XO Laptops are Banned in OLPC Ethiopia Classrooms

   
   
   
   
   

While watching David Hollow of ICT4D Collective present his evaluation of OLPC Ethiopia at the recent Africa Gathering I was struck by his observation that teachers were banning XO laptops from their classrooms.

David found a clear perception by teachers and even parents, that the XO laptop is a toy, not a tool, and children's usage of these computers was actually a detriment to their education. Teachers disliked them enough to ban them from the classroom and parents discouraged their use at home, thinking the laptops were taking away from study time.


Why XO Laptops are Banned

The Ethiopian school system like Rwanda's, is designed around rote memorization - the teacher copies material to the board and students write it down in notebooks. Then there is a national test that determines progression in the educational system - a test based on the ability to recalled the memorized facts.

This model is very teacher-centric. Teachers should have all the knowledge, and students, by cultural definition are there to listen, not to question, and will not be as smart as teachers until they have passed the national test.

Yet XO laptops were added this rigid system without extensive teacher training or tight integration into the national curriculum. So as the students progressed past the teachers in computing acumen, the teachers quickly felt threatened by this technology, and unable to control it, felt undermined by it, especially in the classroom.

Instead of memorizing fact, the students were playing. They were exploring and learning using TamTam and Record. From a Constructionist perspective, the laptops are a great success - children are self-directing their learning around the teachers. Yet from the teachers' and parents' perspective, that's play, not studying.

If the students don't memorize to pass the national exam, they will not progress in the Ethiopian educational system, no matter their abilities with E-toys or Browse. And while they might be smarter in a Western sense, relative to their own culture, they will be failures.

David's call for more teacher training & better integration of the XO into the national curriculum, is not alone. Miguel Brechner says, "if you don't include the teachers, the project will fail." I say we need an OLPC cultural integration plan to flip computers from an educational threat to a learning treasure.

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Reading the "XO Laptops are Banned in OLPC Ethiopia Classrooms" posting made me think back to my trial school visit in November 2008 to Maiwayni School in Mekelle, northern Ethiopia, who were starting a trial of OLPC laptops... [more]

I have worked in Ethiopia since 2006 and I initiated the olpc project here as an unintended side project within a larger capacity development program in the summer of 2006 with discussions with Nicholas Negroponte and the oplc organisation. The followi... [more]

34 Comments

C'mon, Wayan!

I expect a little more intellectual integrity on your part.

You ASSUME a LOT of negative things in your post, all directed at teachers, all blaming teacher when in fact, they may be doing the right thing!

Do not become an irrational groupie, Vota. You're smarter than that.

"Instead of memorizing fact, the students were playing. They were exploring and learning using TamTam and Record."

How the hell does that become "the laptops are a great success"?

How does that become "children are self-directing their learning around the teachers"?

How can you tell that teachers make their decision out of fear ("students progressed past the teachers in computing acumen, the teachers quickly felt threatened") and not simple experience and observation of student behavior?

How can you tell that the kids were making real progress and not being just distracted with a new toy?


I'm sorry to be so blunt, Vota, but this has to be your most moronic, biased, irrational post ever.

All your conclusions are pulled out of your own arse. A sad, disgusting new twist on an old, cheap trick.

Irv,

Correction: I pulled my conclusions out of David's arse. Or more accurately, his observations of Ethiopia and my observations of OLPC deployments in general.

XO's are empowering children to do things outside the classroom. Some say these are learning things, others say they are play only. But in the classroom, they are often seen as a threat - as in Ethiopia.

Now do something that feels threatening to your assumptions - watch David's video and let us know your impressions, using your own arse-based analysis.

I watched the video before I posted.

And the conclusion is the same: you are absolutely making things up.

There is no evidence WHATSOEVER, ANYWHERE that the XO - or any other laptop, for that matter - is of any use in the classroom.

There is no evidence - except to people like you, who for que$tionable reasons has, all of a sudden, decided to drink the kool-aid - that what the kids are described as doing in the presentation amounts to any sort of constructivist learning.

