What is Happening with the OLPC?

A couple of weeks ago I came across this article in BusinessWeek which discusses the plight of the OLPC program.  I skimmed the article and tagged it to read and write about on a later date, and I came across it again today.  I must say that I was initially put off by the negativity of the byline, “Here, follow the misadventures of the One Laptop Per Child.”  But, as I continued reading the article, my attitude changed a bit because I think the reporter did a decent job of staying pretty neutral in his approach to illustrate the struggle OLPC has come up against.

First of all, let me begin my thoughts by saying that I have the utmost respect for Nicholas Negroponte and what he has envisioned with the OLPC initiative, and I applaud all of his efforts.  As the BusinessWeek article points out, not all the OLPC’s plans have been implemented quite as quickly or as seamlessly as many had hoped, but that is understandable of any large-scale, innovative project.  My school district just completed its sixth year of one-to-one laptop implementation at the high school level and we are still struggling to make the sort of impact that we envisioned, and one-to-one laptop implementation in one school district is nothing compared to what the OLPC program is attempting to do.  Naysayers need to give them a chance to make mistakes, learn from them and continue to grow.

In order for the initiative to be successful, there are some key elements I think need to be present:

  • Adopters of the laptops must realize that change is a gradual process and will not happen overnight
  • Teachers need to be effectively trained on how to technically utilize and troubleshoot the machines
  • Educators must realize that implementing the laptops into the classroom can dynamically impact the way in which students learn and interact with information and each other
  • Students need to be given some background knowledge on laptops, Internet, networking, programming, etc. so they can understand the scope of what they have been given
  • Students need to understand why they have been given the laptops to use – what the goal is so they can reflect on how to achieve it
  • Everyone must allow the OLPC initiative to make some mistakes so they can reflect, revamp and get back on track
  • Everyone must realize that while technology and laptops are great… it is the TEACHERS who are essential in making a difference in the educational system

So in short, although OLPC may have hit some bumps, I am grateful that they have not tucked-tail and given up because it is essential for those outside of the educational world to be involved, be proponents and be constructive in assisting school systems effectively educate our youth.

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Explore posts in the same categories: EdTech, Education, Laptops, OLPC, Technology

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