ICT in Education Evaluations: Who Gets Them Right?


While Atanu Dey asks At a Government Spend of $12 Per Student, How Can OLPC India Be Sustainable? on the Educational Technology Debate, I wonder about the next step - evaluations of technology in education initiatives. In fact, I plan on making the next Educational Technology Debate around the very question of: "How to assess the outcomes of ICT for Education Initiatives?"

Discussants for Evaluating ICT in Education?

Which brings me to a related question. Of all the people talking about OLPC or related ICT4E endeavors, who do you think is doing the best evaluations? Or seems to be the most lively critic of them? I'd like to have a intense debate around ICT4E evaluations, I'm looking for your input on who would make the best discussants.

I'm thinking the best debate might be Empirical vs. Emotional, where we have those that believe in test scores as determinants of ICT4E success vs. those that "just believe". Now if only we could find someone to take each role....

Please add who you think is best in the comments below - self-nomination is welcomed

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oh, this sounds neat! My own problem is that I might be starting to get faith, me, who was a Saul to all these little sola fide folk.

I mean, I've made a record for myself on pestering everyone for M&E. Yet, as I see the numbers in Uruguay, and in spite of my experience there that change is the last thing the education establishment wants, I am feeling it might, it might just happen...

Sorry, forgot to nominate. On the faith side, I vote for Walter Bender, with much respect, because he is articulate about the Vision. And for the bean counters... oh gosh, it is hard because nobody I know has done it in a reliable way. Trucano is also very articulate, with papers on the subject, but he has not done this research with XOs either.

Great minds think alike Yama. Walter Bender already led the discussion in Communal vs. Individual Computer Ownership and Mike Trucano (who help start ETD), led the conversation in Mobile Phones vs. Computers

A question which also interests me, tbh. It is hard to make the case in certain fora without being able to show what the impact is (on both learning, learning quality, and access).

And, of course, an ROI (return on investment) analysis would likely show ongoing issues because of the costs involved. So, the question really begs to be asked... Not only what is the impact, but how do you study the impact?

"Not only what is the impact, but how do you study the impact?"

Good point!

The statement "Empirical vs. Emotional, where we have those that believe in test scores as determinants of ICT4E success..." sounds a bit like Wayan is equating "empirical" with quantitative evaluations but there are questions that would benefit from qualitative approaches.

@Tanya & @Clevergirl I'm presently working on a synthesis of evaluations for laptop initiatives (including OLPC), in three parts: quant., qual., and cost efficiency/effectiveness (not quite the same as ROI but in the ballpark). I've committed to sharing findings w/the group. Some of my early findings can be found at http://tr.im/St0g (mostly quant.).

I really dislike the term ICT. It refers to learning about computers. The goal of 'olpc' is for children to use computers to learn. ICT might be an appropriate term for subject courses in computers held in computer labs at the secondary level.

Assessment is also a 'loaded' word. I can remember at the time of the introduction of the 'new math'. The district 'assessed' the new program by giving a test to students in the 'new math' program and to students in the comparable traditional program. The traditional students performed significantly better. Two weeks later there was a new test on which the 'new math' students proved the superiority of the approach!


I am in the process of doing a systematic review of evaluations of Laptop initiatives. To date I've collected two hundred evaluation reports for synthesis reporting a variety of outcomes in addition to 1500+ opinion pieces and the like. While I'm not really up for a debate as a discussant (can't really say that I fit nicely into either camp), I would be happy to contribute my findings so far to the discussion.

All the best.
Eddie Bethel

Dear Eddie, I am very interested in your review of evaluation of OLPC and started a note on that. I do not have your amount of materials. Would be happy to discuss this with you.