Nicholas Negroponte Talks About Learning by Yourselves


Resumen en español al final del artículo

At the recent Solve for X forum Nicholas Negroponte gave a 15min presentation with the title Learning by Yourselves. Since a number of other olpc aficionados had recommended watching it on Facebook, Google+, and Twitter I also decided to go for it. And I certainly didn't regret it as Negroponte spent surprisingly little time talking about OLPC itself and instead focused on more of a mid-term perspective.

In many ways what seemed to be the core message for me was summed up on this slide about 5 minutes into the presentation:

Having heard plenty of talk of the first three points in the past I was most interested in hearing what Negroponte had in mind with regard to the "New Constructionism". Unfortunately most of what was said doesn't really strike me as new at all.

The one thing which was quite interesting is the aspect of "Learning to Read by Yourself" which very much ties in with Negroponte's much discussed helicopter deployments which saw its first pre-pilots being launched earlier this year.

He shared that the first 30 tablets with several thousand books on them had been distributed. Not too many other details were revealed and while Negroponte mentioned that "they read themselves" it's not quite clear for example what language these books are in. What is really exciting however is that he mentions a rigorous evaluation of these efforts and working with critics which I believe should make for some interesting results and discussions down the road.

Overall I think the presentation is well worth watching. What is however striking for me is how in some sense Negroponte's focus has become quite different to what the organization OLPC, and in particular OLPC Association, are working on. While Negroponte talks about 1 billion tablets by 2015 the currently ongoing Hult Case Challenge asks the participating student team to come up with a way for OLPC to "get 10 million laptops to children in 5 years".

Resumen en español:


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To the best of my knowledge it is Sugata Mitra - now at MIT Media Lab - who is leading on the research into whether or not children will learn to read on their own if given a tablet, and if yes under what circumstances. James Clay did a small interview with Sugata about this at the ALT conference in 2011 (he was co-chairing it) and I am trying to track it down.
Seb Schmoller

Seb, that sounds very interesting. Please do let us know in case you find that interview.