We are hoping to start collecting data for a quantitative evaluation of our project's impact and effectiveness in January 2013. We will be looking at both short-term and long-term changes.
There was a study done of a small Ethiopian OLPC project by the University of Groningen, published in 2009. It is called Does Technology Drive Social Change?. (See the report at http://www.gg.rhul.ac.uk/ict4d/NinaandTom.pdf.)
This report is not a rigorous presentation, but it does summarize general results of the study. They compared 3 schools with XO laptops to 3 without. They found:
- Most of the children used their laptops everyday at home and often at school.
- They used them mostly to learn, much less to play or communicate.
- Their favorite activity, by far, was writing.
- They sometimes shared them with their parents and friends.
- After two years, social and educational changes were seen in the locations with laptops but only personal growth was seen in places without them.
Other results I found particularly interesting, given the remote rural location of our work, were:
- In the rural school, there was a slight increase in valuing the equal treatment of boys and girls. This was not seen in the city schools, which had much higher values for this even before the introduction of computers.
- The same was true for attendance. In the rural school, the laptops greatly improved motivation to attend school, whereas city schools didn't see much change because motivation was already fairly high.
I like that this study used a control group that didn't have laptops for comparison. We consider that a very important component of our evaluation. I'd also like to see our project do much more in-depth analysis of impacts than they reported in the Ethiopian study.
See related L2L blog posts: Project Evaluation Meeting published on 11 July 2012 and Inquiry into Scientific Evaluation of L2L, with replies, published on 13 May 2011.