A Sri Lankan one-to-one computing initiative and its impact on formal learning in primary School


One-to-one computing has lately become a frequently used buzzword in the discussions on e-learning in primary education. The main idea in one-to-one computing is to provide every student with a personal computer. This has often been combined with Internet access and the idea to share content but not to share the computers This study has been focused on the Sri Lankan OLPC initiative and data has been gathered from three selected primary schools in the project. In the Sri Lankan OLPC model there is no focus on Internet connectivity and the emphasis is on content development in local languages. Schools chosen in this first one year pilot project are to be classified as to be “the poorest of the poor” and located in rural areas. The research question in this paper is, if and why the introduction of one-to-one computing has had an impact on the formal learning outcomes. All the visited schools have had technical as well as pedagogical problems during the first year, but findings show that there has been an impact on formal learning in subjects like Mathematics and English. We believe that the Sri Lankan emphasis on content development is part of the explanation but also that the strong commitment amongst teachers and parents has contributed. Our recommendation is that this pilot project should be extended but that the focus should be kept on poor schools in non urban areas. We also give some suggestions on how to improve the content development and how to extend the support.

Keywords: One-to-one computing, One Laptop Per Child, OLPC, E-learning, ICT4D, Technology enhanced learning, Sri Lanka.