OLPC talk:Mission

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Why a laptop for learning?

Why do children in developing nations need laptops?

Internet not same quality as textbooks

This assumes, however, that the "wealth of information on the Internet" is of the same quality as a textbook, something which has yet to be proven (the interesting but problematic case of the Wikipedia/Britanica comparison aside). So the question is: does the creation of a library, money to train/pay teachers, and the development of a physical education infrastructure provide a better environment for children to learn? Given that results of laptop use in schools in the West are inconclusive at best, I fear that this is a massive experiment, costing millions of dollars and thousands of person-hours, that should not be undertaken. What are the economics of creating a physically-based educational infrastructure? How far could one go in that direction with the funds and time that are being put into the OLPC project? Let's perform that experiment first, since the results are at least more conclusive. ---nak

But Internet is more valuable than textbook

The "wealth of information on the internet" is not comparable in quality to a textbook because it is not uniform and it is constantly changing. There is both reliable and unreliable information on the internet. Furthermore, the virtues of a peer reviewed textbook should be taken with a grain of salt. The information in a textbook cannot be updated without buying a new textbook and they will never be free of something to criticize. Additionally, the information in the textbook will not be perfectly transferred into the students memory. Much of the information is likely to be misunderstood, forgotten, or disregarded. So I think it is unneccesary to argue about levels of accuracy that are involved at this level. It is more important to have access to a diverse and active world of information (flawed though it may be) than a more "relaible" and also more static source such as a textbook. It also should be noted that although a trained teacher is valuable, they can only teach a limited number of students per day. But a source of information on the internet is available to everyone who has access to the internet at any time. It can also be consistently and systematically improved.It is far more efficient and has far more potential. ---EA

The comments above are misinformed

The Internet is NOT substituting for testbooks. The content of the textbooks, or replacement of that content, not the Internet, is what will be used on the laptop to substitute for the textbooks. This saves trees and printing costs which allegedly will defray the costs of the laptops. This is why it was important to make the LCD screen readable in direct sunlight. It is required to act like a book, as much as possible. Version 2 is expected to use electronic paper and thus even look like a printed page.

Even then, that is just getting a foot in the door. The real point is to facilitate much more involvement by the students in their own education. With the computer, small groups of students can cooperate on actually studying chosen topics and building educational content for themselves. This will give them skills in writing, editing, criticising, cooperating, and accomplishing chosen tasks. This is what takes OLPC into the realm of truly profound educational progress, if it works out as intended.

Nitpicker 03:38, 2 December 2006 (EST)

The main article is misinformed

The laptop is cheaper than two or three ordinary textbooks it says. But what I just read about the education budget for a South American country says that the entire budget left after paying (inadequate) teachers salaries is far less than the cost of laptops for just one grade level of students in that country. This IS a problem for them and for the project. --Nitpicker 03:38, 2 December 2006 (EST)

Although laptops for children is a noble idea, you need to recognize that the laptops will go only to the elite children in any developing country, simply because many of the most impoverished not only do not have enough food or water they also do not have ELECTRICITY.

Indeed, we emphasis one laptop per child exactly so that more than the elite children get access. If there are fewer computers, the scenario you depict is more likely. As per electricity, this is an area we have put great effort: the laptop can be powered by solar, by a hand crank, from a 12 volt truck battery, etc. --Walter 09:25, 24 November 2007 (EST)

Another way to address the "kids need food not laptops" question

Another way to address the "kids need food not laptops" argument is to point out that world-wide, most children will at least begin primary school, so the opportunity they find there is very important. Having a solid number for "most" would be nice. Also the percent which complete primary school. If high, that too could be a good part of the response. MitchellNCharity 02:24, 21 August 2007 (EDT)

Beyond education

These machines could be used by adults as well as kids. Surely selling crafts on ebay, checking which markets have the best prices for livestock and downloading info on AIDS would be a great use for these. Why the exclusive focus on education, and the consequential skew to mesh networking?

