My department is about to spend a lot of money on three new projector carts. I like projectors, but I wonder if it might be better to spend the money on building up some classroom libraries. As a recent study reminds us, computerized gadgets may be neat, but are not necessarily educational -- unlike books.
The study is from the National Bureau of Economic Research, and it finds that giving poor kids computers doesn't help them do better in school. Free computers increase computer use, but do not lead to improvements in grades, test scores, attendance, or disciplinary actions.
This is another reminder that books are a more important educational technology than computers. Giving books away in doctors offices works. Having book-filled libraries is very important. So maybe the NBER should do a study in which they tried giving some kids a thousand dollars worth of free books?