[Its.an.education.project] Sugar on the EEE PC

Edward Cherlin echerlin at gmail.com
Sat May 10 15:31:38 EDT 2008

On Thu, May 8, 2008 at 10:35 AM, Albert Cahalan <acahalan at gmail.com> wrote:
> On Thu, May 8, 2008 at 8:27 AM, Walter Bender <walter.bender at gmail.com> wrote:
>> I'll be getting my hands on a one2onemate next week. I'll report back
>>  what I learn, but I wouldn't condemn it sight unseen. At the very
>>  least, it is Linux based, suggesting that ideas for improvement can be
>>  realized.
> To be clear, I have mixed feelings about it.
> The software looks easier and more efficient to use.
> I'm quite sure that the device will crush an OLPC XO
> in purchasing decisions. At least it runs Linux.
> What horrifies me is WHY this device will win.

Based on my experience in market research, I disagree. Not with the
idea that some schools will go for the cheap solution, regardless of
its merits, but that they will predominate. Research on the
effectiveness of various laptops in education is getting started, and
I am confident of the kind of results that will come out of the
studies that ask the appropriate questions in a valid experimental
design. I am also confident of the economic value of our program to
communities that embrace it.

I am more concerned in the short run with the apparent intention of
some school officials to poison the market for such programs, by
putting laptops into schools with no thought of integrating them into
curricula or lesson plans, and then saying, "See? They don't work."
Unless, of course, it's just plain incompetence. Reported in the New
York Times, "Seeing No Progress, Some Schools Drop Laptops",
(Very shoddy reporting, BTW. No mention of schools that are succeeding
no numbers, no background at all.)

> Despite the existance of a laptop bag, it really
> is not designed to go home with students. The
> thing is banana-shaped. This device is designed
> for in-school abuse. One look at the cart should
> explain everything: students get the device for an
> hour, and then it is taken away. That's perfect for
> a budget. Purchasing hardware for the school is
> something everybody understands; purchasing it
> for the kids (child ownership) is totally alien.
> The device is a spyware-special too, making it
> easy to snoop on the students.
> It would take a real effort by OLPC to stop this
> rotten concept, but I don't see that happening.
> OLPC coldly and habitually ignores the USA.

OLPC can do nothing about this directly. The community can have some
influence, by getting into the discussion with every legislature and
every school board considering a laptop program. Nicholas Negroponte
refuses to let us know who they are, so we must recruit people to the
task ourselves. But remember, "Against stupidity the Gods themselves
contend in vain."

Edward Cherlin
End Poverty at a Profit by teaching children business
"The best way to predict the future is to invent it."--Alan Kay

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