60 Minutes Viewers: Welcome To OLPC News!

olpc 60 minutes cbs
Viewers of the CBS News program "60 Minutes" welcome to OLPC News, where you will find commentary on all aspects of the One Laptop Per Child program by a diverse group of contributors.

To help you explore the ongoing discussions, I've developed this handy list of prominent OLPC XO articles and transcribed the full episode on OLPC Talks. Please feel free to read, comment, and expand the dialog around your favorite educational computer.

Better yet, if you are inspired by what you read, please write for OLPC News. New viewpoints are always welcome.

The Overall OLPC Program:

Laptop Education Models:
olpc 60 minutes cbs
OLPC in the USA:Sales and Implementation ProgressCompetition with Intel & Microsoft:
olpc 60 minutes cbs
Clock-Stopping Hot Technology:Last but not least, check out OLPC Talks, your source for presentations on the One Laptop Per Child, transcribed for non-commercial study and investigation, commentary and criticism.

Related Entries


congratulations, wayan for your new readers. But IO have to admit that when you put such a choice of titles you give some fuel to those critics that say that olpcnews is biased a bit against OLPC. "the billion dollar folly" "better than books?" "forget the olpc, teach to the test", "have faith", "miracles" and etc.

i just sent this letter to OLPC...

dear people,

i'm sorry about the sorry people at intel...(just watched 60 mins)

i would to purchase an OLPC for myself in basic black and would gladly pay 300 dollars (and i'd be happy to send 600 dollars so you can send the additional computer to a child who needs it)

this is my SECOND time writing about the same topic - buying a black OLPC (i really only need a laptop computer for word processing that i could afford to lose...)

please could someone respond to my request this time


to be critical and/or to provoke thinking and debate can only help. A small group of people with different perspectives can see more of the reality than a large group with identical perspectives. OLPC is not getting smarter if more people agree with everything it does. If new readers do not understand this but just look for a thoughtless, cheering bunch of OLPC fans they are in the wrong place here, anyway.

Great job on such an outstanding project. I'm watching the 60 Minutes segment right now. So far, it's a very favorable report.

Um, I thought this thing was running on Linux, I don't think I heard them say that once or really even delve into the OS.


I thought you struck the perfect tone on 60 minutes -- praising the engineering breakthroughs of OLPC but criticizing the idea of a laptop replacing a teacher. Your analogy of the violin was absolutely perfect. Congratulations on a great job!

So how soon till we can see this episode on the Internet?

I think computers will replace the teacher, and the teacher will become more of an educationnal assistant and educational event organizer. All of the teachers work today, be it in the third world or in the developped world has for now 0% utilization of the Internet and computer technologies. Basically teaching hasn't evolved since the beginning of last century. Thus the way classes are done and schools work have not yet adapted itself to the Internet and computers are not yet part of school. Computers and the Internet will become a much larger part of teaching and of the whole educational experience in the very near future.

The show is at http://www.cbsnews.com/sections/i_video/main500251.shtml?id=2830221n

I will try to rip it and post it online on Youtube now.

I like the 60 minutes report. I think it was a fair review of the pros and cons of the project. Surely it didn't have all the technical aspects that some many of the OLPCNEWS readers enjoy, but it will help the general audiences (I mean the aunties I was talking about a couple of weeks ago) to uderstand what is this all about.
Congrats also to Wayan. Great speech out there. Hey, have you realized that Mark Warschauer in person is prasing you? That's big man!
Greetings from Chile,

"to be critical and/or to provoke thinking and debate can only help."

Personally, I would have liked the Nepalese effort listed. These were from people on the ground, working with real laptops and real children. This is information dearly needed.

And the security measures taken in the XO. For many new readers, computer security equals MS Windows insecurity. They might benefit from an update on bitfrost:

Allmost all of the listed articles are about questions raised. However. Some of the answers could be found in the articles about the Nepalese (above) and Brazilian test deployments. I think they would benefit the new readers.
The Brazil project posted a nice report

However, I know that editorial space is limited, so choices have to be made.


