Achieving the UN Millennium Development Goals

This blog's purpose is to connect in an every widening and deepening manner with others across the globe in support of the United Nation's Millennium Development Goals.

Let's be the first generation to end poverty by 2015 with the United Nations' Eight Goal Millennium Campaign.
1. End Hunger 2. Universal Education 3. Gender Equity 4. Child Health 5. Maternal Health 6. Combat HIV/AIDS and other diseases 7. Environmental Sustainability 8. Global Partnership.

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Sunday, December 27, 2009

Zunia update on OLPC

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One of the early influences in this web journey was One Laptop Per Child program, which I learned of first from TED Video Nicholas Negroponte on One Laptop per Child.

The program has always engendered controversy in its implementation, its attempted partnership with Intel and the larger issues of how the program fits into the educational programs of developing nations. Whether it would reach its full potential has been a question. At times it seems to have been A Hopeful Idea Hopelessly Mired?

I had not thought about OLPC for quite a while when Zunia recently raised the issue again. This time the discussion is more extensive and deeper because of the time that the program has been out there and the shared experiences of those on-the-ground trying to make the best of the program. This post only scratches the surface of what the Zunia articles and extended discussions offer. I plan on reading them again to get a better understanding, not so much of the OLPC program but the challenges faced by organizations that attempt to create educational programs in developing nations that address the challenge of Millennium Development Goal 2. Universal Education. The discussion demonstrates that despite the best of idealistic intentions, implementing these programs is both difficult and complex.

Zunia asks, under both Education and Science & Tech ICT, What Have We Learned From One Laptop Per Child?

Four years ago, Nicholas Negroponte introduced the world to the "One Laptop Per Child" idea at WSIS by showing off a "$100 laptop" with UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. The educational and technology fields haven't been the same since.OLPC has impact deeper and farther than just XO's passed out or more...

Dweep Chanana provides the counterpoint in the Educational Technology Debate with Wayan Vota on what the OLPC has achieved thus far. He disagrees with claim that that the OLPC is “changing education, technology, even culture in ways beyond any one person’s understanding.” Instead he takes the position OLPC is not “revolutionalizing” education

For one lets be realistic that the OLPC is not “revolutionalizing” education. Yes, OLPC will soon have 1 million XO laptops in circulation. But compare that with 121 million children not in school, 668 million children that started primary school in 2007, or the 774 million illiterate adults and the OLPC does not seem that revolutionary. No doubt, computers will be important in the future to deliver education, but a lot of schools still struggle with having a blackboard or even a building. So lets not overstate either the scale or the impact of the OLPC.
Scott Kipp writes about What We Learned From OLPC Deployments
I think there is a great deal being learned from the story of the OLPC Foundation itself, and even more still from the myriad OLPC deployments around the world. Lessons from OLPC projects will be coming out for years to come, to help better match the tools to the desired pedagogical approach.
According to Leland Smith For Real OLPC Impact, We Need Infrastructure
I was in the Peace Corps in Cape Verde as an ICT volunteer from 2006 to 2008, and while I was there, the One Laptop Per Child project came on my radar and I became pretty enamored of the prospect of bringing some XOs to the country, or at least raising awareness of the idea within the government.

However, after considering all the obstacles with some fellow volunteers and local educators, including a Ministry of Education delegate, I kept running into the same issue: So we get the laptops, and then what? We discussed the potential of OLPC endlessly, but eventually came to the conclusion that the program was a mess, especially after the departure of some of their best minds and the insistence that the hardware is the only thing to supply. But if OLPC itself won’t supply the rest of the framework, somebody must.

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