schools used mobile-phone games to help students from rural, low-income households learn English. Aided by local teachers, researchers devised a simple game to develop listening comprehension, word recognition, sentence construction and spelling. Test scores of students using the mobile-phone games improved by nearly 60 per cent. 6

In 2012, the non-profit organization World Reader published the results of iREAD, its year-long, USAID-funded pilot programme in Ghana. iREAD involved the wireless distribution of more than 32,000 local and international digital books, using Kindle e-readers, to 350 students and teachers at six pilot schools in Ghana’s Eastern Region between November 2010 and September 2011. The results indicated that primary school students with access to e-readers showed significant improvement in reading skills and in time spent reading, and that the programme was cost-effective over that period. 7

As additional work is carried out on monitoring and evaluation of ICTs' effectiveness in education, policymakers and educators will have additional data to use in designing curricula and initiatives to maximize the benefits of ICTs in the classroom.8

4 Non-cognitive attributes are those academically and occupationally relevant skills and traits that are not specifically intellectual or analytical in nature, and include personality and motivational habits and attitudes that facilitate functioning well in school. Non-cognitive traits, skills and characteristics include perseverance, motivation, self-control and other aspects of conscientiousness. (See Borghans, L., Duckworkth, A.L., Heckman, J.J. & Weel, B., The Economics and Psychology of Personality Traits NBER Working Paper No. 13810, Cambridge, MA, National Bureau of Economic Research, 2008.)

5 U.S. Department of Education, "Evaluation of Evidence-Based Practices in Online Learning: A Meta-Analysis and Review of Online Learning Studies, "May 2009, http://www.ed.gov/rschstat/eval/tech/evidence-based-practices/finalreport.pdf.

6:http://www.gsma.com/connectedliving/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/gsmamckinseytransforminglearningthroughmeducation.pdf

7: http://gigaom.com/2012/04/27/worldreader-kids-e-readers-kindles/

8 For example, the World Bank’s infoDev unit, in partnership with a range of organizations, is conducting studies and identifying best practices and lessons learned in the use of ICTs for education.

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