Does Edtech Substitute for Traditional Learning? Experimental Estimates of the Educational Production Function

45 Pages Posted: 13 Apr 2020 Last revised: 8 Sep 2021

See all articles by Eric Bettinger

Eric Bettinger

Stanford University

Robert W. Fairlie

University of California, Santa Cruz - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research

Anastasia Kapuza

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Elena Kardanova

National Research University Higher School of Economics

Prashant Kumar Loyalka

Stanford University - Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies

Andrey Zakharov

National Research University Higher School of Economics

Date Written: April 2020

Abstract

Experimental studies rarely consider the shape and nature of the education production function, which is useful for deriving optimal levels of input substitution in increasingly resource constrained environments. Because of the rapid expansion of EdTech as a substitute for traditional learning around the world and against the backdrop of full-scale temporary substitution due to the coronavirus pandemic, we explore the educational production function by using a large randomized controlled trial that varies dosage of computer-assisted learning (CAL) as a substitute for traditional learning. Results show production is concave in CAL. Moving from zero to a low level of CAL, the marginal rate of technical substitution (MRTS) of CAL for traditional learning is greater than one. Moving from a lower to a higher level of CAL, production remains on the same or a lower isoquant and the MRTS is equal to or less than one. The estimates are consistent with the general form of a Cobb-Douglas production function and imply that a blended approach of CAL and traditional learning is optimal. The findings have direct implications for the rapidly expanding use of educational technology worldwide and its continued substitution for traditional learning.

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Suggested Citation

Bettinger, Eric and Fairlie, Robert W. and Kapuza, Anastasia and Kardanova, Elena and Loyalka, Prashant and Zakharov, Andrey, Does Edtech Substitute for Traditional Learning? Experimental Estimates of the Educational Production Function (April 2020). NBER Working Paper No. w26967, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3574432

Eric Bettinger (Contact Author)

Stanford University ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305
United States

Robert W. Fairlie

University of California, Santa Cruz - Department of Economics ( email )

Department of Economics
Engineering 2 Bldg.
Santa Cruz, CA 95064
United States
831-459-3332 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://people.ucsc.edu/~rfairlie/

National Bureau of Economic Research ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.nber.org/people/robert_fairlie?page=1&perPage=50

Anastasia Kapuza

affiliation not provided to SSRN

No Address Available

Elena Kardanova

National Research University Higher School of Economics ( email )

Myasnitskaya street, 20
Moscow, Moscow 119017
Russia

Prashant Loyalka

Stanford University - Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305
United States

Andrey Zakharov

National Research University Higher School of Economics ( email )

Myasnitskaya street, 20
Moscow, Moscow 119017
Russia

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