TEDTalks: Nicholas Negroponte
Aug 02, 2006
Commentary by Stephen Downes

Were you taught to walk? Were you taught to talk? Maybe a little, but you mostly learned this stuff - along with everything else, up to the age of six - without the aid of a teacher. But the internet is changing that, allowing us to interact with the world in new ways, and thus to learn on our own. That's the premise behind the $100 computer, described in this TED lecture by Nicholas Negroponte, just released online. "These kids, their very first word is 'Google', and they only know Skype, they've never heard of telephony."

I like the initiative but I think it could really be sold without the arrogance. Here's Negroponte again: "This is not something that you have to test, the days of pilot projects are over. When people say, 'Well we'd like to do three or four thousand in our country to see if it works,' screw you, go to the back of the line and someone else will do it and then when you figure out that this works then you can join as well." Laughter and applause from the audience at Monterey, California.

Screw you? Is this the face of online learning we want to present to less wealthy nations? That we know best (after all, we tested it in Maine) and it works perfectly? That you will take our belevolence and you will shut up about any doubts or hesitations? I would want to know what the hidden costs of the system are - what kind of broadband infrastructure do you need, what kind of learner supports do you need? And I would say, don't you tell me 'screw you', if that's your attitude it will cause more harm than good. As it has so many times in the past. Total: 177
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Re: TEDTalks: Nicholas Negroponte

Re: arrogance: couldn't agree more. But Negroponte is, I believe, representative of our arrogance in general. We always seem to think that developing nations can learn from us, but not vice-versa. If you look at, say, the way cell phones are used in Africa, or the way some countries have given people free access to internet cafes for the purpose of finding jobs, we have much to learn from them. Terry Freedman www.ictineducation.org [Comment] [Permalink]

Re: TEDTalks: Nicholas Negroponte

India Rejects One Laptop Per Child http://tinyurl.com/f4mjh The Indian Ministry of Education dismissed the Negroponte One Laptop Per Child scheme - which aims to provide kids in developing countries with a simple $100 machine - as 'pedagogically suspect'. Education Secretary Sudeep Banerjee said: "We cannot visualise a situation for decades when we can go beyond the pilot stage. We need classrooms and teachers more urgently than fancy tools." Banerjee said if money were available it would be better spent on existing education plans. Nigeria has paid for one million of the $100 a piece laptops. The Register, 26 July 2006 From the EdNA Communicator newsletter. http://www.lists.edna.edu.au/lists/lists/viewarchive?list=thecommunicator [Comment] [Permalink]

Re: TEDTalks: Nicholas Negroponte

I recently listened to Negroponte at the NECC conference in San Diego. He is certainly a man on a mission and at times (like the `screw you' outburst) the $100 Laptop EVANGELIST crosses over the fine line to the ZEALOT (especially if overtired and over-jetlagged). The fine line explained...(With a little help from dictionary.reference.com) `Evangelist ...a "publisher of glad tidings;" a missionary preacher...having it as their special function to carry the gospel (in this case of the $100 laptop and virtues of the Internet) to places where it was previously unknown. Zealot One who is zealous, especially excessively so. A fanatically committed person.' We learnt to talk, walk and all those other things (that didn't require a 'school') from the modelled behaviour of our parents or siblings. Mimicking their behaviours was the most common technique associated with a lot of trial and error to get those behaviours down pat. We didn't make them up. We didn't learn other un-modelled behaviours until we were much older, in fact any of those were `trials' we regarded as `errors' usually because they resulted in no reward (clapping father, excited and proud mother, food supply, cuddles etc). So if the only logic for the laptop is to let kids teach themselves, then, at least in early childhood (where all those other things were learnt without the aid of `school') there might need to be some role models of behaviours that result in appropriate rewards. Tapping into readymade learning events (courses, classes, projects, reference material) is not the same as learning to talk and walk. Using the $100 laptop for exciting, innovative, collaborative learning is not a mere monkey-see-monkey-do act as there aren't necessarily any grown-up monkeys with any expertise to mimic. My thoughts at the end of his talk in San Diego were that surrounding the $100 laptop program there needs to be the "Friends of the $100 Laptop" program with interested and willing teachers, scientists, artists, musicians, ...etc...who would be the extended family of the recipients of the devices who could provide some of that modelling, wisdom and expertise. I also thought that there should have been a donation envelope on my chair to write a cheque immediately to buy at least one device for a child somewhere. Imagine if the 12000 delegates at that conference and at every other huge US conference bought one laptop each time they went to a conference. There would soon be many $100 laptops pre-paid for so that the third world wouldn't have to come up with the money for a bunch of them. Lindy McKeown Australia lindy AT gil.com.au [Comment] [Permalink]

