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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » Is "One Laptop Per Child" a Good Idea? (Page 2)

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Author Topic: Is "One Laptop Per Child" a Good Idea?
aspectre
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As I've written before


"...isn't a $150 laptop, with an increased electric bill built in, still asking too much from the third world?"

Hence the foot-pumped (originally planned to be handcranked) battery charger. No electrical grid needed, and no electric bill.

Thing is, it takes very little to make a BIG difference. eg:
Solar-cells have become cheap enough that in remote locations they are the far less expensive alternative to setting up the kilometres of electricity lines from a centralized powerplant to a village.
Because solar-cells are relatively cheap, cellphone relay towers can be set up in remote locations.
Because at least one someone is wealthy enough to purchase a (recycled FirstWorld throwaway) $20cellphone, the villagers can buy phone-time from the owner.
Because a villager can use a cellphone to find out how much produce/etc is selling for in the nearest market town, s/he has the information needed to strike a better sales price to the middleman, who formerly could make "take it or leave it" offers. Or decide that the extra profit potential makes it worthwhile to walk the produce/etc to the market town herself.
When one someone in the village can afford eg a moped, s/he can provide direct competition to that (formerly one&only) middleman.
[Adding in]
The first major signs of Vietnam's recovery from the War, and embracement of capitalism, were of villagers using cellphones to find out prices in local area markets. Then using bicycles, mopeds, and small motorcycles to haul produce (including multiple cages of chickens, and single half-mature pigs) to where they could sell their products for the highest prices.

Ya see, poor people are natural entrepeneurs. Unlike FirstWorlders, they live too close to the edge to not take up any opportunity afforded them:
UNICEF/etc puts in a solar-cell panel, next thing ya know the village gets wired for electricity. Not much per person, but a FirstWorlder can't even comprehend how much having a single electric lightbulb in ones home matters.
With a cellphone tower nearby, one someone becomes rich enough to buy heavier wiring from the solar-cell panel and a cheap television set. Now you've got a village theatre, and outside news sources.
With more knowlege of what is going on outside of their own little circle, people begin demanding better from themselves and fairer treatment from their society and government.
ThirdWorld WiFi&computers are another means of achieving that end.
Formal education is a secondary benefit being used as the main selling point to make an endrun around the folks who profit from "liking things just as they are" and who want to keep it that way.

"A plastic shield that only kids' hands could fit under? What good does that do?"

Probably a rejected proposal to solve the problem of adults ripping off kids to sell their $100Laptops on the blackmarket. Not really a problem: when every kid has a $100Laptop, the market for sales to families is already saturated.
Oh sure, some individual adults will want one of their own, but so what? As long as $100Laptops aren't allowed to be exported out of the country they were stolen in, only a relatively few extra $100Laptops need to be imported.
Even if through the blackmarket, poor adults becoming computer literate is just another plus in connecting to the world.

The idea that "self-taught computer literacy" is workable comes from experiments conducted in slums near tech centers and remote villages in India.

[ January 11, 2007, 05:15 PM: Message edited by: aspectre ]

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Geraine
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Quite frankly Im kind of surprised by some of the responses I read.

Helping others is never a bad thing. Here is an example.

I see a homeless man outside of a convenience store. He tells me that he is hungry and asks for a dollar so that he can buy a little something to eat. I see that he is worse off than me and so I give him a dollar. When I enter the store I see that he buys a beer instead of something to eat. I feel betrayed. The next time I see him I will not give him a dollar. I may go into the store and buy him something to eat and bring it to him, but I will not give him the dollar.

Now lets say the man entered the store and did not buy the beer, but rather a bag of chips. The next time I see him, I will give him another dollar because I trust him.

Now in either scenario, was giving the dollar to the poor man a bad thing to do on my part? Or was it an act of kindness aimed at helping someone less fortunate than I?

Maybe I think of the world on a larger scale than some. I dont see the United States as a country that should isolate ourselves from the rest of the world. We are the richest country in the world, and I beleive that because we are so blessed, we have a responsibility to help other countries enjoy the same things we have.

