On The Bamboo Project Blog, Michele Martin recently noted an article Seeing No Progress, Some Schools Drop Laptops from The New York Times. Although she cited this as a prime example of how technology cannot create change if culture remains unchanged, but there’s also an underlying theme that echoes one of my chief arguments against MIT’s OLPC project. The article observes that many schools that had launched programs to provide laptop computers are now reconsidering because they seem to have no impact on student achievement.
Author Winnie Hu referenced studies showing no real difference on state test scores in schools with laptops – although some data suggest better math class performance from high-achieving students with laptops than those without.
Diehard proponents insist these programs are failing simply because teachers haven’t been trained to integrate the use of this technology into their classes. But when 6 of one of the study’s control group schools (ones whose students didn’t have laptops) were offered computers this year, they opted not to accept them.
As I’ve commented before, I worry about making computer-use skills a priority for kids. Could computers, in fact, be a barrier to kids learning to think creatively and solve problems? Are we naive to assume that technology will magically equate to a more efficient learning environment for children? Does this concern anyone else? Post a comment!