[Sugar-devel] NPR story on OLPC in Peru

Kevin Mark kevin.mark at verizon.net
Sun Oct 14 15:44:23 EDT 2012

I wanted to share that we have faced the same criticisms in our school regarding the XOs. For the last four years, the teachers and students have complained that the devices do not connect well or reliably to our wireless network.

Obviously, in our case, we have a wireless network and essentially continuous access to the internet. But, what I have had to fight against is that this is the most basic use of any computing device. 
The only way I have been able to stem this tide is to come up with projects and programs that made use of the XOs as standalone or mesh networked devices. For example, we have done a lot with Memorize and Etoys and Scratch (and beginning to work with TurtleBlocks). I have found that once the students and teachers are involved with these activities, the internet stuff goes away.

But the bigger point that is missed in the story, and the broader conversation, is that the XOs and Sugar tap into non-traditional methods of teaching and learning. When this invisible line is crossed, real magic happens. It is the conversations which illuminate this invisible line that is tough.

I grew-up in a world before google and before the internet but after computers became affordable by homes. We had different expectations of these devices.
This is something that affect the teachers, kids and media pundits today: they have seen (even in the remoter parts of the world) 'high speed computers with always-on internet with shiny video game worlds'. The is a good thing and bad thing. It means that they know an end-point that they want to reach but are unsatisfied with what they have. But they don't know what I and others of my age knew -- the learning and imagination that was done with disconnected clunky machines with 8-bit graphics. Which is sort-of what the XO appears to be by comparison. And also the fact that learning with computers is not the same as playing world of warcraft and you can do the former with an XO and don't need a 3GHZ pentium 7 with the latest video card.
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