I have no idea if the One Laptop Per Child project will even come close to their rather lofty goals of educationally and economically transforming developing countries.

But at the risk of being called naive (or worse :-), I’m willing to give Nicholas Negroponte’s little green machine the benefit of some doubt just because of the enormous potential inherent in this project.

However, I think this effort could be considered a huge success if all it does is foster a serious discussion about the problems of the world’s children and the part that education can play in solving them.

Or even better, about the nature of education in general.

Of course, many critics (including, surprise, Intel and the Big Monopoly) are focused on the so-called “$100 laptop” itself rather than on what a device like this has the potential to do.

They’re missing the point.

It’s not about the box. It’s about communications.

Putting an inexpensive, internet-connected machine in the hands of kids is about helping them easily connect with the rest of the world in ways that we can’t yet imagine.

But even some educators don’t seem to get the idea.

“I think it’s wonderful that the machines can be put in the hands of children and parents, and it will have an impact on their lives if they have access to electricity,” Larry Cuban, a Stanford University education professor, said in an interview. “However, if part of their rationale is that it will revolutionize education in various countries, I don’t think it will happen, and they are naïve and innocent about the reality of formal schooling.”

This project is NOT about “formal schooling”.

It’s about learning – and there’s a BIG difference between the two.

one laptop per child, negroponte, mit