[iDC] One Laptop Per Child - MIT/Negroponte Initiative

Patrick Lichty voyd at voyd.com
Fri Jan 4 00:28:49 UTC 2008

Hello, everyone.

I;ve been a bit quiet - long semester - took a break.  SOmeday I'd liek to 
get back to Scott Kildall's post.

Anyway, I tend to be a bit critical of the OLPC idea. IMO, it's the idea 
that computers are superior learning tools, when, having seen US technology 
& learning protocols, I'm a bit skeptical.  Although I could get behind the 
idea of getting information tools into the hands of children I would be 
leery of implementing a lot fo learning software for several reasons:

1: Technocratic Colonialism - Part of my graduate thesis research was on New 
Media in Africa, and they have very different social & distribution models 
than in the 1st World (only as a mnemonic).  WHat sort of impact will the 
programs and hardware have on the kids in terms of how it will be 
IMPLEMENTED.  I do not believe int he "Field of Dreams" approach here.

2: Social (re)Engineering - As mentioned in previous posts, OLPC seems 
primarily focused on the tech part of the solution, which is a US paradigm.  
Have any Sociologists been thrown at the subject of regionally or 
culturally-specific implementations of technology? 

3: What impact will the reuse have in the long run?  Given that a laptop 
usually has a 5 year cycle, maximum, what are the ramifications of the 
introduction of techno-waste into inreeasingly remote regions of the world?

4: Solid Learning models to accopmany the Laptops - I would not back the 
OLPC initiative without a good, solid learning agenda, although OLPC may 
feel that they already have one, and I'd be interested in learning more 
about it.  I just have not been able to find it.

I'd liek to state that my criticism is not a dismissal of the project; it's 
more akin to wary support, knowing quite well the face of techno-determinism 
and the assumption that access to information necessitates learning.  

As an educator, I would like to state flatly that the real solution to any 
learning crisis is human, not technological.  Computers may help, but as in 
Iraq (probably a bad parallel, but bear with me) the most effective 
solutions have not been technological - they have been human.

Basically, don't send a billion transistors to do the job of three billion 
nerve cells.  

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