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Tag: xo

Learning the Wrong Lessons

It’s not hard to find stories of college professors who ban laptops from their classrooms, usually due to their fear (probably justified) of students not paying attention to their lectures.

However, you wouldn’t think that teachers in countries that have purchased the XO machines from the One Laptop Per Child project would be forbidding children from using them.

But that seems to be exactly what’s happening in Ethiopia, ironically for essentially the same reasons as those in our universities.

The Ethiopian school system like Rwanda’s, is designed around rote memorization – the teacher copies material to the board and students write it down in notebooks. Then there is a national test that determines progression in the educational system – a test based on the ability to recalled the memorized facts.

This model is very teacher-centric. Teachers should have all the knowledge, and students, by cultural definition are there to listen, not to question, and will not be as smart as teachers until they have passed the national test.

An education model where teachers are the source of all knowledge.

Learning completely centered around standardized testing.

Technology added to classrooms with little teacher training and no integration with the curriculum.

Sounds very familiar, doesn’t it?

We Have Our Priorities

Gary says you should read the article in the Times of London explaining Why Microsoft and Intel tried to kill the XO $100 laptop.

Who am I to argue with Gary?

The XO is certainly not the perfect educational computer. And the One Laptop Per Child organization has made many errors along the way.

However, if even half the information in this story is true, it’s clear the leaders of these two companies firmly believe that corporate profits come before anything else, especially philanthropy and helping people.

Be we already knew that.

Classmate, Version 2

Intel has released the second iteration of their Classmate PC and it appears to be a much different machine than the one I got to play with a couple of months ago, although not much better.

It now sounds less like a low cost education laptop designed to challenge the XO and more like a pretty run of the mill, inexpensive consumer machine.

The main differences are that the Classmate now includes a 9-inch LCD display, a six-cell battery, 512MB of memory, a 30GB HDD, and an integrated webcam. The second-generation Classmate PCs are built on the Intel Celeron M processor with 802.11b/g Wi-Fi and mesh-network capabilities; future Classmate PCs will be built with Atom processors. Of course, the Classmate PC still supports Microsoft Windows XP, but variants of a Linux-based operating system will also be available.

The OLPC News blog has much more about the new Classmate and comparisons to the XO.

However, based on the first-generation Classmate model loaned to me (smaller screen, 2gb of memory/flash storage, a slower processor, no web cam), this pretty much sums up my assessment.

But other than those few classroom tools, the Classmate hardly feels like a leap forward in educational hardware as much as a gray, shrunken version of any typical Intel-powered laptop.

Which doesn’t mean the XO is necessarily ready for the classroom. While very innovative, it does have plenty of quirks, not to mention usability issues, for both adults and kids.

But there’s no way I’m giving up my little green machine!

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