EdTech: Remembering The "One Laptop" Debacle
Need any reminders of what an edtech bubble looks like -- the hype, exaggerated promises, enormous influxes of cash and media attention and wastes of time -- then refresh your recollection of the 2005 One Laptop Per Child phenomenon in which Nicholas Negroponte said he was going to transform the world by giving poor kids low-income laptops.
Well, he did -- 2.4 million XOs have been given out -- and the world remains largely unchanged. The plastic green and white machine seems downright ancient from the perspective of 2013 -- not to speak of being expensive (at $200).
According to this Reuters column from last week (Hotspots and have-nots), the main problem Negroponte faced was that the problem he proposed solving -- getting computers into peoples' hands -- was about to be solved on its own through cheap smartphones and netbooks. The main problem he didn't solve -- Internet access -- remained a massive obstacle. The solution? According to this columnist, it's a massive universal Internet access initiative to make the Internet really accessible and help nations solve their own problems and develop their own economies -- and, hey, learn online.
In that sense, I guess OLPC's failure could be used as a justification for online learning's future disappointment. There's really no stopping the enthusiasts -- just like there's no stopping the naysayers. Image via CCFlickr