May 1, 2012
One-to--one computing programs and laptop programs have been a popular approach to education reform in developing countries over the last decade. A motivation behind so many one-to-one laptop programs is the desire to overcome with one powerful resource the historical lack of educational tools and resources available in developing countries. The research on laptop programs in developing countries often finds that these programs help bridge the digital divide and improve students' technical fluency, but the desired impact on academic achievement remains elusive (Valiente, 2010; Winthrop & Smith, 2012; Zucker & Light, 2009). A frequent problem identified in the research is that the laptops, once distributed to the children, may seldom be used in the classrooms. Research on laptop programs easily identifies the challenges to their use in classrooms as teacher training, time constraints, or outdated teaching approaches; however, the research seldom delves more deeply into how laptops might be more completely integrated into daily classroom use (Akbaba--‐Altun, 2006; Comenius, 2008; Kraemer, J. Dedrick, & Sharma, 2009; Light & Rockman, 2008; Vyasulu Reddi & Sinha, 2003; Winthrop & Smith, 2012).
The technology tools provided to all students and teachers in a one--to--one program are arguably one of the most robust and multifaceted sets of resources that could be integrated into the educational process. Yet, when laptops arrive in a classroom, their use depends on how-or if-these new tools can be integrated with the existing set of resources, tools, and practices being used. If teachers are unable to fit these new tools into their current practices, the devices risk being abandoned in a closet or left on a shelf to collect dust (Jara Valdivia, 2008).
Understanding how technology fits into the complex realities of classrooms was a critical factor for change in developed nations, yet little is known about how laptop computers could be used in the classrooms of the developing world. Our study sought to shed more light on the issue of ICT integration by taking a close look at how laptops were used in the classrooms of schools that were part of a successful laptop program-Todos los Chicos en la Red in San Luis, Argentina.
In August, 2011, researchers from the Education Development Center, Inc. (EDC) traveled to San Luis, Argentina, to conduct research in three schools that were part of a provincial education program, Todos los Chicos en la Red (All Kids Online). All Kids Online is a one--to--one laptop program that provides all students with an Intel® Classmate PC-an affordable, durable, water--resistant netbook with full PC functionality, loaded with productivity software, education software, wireless Internet, and designed especially for students to provide a collaborative, interactive learning experience for access at home and at school. The program also provides the necessary technical support to maintain the machine. Along with a suite of other education--enrichment programs, the provincial government has utilized a whole--child approach to making education gains throughout the province.