See Earth Treasury for business, mapping, research on poverty, and other programs. Mesh networking is useful for any collaboration, including business. --Mokurai 18:36, 6 July 2007 (EDT)

--And if the IT companies can offer the kids after-school paid assignments like light programming and data entry tasks for like 1-2 hrs a day, it will also solve the problem of the kids or their parents selling the laptops for food money

JK, USA

First, the OLPC laptops have no Internet access and the users likely will not speak English. Forget ebay.
They can access the Internet, if Internet is available in the area, and there are local programs run by Novica and others to support sellers in Africa and Asia. In addition, eBay supports several languages other than English. In every former colony, there are lots of people who speak the language of their former masters, usually one of English, French, Dutch, Portuguese, Spanish, German, and Russian. Overstock.com was certified after the war as the largest employer in Afghanistan. --Mokurai 18:36, 6 July 2007 (EDT)
Second, you point out that the devices would be great for educating about AIDS and then ask, "Why the focus on education?". Thirdly you suggest that kids could do "light programming" to earn money but you ignore the fact that education is required to be a programmer. India is an example of this. It has a good education system producing many skilled programmers who were unable to find work locally. This was exploited by foreign companies who offshored their programming needs. But it all began with "education". Now, perhaps you see why the OLPC project focus is on education first. --Memracom 05:14, 13 January 2007 (EST)
Yes, education is needed for programming. And the children will be educated in Smalltalk and Python by using the XO. With appropriate typing tutor software, they can be ready for data entry within two or three months. --Mokurai 18:36, 6 July 2007 (EDT)

---Yes but you cant ignore Maslow's hierarchy of needs. A starving kid with a starving family at home will not see OLPC as an education tool but instead as something he can sell to buy food. Exploitation in India by international IT companies may be morally wrong by the developed world standards but the alternative for indian programmers to that kind of exploitation is unemployment. I'm not ignoring the fact that one needs education to be a programmer, OLPC can provide that education. "Education first" slogan sounds great, but realistically speaking you can't skip the layers in Maslow's hierarchy of needs.

Programmers in India do not feel exploited just because they make less than programmers in the US. Living expenses are also much lower in India. In fact, there is a significant trend of programmers returning to India, particularly those who are in a position to start their own businesses. --Mokurai 18:36, 6 July 2007 (EDT)
The interesting thing about Maslow and technology is that it sometimes results are counter-intuitive. For example, many reports have been written about how cell-phone technology actually has improved the standard of living for subsistence farmers, fishermen, etc. because they extend one basic need: communication & mobility (two things targeted by thinlaptop). --Xavi 08:58, 17 January 2007 (EST)
Similarly the ITC e-choupal project in India has substantially raised income for village farmers, just by placing one computer per village with free access for farmers to the Chicago Board of Trade, along with a commitment to buy at a stated discount from those prices. Analysis in Harvard Business Review.--Mokurai 18:36, 6 July 2007 (EDT)

I am asking the same question as JK. What happens once the kids have bridged the technological gap? Some might consider this question to be beyond the scope of this project but surely it is the next vital step. Its also in my mind that old chicken and egg situation. Unless there is a real opportunity the chances are that a hungry child will sell their heritage for a crust of bread.

See Earth Treasury for projects aiming to teach children how to start businesses, so that there will be enough jobs for everybody else. --Mokurai 18:36, 6 July 2007 (EDT)

I have been asking this question for the last couple of years and not having much faith in government and the system believe the answer is to empower an individual within a community and to rely on the natural process of things to bring about a situation where one mentors their peers. Theoretically it is possible for anyone with a reasonable grasp of English to make themselves useful on the net and to earn $200 or $250 a month. All thats needed to make this work is a vision and the structure to drive it. rainchild ZA

I favor empowering the whole community and everyone in it, using the Sarvodaya model. Otherwise, I agree with you. Although it isn't just theory, and they can make more than that. I have a vision, and I'm building a structure at Earth Treasury. Would you like to join us? --Mokurai 18:36, 6 July 2007 (EDT)

Isn't this project just a techno-Utopian dream? A band aid when more serious surgery needs to be done?

