One common complaint about the One Laptop Per Child program is its lack of focus on American children. I am often asked, "Shouldn't students in the USA get OLPC XO's before children in other lands?"
Ashley Morris is raising a fuss about One Laptop Per New Orleans Child and Edward Cherlin has even started OLPC USA. Even Keith Regan's recent article, Does the $100 Laptop Have a Future in the US?, says:
The OLPC made headlines recently by saying that its long-term plans could include selling a slightly higher priced version in the U.S., as well as in other developed markets.But what does One Laptop Per Child have to say about it? Or better yet, its eloquent spokesman, Nicholas Negroponte. Why didn't he focus on American schools when he started his grant educational computer mission?
The OLPC's plans for tapping domestic schools and the overall low-cost technology push will likely have at least an indirect impact on the educational technology market.
During Negroponte's Orangization of American States presentation he tells us exactly why:
First of all, we have thirty thousand school districts. I can't change the United States or Europe. They're entrenched. Worst, we admire countries like Korea and Taiwan, whose children are absolutely brutalized but do very well on the tests and teach to test is a fundamental mistake. Now tell that to the United States? Tell that to this administration? Tell it to a European country? They won't agree with you.And I think that's the main reason Negroponte didn't start with One Laptop Per American Child. He knew that his Constructionist Learning Vision, where teachers would become "co-learners" instead of educational leaders would not be accepted into USA school districts because it wouldn't be tolerated by American teachers' unions.
Brazil gets it. Argentina gets it. Thailand gets it. Nigeria gets it. So we're finding, in fact, even though our mission is developed and developing countries, that we find more open reception to new ways of learning in some of those countries. So, that's our mission.
For better or for worse, American educational systems are controlled by teachers unions, who are famously resistant to change, especially change that would demote their already tenuous professional credibility.
Add in Negroponte's casual dismissal of objective testing and learning metrics, and his disregard for proof of concept pilots, and he was smart to exclude the USA. The teachers unions would've kneecapped him before he even glued on the fake hand crank.
If the OLPC and other such efforts can effectively produce low-priced machines, the overall educational computing market will see an overhaul, said Brooke Partridge, CEO of Vital Wave Consulting.It represents an amazing opportunity for Quanta Computer, the OLPC manufacturer, and one of the largest notebook computer makers worldwide. Quanta will probably introduce a commercial laptop for the domestic market that incorporates the clock-stopping hot OLPC technology, but that computer will not be anywhere near a "$100 laptop".
Some PC makers will worry about low-cost devices cannibalizing their established markets, she added, saying what works in emerging economies won't always work in mature marketplaces.
"Developed-world manufacturers should not perceive this as a threat," she said. "This shift presents opportunities for traditional PC manufacturers."
They are already looking at a $300+ price point, probably with Windows as the default operating system, and most likely retailed through Dell or HP/Compaq. Quanta does not want to anger the likes of Apple, Dell, or HP/Compaq, its primary high-end clients, and introducing a low-cost computer would anger them a-plenty.