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Re: [school-discuss] student:computer - studies to reference?


I want to strongly support Les here. In focusing on hardware you risk a backlash. We've all heard of endless research that 'proves' that computers don't contribute to performance. I reject it, and yet it's right: computers in themselves are heaps of metal. They don't contribute to performance any more that the tables they stand on. A study of the sort you imagine would most probably be outrageous. Any result showing improvement in standard test in  direct relationship to the ratio, and ignoring all other factors, would only be obtainable by exotic manipulations.

I think its important to involve the teachers in the process, let them say how many computers they want, and where. Perhaps present them with case studies, and collaboratively design a solution which includes hardware, software and practices. Here's an idea: if 1:1 is the golden grail, why not give each student a wifi enabled PDA, and have one PC+projector for sharing? See: http://www.simcalc.umassd.edu/projects/cc2/

All that said, you may find some useful resources here:

Also, I remember once seeing a serious article which used sophisticated econometric methods to eliminate all other factors, and showed that generally children with access to PCs perform better in school. I can try to look it up if you want (contact me directly).

good luck!

- Yishay

On 08/10/06, Matt Oquist <moquist@xxxxxxxxx> wrote:
Note: I'm also posting to k12osn and k12opensource; sorry for any

I'm on the newly-formed school tech planning committee in my
community, and at the second committee meeting I discussed the idea
that there's a tipping-point at which access to technology naturally
snowballs into increasing technology integration. (There's a bit of
the "if you build it they will come" thinking in here.) I asserted
that I believed studies had been done on such data points as the range
of student:computer ratios that define such a tipping-point.

The committee chairman (a school board member) insightfully asked if
I could find out about such studies and report back at our next
meeting -- so now I'm asking all of you. I've done some googling and
I'll do some more, but what studies (formal and informal, but I'm
looking for more than just opinions) do you know of that communicate
concrete results such as (NOTE: I'M MAKING THIS UP as an EXAMPLE!):
  "Moving from a 10:1 student:computer ratio to a 2:1 ratio is 75%
  more likely to result in a 20% increase in math standardized test
  scores than moving instead to a 5:1 ratio."

A study with results like that would be outstanding, of course, but
I'll be pleasantly shocked to find one. What has actually been done?
What more do we have than anecdotal evidence of the sort of
tipping-point that I described?

I'm pretty sure I snagged the phrase "tipping point" from one of the
slides in Daniel Howard's presentation to the CIO of Atlanta Public
Schools on their case study at Morris Brandon Elementary School.
Here's what he said:
  Tipping point: must have at least 5 PCs for teachers to fully
  integrate into instruction, more is better for most teachers

I'll follow up with Daniel to find out how many students those
5 (LTSP) PCs are covering...but what have the rest of you experienced
in your own schools?

With 1:1 as the assumed goal, what ratio will give us the best
bang-for-the-buck along the way?


Open Source Software Engineering Consultant

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  Yishay Mor, Researcher, London Knowledge Lab
   +44-20-78378888 x5737