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TomDavidson
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quote:
Now in either scenario, was giving the dollar to the poor man a bad thing to do on my part?
Yes. It was well-intentioned, but a bad thing to do. Acts cannot be solely evaluated on their intentions.
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aspectre
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The bad thing to do is to assume that a beggar's word is of less worth than ones own, that mere poverty creates a lesser creature out of a human being.

[ January 11, 2007, 04:41 PM: Message edited by: aspectre ]

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skillery
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quote:
Originally posted by Lyrhawn:
...human zoos...

That post reminds me of something I've seen in Japan. Many Japanese have lamented the modernization of Japan and the disappearance of many folk traditions since WWII.

During the 1980's there was some concern that the construction of three large bridges to the island of Shikoku would destroy the last vestiges of traditional Japan. Shikoku is a popular pilgrimage destination for Japanese people who want to get in touch with their roots. Shikoku is on of the few places in Japan where you can still see things done the old way and can still get a good bowl of homemade ramen. In many ways it's still a 3rd-world country.

The bridges have had some effect on bringing Shikoku into the modern age, but when it came time to discuss extending the bullet train service via those bridges to Shikoku, the preservationists got their way. Good or bad, Shikoku has to get by with their slow trains.

Perhaps it makes a difference if it is your own and not somebody else's culture you are trying to preserve by blocking the advance of technology. Or is somebody else's culture also our own?

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El JT de Spang
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quote:
The bad thing to do is to assume that a beggar's word is of less worth than ones own, that mere povery creates a lesser creature out of a human being.
Who did that? Or were you speaking generally?
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aspectre
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Generally, but in response to Tom Davidson chiding Geraine for giving a buck to a beggar.
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David Bowles
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I think it's a great idea, but one that Americans should hold off on jumping into until every child in the US has a laptop... I work with poor students, most of whom have no computer at home, and this program needs to exist for them as well.
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mr_porteiro_head
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Personally, I would be extremely distrustful if some people from a more prosperous nation with a tendency to foist its culture and ideals on others provided my family with a free laptop for my children but made sure that I couldn't use it myself.
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Lyrhawn
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Quid -

I haven't the slightest clue on answers to most of your questions. I was just saying that if all those details are worked out by the proponents of this plan, then I can see a real use for it. I haven't the foggiest on the logistics, that's for someone else to figure out.

As for the village thing, grab a map, where are the villages? Every continent, every country, is different. I'd assume that most of these people walk to market, who's to say they can't walk to the next village over? Or that they are placed between four villages on all sides and can choose the cheapest of the four to travel to or to sell their stuff at?

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Wowbagger the Infinitely Prolonged
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There is nothing preventing the United States from joining this program. OLPC sells laptops to the Departments of Education of the countries that want them. From there they are localized (language, curriculum, etc)then distributed to the children. The laptops aren't free, the respective countries will buy them.

I'm hoping the United States joins. It would be perfect for cities with wifi networks. A few schools in Philadelphia (where I live) provide laptops for their students but the leaves essentially thousands of other students without regular access to Computers at home. It's in the hands of the US Department of Education.

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skillery
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It would be cool if these laptops could contain entire books.

I'd guess that books aren't too common in some villages. Rot and the tendency to become firewood would eventually take care of any books that did exist.

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Geraine
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I do not think that giving the dollar was a bad thing. No matter what they do with that dollar, I still did a good deed. If I had not seen what the homeless man did with it, how could I know he was going to buy beer with it?

An experience of mine:

While in college I needed to study, so I went to the library. Across the library there was a Mexican food restaurant. I became hungry, so I went there for lunch. Outside there was a gentleman named Neil. He was a homeless man, and asked me to buy him some food. I gave him a $5 bill and told him that I hoped he had a good meal. About 5 minutes after I walked into the restaurant he came in and ordered some food.

I invited him over to my table and got him a larger meal and paid for it. I found out he had come home from work one day and found his wife in bed with his best friend. He left and hopped on a bus to Las Vegas to start over, but she had emptied his account before he arrived. He missed his daughter and didnt know what he should do.

I talked to him and convinced him that for his daughters sake he needed to go back and work things out with his wife and friend. I gave him $20 on the promise that when he reached enough money he would call me so I could take him to the bus station. About two weeks later he called my cell phone, and I picked him up near the same restaurant and took him to the bus station. A couple weeks later he called me and said that he had gotten back with his wife and was going into counseling to try and get their lives back on track.

