OLPC machine may cause an education revolution

One Laptop Per Child project aims to provide computers to kids from all corners of the world

"The training of the teachers is crucial. The PC is only a tool and when used in the learning process the teacher becomes a key person. At first the children would have to have someone to turn to if the computer doesn't work. When the initial learning has been provided the learning has to be engineered to fit this new tool. It will be extremely important what use you will make of this", Soelberg said.

In this phase, the teacher's role is to keep the children focused on doing specific tasks like reading a particular book, composing a certain piece of music or taking pictures of specific objects. That way the PC becomes valuable for the educational process and supports the teaching.

"When it is done like that the educator achieves some things that couldn't be done without the computers," Soelberg said.

At the same time commercial interests are an indirect threat to the project. The problem could be that the computer will become trophies after they have been bought and traded online. According to Soelberg, the idea is that the kids should have ownership of the computer. And you could fear that some computers will disappear.

Besides the fact that some children may drop and break the machines or simply forget them the huge interest in the computer could create a commercial market.

"The market is there. And if they can get US$500 for a computer worth US$100 that they've gotten for free, it's obvious that some will be tempted to sell," Soelberg said.

This issue is not new. OLPC has plans that will link the computer to one person by demanding that the user to login with personal information. But Soelberg does not recall seeing a solution that effectively solves the problem.

"If the teaching is based on this tool it requires that everyone has access to it. If half the class all of the sudden does not show up -- the lessons have to be revised," Soelberg said.

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Rune Pedersen

Computerworld Danmark

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