Computers in Low-income Households = Little or No Educational Benefit?

Here’s an article with a generalization that goes against the grain of everything most educators believe about access to computers for children from low-income homes. Randall Stross, in “Computers at Home: Educational Hope vs. Teenage Reality“* (New York Times, 7.9.10), says that studies by economists indicate “little or no educational benefit” is gained.

Stross writes, “Economists are trying to measure a home computer’s educational impact on schoolchildren in low-income households. Taking widely varying routes, they are arriving at similar conclusions: little or no educational benefit is found. Worse, computers seem to have further separated children in low-income households, whose test scores often decline after the machine arrives, from their more privileged counterparts.” Continue reading

Live Lecture Better Than Video Lecture?

Yes, according to a study conducted by David N. Figlio, Mark Rush, and Lu Yin, “Is It Live or Is It Internet? Experimental Estimates of the Effects of Online Instruction on Student Learning” (National Bureau of Economic Research, June 2010). I’m tempted to say “of course,” but for reasons other than those intended by the authors.

Subjects and Procedure: “Students in a large introductory microeconomics course at a major research university were randomly assigned to live lectures versus watching these same lectures in an internet setting, where all other factors (e.g., instruction, supplemental materials) were the same” (abstract).

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