I could have given him the $20 and never heard from him again. And if he did, I wouldnt have felt any different about him than I do now. Because what he did with the money I gave him doesnt make the act less kind.

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aspectre
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"It's in the hands of the US Department of Education."

Naw, the EducationDepartment can't spend what the Congress hasn't funded.
Instead it's been left iin the hands of state legislators; who have been taking MAJOR bribes...errr...campaign contributions from telecoms and cable companies to pass laws making it illegal for local governments to set up free WiFi networks.
And probably more quietly from Microsoft, Apple, Intel, Dell, Pearson, McGraw-Hill, Houghton-Mifflin, Harcourt General, etc to prevent "One Laptop per Child" from becoming a reality for American children.

Similar "campaign contributions" are also probably reaching Congress.

[ January 11, 2007, 06:17 PM: Message edited by: aspectre ]

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El JT de Spang
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quote:
I do not think that giving the dollar was a bad thing.
I think Tom's disagreeing with your definition of 'bad'.

Edit: Sorry to edit so late after posting, but I think I thought of a good analogy on the way home from work.

Tom's saying that he doesn't believe it's possible to judge an act based purely on the intention.

For a really elaborate example, consider this: your friend has a bee on his shoulder, and you happen to know he's allergic to bees. So you decide to remove it. With a high powered rifle.

The bullet drifts just a bit (perhaps you misjudged the windage) and puts a sizable hole through his neck. Now, you meant for this to be a good thing. But was it?

[ January 11, 2007, 08:23 PM: Message edited by: El JT de Spang ]

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skillery
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aspectre,

So the textbook publishers don't want us replacing books with text on a laptop?

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skillery
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Censorship would be a piece of cake with electronic textbooks. Re-spinning text to favor your own ideology?
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aspectre
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Tell me about it.
The NewYorkPost erased the links to Administration documents naming ValeriePlame as a covertCIAoperative. First one, because the document made clear that even the Administration considered the "Niger to Iraq" uranium-connection to be absurd. Then the second, because it still made obvious that Plame's name was deliberately aired because the other names were blacked out.
Naturally, the NYPost failed to mention that they deleted links which made hash out of their proAdministration article.

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skillery
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quote:
Originally posted by Wowbagger the Infinitely Prolonged:
OLPC sells laptops to the Departments of Education of the countries that want them. From there they are localized (language, curriculum, etc)then distributed to the children.

So we risk enabling that government's propaganda engine?
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aspectre
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Even the FirstWorld is far from being free of having disinformation in their textbooks.
But having no information ain't better having some propaganda.
As China's internet experience shows, government can't clamp down on all dissenting opinion. While "The truth shall set you free" may not hold as yet, at least "The truth is out there" to find. At least now the difference between the FirstWorld and China is in degree, and not in kind as it was before the Internet.

"So the textbook publishers don't want us replacing books with text on a laptop?"

I've always wondered why textbook publishers even exist. With 14million students on 4100 college&university campuses, surely some of those half milllion or so professors on the public payroll are capable of writing&editing the texts on public payroll.
So it has seemed very odd that states haven't been just contracting for the printing of college&university-created texts instead of paying private corporations to decide what constitutes educational material.
And now it seems odd that use of college&university-created texts as free educational software isn't the norm. Heck, MIT is offering much of its course material for free. Why not elementary and highschool material for free?

Even if we concede the computer&software industries' point that larger screens, disc memories, and dvd players are desireable, that is still less than $400 per child. In the FirstWorld, $400 is a drop in the educational budget. Even Arizona and Mississippi spend more than $5000 per year per child.
Assume that laptops will hafta be replaced every 4years, that's $100 per year: less than 2% of the spending-per-student of the lowest-spending states, and less than 1% of that of the highest-spending states.
Texas currently spends* ~$600million on K-12 textbooks for less than 4million K-12 students: ~$150 per student per year to replace damaged and obsolete books.

Problem is that the same $400laptop and free WiFi provides strong competition to those who want to charge double or more for laptops and $600+ per year for a decently not-slow Internet connection while strongly reducing the need for textbook publishers.

