Use of information technologies in Spanish schools

Study find serious faults with the use of information technology in Spanish schools

For over a decade the Spanish Ministry of Education has been pumping funds into improving computer facilities in Spanish schools and making sure all schools are connected to the internet. However a study by the Oberta University of Catalonia (UOC), for the Fundación Telefónica, has concluded that not even teachers know how to make the best pedagogical use of computers and that pupils do not use them for any other purpose than to look for information.

In an article published in ‘Telos’ the authors of the study Julio Meneses, Josep María Mominó and Carles Sigalés from the Department of Education of the UOC said that the ‘mere presence of computers in schools does not mean that their educative use has spread automatically or that innovative teaching processes have been developed’.

According to the study which was based on 800 primary and secondary schools only one out of every eight schools have more than 10 computers in their ordinary classrooms.

In the remaining seven the computers are all in specially designated computer rooms.

The study also discovered that only one out of every three students used a computer in school at least once a week. Furthermore 35% of all students included in the study said that they never connected to the internet in classrooms, 24% said that they connected to the internet on a monthly basis and 18% said that they connected to the internet on a weekly basis. Only 4.9% connected to the Internet on a daily basis.

Most of the teachers questioned for the study said that they had adopted the use of information technology as a support to normal teaching activities. In addition, many teachers in the study recognised that they lacked the skills to make the best didactic use of computers.

More than half of the teachers questioned did not feel capable of developing multimedia projects with their students or to evaluate projects carried out using information technology. Only one out of every three felt capable of creating online resources that could be used in their subjects.

According to the study by UOC the insufficient development of pedagogical software and the lack of professional development and motivation in this area were the main causes of this situation in Spanish schools.

The study said that traditional classes by teachers with the use of books are still the main way of transferring knowledge to students. The study also found that not many schools had digital blackboards – given that their installation is costly – and at best there are up to two per centre so that pupils can experience an interactive class once a week.

Furthermore the study found that most Spanish pupils had learned to use computers and navigate on the internet by themselves. It also found that a third of pupils aged between 5 and 11 did not have access to information technology due to the lack of resources.

The study by the UOC concluded that the ‘most important issue was the innovative use of educative practices’ without which the use of technology would remain limited and investment in new facilities would not guarantee the best quality in education.