We Need More One Laptop Per Child Hardware and Software Movements
Wayan Vota’s article, “Is the One Laptop Per Child Model Still Relevant in 2014?” seems to miss the point. One Laptop Per Child initiated an intervention into countries where there are more children than existing national governments’ education efforts could possibly be effective.
In the developing world most teachers are both underpaid, and under prepared for the enormous task they face every day. I consider them the most heroic civil servants one could imagine. Every day they face an impossible job, but they are not cynical, or cruel or jaded. The are kind and hard working, but eager for help, and long for access to the world bursting with information and ideas.
Technology in education is inevitable
Using one laptop and a projector in a class of 60 or 100 students, is no better than the current lecture model. In this model children are passive, they are not engaged. If they are using a laptop to accomplish a task that has meaning, engages their curiosity, and is under their control, they are engaged.
We are no longer educating workers for 20th century industrial jobs, but for a world where we collaborate, and innovate. Small groups of students around one laptop or tablet actually creates an effective problem solving team. Are there enough devices for all children? Not now, governments are slow to purchased them. But if they are cheap enough, the children we get them, their parents will sacrifice to purchase them. The urgency of people to join the big cloud of sound, images and ideas is a powerful surge that cannot be stopped.
It is not just about the laptop.
It is about disruptive, creative, child centered learning. One Laptop Per Child’s learning activities, called Sugar, provides high quality exploratory learning tools. The collection of tools is brilliant. Some are so clever that I laugh when I use them with kids.We had a whole classroom of teachers and kids in Kenya, their first time using any computer cooing and laughing with delight, getting so much pleasure in learning together.
We need more One Laptop Per Child movements, and many organizations to filter out the best software activities. The inundation of lollipop apps has created a cloud of bright colored obfuscation of the potential for the modestly presented rich environments of apps like Turtle Art, Scratch or eToys.
We need a cornucopia of electronic options
In order for developing countries to address the challenge of education, we must increase the number of units delivered to schools, engage the teachers with students as partners in learning, provide connectivity, connect classrooms and students with each other, open them to the world as full participants and agents of their future.
Sandra Thaxter is the Executive Director of Small Solutions Big Ideas