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CEO Says One Laptop Per Child Project Has Achieved Its Goals

Unknown Lamer posted about 8 months ago | from the extended-mission-doing-ok dept.

Education 54

waderoush (1271548) writes "A blog post at OLPC News last week went viral with the claim that the nine-year-old One Laptop Per Child project is dead. Media outlets quickly controverted the assertion, but the response from the OLPC Association itself was brief, saying that its mission is 'far from over' and citing ongoing projects to distribute laptops in Central America. In a more lengthy Q&A this week, OLPC chairman and CEO Rodrigo Arboleda says the organization has achieved many of its goals, including demonstrating the value of the 'Constructionist' 1:1 learning philosophy originally espoused by Negroponte. With 2.5 million laptops distributed so far, the OLPC vision is 'on track to being fully realized,' Arboleda says. He sees 'commercial greed' and a 'status-quo mentality' within ministries of education and teachers' unions as the main hurdles holding back faster progress."

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...just like "No Child Left Behind" (1)

robnator (250608) | about 8 months ago | (#46536903)

:-)

Re:...just like "No Child Left Behind" (2)

ackthpt (218170) | about 8 months ago | (#46537121)

:-)

I seem to be left behind. Where is my laptop?

:(

Re:...just like "No Child Left Behind" (1)

Obfuscant (592200) | about 8 months ago | (#46537571)

I seem to be left behind. Where is my laptop?

That's what I kept asking the OLPC project back when they had their buy one, get one offer. They took the money but could never seem to have any in stock when it came time to ship one to me. They kept telling me mine was about to be shipped, and they were shipping units to other people, but mine never seemed to make it into a box and to my door.

Eventually, it got close to the time limit for disputing charges (90 days, I think it was) so I cancelled the order. The fact they charged my card long before shipping and kept putting the delivery date off made it look like a fishy deal, so I bailed.

Re:...just like "No Child Left Behind" (1)

tipo159 (1151047) | about 8 months ago | (#46537913)

Did you do Give 1 Get 1 when OLPC was doing fulfillment or when Amazon was? When they were doing it, it was a disaster. I think I got mine five months after placing the order. On the other hand, I heard that things went more smoothly when Amazon was doing fulfillment (which is what you would expect).

Re:...just like "No Child Left Behind" (1)

davester666 (731373) | about 8 months ago | (#46541077)

Have you considered looking down, in your lap area?

Re:...just like "No Child Left Behind" (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46537191)

"No Child Left Behind" was a success in that no child was allowed to move forward.

Re:...just like "No Child Left Behind" (1)

AlphaWolf_HK (692722) | about 8 months ago | (#46537389)

I think the biggest success was no labor union left behind.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

I hear people complain about CEOs making millions, but nobody ever complains about union bosses making millions.

Re:...just like "No Child Left Behind" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46539861)

I hear people complain about CEOs making millions, but nobody ever complains about union bosses making millions.

You just did, and if you check out any news article about union negotiations or the minimum wage. You will see many complaints there as well.

Kids all want iPads now (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46536969)

Laptop project is done... as in toast.

Your choice of manager speak: (4, Funny)

nitehawk214 (222219) | about 8 months ago | (#46537063)

1. "Has Achieved Its Goals" == "on track to being fully realized"
2. "Mission Accomplished" Redefine goals to state what has already been done, declare victory, forget about the rest. (banner and photo-op on aircraft carrier optional)

Re:Your choice of manager speak: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46540601)

1. "Has Achieved Its Goals" == "on track to being fully realized"
2. "Mission Accomplished" Redefine goals to state what has already been done, declare victory, forget about the rest. (banner and photo-op on aircraft carrier optional)

This guy should run for President. He already knows how to make all of his campaign promises come true!

every kid has a laptop now? advanced beyond belief (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46537069)

maybe they are trying to logon to ask for help? http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=millions%20dying%20going%20hungry&sm=3

Are they distributing their own model? (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | about 8 months ago | (#46537075)

Are they distributing their own model of laptop, or do they just distribute generic laptops. I remember their original idea was to design a super cheap and rugged laptop for $100 that could easily be used in developing countries. The free market has made cheap tablets available to all. Is there still a need for them to have custom hardware?

