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Handing Out Laptops in School Isn't Enough—Teachers Need Training, Too

New research shows a laptop program in Peru hasn't improved test scores.


Computer literacy is a necessity in the 21st century, so schools and governments around the globe have been eager to participate in the One Laptop Per Child program, a nonprofit initiative that provides inexpensive laptops for students. For the poorest kids, laptops provided by their school provide the only opportunity to access the internet or learn to use technology. That alone is valuable, but because the laptops represent such a significant financial investment, governments want to know whether access to technology boosts math and literacy achievement. Initial results aren't promising.

Researchers from the Inter-American Development Bank analyzed 15 months of data collected from 319 schools in Peru that provided a laptop for every student. Despite a $225 million government investment in the technology, the researchers found that laptops didn't improve math and literacy test scores or motivate students to want to learn.

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One Minute Until Impact: Charles Kane on Gaining Capital to Grow

"Getting access to capital in a nonprofit status is incredibly difficult."

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=id06HlfvM38

Charles Kane is a director and former president of One Laptop Per Child. Before joining the impact-focused organization in 2008, he worked as an executive at several successful technology companies.

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How Not to Save the World, or Why the LifeStraw Is a Stupid Idea Kevin Starr's PopTech Talk on Development Failures

Kevin Starr of the Mulago Foundation gives an eye-opening talk, eviscerating several of the most darling ideas in economic development.

[vimeo][/vimeo]

Kevin Starr is an impressive speaker. And a pretty innovative philanthropist too. He oozes straight talk like he doesn't care what you think, because he probably doesn't. And that's a good thing, because he might lose a few friends after this talk at PopTech where he eviscerates some of the (ex?)darlings of development design like the LifeStraw and One Laptop Per Child.

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India may have just introduced a new threat to both the One Laptop Per Child's $100 XO Laptop and Apple's iPad: a $35 touchscreen tablet PC capable of connecting to the Internet, video conferencing, and even drawing solar power. For a country where 600 million of its 1 billion people already own cellphones, this handheld device appears to be the next logical upgrade in connectivity for the world's largest democracy.

According to India's Human Resources Development Minister, Kapil Sibal, who unveiled the tablet today, the primary target for its initial launch is the education sector. Government officials told CNN that it wanted the country's universities fully connected, as part of its education goals, and that this device—the price of which could soon fall as low as $10—could be the key to hitting that target.

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