Monday, November 14, 2005

The $100 Laptop Revisted

It's good to see that the $100 laptop for educational use by kids is moving closer to reality. (See my post dated September 29, 2005.) Here are a few things we know at present about this project:
  • The machine will come with an open source operating system. That leaves out Microsoft and Apple, both of whom have shown interest in the project. Maybe a way will be found to bring their immense resources to bear.
  • Software will include a word processor, web browser, email, and a programming system.
  • How the $100 laptop will be used in the classroom to improve teaching and learning is still unclear.
  • Computing power will be supplied by AMD rather than Intel.
  • Critics of the project worry that $100 will not be sufficient to provide the computer with sufficient functionality.

So, what we know is that the project is going foward, but that lots of issues remain to be settled. I would think that the $100 laptop, when combined with Google's efforts to digitize a slew of books would mean that each kid in every third world country would have access to a library of resources not enjoyed by kids in even the wealthiest school district a few years ago. That's a no brainer. The hard part is going to be developing meaningful assignments that make use of the computer's power. That means a rethinking of pedagogy. Until the pedagogy issues are settled, I opine that the $100 laptop is a project with unproven promise.



Anonymous Anita said...

The Wired interview with Negroponte suggests that the hope is that students will learn by doing, i.e., they'll learn to become programmers. It will be interesting to see what happens--if the notebook will be a notebook for creative communications with the machine, or a repository for software.

8:06 PM  
Blogger Jbrew87 said...

The $100 laptop is still quite expensive for third world countries.I imagine it will be very helpful for poor college students.

11:43 PM  
Blogger Anthrogrl said...

As wonderful as it would be for every college student to have their own laptop, what concerns me is the loss of written language. Many of my friends cannot read written cursive, let alone write it. I'm not saying we should get rid of typing, but the ability to write well, in both the literal and visual sense, is still an important skill.

6:58 PM  
Blogger Carlos L said...

Wow! How old are your friends Jessica? Computers were a new deal when I was in grade school so cursive isn't a problem. Although it seems extreme I do belive you. I guess a balance of typing and handwriting needs to be considered in schools these days. However, I though feel that it would be nice to have $100 computers available. I think that computers are powerful tools and should be incorporated into curriculae. I think that word processing programs are a necessity these days but if the computers are limited to that then I think it would be a waste. What knowledge will you gain from learning how to type? I favor computer technology for it's power to do modeling and analysis that weren't possible in the past. As a biologists I rely heavily on computer programs for modeling, analyses, and graphic representations of data. Programs such as these should be included in the $100 computers in order to make them worth wild.

3:01 PM  
Blogger Sarah said...

So they don't have computer labs in schools anymore? I could see why these would be good to sell to people in the their homes, but not in schools. What ever happened to a pen and paper?

11:00 AM  
Blogger Nochman said...

I don't think the computer is that essential for (kids') learning - but a $100 laptop would be tight!

10:18 PM  
Blogger alopez said...

although the $100 dollar laptop has its advantages,i dont think it would be a very good idea to bring into the classroom. teachers already have problems watching kids, they dont need to worry about whats on the computers. Passing notes would be a synch with email and who is going to monitor the files kept on the computer?

11:11 PM  
Blogger Katie B. said...

If the $100 laptop plan works out all the kinks I think it would be a great educational tool. It would probably be most beneficial for poorer school districts across the United States who lack textbooks for an entire class. I'm really interested to see how this will all work out.

10:42 PM  

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