Putting Windows on XO Will Kill One Laptop Per Child

   
   
   
   
   

No Windows XP on the OLPC!!
Here's how putting Microsoft Windows on the One Laptop Per Child computer will kill the OLPC XO:

First Microsoft agents spread the word among the Ministry circles who will make the laptop purchase decision, that they certainly shouldn't commit to a product which hasn't got Windows on it.

The recipients of this message are not technologists (at least not active ones) and apply their well-honed political judgment to this statement. Remember, IBM ruled the world under the slogan "nobody ever got fired for buying IBM".

Faced with sales resistance (not just from the Microsoft issue, but also from intellectual honesty and healthy skepticism), Nicholas Negroponte agrees to open the door to Windows by adding the SD slot. "It's just a little bit of unimportant hardware" is the rationalization.

Then Microsoft ports a version of XP to the XO using the slot or the new BTest-3 hardware. Sales begin to move now that the FUD factor is addressed. Unsurprisingly, the OLPC XO performs poorly with XP, compared with alternatives (Classmate PC or whatever). After shipments begin, the performance deficit begins to be obvious and the orders slack off.

Due to the long procurement cycles of education ministries, this takes almost a year. Meanwhile the XO gets the reputation as being the underpowered machine that has failed. It becomes a pariah among administrators who had risked their careers on it. No amount of protests by OLPC that the true power of XO has never been realized will move them. They have swallowed the bait and gotten burned (admittedly, a mixed metaphor), and will have nothing further to do with OLPC.

olpc windows

The key to all this is swallowing the bait - the acceptance by Ministry of Education officials of the supposed necessity to accommodate Windows, lest they be perceived as stepping outside accepted orthodoxy thus making themselves vulnerable to criticism - the one cardinal sin to be avoided at all costs when dealing with political administrators.

Geeks don't understand the power of the fear of criticism among politicians, given our propensity to flame freely and think nothing of it.

The only thing that would prevent this scenario from unfolding would be to build an interest base among educators in the intended participating countries to provide counter-pressure or, better, support for a non-Microsoft option with their political officials. And this is the one thing that One Laptop Per Child has disdained to do.

It remains, therefore, to build such a platform of support outside of OLPC. Not an easy task, given that there is no charismatic leader (and I'm certainly not a candidate) nor even an agreed-upon platform. But if the platform can be developed in free discussion, debate and experimentation then the necessary leadership can emerge.

Keep the open source open, while you're at it, or you'll have to build it all over again.

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22 Comments

Lee,
your scenario is based on the assumption that the XO is underpowered compared to Classmate.
However, the hardware upgrade in the new XO BTest-3 machine has quite a similar spec than the Classmate and even a much better display and a much better network device. So I am not sure whether your scenario is realistic.

I believe that the success of OLPC does not so much depend on hardware but somewhat more on the software suite running on it and much more on the seamless integration of the whole OLPC equipment including content into the kids learning process. I am confident that proving superiority in educational results will determine the winner.

If politicians want to play safe and protect their careers they will have to choose the system with the best proven educational results and not that with the most widespread OS.

You are assuming OLPC will install Windows by default. In this case, you have a point. If the opposite happens, it's going to be up to the governments to do the deployment of XP.

For this reason, as I said multiple times, a straight comparison at some point in time between the platforms would clearly state that XP on the XO won't work, while Sugar will, because of the the higher degree of customization of Sugar. So governments at that point will be stupid not to consider the straight fact that XP is the problem, not the OLPC. If everything is done transparently on the OLPC this is a no brainer solution to the debate.

This article is based on fuzzy logic, as is frequently the case in conversations dealing with Microsoft's real or perceived evil power.

Where's the fuzzy logic?

In pretending not only that these IMAGINED scenarios are the cause of the OLPC's current struggles, but also proposing silly solutions to the imaginary problem. Here we go:

If the decision-makers (being political by nature) are reluctant to make buying decisions on untested platforms, then, both the problem and its solution have NOTHING to do with Microsoft.

