Society and Culture, Education, Pethokoukis

Kids get computers, but they don’t become better students

Image Credit: shutterstock

Image Credit: shutterstock

What happened when 1,000 kids got computers? Not much, academically. “Experimental Evidence on the Effects of Home Computers on Academic Achievement among Schoolchildren” by Robert W. Fairlie and Jonathan Robinson (via Timothy Taylor):

Although computer ownership and use increased substantially, we find no effects on any educational outcomes, including grades, test scores, credits earned, attendance, and disciplinary actions. Our estimates are precise enough to rule out even modestly-sized positive or negative impacts. The estimated null effect is consistent with survey evidence showing no change in homework time or other “intermediate” inputs in education.

Of course, technology can and will have a huge impact on education — but not by inserting technology into the current model. From a 2011 op-ed by Clayton Christensen and Michael Horn, co-authors of the award-winning book, “Disrupting Class”:

As a disruptive innovation—an innovation that transforms a sector from one that was previously complicated and expensive into one that is far simpler and more affordable—the rise of online learning carries with it an unprecedented opportunity to transform the schooling system into a student-centric one that can affordably customize for different student needs by allowing all students to learn at their appropriate pace and path, thereby allowing each student to realize her fullest potential.

2 thoughts on “Kids get computers, but they don’t become better students

  1. I’m sure that some did better and some just considered them to be toys to keep them occupied as cell phones keep them occupied. I taught computer classes at the high school for over ten years and many just wanted to play games or surf the Internet. It’s up to the kids and their parents.

  2. this is sort of like saying – every kid got a slide-rule (remember them?) or a calculator or some other tool.

    It’s like saying – I gave the guy a hammer and nails and he did not build a house…


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