ThimphuTech was the first technology blog in Bhutan. We started writing it in 2009, just as broadband and mobile internet started to take off. (Although internet in Bhutan was launched in 1999, it was either super-slow or super-expensive, and was only used by a selected few).

In the blog, we wrote about technology and food, but also about plenty of other stuff. The blog became popular and influential in Bhutan. A companion bi-weekly column -- Ask Boaz -- was published for many years in the Kuensel, Bhutan's national newspaper. (The complete Kuensel columns are available as an ebook, Blogging with Dragons).

We stopped updating the blog when we left Bhutan in 2014, but the information within the posts can still prove useful, and thus we decided to keep it online.

We thank all our readers.
Tashi Delek,
Boaz & Galit.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Broadband use in schools detrimental for grades

Internet is a powerful tool. It has to be managed carefully, especially when it comes to children. It is the opinion of this blog's authors that simply throwing technology at school students - whether it is tablets, OLPCs, or a fast Internet connection - is often not helpful. Even worse, it can have a negative effect on learning and socializing. A recently published paper by three Carnegie-Mellon University researchers examined the relationship between broadband use in Portugal's schools, and student performance. The results are loud and clear:
high levels of broadband use in schools were detrimental for grades on the ninth-grade national exams in Portugal. For the average broadband use in schools, grades reduced 0.78 of a standard deviation from 2005 to 2009. We also show that broadband has a negative impact on exam scores regardless of gender, subject, or school quality and that the way schools allow students to use the Internet affects their performance. In particular, students in schools that block access to websites such as YouTube perform relatively better.
The paper was published in Management Science, a top research journal. It can be downloaded here for a fee. Alternatively, you can download the free working paper.

What about broadband for schools in Bhutan? Follow the discussion or leave a comment on the Sherig Collection thread (registration required).