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One Laptop Per Child – the View from 1978 Basser Seminar 26 July 2009 Basser School of Information Technology University of Sydney Lee Felsenstein Fonly.

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Presentation on theme: "One Laptop Per Child – the View from 1978 Basser Seminar 26 July 2009 Basser School of Information Technology University of Sydney Lee Felsenstein Fonly."— Presentation transcript:

1 One Laptop Per Child – the View from 1978 Basser Seminar 26 July 2009 Basser School of Information Technology University of Sydney Lee Felsenstein Fonly LLC Palo Alto, California

2 What do you mean revolution? Event that: Overthrows an existing order Involves efforts of large numbers of people Opens long-term possibilities in an unexpected manner

3 What Existing Order? The Computer Priesthood IBM hegemonic Large machines – high cost Proprietary software, OS, hardware, support Software prepared by experts to lessor's specifications End User always a business or government agency

4 Opening shot - TV Typewriter (1973) Build-it-yourself article Complex documentation sent to interested correspondents ($2 fee) Normal response – 20 10,000 paid responses! Large pent-up demand –But 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 chip Runaway best seller Users embarked upon learning project of unknown duration and scope Nearly empty box

7 Clubs and Shared Software Necessary mutual teaching Software seen as means to end of having working computer Altair Basic widely shared – became the standard despite Gates' complaints

8 Interoperability - CP/M Gary Kildall, PhD (pictured) Allowed software to run on various computers Enabled the personal computer industry (Harold Evans) No computer company had previously seen the point

9 Interactivity Shared Memory Display (VDM-1 shown) enabled fast user interaction –Computer games! Visi-Calc spreadsheet arguably an interactive computer accounting game No 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 Negroponte –Inspired by Cambodian kids using laptops in school sponsored by N. & E. Negroponte Premise – Education is only way out of poverty Premise – Only way to educate kids is to give them all laptops Premise – Laptops alone, if designed right, will be sufficient to effect education –Constructionist (Papert & Kay) methodology – Children will explore world, learn learning

12 OLPC definition – basics 2 Implementation –Design superior laptop –Secure agreements with heads of state for massive purchases –Require all children be given a laptop –Manufacture in million increments Drive price down to $100 –Done!

13 OLPC - Assumptions Mesh networking will compensate for lack of network access Software applications will appear from 3 rd parties Crank- or pull-string-power generation will supply sufficient power Colorful motif will prevent theft and black-market sale of computers Teachers 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 referenced –No research report from Cambodian village exists No pilot projects Full-scale implementation or nothing No implementation plan

15 OLPC – what could go wrong? Heads of state cannot dictate to education ministries –Bureaucracy has mass and inertia –India Ed. Min. declares OLPC pedagogically suspect Infrastructure not included –Generator an afterthought –Network backhaul left to chance Constructionism not shown to be effective –Talented teachers required

16 OLPC – the View From 1978 There's been a revolution overthrowing the order: –of system definition and implementation by priesthoods Operating under cover of hierarchies Surrounded by ramparts of propaganda Unquestioned and unexamined –of 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 from –that submission is not required –that the priesthood is composed of mortals People are as pragmatic as ever –They want to know how the new machine will help them, their families, their communities

18 Kay's Hierarchy 1.Hardware 2.Software 3.User Interface 4.Courseware 5.Mentoring Each 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 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 pilots –www.olpcnews.comwww.olpcnews.com OLPC has spun off software – Sugar Labs –www.sugarlabs.orgwww.sugarlabs.org More 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 book A system for network availability supported by telecommunications revenues (village telecentre) A system for battery charging without mains power (Low-power village power utility)

22 Pursue the Hands-On Imperative!


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