The logical, easy path to victory for Negroponte:

1. Show the world that the OLPC project doesn't need Microsoft or Apple or anyone else.

How can that be done? Easy, too: set up a few testing environments throughout the world and work on integrating the machines into the classroom for 1 year. Document the study and produce evidence of progress.

Then, AND ONLY THEN, will Negroponte eliminate the need to prostitute his project by making false promises,misleading statements or outright lies. (Hey, somebody lied to the world when Negroponte says that the slot was "there for Bill", with his people telling everyone else the opposite).

It is NOT Microsoft that is killing the OLPC initiative. It is the lack of pilot projects, the unnecessary hype and the lack of a coherent classroom integration plan.

Negroponte will "learn learning" that the "learn learning" nonsense won't convince anyone...

Reality check, anyone?

Lee:

"First Microsoft agents spread the word among the Ministry circles who will make the laptop purchase decision, that they certainly shouldn't commit to a product which hasn't got Windows on it.

"The recipients of this message are not technologists (at least not active ones) and apply their well-honed political judgment to this statement. Remember, IBM ruled the world under the slogan "nobody ever got fired for buying IBM"."

No, that is not what is happening, and one reason is that Negroponte knows how to talk to high-level politicians and win them over, including countering FUD. Check out his talks at oplctalks for examples.

Lee, you are a fine fellow with many abilities, but as far as I can tell the ability to win over high-level politicians is not one of them. Negroponte, however, clearly does possess this rare, and in the right hands, very valuable skill.

The Microsoft 'problem' deserves a more thorough discussion on olpcnews, which I would like to start for Mr. Vota. I see more aspects than are being raised here. Yes, uSoft products are highly bloated, as an assembly programmer I quite agree. Yes the company has a very nasty history regarding their business practices, as court cases show.

But how about the actual quality of their products? It is not very good anymore IMHO. I was a consultant at a Big 10 university and clearly remember Word 98 coming out. That was the peak of their quality as far as usability goes. Then they stopped improving it and started adding marketing hooks, which made it less usable to the ordinary student.

This brought with it many more visits to the help desk, many long explanations to overworked students, and an enormous increase in botched floppy disks. Now take a look at dissertations coming out after that time period: they invariably contain auto-respelling errors which obfuscate the point and block cross-reference efforts where authors names are changed!

Oh yes I've heard the answers, blame the students for not learning all the new 'options' and blame the committee for not fully reading the 300 page document, etc. Meanwhile a single company has screwed-up 10 years of scholarship efforts.

There's one big problem for me that I'd like to raise. I am a christian teacher in the South Pacific. Most students in South Oceania follow a curricula written by a consortium in Fiji, which is based upon uSoft Office. This puts pressure on all schools, most of which are church schools, to have computer labs based on Windows and Office. But none of these schools can afford to buy this software. So we all have pirated versions.

All the churches! We are thieves! I joke with the church ministers how here we have only the 9 Commandments! It is no suprise what the students learn here, how to steal. It becomes their primary lesson. All the video rental places are totally stocked with stolen movies. Teachers spend their time during class sharpening their skills at thievery.

The way out of a future in 'the lake of fire' is to abandon uSoft and go open source. But every school administrator has heard this from every teacher who ever came from the first world, and they simply don't agree. The students need uSoft Office skills to succeed in their future job as an office clerk, I think is their rationale. My argument is that education has the goal to improve the lives of their students and office clearks are not hired based on their uSoft skills but on their family connections anyway.

I'm betting Dr. Negroponte is right that students with open source XOs will teach themselves programming and become entrepreneurs bringing new sources of income to the underdeveloped places here. Of course there's more to the uSoft debate I'll add later.

During the last week I have read many press articles and blog posts about the 'silent take-over' of the XO by Bill and his gang.

As a consequence, I'm becoming increasingly concerned by the possibility suggested by Lee and others. In fact, from the point of view of countries such as Chile (and I believe many others in the southern cone of this continent) the scenario depicted by Lee it may really happen.

