Development · ICT4D · Research · Technology

Negroponte’s latest ‘experiment’?

So Nicholas Negroponte has gone from giving XO Laptops to children, with some teacher-training… to giving Tablets to children with NO training

The experiment is really interesting, and the idea of seeing how much kids can learn unsupervised is of course interesting, BUT…

Haven’t we been here before..?  With OLPC?  With hole-in-the-wall computers..?  YES kids can learn alone…  NO it’s no substitute for a supportive learning environment with good teaching… MAYBE it will provide an alternative where good teaching isn’t available… PROBABLY the kids will just learn to play games and/or lose interest…

I’m not suggesting there is no value to the experiment, but that we have enough background knowledge now to create something far better, which targets specific gaps in our understanding, which leanrs from the MANY failures and lessons that came out of the OLPC rollouts (for more on this, see my article on the Peru OLPC Rollout, published on Hii Dunia), and could add something significant to our knowledge of learning and technology in poor environments.

Instead, unfortunately, we will probably learn – AGAIN – that just giving technology out on its own is insufficient and has some, modest, impact, but needs infrastructure, support and above all, good quality teaching, to have a significant effect.

I look forward to reading these results at the end of the multi-million-$ experiment! 🙂