Thursday, July 06, 2006

NECC 06 Keynote - One Laptop Per Child - Nicholas Negroponte

One Laptop per Child (OLPC) - http://laptop.media.mit.edu/

Technology is not about teaching – it is about learning. In much of the world, the schools lack well-qualified teachers. In rural areas, some teachers are lucky to have a 6th grade education. In situations like this, we need to get kids to teach themselves. Giving kids computers, rich or poor, and they act the same way – excited about learning. Communication and connection is key. Children don't have the baggage that the adults have and are willing to communicate with anyone. Mr. Negroponte related a story about building 5 schools, with laptop programs, in remote villages in Cambodia. The kids take the laptops home at night and it is the focus of the family. In addition, Maine started an initiative

These two events prompted his idea of a 100 dollar laptop – or a laptop per child. The key of the program is scale – being global is crucial to launch 5-10 million in 2007 and 50-150 million in 2008. This scale allows for large ordering of components that will be cheaper. Then, there were many partners that become involved, such as Google, eBay, AMD, News Corp, Brightstar, Marvell, Nortall, 3M, etc.

A word about laptops – getting to the 10$ laptop is not difficult. 50% of the cost is marketing. 25% is the display and 25% is the support of MSFT Windows XP. The overwhelming memory and running needs of the operating systems make it to overloaded. More is not necessarily different. Moore's Law indicates that the size will shrink, power increase which keeps the price high and stable. Instead, what about standing still and getting the cost down. To get it down to a 100$ laptop, there are no sales, marketing and distribution. The first purchase order was 5-10 million units. The computers will use Linux and reduce the display cost by using a backlight innovation. In addition, the other features would include a human powered input (crank), must have wifi with a mesh network, be rugged, shared memory, and dual mode display (to be usable indoors and in sunlight with a B&W display). The goal is to have the kids do the maintenance. When Mr. Negroponte sent 50 laptops to Cambodia, only one broke in 3 years. However, when the laptop belongs to the child, there is a sense of ownership and pride. The kids in Cambodia polished it, made little bags for them.

Prototypes
Green machine was introduce with Desmond Tuti – it has a crank for human power

Ebook – like a readers or laptop
Orange machine – with rabbit ears for the mesh network
Red machine – display is a little bigger, still with rabbit ears (for heat release)
$100 server
$10 DVD drive
$10 Hard disc
$30 printer
$50 projector

Launch – a chicken and egg problem
Can't convince the people to purchase until the laptop is made, but the makers won't make until the orders are made. However, by Christmas, there should be the first ones manufactured.

Launch countries – Brazil, Nigeria, Thailand, and Argentina for sure, but other Central American plans along with China, India, Egypt, Mexico, Bangladesh.

Why not the USA?
Don't need a $100 laptop – schools can buy the $400 intel laptop
There are other problems in poorer countries – like no power and health issues

The first trial will be in Nigeria in 2007. The initial price will be about $140, but the target price for 2010 is $50. The important thing is that the price will float, based on the cost of the components. Features will not be added that increases the price. Countries are volunteering to sponsor other countries – or people purchase and donate in another's name.

Side effects of the $100 laptop. Linux will be on the desktop. There's no caps lock key. More consciousness about using human power. No bloated software or unneeded features. Viral telecommunications. Peer to peer learning and

What can you do?
Contribute your ideas to: wiki.laptop.org

If you are personally interested or want a developer board, send e-mail to: iste@laptop.org

Three basic principles:
1)Use technology to learn learning, not to learn something. To many kids are learning Word or Excel, but not learning to use the computer as the tool it is to be used to learn other things.
2)Teaching is one but not the only way to achieve learning.
3)Leverage children's initiative


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