I posted the video on Google Video you can see it embedded at: http://olpc.tv/2007/05/21/60-minutes/

I just watched the video. Great stuff! Everybody is treated fair. Wayan's violin metaphor is great.
Unfortunately I am afraid that Intel will continue just as before. This might postpone the launch of OLPC. However, I don't think that Intel can stop OLPC. It can only make it grow slower.
Considering that the implementation of those laptops does not seem to be very well planned this delay might become a valuable chance to improve on it.

OLPC is not like a violin. It's like a box that does all instruments in the world and lets the student listen to all the music in the world, watch all the learning video courses in the world, read all the theory in the world and record and upload recordings.

I'd say the teachers are like average violin players playing on not very tuned and old rusty violins. This may be approximate music that each teacher is playing infront of the class, but it would be much more educationnal for the child to access complete collections of all orchestra concertos, worldwide variety of artists and the abillity to try and immitate the music that is being discovered.

"I'd say the teachers are like average violin players playing on not very tuned and old rusty violins. This may be approximate music that each teacher is playing infront of the class, but it would be much more educationnal for the child to access complete collections of all orchestra concertos, worldwide variety of artists and the abillity to try and immitate the music that is being discovered."

Recentely, there was an article in a local newspaper that summarized scientific evidence for educational effectiveness of different regimes. The result?

The only aspect of education really supported by scientific evidence is the importance of teacher guidance. Student's own initiative and choice was a second, much weaker, positive factor. Shockingly, the "transfer" of learned subject matter to real life could be as low as 10%.

The XOs are meant for regions with a chronic teacher shortage. A teacher shortage that countries have been unable to aleviate for decades. Any call for spending OLPC money on more teachers should at the least tell us how to succeed where we failed in the last decades.

As a result of the teacher shortage, the children in these regions get only half the hours of teacher guidance they need.

One solution to these problems would be to let one teacher guide twice as many pupils using more efficient communication methods. This is one area the XO will increase the efficiency of education. Another solution is to allow children to do more on their own, needing teacher guidance less often. This is the often derided "learning to learn" approach.

But it is clear, that if half the group can master a certain subject matter on their own, the teacher can devote twice as much time to those students that cannot master it on their own.

So, the OLPC tries to increase teacher efficiency and other aspects of educational inefficiencies (eg, distribution of books).

The question to answer is, whether the OLPC is (cost) effective and efficient in reaching this goal. Another question is, whether there are cheaper and less risky alternatives.

What I often see is people "questioning" specific aspects of the educational and cost models of the OLPC while ignoring the main question of educational efficiency. The real questions from an educational and economic development perspective are:
- How much does the XO increase the school's efficiency?
- Does this amount justify the cost?

Where these questions can be quantified by contact hours/pupil and their effectiveness, number of hours pupils can work without supervision, number of books and other materials available, etc.

The cost of distribution of school books in general and audio-visual material for specific subject matters can be compared between the OLPC and alternatives. That would be a very simple accounting excersize. Also the hours spent in the classroom answering questions could be compared with the same work done on a discussion board.

I really think the cost effectiveness of the XO in education can be quantified fairly straightforeward without having to implement extremely costly and risky educational experiments. It is relatively easy to collect data on the use of on-line resources, electronic communication, and computer programs in developed countries like the USA and the Netherlands (to name only a two) by interviewing students. Teachers can be asked to estimate the relation on-line work/classroom work. The cost of the distribution of books and libraries is in the books.

Another question is why the OLPC hasn't done this? Now the OLPC is but a very small organization. And all the data are locked into the educational departments of the target countries. Brazil, Nigeria, and Nepal really do know the numbers, Negroponte does not. It is really the receiving countries that can, and should, do the summs.


Charbax, thanks a lot for the video!

I thought this was a very good report that covered most of the important topics that we've been discussing here in the past months.

