Do Children Benefit from Laptops in the Classrooms?

New research on student learning with technology and computers.

If you have kids, you might already be familiar with computers being used as a core teaching tool in the classroom. But even if you don’t, you might still be wondering about the effectiveness of today’s technology obsession when it comes to education.

You’re not the only one who’s skeptical about the merits of having laptops in the classroom. At least one teacher thinks that the majority of computer apps don’t really add much value to student learning. And a recent OECD report showed that reading and math scores haven’t improved in the countries that have invested the most in technology. The issue, says the aforementioned teacher, is that too many learning programs just take information kids could find in books and animate it. So, the underlying learning mechanism being relied upon is simple memorization. However, coding may be a more effective technological learning tool, because it engages the student in the process of figuring out how things work.

But a recent study by Michigan State University suggests that the results of technology in teaching might actually be a bit more complicated. They found that students who participate in comprehensive, “one-to-one laptop” programs actually did have better learning outcomes than their peers. There were improved scores on standardized testing, but also a deeper writing and research process. The key however, is strong teacher involvement, buy-in, and support, as well as thoughtful integration with the existing curriculum.

Technology doesn’t just come into play in traditional educational settings, but also educational settings on the job. Lawyers are using technology more and more during trials. While that combination used to be an anomaly, judges are now getting used to seeing screens during trial, and in some ways have even come to expect them. So, studying how technology works in student classrooms matters to more than just parents and kids.

The simple answer to whether your child should be using technology in the classroom seems to be, “Yes, if…” Clearly, it depends on the resources of your school, as well as the creativity that’s being used to draw students into the technology exercises.

Image: PANTA ASTIAZARAN / Staff (Getty Images)

How to vaccinate the world’s most vulnerable? Build global partnerships.

Pfizer's partnerships strengthen their ability to deliver vaccines in developing countries.

Susan Silbermann, Global President of Pfizer Vaccines, looks on as a health care worker administers a vaccine in Rwanda. Photo: Courtesy of Pfizer.
  • Community healthcare workers face many challenges in their work, including often traveling far distances to see their clients
  • Pfizer is helping to drive the UN's sustainable development goals through partnerships.
  • Pfizer partnered with AMP and the World Health Organization to develop a training program for healthcare workers.
Keep reading Show less

How to make time for exercise — even on your craziest days

A new study shows choosing to be active is a lot of work for our brains. Here are some ways to make it easier.

Personal Growth

There's no shortage of science suggesting that exercise is good for your mental as well as your physical health — and yet for many of us, incorporating exercise into our daily routines remains a struggle. A new study, published in the journal Neuropsychologia, asks why. Shouldn't it be easier to take on a habit that is so good for us?

Keep reading Show less

Jesus wasn't white: he was a brown-skinned, Middle Eastern Jew. Here's why that matters

There is no doubt that the historical Jesus, the man who was executed by the Roman State in the first century CE, was a brown-skinned, Middle Eastern Jew.

Hans Zatzka (Public Domain)/The Conversation, CC BY-ND

I grew up in a Christian home, where a photo of Jesus hung on my bedroom wall. I still have it. It is schmaltzy and rather tacky in that 1970s kind of way, but as a little girl I loved it. In this picture, Jesus looks kind and gentle, he gazes down at me lovingly. He is also light-haired, blue-eyed, and very white.

Keep reading Show less

Why American history lives between the cracks

The stories we tell define history. So who gets the mic in America?

  • History is written by lions. But it's also recorded by lambs.
  • In order to understand American history, we need to look at the events of the past as more prismatic than the narrative given to us in high school textbooks.
  • Including different voices can paint a more full and vibrant portrait of America. Which is why more walks of American life can and should be storytellers.
Keep reading Show less