Update on Negroponte's Helicopter Deployment Pre-Pilot


Resumen en español al final del artículo

At the end of last year Negroponte announced that pre-pilots for his tablet-based helicopter deployment model would be starting in early 2012. It's been fairly quiet about these efforts since then but earlier today ITProPortal.com posted an article with some bits of information about how the pre-pilots are coming along.

Regarding the environment that these pilots are taking place in:

Privately funded at this point, 20+ Android powered Motorola Tablets have already been dropped off in a village where there are no reading and writing skills - "You won't even see printed labels or words on bottles, these people have never even seen words" said Negroponte.

On the actual use of the tablets:

This time, however, Negroponte's team left boxed Tablets in a village and within three hours, the children had opened the boxes and worked out how to turn the tablet's on. After just a couple of weeks of unassisted use, the children were seen competing with each on the recital of the alphabet, learned from one of the many pre-installed apps.

Unfortunately this information is fairly thin, especially given that the project has now been going on for several months already.

I also wish that ITProPortal had inquired about how Negroponte is evaluating the impact of these pre-pilots, especially considering that 20+ tablets is a fairly small sample. However the article's author asks readers to "watch out for further updates" so hopefully we'll learn more about how these efforts are coming along over the coming weeks and months.

Resumen en español: Al fin del año pasado Nicholas Negroponte anunció que iba a empezar un pre-piloto por su modelo de implementación de helicóptero. Un artículo corto que se publicó en ITProPortal.com hoy reveló unos bits de información interesantes. Por el uno el entorno del pre-piloto es una area donde la gente no sabe leer o escribir. Por el otro Negrioponte dijo que pocas semanas despues de la distribución de los 20+ tablets los niños ya estaban compitiendo en alfabeto que habían aprendido con los apps que estan en los tablets. Me hubiera gustado leer más sobre el proyecto y en particular como estan evaluando su impacto pero espero que los futuros articulos que el autor prometió tendran esta información.


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Resumen en español al final del artículo
The beautiful village in the highlands (The school house is the foremost building) [more]


So they are not even XO's? I guess the 3.0 is not available - begs the next question of what version of Android they are running - not perhaps something the villagers themselves would be concerned about I suppose.
Actually if its a motorola, it could very well be the ET1: http://www.engadget.com/2011/10/10/motorola-unveils-rugged-et1-android-tablet-for-enterprise-types/
or the Xoom 2 which is at least water resistant (but larger at 10 inches) - neither of which are low cost devices by any means.

More to the point is the reports on the pilots progress - learning to turn it on or rote repeat alphabet may seem massive if in fact the starting point was zero - but now they know these things, what is the benefit to the village? Was an environmental impact study done first or is the only benefit to the researcher?

Thanks for finding and sharing Christoph.

More might be revealed when Sugata Mitra (who has been doing research with Nicholas) when he does a talk at the MIT Media Lab this Wednesday, May 16, 2012 4:30-6:00pm eastern. The title of the talk: "Is Education Obsolete?" The site says, "This one-hour talk and discussion will travel through 13 years of experiments that raise the questions [on learning] above. It is in this context that we will look at the future of learning and its effects around the world, in countries that are developing and countries that have stopped developing." The talk will be live streamed and archived here: http://j.mp/Jf76Fh

Mike, thanks a lot for the heads-up. Can't wait to catch the recording of Mitra's talk!

I wonder what the colleague scientists, antropologists and environmentalists think of this...

Thanks for the link, great to be able to learn a little more about the project.

"These people have never even seen words."


(How can a reporter write something like that with a straight face? Is there no critical faculty or are these "journalists" just stenographers?)

As a former development professional and anthropologist I am sickened on just about every level by this. From its "gods must be crazy" theme and storyline through the stubborn belief in western technological magic as opposed to REAL IMPERICAL SCIENCE based knowledge which knows very well what does and doesn't work in education in difficult settings. I personally setup high-impact very low-cost education projects for Sahelian pastoralists, and know that the key is getting the community involved and assisting them to educate themselves and there children. This specific project provided a full year of education to out of school children (where they learned to read write, do maths, history) all for about $60 per child per year spent ONLY ON CAPACITY BUILDING, the one thing that Negroponte thinks is unneccesary. Dropping stripped down smartphones out of the sky is not the answer and shows a breathtaking ignorance of what a successful project needs. Don't hold your breath for any objective analysis of this "pilot".
Humbug. The OLPC project originally had such possibility.

Nicho-lies Negroponzi, the scammer, deserves his failures. The man is a liar, without any regard for common sense.

What is most amazing, though, is that he can still get some clueless souls to invest time and energy on his silly projects.

The article wasn't well written. Clearly.

Long-time followers of OLPC should know that the most accurate technical information should be obtained directly from the engineers or folks on the ground. Nicolas erects the goalposts; the engineers do our best to reach them.

The ethiopia pilot is going well. Details at http://cananian.livejournal.com/66444.html and http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Literacy_Project