Why Windows? We have already accepted Intel Classmate as one possibility to consider in a mix of mobile computers for schools. Yet a very different thing is to have ALL of them running Windows.

The citizen-led campaing 'One Computer per Child' in Chile will have to deal with this issue very soon. I will suggest that our possition should be that any involvement of our government with the OLPC project should be based on the understanding that this is an open-source iniciative based on the work developed by a international community of supporters that have created Sugar and the other amazing software behind the XO machine.

It is true that the whole iniciative is living dangerous days (no one has bought a single XO yet), and that Windows makes it more atractive to politicians and ministries of education, but as much as I love diversity and the freedom to choose, there's no way around this issue: Windows in XO is just such as bad idea!

luis

Luis - thank you very much for you comments. The citizen-led campaign in Chile is the only kind of force standing between disaster and the XO. Campaigns like these should be active in every candidate country, and should co-ordinate.

Troy - I am in agreement with your post (with the exception of the "fuzzy logic" statement). If you check my writings, I make the same arguments you make here.

Eduardo - While I have in the past referred to "Nick's matchless political connections", an organization like Microsoft can outweigh them, if only through economic muscle. When told that the Vatican would disapprove of a proposed Soviet move, Stalin reportedly said "how many (military) divisions has the Pope got?". How many divisions has Negroponte got (compared with Bill Gates)?

Nick - You're making my point. The difference is that I am trying to apply lessons learned about Microsoft's "embrace, extend and extinguish" strategy, which has worked in the past. The whole point of the MS behind-the-scenes campaign will be to prevent a fair comparison by injecting the requirement that the system under consideration must run Windows. It's totally illogical, but the game is not about logic, but perceptions on the part of nontechnical politicans.

Roland - My case does not rest solely on the MS functionality of the Classmate - that's why I said "or whatever". The comparison is guaranteed to be completely unfair, but see above for the place of logic in this kind of marketing process.

"How can that be done? Easy, too: set up a few testing environments throughout the world and work on integrating the machines into the classroom for 1 year."

But will the OLPC be able to wait a year? The required production capacity will certainly vanish during this year. And the OLPC requires huge facilities. Furthermore, the OLPC much more a collaboration project than it is a laptop project. With only small and isolated groups, there will not be enough machines to get the mesh network working nor to get the required materials on-line.

And it has been written before. What evidence do you need?

Take the current evidence from my experience in the developed world:

- All children use SMS and IM to such an extent that homework assignements are now routinely group activities. You only appreciate this if you hear a high school student complain they had to help out half a dozen class-mates with their Math at 10 PM.

- Children work on many projects using the internet to supply data. This is extremely efficient. Children are able to collect high quality information in days that took their parents weeks to find (I know, I had to do it). They have even time to CHECK the information and go to primary sources.

- Email and blackboard like services make all kinds of out-off-classroom work feasible and efficient.

- An electronic book reader with Project Gutenberg (and others) really supplies a large library to each remote village. And I don't think ANYone will question the value of libraries in schools. With respect to libraries, the OLPC is much more efficient than real books.

- Take two examples of immediate benefits:
> Weather forecasts: Poor people are much more vulnerable to "bad" weather than rich people. With a computer on the internet children will learn really quick how to get on the minute weather forecasts for their village.
> Geography: The children will also have direct access to maps and satelite images of their surroundings. With a working OLPC, a child will only get lost if it gets off the road.

Winter

Winter wrote:

"But will the OLPC be able to wait a year?"

Why not? Everyone (and yes, this includes OLPC and NEgroponte) must do their homework.


"The required production capacity will certainly vanish during this year."

I don't think Quanta and all laptop manufacturers will dissapear if Negroponte doesn't get any orders or of he decides to postpone the project in order to conduct the needed testing.

"And the OLPC requires huge facilities. "

So?

"Furthermore, the OLPC much more a collaboration project than it is a laptop project."

Nonsense. Even Negroponte engages in this type of debate acrobatics: the laptop is an education project one day, next day it is a collaboration project, the next minute it is a communicaqtions project, the first day it was a laptop project...