It's true, people don't have a "decent shot" at a good eduction. What are the provisions of the project for the training of teachers and the community on educational use of the laptops? I have heard nothing about this vital part of the project---in fact, this is more important than the technology itself. Who are the people developing the educational software, and do they have experience in schools in the third world? Do they know the needs and desires of the people who the laptops are targeting? Or are they Western-trained, imparting our way of schooling and teaching into places where it might not be appropriate? While you say elsewhere on this page that this is not a "laptop project", all of the talks I've heard so far focus entirely on the technology to the detriment of the educational tools. I need to hear plans for how this will be used, concrete plans, even if those plans might change, in order to be convinced that this project will succeed. For the easy part is the technology; the social implications, and embedding of this new technology into an existing system, is the hard part. ---nak
Here here, the focus of this project isn't helping children learn, it appears to be creating a cheap linux laptop - most of the people involved are technical, and the bulk of the focus on is things like "Getting the customized GNOME interface to work" or "Minimizing the disk image". Where are the people tasked with creating distribution channels that would succeed in getting these things distributed, or installing any sort of infrastructure. The easy part is creating a laptop, the tough part is distributing it and then creating some sort of worldwide support network. This project is Negroponte's technical dream, it may sound good to people living with plumbing and electricity, but wait few years and this will have been the $100 million electronic doorstop project. The social impact of a Laptop is neutral, the social impact of all technology is neutral, while you can predict that it might encourage learning by way of access to information, it could also very well have deleterious health and social side-effects. - t

Is this project really about getting computers to kids?

If this is an education project rather than a laptop project, where is the focus on education, on teachers, on providing textbooks, materials, buildings, training, salaries, etc? I fear that unless you begin to work on these much more difficult problems now, the project will be doomed. ---nak

What are you talking about?

Here's the quote: "Neither band aids nor serious surgery work. What is needed is evolutionary, done in fast time. The basic assumption is that education is at the root of any solution." I guess the question just needs to be asked, what, pray tell, do you mean when you write "done in fast time", and that serious surgery doesn't really work. If education is at the core of any solution, than the question needs to be asked: Why laptops? And, the answer to "Why Laptops?" clearly isn't "The basic assumption is that education is at the root of any solution." That's not even close to an answer. The answer might be something like, "Numerous studies have shown that laptops provide a good foundation for a solid education", but that's not the answer provided.

If you are going to set up a Wiki, don't answer the central question with 1999-ish dot com proclamations like "we're doing it in fast time", and "serious surgery doesn't work". The previous comment is dead on correct, "If this is an education project rather than a laptop project, where is the focus on education, on teachers, on providing textbooks, materials, buildings, training, salaries, etc?" Or, better yet, where is the investment in infrastructure, the economy, on providing meaningful opportunities for parents so that they don't go off and sell the OLPC laptop to pay for something else. Something more essential. I expect a response "in fast time".

Questioning the Premise?

As just an interested outside observer with no particular qualifications relating to education, I'm still surprised to see the level of skepticism being expressed about this project. Certainly it is a very valid question as to whether the provision of a laptop to a child is an effective means for providing education, and whether other methods might be superior. I think that this question would make sense if this program were to be so expensive that choices had to be made between a laptop or a (possibly) more effective educational alternative.

But what's missing is that the cost of this laptop is expected to be the same as for a few textbooks. The fact that it can simply serve the same purpose as a few printed books at roughly the same price might be justification enough to proceed, even if many of the other lofty goals of computerizing education prove to be difficult to achieve (as I expect).

