OLPC: Still alive?

Over the past couple of weeks, there has been much confusion and debate as to whether One Laptop Per Child is still a functioning project. OLPC News announced on March 11, “OLPC is dead.” This was not so surprising considering the harsh criticism the project has received since it began. However, the statement may not be true.

Rodrigo Arboleda, the CEO of the One Laptop Per Child Association in Miami, provided a rebuttal arguing that OLPC is alive now more than ever. He explained that the project is about to distribute 50,00 XO-4 Touch Tablets to students in Uruguay. In an interview with Xconomy, Arboleda explained that OLPC’s original vision was to focus on education rather than the distribution of laptops and the project will be heading back towards that original mission.

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Arboleda plans to focus on more educational “learning-by-doing” tools that can be used with the devices already distributed. Although I believe this is a good approach for the future, I can’t help criticize the idea of considering learning through a computer as “learning-by-doing”. Sitting at a computer and playing games is not “doing” anymore than sitting in a classroom or using workbooks.

OLPC is obviously not dead yet. The project is taking on a new approach that will hopefully gain it some of its credibility back.

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3 responses to “OLPC: Still alive?

  • veggiemunster

    http://www.bizjournals.com/boston/blog/techflash/2014/03/one-laptop-per-child-quietly-closes-cambridge.html

    They’re morphing into something else–similar to micro finance development projects turning into banks.

  • bstanga

    It seems to me that OLPC needs some serious rebranding if the idev community is going to take it seriously- perhaps by shifting its focus and goals towards middle-income countries? Maybe actually seek the input of educational professionals and local cultural experts?

  • briannasteinmetz

    I agree with the above comment. I do not think revamping the OLPC program is going to be a successful project because not only is its name so widely known and criticized, but also the idea behind the program is fundamentally flawed. The computers are teaching students to learn programs unknown and unpopular to the developed community, and while learning is learning, I do not understand the purpose of creating a computer so different to the Macs or HPs. I do not want to discourage the implementation of ICT4D projects; however, I think Arboleda’s efforts would be better used to create a separate project, independent of OLPC.

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