The OLPC is ONLY about improving children's productivity within the classroom.


"With only small and isolated groups, there will not be enough machines to get the mesh network working nor to get the required materials on-line."

Negroponte needs to make the groups as big as necessary in order to conduct the required testing. It's the rational thing to do, isn't it?


"And it has been written before. What evidence do you need?"


Simple: show that the machines will work as advertised. Show how they will be integrated into the classrom.

Let us see the mesh networking at work. Let us see a curriculum. Let us see the screen at work for a reasonable period of time...


So far, we don't know ANYTHING beyond the press realeases and a couple of pictures.

"Take the current evidence from my experience in the developed world:

- All children use SMS and IM to such an extent that homework assignements are now routinely group activities. You only appreciate this if you hear a high school student complain they had to help out half a dozen class-mates with their Math at 10 PM.

- Children work on many projects using the internet to supply data. This is extremely efficient. Children are able to collect high quality information in days that took their parents weeks to find (I know, I had to do it). They have even time to CHECK the information and go to primary sources.

- Email and blackboard like services make all kinds of out-off-classroom work feasible and efficient.

- An electronic book reader with Project Gutenberg (and others) really supplies a large library to each remote village. And I don't think ANYone will question the value of libraries in schools. With respect to libraries, the OLPC is much more efficient than real books."


You don't need OLPC to do all that. In fact, those benefits are being delivered by several initiatives for several years. ANY LAPTOP will bring those benefits. That's what the "Classmate", Simputer, etc. would bring to the table...


"- Take two examples of immediate benefits:
> Weather forecasts: Poor people are much more vulnerable to "bad" weather than rich people. With a computer on the internet children will learn really quick how to get on the minute weather forecasts for their village.
> Geography: The children will also have direct access to maps and satelite images of their surroundings. With a working OLPC, a child will only get lost if it gets off the road."

This is not about Google maps, Mapquest or The Weather Channel. This is about countries deciding if they will spend CRITICAL resources on UNTESTED, UNPROVEN technology that will SUPPOSSEDLY improve children's education.


Bottom line: Negroponte NEEDS to make a case that his machines are special. The only way to do that is by showing the world. So far, he has not shown enough. That's why countries are reluctant to commit. As simple as that.

"The OLPC is ONLY about improving children's productivity within the classroom."

No. The OLPC is about improving children's EDUCATION inside and outside the classroom. The central point in education is that when learning is limited to the classroom, it fails.

"I don't think Quanta and all laptop manufacturers will dissapear if Negroponte doesn't get any orders or of he decides to postpone the project in order to conduct the needed testing."

The OLPC needs large specialized production lines for the special components. And 3-10 million computers need large production facilities. Building them and getting them up to speed requires tight planning and then some time. Quanta cannot reserve such production lines for a long time. Delay the production for a year and the whole planning process can start anew. The same holds for all the parts orders. You simply cannot order 3 million specially designed LCD screens and batteries for delivery next month.

"Even Negroponte engages in this type of debate acrobatics: the laptop is an education project one day, next day it is a collaboration project, the next minute it is a communicaqtions project, the first day it was a laptop project..."

From the start the OLPC project was build around a very specific view of education centered around collaborative projects, communication, and massive information. The cornerstone of this is an ICT tool, the meshed laptop, which was moulded to perform all the required functions.

It is unproven in asfar it tries to bring to the schools the very hearth of the productivity explosion that has changed R&D, publication, design, and software production in the developed world.

In the rich countries, all children already use computers in most of the ways the OLPC project envisioned. I see it with primary and high school kids, as well as university students. In my country, no kid can go to school without a PC and an internet connection.

"This is not about Google maps, Mapquest or The Weather Channel. This is about countries deciding if they will spend CRITICAL resources on UNTESTED, UNPROVEN technology that will SUPPOSSEDLY improve children's education."

Most of the benefits can indeed be delivered by ANY laptop the children can take home. But the OLPC can deliver at least the same benefits the Classmate/XP can deliver at half the price with orders of magnitude better security and software.