Finally, why is it that "rote memorization" is the preferred system in the most advanced nations in the world?

How come "rote memorization" is good for Israel, USA, Germany, France, Canada, Spain, England, Finland, Russia, etc., etc., but it is not good for poor people, who must spend their meager resources on this tech-adventure?

How come the rich guys don't buy into your dubious theories?

Your position is INDECENT.

Irv

Your information is not accurate. I am in the process of doing a systematic review of evaluations of Laptop initiatives. To date I've collected two hundred evaluation reports for synthesis reporting a variety of outcomes. Of these, some forty-four report data on achievement, twenty-two reliably. When the findings of these twenty-two are averaged out there is a small positive impact of laptops (1/4 of a standard deviation). Much of that improvement seems to be due to an improvement in writing scores.

Many other outcomes were reported, too many to go into detail here. In short the evidence points to a positive impact of one to one laptop programs. That question seems to have been answered.

The more important questions we should be asking are first: how, to what extent, and under what circumstances are these programs effective; and second: how cost efficient (impact per dollar spent) are these laptop programs when compared to other ways of spending those educational dollars. These are the two questions that guide my research efforts. I will be sure to post my findings.

btw: I've posted some of my findings on my CV site @ http://ecbethel.com/Edward_C_Bethel/e_c_bethel.html. Click on research and you'll find links to some of the stuff.

cheers

eb

You're both on opposite sides of the argument where the real answer is in the middle. The XO laptop could be a wonderful tool for learning in these countries as it provides access to far more information then they otherwise could get. The problem is, a computer can be a toy to a kid and should not take the place of traditional learning. They should teach the teachers and parents to be able to incorporate this into their traditional education system in a responsible way so that it promotes learning but doesn't become a distraction. There is no reason why it can be a valuable tool for these kids to learn, but the article does make it sound like the laptops are the only thing that could possibly educate these children and the teachers should just get out of the way of the laptop and that's just silly...as is saying it has no place in the classroom.

Marx wrote:

"The XO laptop could be a wonderful tool for learning in these countries as it provides access to far more information then they otherwise could get. The problem is, a computer can be a toy to a kid and should not take the place of traditional learning. They should teach the teachers and parents..."


Wll said. That's exactly my position: show people how the laptop can be successfully incorporated into the classroom. THEN, poor nations will not be under the VERY UNFAIR burden of subsidizing an idea that may or may not prove effective.

Remember: rich nations like the USA or France can afford to waste money on a bad educational initiative. They can shrugg it off and life goes on. Poor nations can't do the same. Wasting money can be devastating to many poor children in those nations, where often there are no second chances.

The day there is conclusive evidence (through pilot projects monitored and evaluated by qualified independent third parties)that laptops can be a source of enhanced learning in the elementary school classroom, I'll be 100% behind the project.

All I ask for is for objectivity.

Vota used to feel the same way, but he's singing a very different tune these days...

@Irvin:
"The day there is conclusive evidence (through pilot projects monitored and evaluated by qualified independent third parties)that laptops can be a source of enhanced learning in the elementary school classroom, I'll be 100% behind the project."

Translated: The day hell freezes over Irvin will be 100% behind the project.

With an 18 months technology cycle, a ten year, $100M worldwide study is just as unlikely as hell freezing over. If you do not believe the budget, you have not done a large scale educational study on children.

Winter

There is an article in the June '09 edition of "Communications of the ACM" which discusses how the OLPC community's vision failed to meet (or perhaps, see) reality. The above article is a specific example of what is generally addressed in that article. I recommend it if you have access to it.

In many ways, OLPC reminded me of an earlier MIT Media Lab educational failure, Logo. It, too, was going to transform the world.

@A.C. the article in the June 2009 edition of "Communications of the ACM" is just dreadful. It was extremely poorly researched. It did not cite one rigorous study or source. It was based on hearsay and rumor. It did not even have OLPC's URL correct.
I am amazed that the ACM published such a low quality article.