Wayan, you really did a great job in conveying both the fascination and doubts that many of us have with regards to the project!

He's not very photogenic that Wayan Vota, is he? And did he just say "clock stopping hot" on national TV? I think that's probably a first ;)

I watched the piece and it was relatively well balanced and possibly informative, but a little toothless. There was nothing new in it about OLPC, and the thrust of the piece seemed to be an attempt to pin OLPC's current sales stagnation firmly at the door of big 'ol baddie Intel. The evidence of Intel's "dirty tricks" was rather flimsy - a pitch document from Intel, favourably comparing the classmate, to the XO - how _could_ they, *chin wobble*, *sniff*.

Also, I thought it rather telling that most of the way through, the interviewer referred to the project as Negroponte's project/baby/whatever and referred to him and the project in the third person singular "he"/"his" as opposed to OLPC and "they"/"their". By the time the piece got to Intel, this made it seems as if Intel were directly attacking Negroponte as opposed to promoting their product over a rival.

Fair play to Negroponte, he didn't take the bait and when asked directly whether _he'd_ been hurt by Intel's activities, he specifically referred to "the mission" being hurt - by which he probably was refering to the XO product as opposed to the "one laptop per Child" mission - the one that once supposedly cared about the outcome, not the means.

Rather disappointingly, no one at OLPC actually addressed Wayan's (and OLPC News regulars') main points. There was a single pop about theft and security posed by the interviewer and that was answered with a claim that stolen machines will magically stop working 24hrs after they are nicked. Nothing about teachers, roll out strategy, nothing.

Not. A. Dickie. Bird.

Well dodged once more Nick, turn defence into attack - ignore the concerns, attack the "competition" for dirty tricks.

"...attack the "competition" for dirty tricks."

If you read:

You see a note that Intel will only produce as many Classamtes as XOs will sell.

I interpret this as admission that Intel will support the Classmate as long as the OLPC is selling XOs. Intel will stop supporting the Classmate after the XO fails. Therefore, Intel seems to be in the game only to block XOs from selling at the cost of the children in the developing world.

Derailling attempts to help the poor, that is more or less one of the definitions of evil, isn't it?


No need to worry about Intel's intentions (good or bad as they may be).

The OLPC Project will live or die on its own merits - which is the way it should be.

I'm pretty sure that, with all his political connections, NOBODY will be able to stop Negroponte IF (and that's a BIG "if") he achieves the so-far elusive goal of showing the world how these machines will help students. So far, all we have is a lot of promises, an not-fully-functional XO prototype, a price that has almost doubled and no idea what the real TCO will be.

The ball is in Negroponte's hand, and only he can get it rolling, with or without Intel.

Great stuff. And Wayan, even dressed as a bank manager, you did look great.

I only missed a better discussion about the "Trojan horse" approach, but I guess that is something that may appear in future features.

Winter: If you read:

You see a note that Intel will only produce as many Classamtes as XOs will sell.

Er, where does it say that? Perhaps I'm a bit dim, but I couldn't find that bit of info anywhere.

"But he said that could change if Negroponte's effort shows strong demand for such devices."


Does this sound as a company committed to developing a real market ecosystem for educational laptops?

To me it sounds as a company that will just do enough to kill the OLPC project.


Winter, it neither says nor doesn't say what you stated earlier.

It appears to me to be a statement that Intel are ready to increase production to meet demand. As such, it reads like a workaday press release promise dispatched to reassure jumpy shareholders worried that the next billion internet users will be sewn up by a rival.

BTW, Could you explain what a "real market ecosystem" is? I've never heard of such a thing, so I'm not sure who has tried to commit to one in the past.

Winter, I think that Intel's strategy is based on the Classmate's ability to run any software from the Wintel ecology... that may not be an educational SW ecology (nor make much sense, IMHO), but at least answers your concern.

How do i get one for my daughter for $100, im on fixed income? For christmas.