* Near as I can tell. Googling doesn't seem to be of much help: maybe I don't know the correct keywords/phrases.

[ January 12, 2007, 03:06 PM: Message edited by: aspectre ]

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Will B
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Whenever people get something nice, it will sometimes be misused. I don't think it's reasonable to conclude that we're the only ones who should have nice things.
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aspectre
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Not about the ThirdWorld, but nonetheless news on "One Laptop per Child":
School district to give $479 iPad2s to kindergartners, then expand the program to older grades.

The amount budgeted is $200,000 for 285units. Even with a no-discount $39 carry-cover, that comes out to $518 per unit,
or $147,630 for 285units.
Leaving $52,370 or 35.5% of the actual cost for graft. Nice to know that schoolboards never forget their main purpose for existence.

[ April 08, 2011, 03:42 PM: Message edited by: aspectre ]

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rivka
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Why bump a 4 year old thread for this?
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aspectre
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Cuz it's related... And frankly I don't expect many responses, so why create a new thread?
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neo-dragon
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I'm glad that the thread was bumped because it gives me a chance to point out how the original argument is basically the plot of Speaker for the Dead!

Seriously, "Don't corrupt that primitive culture with our advanced technology. Better to keep them in the dark rather than risk doing harm." This doesn't sound familiar to anyone on this of all boards?

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capaxinfiniti
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quote:
Originally posted by aspectre:
Not about the ThirdWorld, but nonetheless news on "One Laptop per Child":
School district to give $479 iPad2s to kindergartners, then expand the program to older grades.

The amount budgeted is $200,000 for 285units. Even with a no-discount $39 carry-cover, that comes out to $518 per unit,
or $147,630 for 285units.
Leaving $52,370 or 35.5% of the actual cost for graft. Nice to know that schoolboards never forget their main purpose for existence.

This is absolutely absurd. How are more people in this state and community not irate over the mixed up priorities of this school board? The ridiculously small educational benefit of teaching with the limited Ipad - which barely even meets the general definition of "computer" - doesn't come close to justifying the wasting of taxpayer dollars and in-class time which could otherwise be spent doing real teaching. The district's expected gains are hopelessly optimistic.

The school district could have added their resources to those in the private fund and used them together in a much more beneficial way, one with guaranteed positive results. It's these poor choices that make me laugh when school districts complain about the lack of funding and budget cuts. It's a slightly smaller offense, but the teachers in the school district in which I live were given Ipads to "incentivise better teaching" and to "experiment with integrating technology as a teaching resource." Too bad they didn't account for the fact that their Ipads don't incentivise me to pay more taxes.

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BlackBlade
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As long as somebody is up front about bumping a thread I don't mind if people don't read time stamps before posting, and respond accordingly.

Interestingly enough my sister's high school requires every student to get pay for an Apple laptop. The school even keeps a full time Apple employee on staff to do tech support on the laptops. They can get the internet anywhere on campus even outside, there are outlets for them in their lockers and even outside so they can charge them. Classes routinely utilize them, and teachers are trying to keep kids off facebook during class time.

I'm interested in seeing the pros and cons of this development. I will say it's genius on the part of Apple. All those kids in that school will buy computers down the road, work in offices, start businesses, and they will be partial to Apple because they were taught extensively how to use them in high school.

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Geraine
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quote:
Originally posted by skillery:
The 3rd world isn't ready for our filth. They need to build up to it. It's like sending a kid from Catholic school to Vegas for the weekend.

Hey now. There are plenty of girls that wear Catholic school uniforms here in Vegas. They get tipped really well too!

Your analogy though is a bad one. Las Vegas has a TON of activities for families, or Catholic school children. We have Lake Mead, Red Rock, Valley of Fire, Springs Preserve, skiing, etc. Just because 90% of the Strip has gambling and clubs doesn't mean there isn't quality activities for families.

Yeah, there is a lot of bad stuff on the internet, but there is also a lot of good stuff as well!

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Samprimary
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quote:
They need to build up to it. It's like sending a kid from Catholic school to Vegas for the weekend.
I think I saw that video.
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Teshi
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quote:
The 3rd world isn't ready for our filth.
What makes you think the 3rd World doesn't have exactly the same issues as we do?
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