Despite the instinctive appeal of distributing laptops to schoolchildren, there is precious little evidence that making computers available to children improves educational outcomes. The circumstantial evidence that exists certainly doesn’t buttress the one-laptop-per-child approach.
When I first heard about OLPC I thought it was a pretty cool idea. The more I learned about it; however, the more I realized that I was right: it is a “pretty cool” idea. Unfortunately, pretty cool doesn’t always make the grade.
A hundred dollar laptop sounds like something that has real value to us; we, therefore, reason that it must have real universal value. And, of course, it does have real universal value; just maybe not as much value as a cell phone or any number of other very basic interventions that are not nearly as cool.
(H/T to Marginal Revolution)