So, I don't see anymore what exactly should be proven by the OLPC project. I would very much like to here what it is the OLPC project should prove:

- That computers can help in education?
- That the internet can help in education?
- That communication and on-line information can help in education?
- That the OLPC is functional? (It has been deployed)
- That the OLPC can help in education?
- That the quantified improvement by the OLPC is bigger than the cost of deployment?
- Is there ANY proven technology in education?

Basically, the real questions are:
- Can countries spend their education money more efficiently elsewhere? How?
- Will countries spend their education money better if they DON'T buy OLPC laptops?
(sometimes a less efficient policy can prevent even worse policies, what is the evidence either way?)

If the last questions are negative for the OLPC, then indeed, the money should not be spent. But will the answer change after a year of testing?

Winter

Lee:

"While I have in the past referred to "Nick's matchless political connections"

I didn't refer to his political connections, but rather his ability to persuade high-level political leaders, something that it is my impression you lack, and perhaps for that reason are unable to recognize in others. You realize that the Microsoft solution actually is inferior. I am saying that Negroponte, due to this ability, can persuade them of that.

"the XO gets the reputation as being the underpowered machine that has failed."

Apparently you are unaware that the main target of the project is children in areas that lack electricity, and for that reason the XO is the only workable solution. The question of how much power it has relative to the Classmate is for that reason simply irrelevant.

Secondly, you also seem to be unaware that one of the key problems in these areas that the oplc project is aimed at is that there are not enough teachers for students to get more than a half day at school. The oplc software is designed to overcome this problem by allowing the students to be self-directed learners. The Classmate software, on the other hand, is designed for situations where there are enough teachers, and so is no competition with oplc software for its target.

With all the advantages that XO and oplc software have over Classmate and Windows, Negroponte should have little trouble wining the argument, at least for the target group.

Negroponte makes all this pretty clear in the transcripts of his talks at olpctalks. Now my impression (perhaps I am wrong) is that you think he is either a fool or a con-man. However, take a look at what he has to say and think it over carefully, and you might better impressed, and beyond that might learn some things useful for your own project.

Let me end by asking if it is correct that you have a low opinion of Negroponte, and also whether or not you think he has a considerable ability to persuade high-level leaders.

Eduardo naively asks:

"Let me end by asking [snip...] whether or not you think (Negroponte) has a considerable ability to persuade high-level leaders."

I'm not Lee, but the question is so juicy, I can't resist:

Based on what you say, Eduardo, any smart person would have to conclude that Negroponte has, indeed, very little to no abilityto persuade high-level leaders. He has shown that he can't convince smart people, that's for sure.

Think about it...

The guy has these tremendous assets, according to you:

1. A wonderful, revolutionary tool (the laptop)
2. A wonderful, revolutionary plan for improving children's education (his theories)
3. A wonderful, revolutionary team of leaders in the technological (Jepsen et al) and educational fields (Papert et al)
4. Support from some of the biggest corporate names: Google, Redhat, AMD, Ebay, Nortel, NewsCorp, BrightStar, etc...
5. Access to the biggest names: presidents, corporate leaders, ministers, CIA (through his brother), United Nation's Kofi Anand, etc. etc.
6. He knowledgeable people (like you) all over the world who embrace and support his vision
7. He has himself

WOW!

Then, how come he has not convinced anyone to place an order?

Something is wrong here, Eduardo...

Among other things, Winter says:

"In the rich countries, all children already use computers in most of the ways the OLPC project envisioned. I see it with primary and high school kids, as well as university students. In my country, no kid can go to school without a PC and an internet connection."

Care to show the evidence that laptops have improved children's education ANYWHERE?

Where is your country, where internet access is mandatory for school children (mandatory as in "no kid can go to school without a PC and an internet connection.")?

I think you are making these thing up, but it would be interesting to see the proof that your outlandish claims are legitimate.

