It was exciting to hear Negroponte talk about his One Laptop Per Child Program. I have been a fan of his and really enjoyed his book Being Digital.
Negroponte started by talking about Papert and programming and how it develops thinking skills. The act of debugging a program was key to learning about learning. Debugging programs got kids interested in thinking about how to fix what they did wrong. Negroponte thought that teaches kids applications like MS Word or Excel was not teaching kids how to think. He said it was a false notion that learning how to use MS Word or Excel well help them get a job. Technology is not about teaching it is about learning.
3 BASIC PRINCIPALS
1. Use technology to learn learning not to learn something
2. Teaching is one, but not the only way to achieve something
3. Leverage children themselves – bring the children into the equation so they are doing more teaching and learning on their own.
Negroponte stated that Costa Rica is the poster child for success in technology education. He felt that telecommunications is not the problem, there are lots of ways to get online. The problem is laptops. One Laptop Per Child is the equivalent of the cost of a few airplanes. This is not about laptops it is about learning.
Sales marketing and distribution is 50% of the cost of a laptop. The display costs 25%. 75% of the rest of a laptop’s cost is used to support bloated programs. He feels that commercial programs have too many features that slow things down.
Their laptop operates at 2 watts so that a crank can generate enough power to run the laptop. Commercial laptops may use up to 40 watts.
$100 laptop is Open Source. Kids will do the maintenance. Peripherals include cheap servers, DVD drives and more will be made available. A global satellite provider will provide the Internet connectivity.
In October the program should be launched in several countries, Brazil, Nigeria, Thailand and Argentina with other places discussing it. Launching globally is very important. Nigeria is the primary test site because the environment is most challenging, heat, dust and lack of power.
Go to Wiki.laptop.org for any feedback to Negroponte about the program.