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:
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.