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July 2010

Does having a computer at home improve results at school?

Michael Trucano's picture

do you think the students are at home learning with their computers? | image attribution at bottomLast week's EduTech blog asked, How would you design an ICT/education program for impact? 

A recent paper suggests that a good answer to that question is *not* to simply make computers more widely available in homes and leave it at that.

Scaling the Digital Divide: Home Computer Technology and Student Achievement [pdf], an NBER working paper by Jacob Vigdor and Helen Ladd released in June, used administrative data on North Carolina (U.S.A.) public school students in attempt to help answer the questions, Does differential access to computer technology at home compound the educational disparities between and rich and poor? and Would a program of government provision of computers to early secondary school students reduce these disparities? In this case, Vigdor and Ladd found that the

How would you design an ICT/education program for impact?

Michael Trucano's picture

where is this road leading us? the path ahead is murky | image attribution at bottomImagine, if you will, that you were an official at an international development organization who has been working with country x for a number of years in helping them think through options and issues related to the use of ICTs in their education sector.  As part of this dialogue, you had regularly preached the virtues of a commitment to rigorous monitoring and impact evaluation.

Country x has, in various ways, been host to numerous initiatives to introduce computers into its schools and, to lesser extents, to train teachers and students on their use, and schools have piloted a variety of digital learning materials and education software applications.  It is now ready, country leaders say, to invest in a rigorous, randomized trial of an educational technology initiative as a prelude to a very ambitious, large-scale roll-out of the use of educational technologies nationwide. It asks:

What programs or specific interventions should we consider?