Re:Are they distributing their own model? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46537279)

The OLPC device that I remember seeing was a tiny little (Android?) machine with a couple solar panels on it and a black & white display. There is definitely a benefit to alternative charging methodologies when your region does not have an electrical infrastructure of any variety.

Re:Are they distributing their own model? (1)

NotDrWho (3543773) | about 8 months ago | (#46537645)

Damn kids! In *my* day, OLPC laptops had a hand-cranked charger!

Re:Are they distributing their own model? (1)

tipo159 (1151047) | about 8 months ago | (#46538061)

The OLPC laptop was rugged and repairable. It is great for an environment where you can't just ship it off for service when something breaks. Also, the keyboard is great for kid-sized hands.

The OLPC tablet is fragile (particularly in comparison to the OLPC laptop) and is not repairable by most users. It seems like it is really intended for a "first world"-type environment, not the same environment as the laptop.

My biggest complaint about my OLPC laptop is that it is slow. However, the target users wouldn't have as much experience using computers as I do, so wouldn't have the same expectations as I do and it wouldn't seem slow to them. I would love to have upgraded h/w that I could put in the case.

How many... (3, Informative)

MrEricSir (398214) | about 8 months ago | (#46537105)

How many of those 2.5 million laptops still work? Most of the OLPC laptops I saw at trade shows were broken.

Re:How many... (1)

fsagx (1936954) | about 8 months ago | (#46537257)

Not mine. The trackpad stopped working about 2 years ago. I don't know about the other 2,499,999. It was an interesting rugged design, though I was disappointed that they didn't follow through with the early hand crank powered concept.

Re:How many... (2)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 8 months ago | (#46537407)

The hand crank is an accessory you can get for it if you want one. I don't think they included it because most remote villages in African already have some way to generate power via hand crank, windmill or whatever so people can charge their now ubiquitous cellphones. So it would be an extra cost without much value.

Re: How many...Africa has electricity (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46537765)

Have you ever been to Africa?
Most remote villages in Southern Africa do not have electricity.

Re: How many...Africa has electricity (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46538271)

What parts and what do you mean by electricity? 240AC at high amperages is still hard, but solar home systems are becoming increasingly popular as well as solar appliances. Getting enough juice to recharge an OLPC isn't out of the scope of these systems.

Re:The hand crank... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46539679)

The ratio of time to charge to get time of use was not really practical on the early model XOs. On the newest, XO-1.75s and XO-4s, it becomes quite usable (as do solar panels). Just don't attach the crank to the XO itself. Even though it is sturdy enough to take some drops, bumps, etc., the stress of cranking is a bit too much. Attach it to a nearby table top, small tree, or whatever is handy.

Re:How many... (1)

Warbothong (905464) | about 8 months ago | (#46541543)

The hand crank is an accessory you can get for it if you want one. I don't think they included it because most remote villages in African already have some way to generate power via hand crank, windmill or whatever so people can charge their now ubiquitous cellphones. So it would be an extra cost without much value.

It turned out that building a crank into the case put tremendous mechanical stresses on it, which would require more heavy-duty construction to prevent it ripping apart. An external accessory, plugged in via a wire, doesn't have this issue.

Re:Trackpad Stopped Working (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46539641)

A mouse will remedy this. Some teachers have also found that putting some plastic wrap over the trackpad allows it to be used. If you are not using your XO, there are many small deployments worldwide who would appreciate it as a donation. You can get more info at: http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Donate_Your_Get_One

Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46537177)

Won't somebody please think of the children?

I didn't realize the world only has 2.5 million kids left. What happened?