One click on their site, ict4d is sponsored by Microsoft.

No conflict of interest?

By definition, Microsoft will be killed off once OLPC is implemented all over the world, preferably using ARM processors which are not compatible with the type of software Microsoft wants to sell.

OLPC is a huge success wherever it is being implemented, even though content and educational programs are not available yet.

I've been in Ethiopia for two months making my master thesis about the Ethiopian OLPC Program.

What we claimed was the necessity of creating awareness for the students, the parents, the communities and most of all the teachers. But the responsible people from ecbp did not share our estimation.

The implementation is done top to bottom only, creating awareness is not part of it. Maybe on the paper but not in real, This is how we see it.

It so sad, such a promising project.

Irv,

As a 15 year teacher of Math and Computer Science, I can tell you that learning how to locate and use information is much more important than rote memorization.

There are instances where some things simply must be memorized, however the show "Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader" proves that most of our rote learning is wasting time and not preparing students for life's challenges.

There are also instances where students abuse the technology. This is why we filter, guide, and otherwise restrict the function of these devices. I can imagine how frustrating it would be to remain clueless while the students run amok in their own virtual worlds.

I have to disagree, however that the technology is the problem. The problem lies in adapting to change. It's too bad that proper training is not provided to the teachers and staff to leverage the technology to everyone's benefit.

With proper guidance their students, like mine, would be running networks, finding new prime numbers, leading Joomla development, and contributing to society in ways that are well beyond my abilities. The greatest compliment that I can receive is the knowledge that my students, with my assistance and encouragement have surpassed me.

Paul

@Paul:
"There are instances where some things simply must be memorized, however the show "Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader" proves that most of our rote learning is wasting time and not preparing students for life's challenges."

Root learning is education up to 1900 AD. The value of root memorization lies in societies where information is scarce: No books, no libraries, no newspapers, no reference works. In such a situation you should memorize everything or else you do not have it.

This was the "education" of learning the Ilias, Odysee and other holy scriptures by hearth since before Homerus.

What is wrong with it?

The knowledge is absolutely useless. It is exactly like getting tools, but not learning to use them. We all know primary school children who learn all the capitals as a spell, but have no clue that they are cities, and where to find them on a map.

An example was found in an earlier post. In (West?) Africa, it was retold that local people had learned "Excel" in school, but had no clue what to do with it when they were asked to use it.
(I cannot find the post anymore, anyone knows?)

It is obvious that the XO, or any other technology, is pretty useless for root learning texts. So if all you are interested in is getting higher grades in regurgitating texts from memory, then any form of technology is useless.

Maybe even the teachers are superfluous. Just give the children the books and let them learn these texts in day camp.

Winter

Irv is still serving us the same old banter. Some things never change.

My grandson is 16 months old and has been using a computer to learn with for the last two months. He has mastered the shape recognition puzzle, the music matching puzzle and now counts to three (oh and when he wants something he holds out his and and says 'ta').

Other children of his age comparatively cant recognize different shapes, dont know the parts of their body and have no idea what one-two-three is.

Since we sat the computer in front of him and he bashed the keys the first dozen times, he is now learning what games can be played and what they mean.

Of course his favorite website is Disney.com and gets me to show him the animated stories which he loves to watch.

If only all children had a chance to use computers at an early age we might breed more intelligent humans.

@Robert Arrowsmith:
"Irv is still serving us the same old banter. Some things never change."

Irv would have fought both airing Sesame street or books in the classroom as a waste of money had either been promoted by Negroponte. Or maybe he would have opposed them anyway.

Think the goddess Eris, who precipitated the Trojan war.

Winter

Paul wrote:

"I have to disagree, however that the technology is the problem."

can you point to a single instance where I claim that "technology is a problem"?

All I ask for is for proponents/followers to show an implementation plan for the classroom.

So far, the general position is: "just buy the computer, poor people; wonderful things will follow"

That's not enough in the real world. That's why nobody is rushing to buy the XO.

