I spent last week in Vienna at Microsoft’s European Innovative Teachers Forum with representatives of the Nizhny Novgorod Institute of Educational Development (NIRO). NIRO just completed a study examining 252 students out of over 42,000 students who have been given laptops for use in the classroom in nearly 200 Russian schools through the Computers for Schools project sponsored by Volnoe Delo - in partnership with Microsoft, Intel and Asus. Computers for Schools is the largest non-governmental student-to-laptop initiative in the world.
The 252 students, in their third year in the Autozavodsky district of Nizhny Novgorod, are compared over four months with 243 students of the same age and economic background who do not use computers in the classroom. The study also examines the experience of their parents and teachers.
See video below for a few details on study findings:
Also of note – the study shows that when a student has one-on-one access to a computer in the classroom, their perception of the device shifts from a gaming tool to a learning tool. The computer is also seen as the major motivator for kids studying. You’d think that this shift might have a negative impact on whether or not they liked using the computer (if it is just for studies that they might see it as a chore) but surprisingly the kids still showed deep affection for the computer. A few psychological tests were performed to gauge these feelings. Examples of complete the sentence test:
At Innovative Teachers Forum this study was a point of discussion in the larger topic – the positive impact of technology on how students learn.
Representatives from several European ministries of education, university professors, schools teachers along with Microsoft and our education partners all gathered talk about how IT changes the way the students learn by making lessons more individual, emphasizing the importance of searching for and managing information and ultimately helping students develop new skills to compete in 21st century.
There are still lots of challenges and opportunities ahead when introducing IT at schools – specifically with projects like Computers for Schools. We are currently looking at ways to extend this project to the secondary school, but for this age group, we need to develop an ownership model so students can move about with the laptop and also use it for homework. Also, I am looking forward to continuing our work with partners to provide training and support for teachers so they can fully take advantage of IT in the classroom.
Business Development Manager for Low Cost Computing Solutions
Microsoft Unlimited Potential Group - Central and Eastern Europe