“Digitale sì, digitale no”: a research to overcome digital learning’s prejudices
To set teachers and students – and society overall – free from prejudices caused by digital learning, Impara Digitale, along with Acer for Education and with the scientific support of CNIS, launched the “Digitale sì, Digitale no” research. This was a great research project, lasting from November 2017 until May 2018, and involving 1.389 teachers from 45 Primary Schools and 1.300 students from 28 Primary Schools.
The aim of “Digitale sì, Digitale no” project is to investigate cognitive and motivational changes together with the learning outcomes coming from the digital education: “Digital tools often replace paper and pencil in today’s classroom. Multimedia are preferred over traditional books and animations take the place of oral narrations. These changes are patent and we cannot neglect them” said Dianora Bardi of Impara Digitale Study Centre, “Teachers are getting lost: they do not have an exact frame to refer to or clear guidelines to follow”.
The research focused on how two main skills of learning development, namely writing/reading skills and logical skills, change in digital education. To achieve this goal, it was necessary to test differences in learning outcomes detected in school subjects studied both in a traditional way and with digital tools.
The subjects considered in the research were:
- first language acquisition and learning (Italian)
- second language learning (English)
Furthermore, researchers wanted to see wether virtual reality has an impact on childrens’ motivation.
The sample of teachers involved in this research was a group made of young people, full of enthusiasm, ready and curios of introducing or intensifying the use of digital tools in their classrooms: 65% of them already use pc in the classroom, while 77,4% use a tablet during his lessons. Nevertheless, very few of these teachers had experienced BYOD education or gaming in the classroom.
Then, researchers had necessarily to understand the personality and the digital attitude of pupils: the first step had consisted in sending a form to schools asking them to choose the experimental area of interest they preferred (writing/reading or logical) and what kind of digital tool they wanted to use (app, educational softwares, videogames). After data collection to whom also teachers contributed, researchers split the pupils’ sample into control and experimental group, and then they started with real tests, which consisted in:
- A questionnaire to the families in order to know how “digitalized” the children were at the moment of the research (how often did they used digital devices at home, time of exposure and so on);
- Measurement of fluid intelligence and visuospatial memory;
- A questionnaire to study attentional patterns;
- A test for working memory, perceptual speed, verbal reasoning and verbal meaning;
- Direct observation and notes on the diary of the experimentation in order to detect changes in attitude and motivation.
The results of these tests have been very positive, demonstrating how digital education helps teaching in terms of armonization of cognitive processes, also on cases of learning disabilities, as we already discusses in previous articles.