It makes sense, doesn't it?

Irv,

You make a good point - there isn't a classroom integration plan, nor will there be one forthcoming. And yes, that's a major reason why countries are not buying in, in mass, and why Ethiopian teachers are rejecting XO usage in class.

But even w/o a classroom integration plan, or even use in a classroom, children are learning with an XO. So might we move on from a knee-jerk "no plan! no plan!" to a more holistic discussion of OLPC? Maybe ways in which deployments can develop their own classroom plans, as Uruguay has done?

Wayan wrote:

"But even w/o a classroom integration plan, or even use in a classroom, children are learning with an XO. So might we move on from a knee-jerk "no plan! no plan!" to a more holistic discussion of OLPC?"

Sure.

The problem is that the acknowledged lack of an integration plan is just the tip of the iceberg.

There are MANY more questions to answer before poor countries decide how best they can spend their meager educational resources/funds.

I'll list a few:

1. It is generally assumed (even you do it in your post) that children can benefit from using the XO in the classroom; even without an integration plan.

Question: are there any qualified, independent 3rd. party studies that can confirm this assertion? So far, there is only some anecdotal evidence provided by followers or OLPC itself ("It's good because my grandson can do -----fill in the blank with some transparent lie ------" , "Kids are very excited in ------fill in the blank with some country name------", "I found a teacher who tells me his children are excelling", etc.etc.).

2. There is no clear indicator of what the actual total cost of ownership will be for adopting countries

3. In light of diminishing features and rising price, is the XO still the best deal for prospective customers? It looked very good when the price was $100 and the features were groundbreaking. Three years later, the price is mundane and the key features, the ones that made the XO exceptional are gone.

Those are some of the questions that need to ba addressed by those who think that mere possesion of the laptop will result in some educational miracle.

@a.c.: "In many ways, OLPC reminded me of an earlier MIT Media Lab educational failure, Logo. It, too, was going to transform the world" Logo and the XO share a "family history" by way of the revolutionary educator Seymour Papert.

@wayan: "Miguel Brechner says, "if you don't include the teachers, the project will fail." I say we need an OLPC cultural integration plan to flip computers from an educational threat to a learning treasure."

Teacher development, curriculum and learning resources, student assessment (and, h/t to Atanu Dey, improved school mgment and accountability) are all critical to education reform. Without these, learning technologies (including slate and chalk) will mostly be used in schools to support the current system.

@irv: "How come "rote memorization" is good for Israel, USA, Germany, France, Canada, Spain, England, Finland, Russia, etc., etc., but it is not good for poor people, who must spend their meager resources on this tech-adventure? (snip) Your position is INDECENT"

Your comment is indecent. And un-informed. (Also, if you're going to berate someone using non-facts and untruths, it's wiser to do it more gently so that you don't look like an ass.) Leading ed systems worldwide (Australia, Singapore, the UK) have moved as far and as hard as they can away from rote. The US lags in this move, partly thanks to NCLB, and as a result so does US workplace readiness. (CF "Race between technology & education," Katz and Goldin, Belknap Press). Rote denies the needs of poor children to learn how to, say, assess information and use it to address problems--meanwhile forcing them to memorize the national bird (Uganda), or all the kings of their country (India), or the binomial equation (USA). Rote makes education irrelevant, limits citizens' participation in civic affairs (like voting, when available) and perpetuates their poverty.

Ed Gullible wrote:

"Leading ed systems worldwide (Australia, Singapore, the UK) have moved as far and as hard as they can away from rote. The US lags in this move, partly thanks to NCLB, and as a result so does US workplace readiness."

Funny thing is none of those "leading ed systems" felt the need to use laptops to achieve their great results.

Why is it that until today, there is NOT a SINGLE "leading ed system" that has bought into the OLPC "vision"?

I'll tell you why: because there no evidence anywhere that this is a good idea. Because only a demented soul would believe that handing kids a laptop without any educational content or software, without any implementation guide, without proper teacher trainig can result in a miraculous education.

