In an Xconomy interview, Walter Bender has announced he's rejoining the main OLPC movement. He's working with Chuck Kane and the OLPC Association in building the usage of the Sugar Learning Platform in deployments.
While Walter Bender may have rejoined an OLPC organization, he's still not sounding buddy-buddy with Nicholas Negroponte. Just listen to him talk about the need for OLPC deployment involvement:
"Building a learning environment is hard work," Bender explains. "It's a lot of fun, but to take root, it's got to be a prolonged community effort. If you simply present it as, 'We're going to give computers to kids,' the story is not adequate. The key to success is to really take a holistic approach to the servers, the infrastructure, the logistics, the software, the preparation and training, the pedagogy, and the community that is using all this stuff."
Note that "give computers to kids" line? That's a direct jab at Negroponte's insistence that you can just drop an XO in a child's lap and leave. Combined with his interview with Chuck Kane, not Negroponte, and his new allegiance to the Association, not the Foundation, Bender is showing a continued independence from his old mentor.
This is a good thing. Bender's rejoining hopeful it indicates that there will be a continued focus on education at OLPC, despite David Cavallo's departure. Just listen to him talk about why he joined the OLPC Association:
"What's different," he says, "is that there's a much more concerted effort to get the message out that this is not just a laptop project, it's a learning project."
Welcome back Water! We missed ya.