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November 18, 2006

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Ewan McIntosh

The team at MIT are having huge trouble in getting machines ready for their intended audience i.e. those who cannot afford to buy a regular laptop, electricity and ubiquitous wifi. We can. There is continued talk in the US of using these with underprivileged kids there, but the thought for me is preposterous. Surely the richest nations in the world can use their own riches to fund enough technology for learning in their classrooms?

OllieBray

Hi Ewan, I could agree with you more. David Warlick has blogged about how on a number of occasions he has been asked by school PTA’s where they could buy these laptops to help kit out schools in theUS. This just shows a huge lack of understanding from governments on the actual needs of our children and the schools that they attend. I believe that countries like the USA and Scotland can afford to provide children with one-to-one, but the proposed $100 laptop would be completely unsuitable for our needs. It doesn’t have a good enough spec to do what our students what to do with the technology. I feel it would be counter productive, however give everybody an Ibook and I think it would be a different story! As for the less economically developed world I feel that computers are important, but perhaps they should be given to schools rather than individuals? The thing that concerns me about the whole project is that I am not sure how much consultation has actually been done with rural communities to find out what will best serve the social and economic needs of the local population. Surely the money would be better spent in some communities on improving sanitation, drinking water and healthcare? It’s an interesting debate which would make a great Advanced Higher Geography Geographical Issues. See you soon, Ollie.

Karen Robertson

Hi Ollie,
This laptop initiative was raised at the recent board meeting of the Learning Hubs 1to1 project. The same conclusion as your own was quickly reached there - these laptops would not suit our purposes. We are looking for potential devices to enable 1to 1 connectivity - whatever that may be. The costs will still be significant and we need to look for ways for any initiative to be financially sustainable. The needs of these poorer rural communities is an interesting one - I would be interested to hear how your debate goes! As is the question - with the rate of change in technology and the need for devices of greater spec - what to do with the old kit?

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