Page last updated at 13:27 GMT, Wednesday, 8 October 2008 14:27 UK

Italy pupils ditch books for PCs

By Duncan Kennedy
BBC News, Rome

Pupils use a computer at school. File photo
Can a computer alone improve the learning process?

Pupils at a school in Italy are replacing all their text books with computers for a year - in what is being described as a unique experiment.

More than 60 children - aged between eight and 10 - at Turin's Don Milani school will be using mini laptops with the full curriculum.

Their access to the internet will be controlled by special software.

The experiment, which is backed by parents, aims to test how a computer alone can improve the learning process.

Cheaper alternative

Until Wednesday, the Don Milani di Rivoli elementary school was like any other in Italy.

Children turned up, got out their books and pens and began the process of learning.

But now, 60 fifth grade pupils and a number of third graders will start using computers only.

The mini laptops, which run Windows software, weigh less than a kilogram, can be dropped from a height of one-and-a-half metres and are waterproof.

Instead of spending the equivalent of $700 (400) a year on books, the laptops, built by the Italian company Olidata, cost less than $400 (228).

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