Researchers at Canada's University of Toronto, Laval University, and the U.K.'s Queen Mary University of London found that providing Internet access, with the right controls, can help students achieve academic gains, and can even substitute for textbooks in schools with scarce resources.
The study involved 300 students at four government-run boarding schools in Malawi in 2017 and 2018, prior to widespread Internet adoption in the country. Students were given access to a "digital library" via smartphones with online access restricted to Wikipedia.
While the students spent an average of one hour 20 minutes per week online (much of their online activity was not related to school), they demonstrated significant improvements in English and biology, according to the study.
Toronto's Laura Derksen said, "It's not that expensive to buy a set of smartphones. The schools have staff who can manage them. It's a low-cost, high-benefit intervention for poor countries."
From University of Toronto Rotman School of Management (Canada)
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