Black Holes! Eleventy@! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46537207)

Hey socialist dickwads;

http://news.yahoo.com/cnn-black-hole-malaysia-flight-370-theories-144151381.html;_ylt=A0LEVinlPCtTPkcAOYYPxQt.;_ylu=X3oDMTBybnV2cXQwBHNlYwNzcgRwb3MDMgRjb2xvA2JmMQR2dGlkAw--?.tsrc=attcf

You stupid twerps have no comment regarding the moron on your favorite news network finding the real cause of the lost trip 7 now can you?

Really!??

I mean, FAUX NEWS and everything?!! Really?

Fuckwads.

Most transparent Evah! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46537271)

Hey fuckfaces.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2585306/White-House-Press-Secretary-Jay-Carney-denies-TV-reporters-claim-gets-daily-briefing-questions-IN-ADVANCE.html

"EXCLUSIVE: White House Press Secretary Jay Carney denies TV reporter's claim that he gets daily briefing questions IN ADVANCE"

That's your super awesome, super smart, super genius socialist betters for you. And thanks *ever* so much for voting for this crap like you were all getting free fucking rides in AF1 and free shotguns from Dick Cheney.

How's that working out for you huh?

Fucking jagoffs.

Never understood OLPC (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46537475)

Giving children a laptop that ran a non-standard operating system, which would teach them no computer skills they could use in the real world at school or to gain employment - why? I loaded OLPC up in a VM when it first came out, and the user interface made no sense at all. Why not give them Linux and OpenOffice or something?

Re:Never understood OLPC (1)

tipo159 (1151047) | about 8 months ago | (#46538095)

Because they were intended to help kids learn, not turn them into office drones. There were all sorts of interesting educational apps. Also, the OLPC laptops run Linux and you can open a terminal shell if so inclined.

Re:Never understood OLPC (1)

wiredlogic (135348) | about 8 months ago | (#46538905)

The Sugar UI was supposed to be "discoverable" by illiterate children. As in they tap an icon and "discover" that waiting an eternity for a response from the over taxed processor is boring and not very fun.

Goal reached! (1, Funny)

kipsate (314423) | about 8 months ago | (#46537537)

Boy did they reach their goal. There's now 2.5 million OLPCs for each child that actually wants one.

Re:Goal reached! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46539053)

Boy did they reach their goal.

Next up, TLPC, FLPC, and finally SLPC.

Ah, the quiet pontification of an NGO shill... (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46537549)

Love his obvious disdain for capitalism vis-a-vis "commercial greed."

Why, pray tell, is OLPC's original mission essentially dead in the water? Because of innovation, competition, and the marketplace mechanism, not because it lead the world to cheap hardware. Platitudinal NGOs started by tenured academics are created in a vacuum, away from market forces or awareness, living in ivory towers of unlimited funding.

OLPC was/is an NGO charity case, relying on the largesse of the white guilt complex for the third world to support it.

Yea, computer hardware is cheap, faster, and more accessible than it's ever been, to the point where it's at disposable pricing even for the third world. Whether it's Android or RPi or Arduino, we're well into an era of a complete computer that costs $20 for all the parts. Tablets are $50-$75 a pop.

And you know what OLPC is selling their "commercial" Android tabs for? $150! Far more than what it really costs to make. One can presume the profits will be used to fund additional tabs for the third world but the more likely scenario is those profits will go into the pockets of guys like Arboleda and "honorariums" for Negroponte and his ilk.

Re:Ah, the quiet pontification of an NGO shill... (1)

Warbothong (905464) | about 8 months ago | (#46541585)

Love his obvious disdain for capitalism vis-a-vis "commercial greed."

Why, pray tell, is OLPC's original mission essentially dead in the water? Because of innovation, competition, and the marketplace mechanism, not because it lead the world to cheap hardware. Platitudinal NGOs started by tenured academics are created in a vacuum, away from market forces or awareness, living in ivory towers of unlimited funding.

OLPC was/is an NGO charity case, relying on the largesse of the white guilt complex for the third world to support it.

