Books or Laptops?
The effect of shifting from printed to digital delivery of educational content on learning
Information and communication technologies can be used for educational purposes, but these devices may also pose as distractors that may tamper with the learning process. We found textbook replacement with laptops did not affect student learning after one school year using a randomized controlled trial with 271 schools and 9600 students. We also implemented a cost-effectiveness analysis to compare expected results of this replacement of textbooks using laptops. Laptops have a higher initial fixed cost than books and impose variable costs, such as electricity, Internet and maintenance. However, the marginal cost of providing additional content decreases.
We show that at the end of one school year, we fail to reject that there were no differences between laptop and textbook provision on mathematics and Spanish test scores and in non-academic outcomes related to coding and verbal fluency. The substitution of laptops for textbooks did not make a significant difference in student learning. The substitution did not affect learning for mathematics and Spanish and non-academic outcomes related to coding and verbal fluency.