Presentation on theme: "One Laptop Per Child – the View from 1978"— Presentation transcript:
1 One Laptop Per Child – the View from 1978 Basser Seminar 26 July 2009Basser School of Information TechnologyUniversity of SydneyLee FelsensteinFonly LLCPalo Alto, California
2 What do you mean “revolution?” Event that:Overthrows an existing orderInvolves efforts of large numbers of peopleOpens long-term possibilities in an unexpected manner
3 The Computer Priesthood What Existing Order?The Computer PriesthoodIBM hegemonicLarge machines – high costProprietary software, OS, hardware, supportSoftware prepared by experts to lessor's specifications“End User” always a business or government agency
4 Opening shot - TV Typewriter (1973) Build-it-yourself articleComplex documentation sent to interested correspondents ($2 fee)Normal response – 2010,000 paid responses!Large pent-up demandBut for what?
5 Ideology - “Computer Lib” Ted Nelson (1974)Modeled after Whole Earth Catalog“You Can and Must Understand Computers NOW”Started thousands off to learn about hardware and software
6 Breakthrough - Altair (1975) Incomplete kit offered for less than cost of CPU chipRunaway best sellerUsers embarked upon learning project of unknown duration and scopeNearly empty box
7 Clubs and Shared Software Necessary mutual teachingSoftware seen as means to end of having working computerAltair Basic widely shared – became the standard despite Gates' complaints
8 Interoperability - CP/M Gary Kildall, PhD (pictured)Allowed software to run on various computersEnabled the personal computer industry (Harold Evans)No computer company had previously seen the point
9 InteractivityShared Memory Display (VDM-1 shown) enabled fast user interactionComputer games!Visi-Calc spreadsheet arguably an interactive computer accounting gameNo computer company had previously seen the point
10 Growth and Triumph – IBM opens up 1976 – Sol-20 (complete system)1977 – Apple II (graphics)1981 – Osborne (portability, bundled SW)1981 – IBM-PC – adopts open architecture
11 OLPC definition – basics 1 Originated by Prof. Nick NegroponteInspired by Cambodian kids using laptops in school sponsored by N. & E. NegropontePremise – Education is only way out of povertyPremise – Only way to educate kids is to give them all laptopsPremise – Laptops alone, if designed right, will be sufficient to effect education“Constructionist” (Papert & Kay) methodologyChildren will explore world, “learn learning”
12 OLPC definition – basics 2 ImplementationDesign superior laptopSecure agreements with heads of state for massive purchasesRequire all children be given a laptopManufacture in million incrementsDrive price down to $100Done!
13 OLPC - AssumptionsMesh networking will compensate for lack of network accessSoftware applications will appear from 3rd partiesCrank- or pull-string-power generation will supply sufficient powerColorful motif will prevent theft and black-market sale of computersTeachers will “get out of the way”Parents will not interfere
14 OLPC – hidden corrolaries No research“Enough is known already”Ethnographic research eschewed (IDEO)No existing body of data referencedNo research report from Cambodian village existsNo pilot projectsFull-scale implementation or nothingNo implementation plan
15 OLPC – what could go wrong? Heads of state cannot dictate to education ministriesBureaucracy has mass and inertiaIndia Ed. Min. declares OLPC “pedagogically suspect”Infrastructure not includedGenerator an afterthoughtNetwork backhaul left to chanceConstructionism not shown to be effectiveTalented teachers required
16 OLPC – the View From 1978There's been a revolution overthrowing the order:of system definition and implementation by priesthoodsOperating under cover of hierarchiesSurrounded by ramparts of propagandaUnquestioned and unexaminedof institutions defined as end users......and individuals simply subject to the results
17 OLPC – the View From 1978 The age of the Magic Machine is over People know:where software comes fromthat submission is not requiredthat the priesthood is composed of mortalsPeople are as pragmatic as everThey want to know how the new machine will help them, their families, their communities
18 Each step harder than the one before Kay's HierarchyHardwareSoftwareUser InterfaceCoursewareMentoringEach step harder than the one before“We should have started at the top and worked down” - Alan Kay, Tunis 2005
19 Negroponte on OLPC over time “This is an education project. It is not a laptop project.” - Sept. 2005“...we remain firmly committed to our mission of getting laptops to children in developing countries.” - Jan. 2009
20 OLPC – out of the wreckage Only projects running are pilotsOLPC has spun off software – Sugar LabsMore than 100,000 XO-1 laptops sold in US and Western countries (Give1, Get 1 – 2007 and 2008)Needed – connections between education geeks and computer geeks with XO-1's to work on top levels of Kay's hierarchy.
21 Some Interesting Needs A device to permit learners to achieve basic literacy in their own language on a standalone basis (no network needed)A device to permit learners to achieve basic proficiency in arithmetic (no network needed)A basic electronic bookA system for network availability supported by telecommunications revenues (village telecentre)A system for battery charging without mains power (Low-power village power utility)