I feel a bit vindicated via this New York Times story about how some schools are starting to reassess or cancel their student laptop programs. I have been writing for years in this blog about how the squishy, poorly stated goals, and terribly measured outcomes of giving every student in a school or class year a laptop computer was a terrible misuse of funds. Yes, computers. Yes, education. Yes, even some business training on standard principles, operating systems, and software. But, no, no, no, on integrating a laptop into general classes. Far better to buy textbooks that can be used and shared among many students. Far better to improve lab equipment. Far better to reduce student to teacher ratios.
The Times article cites a number of studies as well as experiences at individual schools that show no improvements in grades, performance, etc., and a lot of additional costs in dealing with inevitable accidental damage and wear and tear. Laptops are already sensitive: my Apple laptop has gone back four times under warranty for repairs.
The article cites the old canard: "Many school administrators and teachers say laptops in the classroom have motivated even reluctant students to learn, resulting in higher attendance and lower detention and dropout rates."
Right--and when pressed for these cold, hard numbers, they never materialize.