[LINK] $100 laptop could sell to public

Alan L Tyree alan at austlii.edu.au
Sun Jan 21 09:57:13 AEDT 2007

On Sun, 21 Jan 2007 09:17:18 +1100
> Refer my now most-recent post: where is there evidence-based
> research, rather than advocacy, which says computers are the best
> investment in primary and high-school education? The Indian response
> to OLPC - "demagogically suspect" I think? - sums it up.
> The computer industry has worked very hard over more than two decades
> to market into education, and in doing so has built a pretty much
> universal belief in the necessity of computers in classrooms. But
> where's the longitudinal studies, say, which demonstrate the efficacy
> of classroom computers as a teaching instrument? What tells us that
> children now are better educated than even ten years ago because
> there are more computers? Where's the genuinely independent evidence
> which eliminates mere correlation (ie, a more prosperous society has
> both better education *and* more computers)?

Well, yes and no. The real evidence, and it is extremely interesting,
begins with a study by Dubin and Taveggia in 1968 "The
Teaching-Learning Praradox", Center for the Advanced Study of
Educational Administration, University of Oregon, 1968.

Their study, repeated a number of times since, showed conclusively that
there is no measurable difference among distinctive methods of
university instruction. Lectures, small group teaching, "Socratic",
self-study, you-name-it: the method of teaching and delivery simply
made no measurable differences.

You can read a nice summary and analysis of the situation at

After their bombshell, several methods of teaching WERE shown to have a
measurable effect, but the methods were independent of delivery
methods: I am referring to the Keller Plan and various forms of
"Mastery" learning.

The Point? Computers *can* be an effective delivery platform. A $100
computer *could* deliver much more educational material than a similar
amount spent on books or on real teachers.

Caveat: Dubin and Taveggia were talking about university level
education. I am no expert on child education, and I don't know what
level the OLPC is aiming at.

As an aside, it is very disappointing that university staff generally
do not believe that any of the above applies to their discipline. 


Alan L Tyree                    http://www2.austlii.edu.au/~alan
Tel: +61 2 4782 2670            Mobile: +61 427 486 206
Fax: +61 2 4782 7092            FWD: 615662

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