Individal and Communal Computer Usage
Go to most ICT-enabled schools and you see computer labs set up for student use, which often indicates that “Computers” are taught like a subject (ie. math), or a skill (carpentry). Parents and business leaders look to this model as preparing students with 21st Century skills.
But could there be a better way to distribute computing resources? A 1:1 computer-to-student saturation that encourages private ownership of technology and individual exploration and learning, rather than a limited shared-use of educational tools. Or is a one computer per student model an administrative and financial challenge with limited additional benefit? And could there be a mixed model where shared and private use can co-exist?
For July, the Educational Technology Debate we will examine the two models and look for a blended approach that can be deployed in the many educational environments of the developing world.
As Wayan appropriately points out in his introduction, a computer is merely a learning tool, albeit an increasingly important tool, in enabling higher quality education. And as Walter Bender pointed out in the insightful WSJ debate Will Low-Cost Laptops Help Kids in Developing Countries? with the CEO of NComputing, Stephen Dukker, “computing is not a […]
In September 2007, while I was still working at One Laptop per Child (OLPC), I debated with Stephen Dukker, co-founder of NComputing on the topic, “Will Low-Cost Laptops Help Kids in Developing Countries?” and Dukker made what I thought was the seminal point when he said: “OLPC’s key development in our view is the software […]
In Walter Bender’s previous post, For Real Learning, Mobility and Saturation Matter, one of his concluding statements was:
“I echo Dukker in being supportive of whatever means we can deploy to get great software into the hands of children, inexpensively.”
I completely agree. Shared computing vs. 1:1 is a false dichotomy. Is it better for every student to have a computer at their fingers at school and at home? Absolutely. But pushing 1:1 as the short-term objective vs. long-term goal sets up unrealistic expectations with schools and governments that just don’t have the funding.
In my previous post, I argued that the primary goal of any educational-computing deployment is to get great learning software into the hands of children. I skirted the terminal server vs. one-to-one computing question by pointing out ways in which mobility and form factor impact when, how, and by whom these tools are used. Less […]
I started this discussion with the suggestion that the two dominant models, of computer usage in education were growing stale. 1:1 computer to student saturations push both students and teachers to think critically and creatively, yet computer labs are a fraction the cost to implement and maintain. I was hoping that we could fuse these key benefits into a model that can be deployed in the many educational environments of the developing world.
Reading the resulting commentary, I’d like to declare success. I feel we have found a new model, that is an child of these two parents, mixing genes of both to create a new, better ICT4E model where multiple platforms plus a single learning environment equals more educational beneficiaries.