As simple as that.

@Irvin:
"Why is it that until today, there is NOT a SINGLE "leading ed system" that has bought into the OLPC "vision"?"

Because all the children in these leading ed systems already have a computer at home, with Internet connections.

Giving children who already have access to a computer another laptop would be a waste. Only those who do not yet have a computer get "deals" to get them access to the Internet. Generally by offering some computers at school or some student support.

You are talking about regions of the world where people are not as desperately poor as segments of the US population.

Winter

And a follow-on: For a good description of non-rote learning that isn't tech supported, check out this article from High Tech High:

http://www.hightechhigh.org/unboxed/issue3/going_socratic/

@Original article
Instead of memorizing fact, the students were playing. They were exploring and learning using TamTam and Record. From a Constructionist perspective, the laptops are a great success - children are self-directing their learning around the teachers.

Sounds like they were dicking around on the computer. People have been doing that in the western world for decades. Paintbrush and Sound Recorder are of questionable educational value. Children in the western world frequently surf around the net aimlessly. I've seen this before in a number of articles, talking about how great the computers are and how the students are really taking to them, and exploring them, but without actually getting anything educational out of it.

If the students don't memorize to pass the national exam, they will not progress in the Ethiopian educational system, no matter their abilities with E-toys or Browse. And while they might be smarter in a Western sense, relative to their own culture, they will be failures.

Good grief, western sense of 'being smarter' is plagued with rote memorization and standardized tests. The problem is, like a lot of issues people are looking at this, like a lot of things, in a very polarized view. Education needn't be all rote nor all Constructionist. Nor does non-rote learning require technology. Some things are going to have to be memorized (multiplication tables, spelling), and some progression of set learning outcomes is going to occur. E-toys and Browse are of dubious benefit to the child's future.

David's call for more teacher training & better integration of the XO into the national curriculum, is not alone. Miguel Brechner says, "if you don't include the teachers, the project will fail." I say we need an OLPC cultural integration plan to flip computers from an educational threat to a learning treasure.

Integration is crucial, yet almost always overlooked when implementing any technology in a classroom.

@Irv:
There is no evidence WHATSOEVER, ANYWHERE that the XO - or any other laptop, for that matter - is of any use in the classroom..

Hear Hear! Anyone interested in technology in education please read "The Flickering Mind" to understand that technology in education has been facing the same challenges for decades, and ignoring the challenges won't make them go away. The book also addresses fallacies in standardized tests.


@A. C.:
In many ways, OLPC reminded me of an earlier MIT Media Lab educational failure, Logo. It, too, was going to transform the world.

Indeed. I recommend you read the Flickering Mind.

@ Charbax:

By definition, Microsoft will be killed off once OLPC is implemented all over the world, preferably using ARM processors which are not compatible with the type of software Microsoft wants to sell.

All over the world? A little presumptuous aren't we about the future of OLPC? The project seems to be losing momentum, and someone recently posted the mind boggling amount of money required to deploy it over India in entirety. I don't know how we expect developing countries to spend orders of magnitude more than they currently are on education, on a single technology project. Let alone teacher training and infrastructure problems.

OLPC is a huge success wherever it is being implemented, even though content and educational programs are not available yet.

Good grief! Without content and educational programs what is the value of the project? Or is it just more of the "Students are learning Turtle and TamTam with ease!

Guess what? Pens are a great success in schools too! However without a curriculum surrounding their use, they are useless.

@ Winter:
Root learning is education up to 1900 AD. The value of root memorization lies in societies where information is scarce: No books, no libraries, no newspapers, no reference works. In such a situation you should memorize everything or else you do not have it.

It is obvious that the XO, or any other technology, is pretty useless for root learning texts. So if all you are interested in is getting higher grades in regurgitating texts from memory, then any form of technology is useless.

