wasting bandwidth since 1999

One-To-One Doubts

Over the past few years, it would be hard for even someone with a casual interest in edtech not to have heard about one-to-one computing initiatives, programs where every student in a class/school/grade level/district is issued a laptop.

There was a lot of discussion on the topic at the BLC conference last month and plenty buzz about about them at NECC, especially the MIT $100 laptop project.

I finally found the time to listen to Nicholas Negroponte’s keynote from NECC (in the Podcast section of iTunes) along with a great discussion on the topic, One Laptop Per Child: Hope or Hype?.

They may revoke my edtech geek license for this, but when it comes to one-to-one computing, right now I come down on the side of hype.

While I admire Negroponte’s efforts to provide portable computing for every child in the world, I’m not so sure about the educational value of such plans, especially here in the US.

For one thing, we still have too many political and educational leaders who firmly believe that buying the equipment will, by itself, magically transform education.

Many of them speak of improving student motivation, about how the laptop will replace the textbook, how kids will have access to the knowledge of the world.

And other cosmetic alterations that do little or nothing to address the fundamentals changes to the process of teaching and learning that technology could bring about.

On a world-wide scale, I’m also not sold on the concept of providing a $100 laptop for every child.

Negroponte has noted that education is part of the solution to just about any social problem you can name and it’s hard to argue with that.

However, computers for children in places like Nigeria and Brazil, places where they still need reliable sources of water and electricity, may not be the best tools for their learning.

Of course, I could be wrong. Inexpensive portable computing could be the magic wand that alone transforms education, both here and in the rest of the world.

But I doubt it.

education, hundred dollar laptop, negroponte

Previous

Maybe Not So Clever

Next

Windows on Mac Update

4 Comments

  1. I agree that a lot of this currently is hype. We are in the middle of a transformation, and many educators and leaders out there just don’t get it yet. We still have a great deal of work to do. In the grand scheme of things, we haven’t been at this (1 to 1) for that long, but the way that our world is changing, we have to keep working at it.

    While many of us don’t get it yet, our kids do. They are going to be the next batch of teachers out there, and gradually they are going to perfect what we have started. What we really need to do right now is create the vision. Maybe we need to think about having students create the vision with us.

    As far as the $100 laptop…I don’t think that we can underestimate the power technology can have in an underdeveloped country. You say that “computers for children in places like Nigeria and Brazil, places where they still need reliable sources of water and electricity, may not be the best tools for their learning.” I say that maybe technology within the educational programs of the kids within these villages is what will help them to find reliable methods of getting water, electricity and much more. These kids, just like kids anywhere else have the potential to be the engineers and problem solvers of this next generation. The information they need to progress is at their fingertips right now. I encourage you to take a look at this site – http://www.el-limon.org/.

    We’re not there yet.

  2. “too many political and educational leaders who firmly believe that buying the equipment will, by itself, magically transform education.”

    And I would have to say that the number one guy who is thinking that today is Nicholas Negroponte. Where is the implementation plan? hell, where are the spare parts?
    http://www.olpcnews.com/support/maintenance/no_spare_parts_distr.html

  3. I don’t think the tech alone gets us there. I think the pedagogy has to go along with it.

    I wrote about our 1:1 announcement, and you can see what I think about technology-enhanced pedagogy can make the difference:

    http://www.practicaltheory.org/serendipity/index.php?/archives/645-The-Big-SLA-Announcement.html

  4. tim

    Chris: I certainly don’t think that tech alone will make major changes in the classroom but many of the higher profile 1-1 programs seem to be organized around that assumption.

    However, you are in a unique position that you not only get to impliment at 1-1 program but also get to build a whole new school around it. More districts should be doing the same thing – starting over.

    I’m looking forward to following your progress when you open this fall.

    The $100 laptop project is in another ballpark all together. I agree with Brian that technology like this does have tremendous potential to improve the lives of kids in the third world. The key, however, is that there are many people who are hungry for education and will take every advantage of these tools they can.

    I’m don’t see the same kind of drive to improve in this country, especially in the area I’m in. And I certainly don’t see many efforts to maximize the use of the technology that we already have.

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén