OLPC & Education

If you follow me on Twitter, you’d know that I have been trying to get people to convince me of the value of OLPC. I have been intending to write a comprehensive post on some of these responses and my thoughts, but I just noticed an important post from Teemu Leinonen that will the gap in the meanwhile.

Leinonen shares that likely the greatest accomplishment of OLPC so far is that it has created a market for low-cost educational computers.

One Laptop per Child – the laptop project of the OLPC association, a North American non-profit has change the markets of low-cost mobile computers for educational sector. Even that in the OLPC there are such a multi-billion industry sponsors as the AMD, Google, Nortel, and Newscorp, the achievement of changing a whole market, or actually creating it, is absolutely remarkable.

In 2008 we will have the Intel’s Classmate ($250), Zonbu notebook ($279 + $14.95/month), Asus Eee laptop ($299-399), Nokia Internet Tablets ($150-$299), Nova NetPC “thin client” system (around $80/unit), and the OLPC’s XO laptop ($200).

Leinonen then goes on to argue that the OLPC is really a laptop project, and not an education project (as OLPC founder Negroponte continues to state). Leinonen follows with three reasons why the OLPC is in fact a laptop project. These include:

    – The OLPC has shown total lack of understanding of education as a system.
    – The OPLC has a naive believe on computer technology (per se) as a silver bullet in education.
    – The OLPC do not understand different cultures and traditions.

From everything I have seen related to OLPC, I would have to agree with Leinonen. There are some excellent points here, and the post is certainly worth the read. Most importantly, I think, Leinonen doesn’t see this all as negative, rather, he calls for a greater educational emphasis on the project.

I have a lot more to say about this, but it is much too late, and morning is near.

One thought on “OLPC & Education

  1. Leinonen wrote a great post. The point I agree probably the strongest with is The OLPC do not understand different cultures and traditions. What will work to help in educating children in one culture is not always the way to go with kids in different cultures. As you said, Leinonen doesn’t see this all as negative, but one should be very careful to stay in the educational framework so that it is not a technology project.

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