As with most things in life, education is a balance, but as usual people take polarized views of all or nothing. But some amount of rote memorization is important. For example, remembering the spelling of 'rote'.

@Robert Arrowsmith:
My grandson is 16 months old and has been using a computer to learn with for the last two months. He has mastered the shape recognition puzzle, the music matching puzzle and now counts to three (oh and when he wants something he holds out his and and says 'ta').

Other children of his age comparatively cant recognize different shapes, dont know the parts of their body and have no idea what one-two-three is.

If only all children had a chance to use computers at an early age we might breed more intelligent humans.

Your grandchild being able to use a shape recognition puzzle, and Disney.com doesn't suddenly translate to him being a better overall human being. Get back to me in 18 years. There isn't a whole lot of evidence saying the younger technology is introduced, the better. In fact there is evidence that the time might be better spent doing other stuff. A lot of younger development time may be better spent with more concrete stuff. Also maybe the parents of the other children aren't trying to teach these topics using any methods. Maybe your child is above average anyways, and would excel with any learning program. It's reasons like this why studies require large test groups.

However everyone falls for the fallacy that "ZOMG everyone has to learn how to use computers as young as possible or they will fail at life". What they fail to realize is there is a lot more to using a computer than simply being introduced to it. What is more important is that they develop and are equipped with basic skills like problem solving, and reasoning. These are lifelong learning skills that will let you approach and figure out any real world problem, in addition to figuring out any computing environment or tool and are much more important than simply being exposed to computers as soon as physically possible, potentially at the expense of other parts of development.

A lot of the smartest people of all time did not have access to computers, but were able to come up with amazing new ideas, because it all came from the inside, not through using a tool. Even the people who (arguably) put man on the moon went through school without using a computer, they seemed to turn out OK.

I will close by saying:
Implementation, teacher training, curriculum integration, and infrastructure support are crucial for this project. The project also needs all the wonderful educational content we were promised.

Truly excellent post, John Smith!

Excellent post, I couldn't put it better.

In different places, different things are needed, e.g in China if you don't use rote memorization(5000 gliths) you can't write or read!!

American people say, it doesn't matter, they should study english and forget Chinese(they think world=USA).

In Europe, you need to know 2-3 foreign languages and it's a must if you want to move(job, business) without problems, French and German people want you to learn French and German.

So memorization is needed, period. The think is if they teach you how to memorize (tony buzan books) the journey is a lot easier.

I see Wayan fighting reality instead of adapting(laptops could make memorization easier and faster)

There was something similar being reported from Arahuay, Peru, about a year ago, i.e., that only when kids "completed their work" were they being allowed to use the XOs...
Will try to find the link

@John Smith:
"But some amount of rote memorization is important. For example, remembering the spelling of 'rote'."

Yes I know. I did a lot of 'rote' memorization to learn English as my third language (not really an achievement, though, given where I lived). But they forgot to teach me the meaning (and spelling) of 'rote'. As a result of this deficiency, I am still struggling with its spelling.

I teach myself, and know very well that there is no understanding without some memorization. Just as there is no understanding in rote learning.

A perfect example are the multiplication tables. If you learn children the multiplication tables, you will find that they will not be able to use them to do multiplications. You will have to add multiplication practice to get these children to actually be able to multiplicate.

The same with learning a new language. You learn the words and grammar rules by hearth. And in the end you still cannot understand nor communicate in the language. You have to listen, read, write, and speak to actually learn to use it productively.

And that brings us to failed educational systems. The biggest advantages of rote learning are:
1 The teacher does not have to understand the subject (hence the ask-no-questions approach)

2 You can measure progress exactly, in any subject, without having to know what is useful for the children or society

And I see all the symptoms of a failing educational system here.

Winter

I visited OLPC trial school in northern Ethiopia a few months ago and watched a few lessons. It was very clear to me that the teachers just hadn't been given enough training, guidance or support in how to use these machines in their teaching practice. The teachers I spoke to had only received a one day workshop - no way near enough. If the teachers don't see clear benefits they'll stop using them.

