Learning By Laptop

In elementary schools, portable computers are the hottest thing since books. But are the lessons learned justifying the extra cost?

In the sixth-grade humanities class at New York City's Mott Hall, the noise level has reached cacophony. It's mostly animated chatter among the students as they put final touches on oral reports they will deliver in a few minutes. But another sound adds to the din: the staccato clicking of keys on computers. In this hard-knocks Washington Heights school, where a substantial number of the students qualify for free lunches, a hardwired revolution is taking shape. All the students in the class work on their own Toshiba laptops, cutting-edge machines bought by the school district last year and leased to the...

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