Troy, you continually ask for proof that computers help education. Do you have your own children? Do you know of any children that use computers? Have you visited and schools where children are using computers in the classroom? No? Maybe you need to get out more.

My son attended a private school where all the students had to use a laptop computer to do their classwork on (Whitefriars, Melbourne). That school has one of the highest average passing grades in the country. Its probably the reason that parents that can afford it send their children there. My son discovered he preferred to work with his hands rather than his mind but he brought away a lot of learned experience from attending a school with a digital education.

All my children attended a local grade school where a special room was set aside for 'computer class'. The computers were donated. The network was set up by volunteers. The 'computer class' time was eagerly attended by the children. One teacher commented that 'computer class' was the only day in the week when attendance was 100% (and at last check it still is).

Many of those children did not have a family computer at home. Computer Class was their only chance to learn about technology otherwise it was colored pencils and textbooks for the rest of the week. The teaching methodology at that time was to let the children discover and explore as it was deemed the best way for children to learn.

Once those children reached high school they would have to be computer literate since high school teachers mostly demanded typed/printed assignmments. (note that my oldest daughter never learnt to type with any great skill and I ended up transcribing a lot of her written work when she was in high school and University).

So most information on computer usage at school is at worst, anecdotal and at best, supported by information issued from various schools and put on the internet.

Have you googled for information or are you content to just challenge others? I've done my part.

"Where is your country, where internet access is mandatory for school children (mandatory as in "no kid can go to school without a PC and an internet connection.")?"

Take any Western European country. My experience is in the Netherlands. In municipal primary school all children had access to computers and the internet (which can be bought by anyone on welfare). There is access at school, and cheap in the public library. Note that it doesn't have to be their OWN computer, any computer would do.

In high school, homework assignments require internet access and a computer. The school has computers available for children to use and for printing, but children prefer computers at home.

And you are always requiring evidence, but never specify what type of measures you want.

It is NOT possible to do a random double blind test on passing grades. So we can only use proxy measures. So please, give us a hint of what kind of proxy measures you think are valuable. We know for instance that governements will compensate any increase in productivity at schools by cutting back on teachers. This was done repeatedly in the Netherlands. Therefore, it is difficult to do comparisons.

Winter

I knew you had made it up, Winter...

"I knew you had made it up, Winter..."

You mean as in, "kids need a computer to make their homework" as required by the high school. They don't accept hand-written project papers. According to the kids, they even need a color printer ;-).

Kids cannot make their homework without a computer, at least not in the schools that prepare for higher education. If they are really really poor, the school provides opportunities. But it won't work for long and they won't graduate. But a cheap computer plus broadband connections costs LESS than the full set of school books.

So no, there is no law that says you need a computer at home. Yes, ALL children in the schools have a computer at home. None are without internet (except maybe some assylum seekers in the "camps").

Winter

Winter,

your initial claim (the one I challenged) was:

"In my country, no kid can go to school without a PC and an internet connection."

In true Negropontean fashion, you have now drastically modified your claim. Your new claim is VERY different from the original:

"Kids cannot make their homework without a computer, at least not in the schools that prepare for higher education"

*******************************

And yes, I'm always asking for proof that Negroponte's claims regarding his project (hardware/software), the implementation plan and ultimate impact on kid's education are legitimate.

The good news is that I'm not alone. I'm not in the minority, either.

In fact, the entire world is silently asking the same questions. That's the reason there are no takers. That's the reason Negroponte tried to "sweeten" the offer by using Microsoft's name. That's the reason the whole thing will eventually collapse.

In all truth, I'd be a Negroponte supporter IF he had shown true desire to address the many legitimate problems with his project. Unfortunately, there has been no effort whatsoever to answer the obvious questions.

In a kind-of-sad way, Negroponte's salesmanship both created and killed his own brain child...

"your initial claim (the one I challenged) was:

"In my country, no kid can go to school without a PC and an internet connection."

Just now, I had the opportunity to ask local highschool kids this question: Some person wrote you can finish high-school without access to the internet and a computer. What do you say to that?

