Laptop brings drop in dropout rate
Student Azelea working at her laptop. Former ETSB Director General, Ron Canuel who was the originator of the program, answering journalist questions. He is now the CEO of the Canadian Education Association.
One of the findings proposed yesterday by Dr. Thierry Karsenti of the Université de Montreal on the laptop program of the Eastern Townships School Board is that the huge drop in the dropout rate at the local schools may be attributed to the use of the computers in schools. The event was held at Granby’s Parkview Elementary and was covered by local media from Granby, Montreal and Sherbrooke.
Professor Thierry Karsenti of the Université
de Montréal, holder of the Canada Research Chair on Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) in Education, explained in his study: “In fact, the student dropout rate stood at 42% ten years ago, and the board was ranked 67th out of 69 boards across the province of Quebec. This pitiful performance forced the entire education community at the Eastern Townships School Board, including directors, school principals, teachers, and commissioners, to undergo a major rethinking of how their students were being taught. They then did what no other school board in Quebec or in Canada had ever done before: they bought 4,500 laptop computers and gave one to each student, from grades 3 to 11.Now, ten years after changing its pedagogical approach along with this wide-scale technological implementation, the school board has leapt from 67th to 23rd position in the province. In addition, the dropout rate has been cut almost in half, from 39.4% to 22.1%. This is one of the most dramatic improvements in dropout rate among all Canadian school boards. Furthermore, far from
being resolved, the dropout problem has been getting worse in Quebec over the last ten years.”
While he admits that other factors may explain the fall in the dropout rate, what is known is that the impact on the teaching methods has been an overwhelming success, especially in writing skills, where students are making fewer mistakes and finding it easier and faster to write; the main benefits of the laptop initiative. The study also stressed the impact on the students’ capacity to be creative and of teamwork and cooperation.
But as Chantal Beaulieu of the school board said in her opening remarks, the program’s fate is now in the hands of the provincial government who has told school boards across the province to cut costs.
The report and the excellent videos are available at: http://etsb.crifpe.ca/
Dr. Thierry Karsenti of the Université de Montreal.