Congratulations to One Laptop Per Child for hiring of Kim Quirk as Gen-1 Product Manager, to oversee transition of the OLPC XO laptop design into its deployment as a hardware and software solution. I am sure she will be a great asset to the program, for as Walter Bender says:
Kim comes to OLPC with over 20 years experience managing projects in industries ranging from network products to e-commerce to educational software.There is only one small problem with her role in deploying Children's Machine XO's to participating countries. That would be her limiting job description:
Your primary responsibility is to plan schedules and ensure that decisions are made to keep schedules on track. This includes completion of the hardware design and housing, its delivery to the manufacturer, completion of the operating system and core applications, coordinating content, working with the manufacturer on QA, and ensuring timely arrival of the laptops to the port, but not for the actual deployment of the laptops in country.Read that last phrase one more time; "but not for the actual deployment of the laptops in country." Here we go yet again with OLPC misdirecting its creative energy towards the flashy-shiny thing, and not the real determinant of success - in-country implementation. Another reason to believe this is a laptop project, not an education project.
With the continued focus on hiring technology geeks One laptop Per Child is missing out on developing a sound implementation plan, the central aspect of any attempt to change established practices, especially in education. In fact, the glaring omission of any in-country support is probably one reason that we have all this OLPC + XP confusion.
Its Ministers, not Presidents who are buying and without a comprehensive OLPC solution, they could be hedging their bets with Microsoft or even Intel in case implementation magic doesn't work out. Just read the FUD that Microsoft is spreading via AP:
"We have had requests from government officials who are looking at that device, to ask us if it can run Windows," Poole said. Negroponte seemed to deliver a definitive yes to that question: "We will run Windows," he said last week. Asked for elaboration, a spokesman for Negroponte wrote in an e-mail: "He was stating a fact - not a hope or a desire."With that kind of uncertainty, OLPC needs to move away from its technology focus, to forget the geeks and focus on the real decision makers - non-technical Ministers, educators, and community leaders. The thought leaders who are thinking about educational content.
But Poole said the answer should have been maybe: "I cannot make any promises," he said. "There's work still to be done. People should not bank on having Windows."