what’s all the fuss about one laptop per child in south america?

Hot off the press! scientists at work in Peru – (http://blogs.iadb.org/desarrolloefectivo_en/2012/03/06/and_the_jury_is _back _one_laptop_per_child_is_not _enough)

According to Pablo Ibarraran, this is the

“first evaluation of OLPC that focuses on educational outcomes, namely student learning. There are many stories about implementation of OLPC, and many opinions for and against the program (see for example OLPC News and the Technology Salon), but no evaluations that focus on learning, and none using a rigorous evaluation approach. We used a randomized control trial: out of 320 schools, 210 were randomly selected to receive XO´s (the laptops), while the rest did not. “

[statistically, I’m not totally convinced that a sample of 320 of 36,037 schools (0.9%) is meaningful for such probability sampling, and where the control and experimental groups are so different in size, and where the national ratio of computers to learners is 1 computer:381 learners!]

He writes further: “The schools were identical before the program, and except from the computers nothing differed between them, so we are pretty sure that any difference after the program can be attributable to OLPC.  Our main focus was on academic achievement in Math and Language, that were the declared objective of the program. We also looked at cognitive skills as measured by Raven’s Progressive Matrices, a verbal fluency test and a Coding test.

The results are striking.

Our results indicate that the program dramatically increased access to computers. There were 1.18 computers per student in the treatment group, compared with 0.12 in control schools at follow-up. This massive rise in access explains substantial differences in use. Eighty-two percent of treatment students reported using a computer at school in the previous week compared with 26 percent in the control group. Effects on home computer use are also large: 42 percent of treatment students report using a computer at home in the previous week versus 4 percent in the control group.

duh? So what’s so striking about this? Ain’t it obvious that if you give computers to learners at some schools as a ‘treatment’, and withhold computers from kids at some schools in the control group, of course there’ll be a “substantial difference in use” !

“Internet use was limited because hardly any schools in the study sample had access.”

Now that is the only striking observation!

Pablo Ibarraran goes on to say:

“However, we find no evidence that the program increased learning in Math or Language. This is not surprising, as the program did not include specific interventions to integrate the laptop to the curricula, nor the computers include specific math or language software. The program did not affect attendance or time allocated to doing homework, nor did it increase motivation or reading habits and the program did not seem to have affected the quality of instruction in class.”

duh? ain’t this obvious too?

Is this really the first scientific study of OLPC’s continuing failure to impact on educational outcomes ???

Good Grief!

Perhaps the most glaring ISSUE in this and many of the other OLPC (and ICTs in general) reports is the pervasive lack of internet access and library resources at these schools. Why is everyone harping on about maths and literacy results with or without ICTs in the classroom, when, as reported in  Wayan’s news of the destructive Peruvian warehouse fire yesterday, the cost of 61,000 OLPC “US$200″ accounted for less than 15% of total cost of destruction – which also included 500,000 extremely expensive books  and 6,000 solar panels destined for these schools!

I really think we should be rethinking one laptop per child to one library/media centre with a well-paid, suitably motivated ‘informationist’ and FREE high speed Internet access per school for folks to access increasingly more OERS!

addendum. remember the following?

“critical component of OLPC will be its ability to connect to wireless networks and in particular to mesh networks. This is expected to significantly lower the costs of connectivity for the adopting schools or school districts, since in a mesh network each machine assists each other in transmitting information through the network. This feature also creates the requirement of massive distribution in particular locations, enough to create a dense connectivity environment in which most homes will end up having a machine that at the same time benefits from and supports the network”

wishful thinking …

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Posted in OLPC, Peru ICT4E, Wayan's EdTech Debates

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