Negroponte says OLPC will invest in empirical research


As you may realize by now, I find the Negropontism that you can just give a child a laptop and walk away to be an annoying marketing gimmick by Nicholas Negroponte to get governments to adopt One Laptop Per Child without investing in all the hard, expensive work in change management and ICT infrastructure that success requires.

Every time he says that's possible, I pull out what's left of my hair in frustration. And it seems like I am not the only one. At a talk at Harvard, the Harvard Crimson reports that he's gotten enough negative feedback that OLPC is going to do something drastic:

Thumbs up to OLPC evaluations
In addition, Negroponte said, the OLPC met criticism on how they were verifying their project's success, lacking evidence showing that giving a kid a laptop and walking away is a successful strategy.

Negroponte and the OLPC are now addressing this concern, he said, by implementing empirical research to see if children will learn to read - and read to learn - when given a laptop to use at their whim.

Yes, Negroponte said OLPC is investing in empirical research. I for one am very interested to see the study and the results. I am confident that any research on OLPC deployments will find an uptick in laptop usage outside of school, and a greater curiosity in technology in general. We see that in almost every deployment already.

But I really wonder if there is a change in educational attitudes or better yet, educational outcomes, on a systematic level if there isn't also a parallel investment in teacher adoption and classroom usage of technology that compliments the investment in the laptops themselves.

Personally, I look at OLPC Uruguay and OLPC Peru as the best examples of what to, or not to do, in deploying One Laptop Per Child.


Get OLPC News daily - enter your email address:

Related Entries



Many of you reading this blog are NOT using an XO laptop. You understand that various websites do not function properly using its limited resources. They require further upgrades of Flash or other requirements, such as having an Internet Explorer to view it. What happens when a child is frustrated and can not see a website? Their laptop becomes a worthless item to them at that moment.

All this means to say that if XO-1 laptops are being distributed today, they are asking for problems unforseen by OLPC in Cambridge! This goes beyond the training issues that has to be done with it and sorely not completed. We hear of the XO being available in various location in the world. How much is heard 1 year later when the children become disappointed by their laptop?

I do not use my XO-1 presently, since I have discovered activities are no longer available for it. Skype is not available for example. Websites need more recent versions of Flash. Imagine what happens when children visit internet cafes locally and see what their laptop can not do for them! At this time, I have not heard OLPC address these issues.

While Flash is indeed a major pain (and not just on the XO but in Linux and OS X land in general) I don't find the XO to be as limited as you describe. It's still one of my main machines while I'm traveling and I find that most things work just fine, albeit with the increased use of complex Javascript magic sometimes a little slow. If you haven't done so I'd also suggest updating your XO to the latest software version ( which offers quite a bit in terms of new features and improved performance.


Thanks for the info!

I tried to update my XO, but was no longer allowed to use my Twinkle application from the Terminal. (It was my VOIP Program used for phoning my wife in Colombia!) It was too big to handle the Yum Install needed with the upgrade to Sugar.

Maybe people do not call the USA or Europe for FREE with their XO, but many would if it was allowed!

Having a phone app, is the most important aspect of the XO for me. I can only wonder what others having less money than me would like! My VOIP can give me FREE calls, so that is more beneficial than upgrading to another OLPC Sugar upgrade!

I guess that I am a rare individual!

Well yes, I'd definitely argue that you're not the typical user which OLPC and Sugar Labs has in mind... ;-)

Come on Greg...
I'll give you flash, but yum?...
There are many solutions in the forum with the simplest being to just type:
"sudo umount /var/cache/yum"
before you type:
"yum install the_program_I_like"...

Not to mention that Skype VIDEO-conferencing works on the XO-1, albeit not with the official builds ;) while the official ones are fine, for sound only.

Dear OLPC,

I'm Harry Delano, from Nairobi Kenya. I have been keenly following the OLPC project, and have come to believe that this initiative, if adopted in our country will be of immense benefit as a nation that is at the IT take-off stage. We have a huge Digital divide that we seek to bridge, and am part of a national ICT forum that are exploring ways to achieve this.

I would therefore wish to find out how I can touch base, with the project co-ordinators who can be of assistance to us.

My email address is [email protected]



XO Tablets for Sale

Buy Your XO Tablet on
OLPC is selling the new XO Tablets on for just $149. Buy yours today!



Recent Comments

Community Forum