Africa, Africa,mama Africa. Why?Why? The west wants to experiment its cap on us. If you read the history civilization and mankind, you will see that YOU are originated from Africa. Now things are reversed and the west is using Africa as its lab. The west experimented AIDS in Africa and millions of African died, when West make any medicine they use Africa as their “lab monkey”. One thing I’ve learnt in America is “Nothing is Free”, that means if someone gives you something expect that person is going to take away something from you, may be equal or ten times. I don’t trust all this NGOs and White people. I am not raciest but I see how a white person used to do things in Africa. For example when the Dutchs were tiring to occupy South Africa they took with them a disease and one time the disease wipe up their own cattle and their own people. The same thing happened here in US the white people give smallpox in blanket and whip out the native Indies. When I was a kid Ferenj (white people) used to come to my village and we where egger to be photographed by his camera, later I found out all these so called nice Ferenges were over there to spy and some of them were selling our pictures and video and making money on us. Now everyone is smart. I grow up Ethiopia! I am proud Ethiopian, the education I got was life time. No computer, no calculator, no video, no TV, everything practical. I touched my first computer when I was 2nd year college student , now I became computer Engineer. But now I am mostly depend on Machine even to do simple addition. When I was 2nd grade my mom used to send me a local shop and I was able to buy things for her. That means I used to know how much it cost, what to buy and how many I can buy. I used to rise chicken and used to sell eggs, that means I was like grown up like “Tyson foods”. Now I have kids in US school system, they are smart but not smart I used to be. They learn the pictures of all coins and dimes and use fake money . they go on line and learn Star Falls and Dora and Disney channel, all crap, just west of time. I used to make my own toy but now Toys for us my secondary home. I was creating and have worker. Also I visited US schools, I am really worries the quality of Education, TV, Computer and Video game are destroying our kids. Computer is a drug which kills memory. I read Chinese kids spend hrs and hrs of times in their computer and they are addicted. Also the more social networking, blogs and social networking we have the more we are losing our human contact.
So what Ethiopian/African kids want. Running water, charitable, pencil, chalk, black board and son on. Lap top??? Big NO!

Why OLPC is in Africa my be for their own advantage 501 C and other donation? May be, it could be true or it could be false. What is its long term goal?? I don’t know . Do you know what happened during the 1977 Ethiopian drought, yes, several NGOs got reach. Most of you who are closed minded know about Ethiopian this period, but you don’t know the people. I think Ethiopian and other African counties need to watch these Western NGOs very closely. So OLPC could have something behind may be it is creating its brand in African children (millions) and later after they grow up OLPC want to market it because the kids are accustomed to it. So do not trust anyone? No. especially now most US schools are hanging in a tread and seeking every help why a company gives away free laptop? Why some NGOs go 100000 miles when there is a need here in US. Why not spend your money over here fight for homelessness, drag abuse, teenage pregnancy and hunger. Leave Africa alone! I mean it. If the west leaves Africa alone, Africa will be a bread basket but the west is just could not stop. Before it was colonialism, apartide now this so called NGO, some of them are spying. So no need for your laptop, get out from Africa. By the way do you know Ethiopians were the first people on this earth? As once said when Ethiopians were building marvelous pieces of buildings the west used to live in a cave.
So leave the Ethiopians alone they will figure it out without your help

@Kidukassa:

First, all people are equal. Which means "Westeners" are no more diabolic than Ethiopians or other Africans. As history has shown, that can be quite diabolical indeed, but not quite as one-sided as you portrait it.

Second, the AIDS virus, HIV, is related to a large class of monkey and ape virusses (SIV). From there it crossed the species barrier and jumped from animal to man just like the swine flu did recently.

This happened twice in Africa, we have HIV-1 from chimps and HIV-2 from sooty mangabey. HIV-1 is the one who causes AIDS. The AIDS ancestry can be traced back to a chimp SIV variant from Cameroon. Someone, somewhere slaughtered, ate, or was bitten by a chimpansee in Camaroon and got infected.

