Wednesday, October 26, 2011

One Laptop Per Child Presentation

'兒童電腦OLPC(One Laptop per Child)' photo (c) 2007, pigheadskin - license: just wanted to take a few minutes out of my day to discuss the presentation that I attended at USD yesterday.  The speaker was Robert Hacker and he discussed the program One Laptop Per Child.  I'm not sure if I would have attended the presentation if my class had not all gone together, but I was intrigued by the idea because I have not heard much about this program.  As I was listening to Hacker talk about the program, I thought that the premise of expanding educational opportunities to children in need was a great one.  However, I also had quite a few doubts about this program as I was listening to him speak and answer questions during the Q&A session.  My first concern stems from the class I'm taking this semester entitled The Historical Struggles for Educational Equity.  In this class we focus on educational inequity in the United States (we will tie in other countries in the last few weeks of class) and we have a lot of discussions about racism and socioeconomic status and the inequity of resources that characterize our schools.  I know that they are just starting their laptop programs here in the US, but part of me wonders why companies such as this or our own government are not focusing on schools here in the United States.  I'm not at all saying that these other children do not deserve or need these computers and an education, but I feel like the problems we have in our own country are being overlooked and/or ignored and I want to know when companies are going to step up to provide equity in education in OUR school system.  I also had a lot of doubts about the purpose of this program.  It's goal is touted as the education of children in need, and it seems that they come in with these computers but then students are teaching themselves?  He mentioned a short training of teachers there, but basically students are taking in this technology on their own.  He also mentioned that they are working hard to build infrastructures so that there is internet in these impoverished countries, but someone in the audience posed the question, "What about at home?  Is the internet going to be on at home where students can explore and practice there?" but he said that wasn't a concern of theirs.  I also wonder what happens as these children who get the laptops grow up.  Hacker said that children ages 4-12 get the computers, and once they have it, it is theirs.  So they keep it as they get older, and do they keep sending computers out as more and more children are born?  Maybe I just need to do more research on this program because I felt like he wasn't really able to concisely answer anyone's questions about it (I felt like he was beating around the bush a lot).  I guess what I really want to know is, why are there schools in the US that have very few resources for technology, and many many families and children in the US with no computer access but we have a company that is giving children in other countries laptops?  The premise of the company is to educate these children so that they can fix the problems in their impoverished countries, but to me it seems like there are a lot of holes in that concept.


  1. Sherilyn
    I understand your frustration and to be honest I doubt you are the only one with these feeling. I think that by being in the US, our country at least has a government that allows children to go to school while in other countries students don't have the right. OLPC is focused on outreach but I know that we need more support for our own country as well. There are very similar debates about "community service" components in colleges as they all go out of the country, but there are people here in the US that need the same support and help. If anything don't worry about what OLPC does, but take that passion and find what problems you see here in the US and challenge to create your own solution for yourself. Maybe you can help create a program like OLPC for America. If you want to start something up, you already have one supporter... me!

    Great post!

  2. Thanks Ms. Davis! To be honest, I was a little hesitant to write this post, because I felt like my opinion was not the popular one. I also didn't want people to think I'm this awful person who doesn't care about children around the world that live in impoverished countries. So thank you for seeing the positive in what I was saying! I'm really thinking about getting into Ed Reform so I can make a difference and change things in our educational system for the better!

  3. My class was planning on going to this presentation and I was really excited to learn more about this program! But unfortunately, our professor got the dates mixed up and the presentation was during the week I was gone! It's interesting to hear your point of view and I'm sure many have the same questions as you do! I hope I can find the time to research more about this program!