Yea, computer hardware is cheap, faster, and more accessible than it's ever been, to the point where it's at disposable pricing even for the third world. Whether it's Android or RPi or Arduino, we're well into an era of a complete computer that costs $20 for all the parts. Tablets are $50-$75 a pop.

And you know what OLPC is selling their "commercial" Android tabs for? $150! Far more than what it really costs to make. One can presume the profits will be used to fund additional tabs for the third world but the more likely scenario is those profits will go into the pockets of guys like Arboleda and "honorariums" for Negroponte and his ilk.

Of course, it's never been just about the price. They are the "One Laptop Per Child" project, not the "$100 laptop" project. As an example of "commercial greed" hindering the project, Intel invested a lot of effort in killing the project, possibly because the XO-1 uses VIA (subsequently AMD) Geode processors. Intel's investments against OLPC include sending their marketing department to meet many of the governments that OLPC met with, immediately after OLPC met them, to try and convince them to use Classmate machines instead. The Classmate machines themselves were an investment against OLPC, both by their existence and because Intel subsidised the cost of each one (since they were way more expensive than the XO-1, despite having terrible screens, poor batteries, toxic backlights, etc.). The arguments in favour of the Classmate essentially boiled down to "this is a real laptop because it can run Office, unlike the XO-1 which is just a toy"; an argument which might appeal to a government worker, who likely uses nothing but Office, but is completely irrelevant to education.

Last I checked, Intel are now on OLPC's board.

RIP OLPC? (2)

westlake (615356) | about 8 months ago | (#46537621)

Confirmed distribution of the OLPC laptop outside of Mexico, Central and South America are all but non-existent. Deployment of XO laptops [wikipedia.org]

That doesn't make a good case for a culturally-independent constructivist philosophy of education --- at the core of which is the notion that kids in the primary grades can teach each other and that adults are redundant. Which lead inevitably to fire-and-forget "parachute drop" deployments.

OLPC hardware was never as robust as claimed.

Several defects in OLPC XO-1 hardware have emerged in the field, and laptop repair is often neglected by students or their families (who are responsible for maintenance) due to the relatively high cost of some components (such as displays).

The Sugar interface has been difficult for teachers to learn, and the mesh networking feature in the OLPC XO-1 was buggy and went mostly unused in the field.

The OLPC XO-1 hardware lacks connectivity to external monitors or projectors, and teachers are not provided with software for remote assessment. As a result, students are unable to present their work to the whole class, and teachers must also assess students' work from the individual laptops. Teachers often find it difficult to use the keyboard and screen, which were designed with student use in mind.

Hardware and software bugs [wikipedia.org]

Rwanda provides an interesting example of the conflict between the theory and reality of OLPC.

Rwanda had a total primary school population of just over 2.3 million as of 2011. As of September 2012, exactly four years after the launch, according to the Rwanda Education Board, there were about 115,000 computers in primary schools across the country.

The aim is to have half a million of the laptops distributed, and at least one million by 2017

At least one school in each of the 416 sectors in Rwanda is expected to get the laptops. A sector is the equivalent of a sub-district or division in Kenya.

Rwanda's situation is no different from much of East Africa. Uptake for the laptops could be better, except for two main reasons.

The first major reason is inadequate infrastructure, especially electricity supply to schools. The OLPC laptops are mainly operated using electricity, while many schools are yet to be connected to the national grid. Efforts are, however, under way to install solar electricity in as many schools are possible.

The second is inadequate capacity, in terms of numbers and computer literacy, of the primary school teachers. As of May 2012, the OLPC Project had trained just over 1,500 teachers and heads of school --- not only in computer literacy, but in troubleshooting hardware, software and applications.

There is good reason for such technical training of the teachers. Computers often tend to break down for one reason or another, especially in the hands of children. Giving the teachers the ability to diagnose what the problem is likely to be, and how to fix it, is crucial.

