sugar and the digital age (was Re: notes from the field - Mongolia)

elana langer elana.langer at
Thu Oct 9 13:10:52 EDT 2008

there is a very common feeling amongst policy makers and teacher that
the XO doesn't really prepare students for the field of IT. There was
a pilot project done in Mongolia that was run by the Japanese gov't
where they introduced Linux to 4 towns. The students went on to study
at the Mongolian IT college and apparently "failed" all their courses.
The outcome was that these students were not prepared for "real IT".

Personally I feel that this is bogus and that it is the notion of IT,
education and learning that  need to be examined at the university
level as well - however - just as I have learned when trying to reform
educational methodologies there is a need to meet the norm half way
(at least) and work from within - it would be nice if the OS could be
designed in a similar gentler manner.

Teachers, parents, gov't officials and many others are concerned that
the computer doesn't conform to their expectations of a computer. Bear
in mind that there was a lot promised in this computer like
collaboration and mesh and the crank (everyone asks about the damn
crank) that are still in development and all get lumped into the
understanding of the OS.

Essentially, in the minds of these people, fluency on windows, being
able to do power point presentations and surf the web is what being
prepared means. - I think if we could make some things a little more
straightforward like saving, storing and accessing files (in the way
PC users and Mac users can sort their way out in the opposite OS
pretty intuitively) it would help bridge the gap to traditional


On Thu, Oct 9, 2008 at 5:16 AM, Tomeu Vizoso <tomeu at> wrote:
> Hi Elana,
> On Tue, Oct 7, 2008 at 9:48 PM, elana langer <elana.langer at> wrote:
>> d) Although I think building a tagging tool around kids natural ways
>> of thinking is really exciting, most teachers/schools/gov'ts are
>> really concerned that this OS isn't preparing kids for the digital age
>> properly. Most people feel it is important the computer meet some
>> simple expectations that are common and understandable practices on
>> any OS - like having files that can be saved and accessed in a simple
>> place for example.
> could you elaborate on what means for teachers/schools/govts to
> prepare kids for the digital age? It may be that we are not giving
> enough importance to that requirement (?).
> [All: this topic is very broad and maybe controversial, please try to
> keep the threads focused and spawn new ones when needed]
> Greg, as OLPC's product manager, are we missing anything on that aspect?
> Thanks,
> Tomeu

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