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Misleading Dell Infographic Claims Chinese Schools Beat US in Tech Integration

An infographic making rounds across the web is making dramatic claims that China is doing a better job of adopting technology in classrooms than the United States — but there’s one little problem: the data is virtually invalid.

There is clear sample bias in the Dell survey and infographic which sampled “[525] respondents in China [that] came from predominantly major cities and are mostly urban respondents,” C. Custer of techinasia.com points out.

This suggests a very select group that wouldn’t account for rural areas where many of the poorer population lives. Also, the economic disparity in China is immense — so much so that a small portion of the population is vastly rich while the large majority of citizens have very modest incomes. Surely sampling a mere 525 people in the most advanced cities of a country with more than a billion people is not a solid survey. In fact, it’s ludicrous to believe it is. It would be like sampling 140 people in New York and San Francisco for a technology adoption study representing the entire United States.

Furthermore, more and more classrooms in the United States are adopting technology like iPads, while in China the latest iPads are difficult to obtain, let alone integrate into schools.

Technology in education is an important subject that deserves legitimate studies and analysis to generate actionable reports that we can use to advance learning for kids. Halfhearted marketing ploys like this only serve to misinform and confuse the global public. We understand that Dell needs to market itself, but we’d like to see the company retract this infographic, as it’s misleading at best, and misguiding the public into wrong decisions at worst. They probably went with a third-party marketing firm to get this made, but really, how much does it cost to sample 525 people in China? I’m sure a big company like Dell could afford to get a better sample size.

Here’s the infographic:

Dell-survey-china-vs-united-states

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  • Mary Jones - February 4, 2013 reply

    Yes! I let my Chinese graduate students view this infographic and they disagreed with the results, too. As you suggested, they say that these results would only apply to the big cities, not the rural areas. They say some of the rural areas do not have access to technology applications.

    Chinese Fridge - February 4, 2013 reply

    Very glad to hear your students are careful with the integrity of data presented to them, kudos!

  • Celia - February 5, 2013 reply

    In addition to being a small and skewed sample size, that is an awful infographic. It looks like they are trying to sell some kind of tonic in the late 19th century. I assume Dell is hoping to worry Americans into buying more Dell products, but it’s lame.

    Chinese Fridge - February 5, 2013 reply

    I tend to agree. It’s not really clear what the point of the data they are displaying is.

  • Annette - August 8, 2013 reply

    Thanks for this post — I may use it to teach my students about the dangers of statistics… :)

    Chinese Fridge - August 9, 2013 reply

    No problem, glad to know there’s people out there who take accountability seriously. :)

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