Another valid point is that even 140 dollars is a lot of money to spend per child in the poorer countries of the world. But, let's face it, there is just a lot more excitement about contributing towards providing computers to poor countries as opposed to buying for them an Algebra or History textbook. If we can foster interest in the concept of helping others through a program like this, and it helps to encourage people to contribute money, wouldn't that be a great by-product too?

Why a laptop?

What is the $100 Laptop, really?

Hate to nitpick, but in the phrase "This is a special low power, extended range wifi with its own CPU that allows data transmission to continue while the main CPU is sleeping, i.e. during transport in a backpack," e.g. is really more appropriate than i.e. E.g. stands for exempli gratia, for example, which is exactly what is meant here, while i.e. stands for id est, "which is," which is inappropriate here, unless the extanded range wifi can be used exclusively during transport in a backpack but not during transport in (e.g.) a shopping bag.

Metrics

Deployment Criteria & Metrics

Seriousness is good. Transparency too.  :) I've somehow managed to reach the Pilot Projects#Diversity Matrix, which I find a bit shallow and unstructured for my taste, so I'm assuming that more structured guidelines are being thought out, planned and to be published, right? After all, as the proposers of the idea, the performance analysis and other measurements should be your domain of expertise. For example, which population segment is known to make the most out of the laptop experience? Is income considered a (key) factor? People with very-low, low, medium, high, or very-high income are 'all equal' or they somehow 'profit' differently in respect to their original educational levels? Under all circumstances?
I'm well aware that these are mostly unanswered questions (I'm not looking for an answer here) and will be subject to many factors and variables; notwithstanding, what kind of information is being thought as necessary to evaluate or consider? All I'm asking is to be able to see the guidelines - and hopefully a way to collaborate.--Xavi 17:04, 9 December 2006 (EST)

Code of ethics

I think it's time to establish Code of Ethics and Code of Standard Practice for OLPC related activities in each nation. For example, OLPC Korea plans to have presentation tours all around the nation and to meet various people with various backgrounds; teachers, governmental officers, businessmen, those employeed, and housewives etc. If anyone of them want to contribute to OLPC related activities or financial support, what can we do? just receive donations? recommend them to donate to OLPC foundation or national OLPC volunteer groups? without no guidelines at all? It's a serious problem, and will be more serious issue in the future...php5 02:27, 4 July 2007 (EDT)

I thought you were going somewhere else re a Code of Ethics: should OLPC be taking a stance re how the laptops are distributed and used. We cover that to a degree in our Core principles. Regarding contributions, there already are several local "OLPC" groups that are raising money for local deployment of OLPC. Some of these groups have an affiliation with OLPC and some are wholly independent. This does pose somewhat of a dilemma, because some unethical group could raise money using the OLPC name and never deliver laptops to children or charge some usurious "management fee". I'm not sure what to do about this, except to recommend that people solicit contributions that are routed through the OLPC foundation (http://laptopfoundation.org). --Walter 07:06, 4 July 2007 (EDT)
In Korea also, if anyone or any company donate/contribute to educational or research facilities, s/he will be given tax-reduction benefit (reduction from taxable income), but not for foreign colleges or research institutes. So, I hope OLPC designate one (or more than one) educational/research institutes to which Korean citizens and corporations can donate and take tax reduction benefit. Or I will recommend some institutes or colleges to OLPC, then OLPC may pick some among them. I hope some of those donations to be used in developing XO variations such as Larger OLPC for youths and operating XO Service teams in Korea. php5
I think all donations had better go to OLPC Foundation, and then redistributed to the world and monitored/supervised by OLPC to maintain the ethical standards of our activities.