The polite summary of their answer was: This person is uninformed.

In our country, computers are not used much IN THE CLASSROOM. But all teaching is based on the assumption that the children HAVE ACCESS TO THE INTERNET AT HOME. Even the school books come with CD-ROMS that access the internet for essential tasks.

I cannot speak for schools that train for professions, as I have no experience with that. That is why I limited my claims to schools training for higher education. But given the fact that almost every home here has internet access, I don't doubt that they use computers too.

However, your whole questioning about using computers in the classroom is ill directed. Just as the opposition OLPC vs Teachers.

It is OUTSIDE the classroom that computers are used most in the developed world. And most learning takes place OUTSIDE the classroom. Understanding and instruction is achieved inside the classroom, practising and learning is done outside.

Rob

Winter wrtoe:

"However, your whole questioning about using computers in the classroom is ill directed. Just as the opposition OLPC vs Teachers.

It is OUTSIDE the classroom that computers are used most in the developed world. And most learning takes place OUTSIDE the classroom. Understanding and instruction is achieved inside the classroom, practising and learning is done outside. "

I think you have completely misunderstood my simple position: I personally believe computers are good tools. I'm NOT against bringing ANY type of technology into the classroom, PROVIDED that PREVIOUS studies are conducted (and documented) that demonstrate a tangible benefit to kid's education.

Hey, the OLPC may turn out to be the greatest thing since sliced bread. All I'm asking (and apparently - based on the lack of orders - everyone else is doing the same) is for Negroponte to PROVE that this thing CAN and WILL perform as advertised.

No rational human being will spend hundreds of millions of dollars on an UNTESTED, UNKNOWN project, no matter how wonderful the claims are.

Why do you think there are no takers?

troy,
as I already stated before I share your concern about lack of implementation plans and lacking proof of effectiveness of OLPC.

However, I do by all means not see that OLPC is dead yet or dead very soon. Not at all. That currently there are no orders is because the procurement process (formal requests for quotations) in the countries is still running. E.g. we have heard that Col. Ghadaffi intends to cut back his orders from 1.2 mio to 0.5 mio. units because of the higher unit price. Probably he kept the reserved budget and had to reduce the unit number to compensate for the increased cost. So there is still the justified expectation that there will be substantial orders. Though, they might not reach 3 mio. and cause another price increase. All that may harm OLPC but it is not yet going to kill it.

Only if after one year the initial countries were not satisfied with the educational results then there wouldn't be any more orders and OLPC would die. There is still time to prevent that. However, so far I have not heard that OLPC is taking any corrective actions yet. Obviously the OLPC leadership still feels safe. I hope they have good reasons for that. Otherwise there will be a bitter awakening.

There is a proverb saying that people, mistakenly called dead, live much longer. I hope this is true for projects, too;-)

I have seen several requests for evidence computers can be used to increase the quality of education. And here, I assume people mean education INside and OUTside the classroom.

The Netherlands have in the past restructured high school education to include both classroom instruction and individual/group learning outside the classrooms. They relied heavily on information technology for this restructuring.

The Netherlands are an open country, with on-line statistics on almost anything. I would like to advice those looking for evidence to back up (or not) the effectiveness of computers in education to just ask Dutch schools, teachers and students about their experiences. All Dutch high schools are on-line and can be reached by email. This is much more cost effective than doing a controlled large field trial which will cost several years and millions of dollars to do right.

(just deploying a batch of laptops on some children and watching what they do is NOT a valid study of the effectiveness of interventions in education).

The official knowledge and educational resource is:
http://www.kennisnet.nl

Other sites:
http://histoforum.digischool.nl/onderwijssites.htm
http://www.startlinks.nl/startpagina/Studie/index.html (with links to schools)

The previous sites are in Dutch, so you might need someone to translate them. However, teachers and students in the Netherlands are generally able to communicate in English.

Others international:
http://www.eun.org/portal/index.htm (European)
http://www.schule.de/ (German)
http://www.schulen-ans-netz.de/ (German)


Winter

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