Mon. Dec 16th, 2019

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The impact of a One Laptop per Child programme in Catalonia

The speed at which the world has evolved has challenged the way educational institutes see learning and teaching. Education systems around the world have introduced technological measures that seek to improve learning and teaching.
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Image by josechubass from Pixabay

The debate remains very much ongoing as to whether the use of ICT in the classroom promotes student learning, with empirical results being mixed (although most of the evidence based on One Laptop per Child (OLPC) programs shows that these programs have no effect).

(Toni Mora, Josep-Oriol Escardíbul, Giorgio Di Pietro, Computers and students’ achievement: An analysis of the One Laptop per Child program in Catalonia, International Journal of Educational Research, Volume 92, 2018, Pages 145-157)

The speed at which the world has evolved has challenged the way educational institutes see learning and teaching. Education systems around the world have introduced technological measures that seek to improve learning and teaching.

In Catalan, Spanish, one study analysed the impact of a One Laptop per Child programme introduced by the Catalan government on student achievement. The researchers used longitudinal population data for students in secondary education during the period 2009–2016.

The Education Department of the Catalan regional government initiated a programme aimed at promoting the use of technology in secondary schools.

EduCAT1×1 consisted of three main actions:

  • (i) providing laptops as a learning device,
  • (ii) providing interactive digital boards and wireless connectivity (local and internet) and
  • (iii) freely and progressively replacing traditional hard copies of textbooks with ebooks.

One year after its implementation, eduCAT1×1 was replaced by eduCAT2.0. This new version of the program was identical to the earlier version with the exception that schools could choose whether to provide one laptop per student (the only option in the first version) or have two students sharing a laptop (which would be owned by the school). Students starting compulsory secondary education in the academic years 2010-11 and 2011–12 were potentially exposed to eduCAT2.0. However, this program did not continue in the academic year 2012–13 because a lack of funding.

(Toni Mora, Josep-Oriol Escardíbul, Giorgio Di Pietro, Computers and students’ achievement: An analysis of the One Laptop per Child program in Catalonia, International Journal of Educational Research, Volume 92, 2018, Pages 145-157)

According to this study, the results consistently show that eduCAT negatively affected student performance in English and Mathematics. It adds that the size of this effect is similar for each subject.

Students in schools that implemented the programme scored, on average, about three points less than those in nonparticipating schools. In terms of gender, the negative effect was smaller for girls relative to boys. EduCAT reduced male students’ achievement significantly in some subjects.

Questions that may arise is how and why did it fail and most importantly how can they fix it. My view is that the project was not given enough time for the learners to better understand the devices. For such a programme, those involved have to be adequately trained to deliver and utilise the devices efficiently.

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