Re: TEDTalks: Nicholas Negroponte

While I agree with your sentiment I would like to add a alternative view. Negroponte knows from his personal experience in this field that this works. He can only get it to work when you can make enough devices. So the point he tried to make (imho) is that (1) there is no need for anymore field tests, (2) that time has passed, they should have done these tests already long ago. (3) Asking for more field tests now comes down to stalling and/or undermining his project, not helping. He needs to get a commitment for 7-10 million computers, any country which is not yet ready can not help him with this. That's what I got from his talk: He knows he can't convince people who are not ready, and so he is not wasting his time on trying to convince them. In time the practical succes of his project will convince them. [Comment] [Permalink]

Negroponte arrogance

If a laptop in every child's hand is so important, and would do so much good, why isn't it being marketed to the developed nations. The US has so much money to spend on education any state could buy a million laptops and not even notice it in the budget. US public schools spend an average of $7500 per pupil per year. If OLPC were the panacea that Negroponte believes it to be, why aren't the states buying them? I don't understand trying to market this device to the people least likely to be able to afford them. Why force them to choose between infrastructure and laptops? I think Negroponte is going completely non-private with this because he feels there is no private demand for it. Why won't he sell it at Best Buy? Because then the market would get to say how useful they are, instead of Negroponte alone. How can you hawk a laptop to third world nations when there are millions of them languishing on shelves in stores? As for field tests, there is always need for more field tests. To say that it works, and no further testing is required, is cocky and arrogant, and stupid. Negroponte doesn't want tests because they might not be favorable to him. [Comment] [Permalink]

Re: TEDTalks: Nicholas Negroponte

You don´t need to field test the Internet, it has been around for more than 10 years, we all know the potential. Off course Negroponte will not sell the laptops unless they work and connect to the Internet, and that includes all the promizes about low energy consumption, effective wifi mesh, fast and responsive Linux OS, educational software framework, and a perfect waterproof and dustproof design. Negroponte and his MIT mates have field tested laptops for children for 20 years, they know it works, every pedagogue agrees that a laptop with Internet is good for a child. He says Screw You to India who is corrupt by Intel and Microsoft, because those companies invest billions in their IT sector and they have pledge help for more billions, including Intel+s World Ahead program for their "cheap" intel based Windows XP computers to be given out to Indians in 2007 or sold for 400 dollars a piece. The truth is simply that if India says no, they will say yes as soon as 5 other countries have started the program and proven it is fantastic for the children. Indian top government simply answered to Intel and Microsoft evil request to make defavorable press releases about OLPC which Intel and Microsoft hopes would help them try to slow down the AMD Linux cheap laptop project. Some state governors in USA want to buy those laptops for all of their students, but its got to be in the millions of units, for Maine or whatever other state is in question because as Negroponte says: - cuts down cost of components - Makes the cheap laptop possible at all, cause screen manufacturer, flash, wifi mesh manufacturers and other component manufacturers of the different important and innovative parts of the OLPC simply cannot agree to suit the hardware for OLPC if there is not significant amount of orders, significant enough to change their strategy towards what the OLPC needs to become reality. It´s about priorities of cheap and energy efficient hardware, completely different than the component manufacturers current strategies. [Comment] [Permalink]

Re: TEDTalks: Nicholas Negroponte

the latest anonymous poster is me Charbax, my website is http://video-blog.eu with keynotes from Negroponte and info from Intel Eduwise and CE events. [Comment] [Permalink]

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