What a free computer might do for a kid’s education: maybe not so much, but it all depends . . .

3.  Home Computer Use and the Development of Human Capital by Ofer Malamud, Cristian Pop-Eleches  –  #15814 (ED HE CH)

This paper uses a regression discontinuity design to estimate the effect of home computers on child and adolescent outcomes.  We collected survey data from households who participated in a unique government program in Romania which allocated vouchers for the purchase of a home computer to low-income children based on a simple ranking of family income.  We show that children in households who received a voucher were substantially more likely to own and use a computer than their counterparts who did not receive a voucher.  Our main results indicate that that home computer use has both positive and negative effects on the development of human capital.  Children who won a voucher had significantly lower school grades in Math, English and Romanian but significantly higher scores in a test of computer skills and in self-reported measures of computer fluency. There is also evidence that winning a voucher increased cognitive ability, as measured by Raven’s Progressive Matrices.  We do not findmuch evidence for an effect on non-cognitive outcomes. Finally, thepresence of parental rules regarding computer use and homework appear to mitigate the effects of computer ownership, suggesting that parental monitoring and supervision may be important mediating factors. http://papers.nber.org/papers/W15814

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14 years ago

The link is gone but i read about a US study of computers given to kids in poor families and the impact on school results was mostly negative with the exception of families where the parents monitored the use.

This supports the idea that the only real revolution in education will happen when parents and teachers enter into a partnership and do the things that need to be done for kids to learn.

F. Murray Rumpelstiltskin
F. Murray Rumpelstiltskin
14 years ago

Kids need books. I mean, they need to read them. Sure web 2.0 and all of it is fun and interesting. But technology doesn’t think for you.

Gerardo Honchell
14 years ago

Education is certainly a vital field, because everything in civilization depends upon education and learning. I saw that on a website someplace — a non-profit organization in the Philippines. Teachers work tirelessly at their craft (a lot of them, anyway). But there are several who appear to have a gift to inspire. My senior high school world history teacher was one of those. She had lived in China as a child. When she taught in Rockville, Maryland, you could actually feel the wisdom of all her experience. She didn’t have us memorize dates. That was the first truly good thing I had been told by a history teacher. What she said next took the subject several magnitudes higher in value. She wanted us to comprehend the motivations of history — the deeply visceral, human issues with what can otherwise be a deadly dry subject. Jaime Escalante of “Stand and Deliver” fame, dared to dream big. Calculus for the typically dropout crowd? Pushing them to go on to college? Wow. And I’ve this book called, “Calculus Made Easy,” by Sylvanus P. Thompson, first published in 1910. It’s been through a wide selection of printings all for making a straightforward subject simple. What are we able to do to create more teachers who inspire world-changing brilliance? Einstein once said that imagination is a lot more important than knowledge. Knowledge can present you with the inspiration. Imagination may take you to the stars. Don’t our kids deserve better?