Caution has already been urged before the laptop project is implemented in Kenya. It has already been pointed out that the imminent laptop project may not be viable without first addressing teachers' computer literacy, including the woefully inadequate school infrastructure in much of the country, and ensuring the computers are loaded with relevant curriculum.

This includes addressing issues of poverty that tend to hinder access to education. A significant number of school-going children in Kenya lack basic needs, including food and clothes, which has raised questions of feasibility for such an ambitious project.

What Kenya could learn from Rwanda on One Laptop per Child [newtimes.co.rw]

Yeah, No (4, Insightful)

mccoma (64578) | about 8 months ago | (#46537643)

The 8-bit generation of under $200 computers did more to teach programming than OLPC has ever done. OLPC is a nifty government contractor and nothing more. Sinclair did more for programming than OLPC.

Re:Yeah, No (2)

nani popoki (594111) | about 8 months ago | (#46537901)

But the goal of OLPC wasn't to teach programming but rather to provide a programmable platform that was good for teaching. As a contributor to the OLPC activities library, I'm a little sad to see the project die "not with a bang but a whimper". (My contribution was a set of four programs that taught the night sky.)

Re:Yeah, No (2)

mccoma (64578) | about 8 months ago | (#46538239)

" provide a programmable platform that was good for teaching" - well, they failed at that too. If that was their goal then they should have just bought all the kids LeapFrog LeapPads. More lessons, cost effective, and can be bought by people not part of some government partnership.

Re:Yeah, No (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46538291)

Wow, you're quite the whiner, aren't you? What have you done to help?

Re:Yeah, No (1)

mccoma (64578) | about 8 months ago | (#46539801)

worked in a poor school to get grants to buy real computers - I've done my bit - what have you done but be am Anonymous Coward?

Re:Yeah, No (1)

cusco (717999) | about 8 months ago | (#46538521)

The initial success of the OLPC was a clear demonstration of the failure of the existing computing infrastructure. All the manufacturers at the time said that building a laptop computer for under ~$400 was impossible, and that if you could do it no one would want one. When the OLPC came in at $200 for an actually ruggedized laptop with a modest but stable set of hardware the industry was still in denial for a couple of years. Finally the Taiwanese companies started building netbooks and selling them for slightly more than the OLPC and the rest of the industry woke up.

Re:Yeah, No (1)

Nivag064 (904744) | about 8 months ago | (#46539457)

No, Sinclair BASIC was horrendous!

Acorn with the BBC Micro and descendants (such as the Acorn Archimedes) were far superior in terms of programming both at the BASIC & Assembly level.

Acorn BASIC had named subroutines with parameters, looping constructs, and IF ELSE statements. There was never any need to resort to GOTO's and GOSUB's! Also you had well defined ways to invoking Operating System functionality without resorting to the equivalent of PEEK's and POKE's - to the extent that most programs could be transferred from the 8 bit 6502 based machines to the 32 bit ARM based machines without changes other than slowing them down (as the latter were far faster).

Note that Acorn developed the ARM family of processors which are now the most widely used processor, and used in most modern smart mobile phones.

Re:Yeah, No (1)

Kittenman (971447) | about 8 months ago | (#46539725)

Ah, Sinclair Basic. A friend had a box of his. I remember having to press three buttons to get the word "Let" or whatever the BASIC command was. You couldn't just type in the word LET using the Alpha keyboard. And this was the 'Spectrum', speaking from memory. Someone likened pressing the keys on that thing to touching dead flesh. I had to take his word for it.

Re:Yeah, No (1)

mccoma (64578) | about 8 months ago | (#46539771)

Well, Sinclair was under $100 - I'm sure the programmers who learned on it and liked it probably bought better computers later

ur... "many" is important (1)

asylumx (881307) | about 8 months ago | (#46537653)

CEO Says One Laptop Per Child Project Has Achieved Its Goals

and

OLPC chairman and CEO Rodrigo Arboleda says the organization has achieved many of its goals

are not equivalent. The first implies that ALL goals have been achieved, while the second makes it clear that some have not. Terrible headline.

