Interesting article reviewing the success/failure of OLPC, Nicholas Negroponte’s vision to bring technology to those who could not afford it (available here). So how do they justify calling it a failure? Test scores. Yes, I kid you not. Students using the devices showed no improvement What I found most interesting is some further data going into 1:1 initiatives in Maine and elsewhere:
Five years after Maine implemented a statewide one-laptop-per-student program, with one exception (for writing skills), no measurable improvement in test scores could be found. Evaluations of one-to-one programs in Michigan and Texas showed similarly mixed results.
Many people know my personal philosophy on these programs and projects. While I definitely applaud the OLPC project, getting technology in hands that usually would not possess it, all these 1:1 projects are just a gimmick. Do students always need a laptop in their hands? Do they really need to do math drill and kill using a laptop? Sure, they can do some higher level creative things, but will teachers be ready to do that all day long? Jury is out on that one. My vision is some tablets and laptops/Chromebooks in every class. The students use them when they need them. Imagine that–use when needed as opposed to finding uses for them. That mirrors how all use technology. Don’t start with a solution and come up with a question.
image used under Creative Commons license by flickr user jsbarrie