Laptops for Literacy: Technology’s Impact on Reading and Writing in Haitian Primary Schools

Learning to read from words on a screen is not inherently better than reading on paper. However, technology is a good investment if beginning readers can use it as a tool. First, I create software that students can use to read, write, and share stories. Then, I work with local teachers to create lesson plans that accompany new materials. The teachers will go on to present the curricula during a six-week summer literacy camp. Small class sizes and time dedicated to reading and writing activities will give teachers an ideal space for trying out new techniques. The test group uses laptops to access the content, and the control group reads and writes on paper. In my model, technology has a positive impact on both teacher and student behavior. Both teachers and students are participants who are split between the groups. I will administer a pre- and post-test early grade reading assessment to all students to gauge whether technology leads to higher score increases. I will analyze student writing samples and monitor their reading and writing habits to observe which technology tools, if any, students use when they are available. I will also survey teachers to determine whether receiving training in and using technology has an impact on their teaching methods and attitudes. 270 students and eighteen teachers from three schools will participate. Each school represents a different side of the Haitian educational system: one is public, one is Catholic, and a local women’s group runs the last one.

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