It’s been a good few months since I started to seriously focus on One Laptop per Child related things. After reading an article at ZDNet today, I can say that the challenge of getting people to understand OLPC as an education project rather than a computer project is huge. As I’ve said a few times now – it’s hard when the word ‘laptop’ is in the title. Still, education is the central tenet of the project, an essential part of any project of this kind, and it’s this kind of component that everyone agrees on in principal. And it’s exactly what OLPC is doing – so I was confused when I read the following:
No amount of hardware or software can replace a good teacher. However, I remain convinced that hardware, software, and well-thought out tools can help children learn in individualized ways and work very well within the context of solid classroom instruction. It’s for this reason that I believe Intel’s Classmate PC model can be really successful; it was designed to supplement classroom instruction rather than turn kids loose with a PC like the OLPC XO.
Educational tools, collaborative software, running on Sugar is about as far from a “PC” as you can get. Has Christopher Dawson not seen the large amount of complaints coming from users trying to use XOs as a “regular” Windows based laptop? He recognises collaboration as part of the Classmate PC, but has missed that collaboration is the heart of an XO.
This appears to be a marketing issue. But marketing not towards the customer (the weird thing is the kids receiving these things don’t care what they’re called) but marketing towards potential social supporters. I’d hate to see such a huge effort tangled up in lexical semanics.