One Laptop per Child: How to judge success or failure…

One laptop per child is a non-profit organization that works to bring low-cost laptops to children in developing areas of the world. Through these laptops they hope to “empower, engage, and educate” the children and help them to improve themselves. It seems a pretty straight forward idea, giving these kids all the worlds knowledge at their fingertips and let them see how the world works. With these laptops they could research all sorts of topics and improve their grasp of concepts they learn in school. And yet a standardized test scores do not show improvement. So this initiative has failed. ??? Can we really say that? One study done in rural Peru found an increase in students cognitive skills. That seems to be what OLPC set out to do. Give children access to information so they can figure stuff out for themselves. So the initiative has succeeded then?

It seems that just giving access to technology is not enough to drastically improve test scores and yet the kids got smarter. Seems like just another example where standardized testing doesn’t showcase what people want it to. It doesn’t show how children grasp concepts or understand principles, all they want is regurgitation of information. And yet these kids could have been using their laptops to study anything. But anything wont be on the test. So can we really say if OLPC is a success or not? It seems to me that we will have to wait until these kids grow up and become adults to see if they are able to improve their communities and make their children’s lives better than theirs. Maybe it will inspire these kids to graduate and get advanced degrees, start businesses, or maybe they will invent some new technology or develop the next instagram and sell their program for $1,000,000,000. We won’t know for a while since standardize test scores are gonna tell us if one of these laptops inspired the next Bill Gates down in Peru. Just have to wait to pass judgement on this program.


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. seangordon
    Apr 12, 2012 @ 02:32:27

    I actually participated in this program. For a period of time, you could donate a certain sum of money and one laptop would go to a child while you would actually get one yourself to use. Its tough to use an OLPC after using my speedy notebook. Its slow (by normal notebook standards) and its OS is strange when being used to other systems like Windows, Mac, and even Linux. Nonetheless, I found some of the apps on the OS very useful and speak to a bunch of the different elements we went over in class when it comes to Scratch and programming. I actually was able to get a better understanding of the basic principle behind programming just by using some of those elementary applications on the OS. Further, if I remember correctly, there was a setting that allowed you to actually see the entire source code for everything on the machine. Thus, if you spent long enough with the device, you could become a masterful coder (at least for that systems programming language). Without access to internet or other aspects of education, these units may not work as well. Nonetheless, I really saw the potential there a few years ago when I got my hands on one of those units.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: