|www.helsinginsanomat.fi/english||print | close window|
Practical use of computers ebbing away in Finnish schools
While international admiration over Finland's success in the latest OECD study on student achievement is still only approaching its peak, those in the winning country are already scrutinising the latest PISA report for possible causes of concern.
One such sign might be the diminished use of computers in schools.
Compared to the previous PISA study three years ago, the use of computers at home has clearly increased among Finnish youngsters. Nine out of ten 15-year-olds have the possibility to use a computer at home, and 77 percent of them have an Internet connection.
Almost 80 percent of the respondents reported they used a computer at home at least a couple of times a week, while the corresponding percentage for usage in schools was just 36.
This indicates a ten-percent increase to domestic use of computers while usage in schools has dropped by the same measure.
Emphasis in teenagers' use of computers seems to be in emailing, downloading music and software, and information retrieval. Use of utilities such as spreadsheet programmes and educational software, on the other hand, has clearly lessened.
Nearly half of the students said they never deal with spreadsheets, while nearly two thirds said they have never used any educational programmes.
According to researchers this is a worrying trend, as the use of such programmes would help prepare students for the requirements of working life.
The previous PISA report revealed that those students who used computers moderately scored the best results in mathematics.
While boys seem to use their desktops and laptops more for abstract computing, girls' use of computers tends to centre on social matters.
Daily use of computers in schools does not seem to support success in mathematics in the same way that home use does.