In an education technology conference held recently, Microsoft was promoting several new brands of relatively-cheap laptops/tablets for use by schoolchildren.
Microsoft's "general manager of Microsoft education marketing" is quoted as saying:
We know that schools ... everywhere around the world ... need affordable, easy to use devices
Of course Microsoft is a tech company that's biased in favor of selling computers with their operating system on them. I wonder, though - do classroom environments really "need" such devices? Or even benefit significantly from them? To make this more specific, does the use of laptops/tablets in class noticeably improve commonly-used quantitative or qualitative evaluations of school education outcome?
My intuition is that the use of per-child computers in class use has a lot of overhead in terms of time and attention, and that its benefits are either balanced or outweighed by the detriments.
Has this question been studied seriously with any sort of clear conclusions?
Note: I'm asking about children/students throughout their years in school, which in most (?) countries means "primary"/"elementary" school, up to the end of "high school". The US term for these schools/school years is K12. If you have an answer that only regards a part of this age or school range, that helps too.