A global study from the OECD, penned by Andreas Schleicher says the frequent use of computers in schools is more likely to be associated with lower results.
The report looked at the impact of school technology on international test results, such as the Pisa tests taken in more than 70 countries and tests measuring digital skills.
It says education systems which have invested heavily in information and communications technology have seen “no noticeable improvement” in Pisa test results for reading, mathematics or science.
“If you look at the best-performing education systems, such as those in East Asia, they’ve been very cautious about using technology in their classrooms,” said Schleicher.
“Those students who use tablets and computers very often tend to do worse than those who use them moderately.”
The British Educational Suppliers Association (BESA) says schools have £619m in budgets for ICT, with £95m spent on software and digital content.
But Schleicher says the “impact on student performance is mixed at best”.
•Students who use computers very frequently at school get worse results
•Students who use computers moderately at school, such as once or twice a week, have “somewhat better learning outcomes” than students who use computers rarely
•The results show “no appreciable improvements” in reading, mathematics or science in the countries that had invested heavily in information technology
•High achieving school systems such as South Korea and Shanghai in China have lower levels of computer use in school
•Singapore, with only a moderate use of technology in school, is top for digital skills
“One of the most disappointing findings of the report is that the socio-economic divide between students is not narrowed by technology, perhaps even amplified,” said Schleicher.
Classroom technology can be a distraction and result in pupils cutting and pasting “prefabricated” homework answers from the internet.
The study shows “there is no single country in which the internet is used frequently at school by a majority of students and where students’ performance improved”.
Among the seven countries with the highest level of internet use in school, it found three experienced “significant declines” in reading performance – Australia, New Zealand and Sweden – and three more had results that had “stagnated” – Spain, Norway and Denmark.
The countries and cities with the lowest use of the internet in school – South Korea, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Japan – are among the top performers in international tests.