The oldest AIDS case on record is a sailor from Kinshasa from 1959. A time when no one even knew what a retro-virus was. Any mirrage of the imagination that points to the "West" trying to infect the Africans with an artificial AIDS virus is on the tin-foil hat level of conspiracies. If the West was that good and conspiracies, they didn't need to conspire.

I can understand your anger, but bad facts lead to bad decisions. So you should try to keep your facts straight, and attack the real enemies. There are enough real internal and external enemies of Africans left to fight without going after phantoms.

And for all their faults, I do not believe for a moment that those involved in the OLPC intend to harm the people of Africa.

Winter

He, he

What's wrong with living in a cave?

I'm curious, were does so much hate you have come from?

Wait, wait people don’t draw a single conclusion. Back in early 1990 before Unicode was introduced as de-facto most African countries were left out from the computer game”revolution” because companies such as Microsoft were catering only rich countries (where there is money) such as China, Japan, Korea and so on. For Windows XX (95, ME and 98) used be you need to have a specific localized computer in order to use it in your language. That means there was Windows 98 Japanese or Windows ME Korean or Arabic. But there was no Windows Amharic “Ethiopic” or Swahili PC. That was then, but now thank you for UNICODE Windows XP, Vista and other OS can create a global single computer and a user can configure the computer to whatever he/she likes as long as there are applications written in that language. Now Microsoft and other companies are heading to Africa and the battle is just began. Why? Because Africa has more than 500 Million people. It is like a Virgin market. When the English and Latin language based market is saturating companies such as MS and others are seeking other alternatives. It is not for the benefit of the people but it for the money, but in this process the people will be the winners. So what OLPC should do is localize the laptop to the specific region they are distributing. Yes Ethiopian teachers may not speak fluent English but they understand but if the laptop is in Amharic they will love it and will use it every day.
I am from Ethiopian and I’ve started my own company Ethiotrans.com knowing that one day the world will turn its face to Africa. Now my dream is coming true. So computers are great, technology is great but we need to know how to use them. The user is the one who abuse the system. If we use the computer to play game and play DVD movie (every day) that is not utilizing but that is using the computer as a toy. Now time is changed lot. The world is shrinking and getting smaller. Now Ethiopian/African kids should compute with kids in other part of the world. One way is open the door to the world. I think computer is one of them. Yes pencil, chalk, books and others are very important, but don’t you know you can use a single computer as chalk, blackboard, pencil, pen and book. Now what OLPC should do is localize their laptop and application and load them with text books and notes. I think if we think hard you can use the OLPC as “12 books per child”. But the problem I see is what OLPC’s long term plan is for a child. If the child loses his/her lap top he/she will lose everything, I mean everything. Does OLPC offers a central backup system? I hope so. Anyways, OLPS should see every countries situation case by case. “One fits all” does not work in Africa! Most people think Africa is one small state but Africa has more than 50 sovereign states, and more than 2000 language. Need help, go http://www.ethiotrans.com . For us Technology in Africa is a personal issue.
So GOOD LUCK ALL

I have about 25 years of experience in elementary classrooms, which perhaps entitles me to form opinions as well as the next guy. Arguing about the relative importance of information and reasoning skills makes about as much sense as arguing about the relative importance of your computer's RAM and CPU.

The disdain for memory that has characterized American educational theory for over 100 years has done and continues to do significant damage. Basic math computation continues as Exhibit A. In commonly referring to it as a 'skill' we miss its cognitive aspect. It is in fact our first exposure to an axiomatic system, and possibly the only one which will be useful throughout our life. By using the system we no longer have to resort to enumeration to solve math problems. But it is useful only if we in fact know the axioms and theorems.

The computer can be a perfectly good tool for teaching both reasoning and information. The real problems with computers have had a lot more to do with classroom pragmatics: How do you use a tool designed for individuals when you are dealing with groups? Enter OLPC....

Juan

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