The lead author of the detailed IDB study from Peru, released earlier this year, has published a good summary of their work and its implications. He highlights the tremendous efforts of Peru’s government for supporting the research and data-gathering, which will help not only Peru’s education work but that of other countries following in their footsteps.Â And he groups the outcome into four key results:
- major change in access to knowledge, and reduction of the digital divide,
- improvement of cognitive skills, across many different tests
- no change in standardized tests for math and reading
- no change in school enrollment and attendance.
You can read the essay on the IDB blog.Â An excerpt:
It is very important to commend the efforts of the Peruvian government for doing a serious evaluation of this program, and for sharing their results so transparently. It is a fact that there are few impact evaluations on the use of technology in education. Therefore, any contribution of knowledge helps support the efforts of many countries in the region and the world that are working to improve educational conditions for children that technologies can provide.
These are our results. First, the program has drastically reduced the digital divide, allowing many students and teachers, even in remote areas, to have access to laptops and educational content. Second, positive results were found in cognitive skills tests. The applied tests sought to measure reasoning abilities, verbal fluency, and processing speed in children. The very results are important, as they have been shown to be predictors of academic and work performance. The results indicate that children who received a laptop got ahead by 5 months of what the natural progression would have been in the development of these skills when compared to children who did not receive a laptop. Third, after 15 months of implementation, we found no statistically significant differences between children in beneficiary schools and children in control schools on learning outcomes measured by standardized tests of mathematics and language. No differences were found in relation to school enrollment and attendance.
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I am very skeptic of the way these outcomes are being processed. Access to information and having more information doesnt necesarily mean that you will be better on a test. I think this is something that should be understand more profoundly.
The way evaluation take place, the test taking skills itself and the competency of the testing methods needs to be reevaluated.
Access to more information gives you that, more knowledge. The way tests are builted don’t really evaluate this new knowledge.
If we talk about skills, I also consider this to be somewhat untested. Digital divide means not that people dont have technology but they are unable to use it or understand it. So in order to beat digital divide we would need to evaluate if their competence in using technology has been achieved.
Can they create content and publish content. Do they know how? Are they able to find information? Can they use technology as a way to communicate. I doubt the legacy state testing don’t evaluate these areas which are the biggest justification to the program.