Are computers useful?

Matt Yglesias reviews an interesting new randomized study where a group of school children without prior access to computers were given computers for free; then, academic performance (and a number of other school-related metrics) were measured. It turns out that basically, having access to computers in no way impacted (negatively or positively) the academic performance of the school children in any way. More on this to come, but this is one of the reasons why I am not convinced that the new-wave educational content providers like Khan Academy and Coursera are going to have any sort of large-scale impact on educational performance in the US in the near future.


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