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)

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

Think you’re bad at math? You may suffer from ‘math trauma’

Even some teachers suffer from anxiety about math.

Image credit: Getty Images
Mind & Brain

I teach people how to teach math, and I've been working in this field for 30 years. Across those decades, I've met many people who suffer from varying degrees of math trauma – a form of debilitating mental shutdown when it comes to doing mathematics.

Keep reading Show less

A world map of Virgin Mary apparitions

She met mere mortals with and without the Vatican's approval.

Strange Maps
  • For centuries, the Virgin Mary has appeared to the faithful, requesting devotion and promising comfort.
  • These maps show the geography of Marian apparitions – the handful approved by the Vatican, and many others.
  • Historically, Europe is where most apparitions have been reported, but the U.S. is pretty fertile ground too.
Keep reading Show less

How KGB founder Iron Felix justified terror and mass executions

The legacy of Felix Dzerzhinsky, who led Soviet secret police in the "Red Terror," still confounds Russia.

Getty Images
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Felix Dzerzhinsky led the Cheka, Soviet Union's first secret police.
  • The Cheka was infamous for executing thousands during the Red Terror of 1918.
  • The Cheka later became the KGB, the spy organization where Russia's President Putin served for years.
Keep reading Show less