Huh? (1)

argStyopa (232550) | about 8 months ago | (#46537747)

"CEO of OLPC acknowledges that the smartphone has pretty much made their goal entirely obsolete."

Oh wait, that's not what he said?

And why does that asshole... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46537983)

continue to demand people use his offensive name? Republicans love that guy because he appears to hate blacks. They're not smart enough to comprehend that he is helping Africans so the irony is hilarious. But, either way, that asshole should stop demanding that we call him black point. He isn't black.

goal achieved (2)

Spazmania (174582) | about 8 months ago | (#46538183)

OLPC's goal was to induce the creation of computers affordable in the third-world and usable in an environment where basic utilities are not available. At the time, a bottom-end new computer cost around $500.

Today we have a tablet and netbook industry which churns out the cheap components that such computers need at a high economy of scale. Micro Center has a bottom-end android tablet on sale for $50.

Things may not have worked out as OLPC expected or in a way that left OLPC with any importance as an organization, but their goal was surely achieved.

Re:goal achieved (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46538313)

Really? How many Third-World children and classrooms have these OLPCs, tablets, and netbooks? How many of those have course material to run on them?

At the end of the day, what we need is something more like a cross between Project Gutenberg (to collect teaching materials of high quality that are cheap or free for anyone to use) and charities like UNICEF (to help fund teachers and schools in places that are so poor that children would otherwise do without).

Whether computers are involved in delivering the education is merely a less important implementation detail.

All or Nothing. (1)

westlake (615356) | about 8 months ago | (#46539575)

OLPC's goal was to induce the creation of computers affordable in the third-world and usable in an environment where basic utilities are not available.

OLPC was a product of the MIT Media Lab and presented to the third world education minister as a take-it-or-leave it package deal in which the laptop hardware was only one component.

The minister was expected to buy big as an act of faith.

Tens or hundreds of thousands of units. No trial deployments, no building out slowly.

The constructivist philosophy of education of OLPC's promoters was gospel truth and not to be questioned. Here at last was a promise fulfilled ---- mass education without the need for teachers.

With 100 million first-grade-aged children worldwide having no access to schooling, the One Laptop Per Child organization is trying something new in two remote Ethiopian villages --- simply dropping off tablet computers with preloaded programs and seeing what happens.

The goal: to see if illiterate kids with no previous exposure to written words can learn how to read all by themselves, by experimenting with the tablet and its preloaded alphabet-training games, e-books, movies, cartoons, paintings, and other programs.

Given Tablets but No Teachers, Ethiopian Children Teach Themselves [technologyreview.com]

[Reading deep into the comments here, these Ethiopian kids may not have been as pristinely illiterate in the use of words or images as Negroponte would like to have us think.]

Open Source or the Sugar UI was not open to question either.

The problem from the education minister's point of view becomes how to transition his kids to traditional desktop environments and programs --- particularly when the money may not be there to purchase and support computers which are usable in the primary grades only.

Re:goal achieved (1)

im_thatoneguy (819432) | about 8 months ago | (#46566703)

I'm setting a goal of a $5 PC with modern tablet quality. My approach to achieving my goal is to do absolutely nothing but I will be happy to take credit when it I achieve all of my goals in 5 years.

Not done ... (1)

PPH (736903) | about 8 months ago | (#46539117)

... until every child has at least one spare to put on eBay.

Junk (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46540293)

Just give them an iPod...give me a break.

What kid wants a hokey junk laptop that can't play game?

E waste nightmare.

Our culture (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46541795)

Our culture is a morass of crippling and endless failures flavored with the most impotent and banal language. The words "goals", "plan", and "objective" have lost all their meaning, supplanted by cultish ideologies that seek to only increase the number of brain-dead participants to improve the "numbers". How many managers do you know that use these terms to perpetuate dysfunction? Now that we have so thoroughly and utterly ruined education expect only more people to drink from the river Styx.

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