It's hard to justify spending top dollar for a computer this day and age that isn't designed for simplicity of doing single, simple programs designed more for exercising one's aging brain, than to help encourage kids to start simple and be conditioned to grow to more heights later. Therefore the physical needs for a device is very similar to what the OLPC provides, even if the goal and usage objectives are very different than that of children. It would be helpful to know if there are plans for selling used OLPC devices for seniors, or other projects that are more targeted to use by seniors in this fashion. Not all seniors are wealthy and those afflicted by dementia often are institutionalized and costing their families quite a bit, and aren't able to afford the additional expense of such a device. Our rest home is already complaining about how my father is becoming too much of a pest using their computer to play solitaire on. I'd like to find something affordable to keep him occupied instead. OLPC seems to be the only thing close out there to what would be an ideal machine. I suspect that there are many concerned relatives like myself out there with similar needs. (mike n.)

I agree that the OLPC sounds pretty good for seniors (aside from the tiny keys and lack of a mouse). Until the OLPC (or a similar device) becomes commercially available, though, have you considered a tablet PC or an "internet appliance", like the Nokia 770 or the PepperPad? I believe there is also a collection of card games available for the Nintendo DS, as well as several games specifically designed for "brain exercise" (although the smaller screen may be a problem). —Joe 16:38, 7 May 2007 (EDT)

Deployment Criteria & Metrics

Although these issues are basically national prerogatives, is there anything being done at the OLPC level? Before, during, and after the deployment they should be able to assess the result of the effort (metrics), be it to keep the course, or change things, or try new things, etc.

We take metrics very seriously both in the design of the laptop, the deployment process, and the learning that ensues, which is our ultimate objective. We are constantly measuring, analyzing, and making course corrections based on the data. We will continue to do so.

One critical element of education is empowerment. In that vein, one important metric is how many applications, or web pages are shared by laptop users. The amount of input from the user community will be an important element in measuring the success. In addition, the amount of access to user generated content is critical to measuring the value of the project to the users. --Gregorio 10:23, 29 November 2007 (EST)

How will the success of the project be gauged?

This is really a very broad ranging question because different parties to the project will have different standards. In the end, the success will be measured by an overall rise in educational outcomes in the countries where the OLPC is used.

One framework for study analyzes the project in a 5×4 matrix: one axis calls out the laptop attributes (mobility, immersion, connectivity, computation, and integration); the other axis calls out the potential impact on learning (in school and out, attitude/behavior, home/community, and infrastructure).

There is a need for a directory list of related projects?

Who else is working in this field? What is being done? Would a 'Useful Links' page not make sense?

Misc

History

I am curious about the history of this project: when was it started, by whom, how it has evolved, etc.

Some of this information is being collected on the History of OLPC page. You may also find some information on Wikipedia however the best way is to Google for information on Nicholas Negroponte and Seymour Papert.
http://newsroom.cisco.com/feature/1240339/Network-Trailblazer-A-Conversation-with-Nicholas-Negroponte-Founder-One-Laptop-per-Child?utm_medium=rss --SvenAERTS 14:04, 24 March 2014 (UTC)

How are they going to be distributed?

Exclusively through national or government agencies of the countries involved. The OLPC is in no way involved in the actual (physical) distribution or the processes governing it—those are national prerogatives of the countries buying the laptops.

What is not in the OLPC mission?

OLPC has decided to focus its attention on the education mission, including Constructionism, and on creating and delivering the laptop hardware and software to support that mission. This includes some parts of Rethinking textbooks, and possibly Curriculum development.

Other issues are out of scope, and are being left to governments and to other organizations to address. Earth Treasury has decided to tackle all of the remaining issues, either in its own programs, starting with connecting schools and teaching business, or by partnering with others.


There are also issues nominally in scope that OLPC management has neglected. This includes

  • Teacher training
  • Organizing Localization projects in a timely manner whenever a country or language group becomes a likely target for deployment
  • Evaluation of laptop education programs, and comparisons between different laptops and software ("bake-offs")
  • Publishing research results

Further thoughts on these and other topics will appear in Earth Treasury pages on this Wiki. --Mokurai 00:50, 18 May 2008 (EDT)

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