XO-like network

It seems to me that the OLPC project is a proper exemplar for broadband access in the U.S.

In the OLPC model, the students' laptops create an ad hoc network that extends the school's LMS and allows children to communicate with teachers and other students outside the classroom. Extended teacher contact is one of the hallmarks of an excellent education as is access to resources in the home.

While the 'hardware digital divide' is more a matter of adoption today, broadband access is a very real and pressing problem. Handheld devices that leverage telecom accounts are not adequate as a primary learning platform. A 'bandwidth digital divide' solution could provide a springboard to thousands of underpriveleged children helping to create a richer envronment for learning.

As Negroponte says of the OLC project, it is not a technology project. It is a learning/education project. The XO itself is irrelevant except to the extent that it uses a mesh P2P that extends the single central node model OLPC uses due to the small communities it serves. This model may not be necessary or desirable in the U.S. Extending learning time and teacher contact are desirable.


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  1. Comment

    What should students be doing with the hardware once they acquire it? If we had ubiquitous access to hardware and bandwidth in the US for all students, how should they be making use of it to further their learning and development? What should educators and government be doing to support those uses?

  2. Comment
    Bob Calder ( Idea Submitter )

    The hardware and software represent the same kind of connection your cell phone gives you to your friends and family. The telco promises you will have instant contact and more shared family goodness. Look at the features you have on your cell phone. They are designed to allow you to share with the people you are closest to. This represents an intimate level of communication. But there are other levels of non-public or semi-public friendship and association represented by things like Twitter and FaceBook that facilitate that. Remember, privacy/security is a social compact, not a bit of code.

    Now think of that sort of pipeline to the community at school.

    Personally I think the problem with getting this done is that most people dont' see a school as a social network. They see a school as a dysfunctional bunch of burnt-out losers and thugs in a jail-like building who at the end of the day, just want to get away from one another.

    Putting *this* kind of group in 24/7 contact won't do a thing. The key is fostering community with technology.

    The U.S. is particularly bad at this but we won't admit it. The fight by the director of the FCC for Internet access for schools against the chairman of the Dept of Ed William Bennett during the Reagan administration is instructive.

    The reliance on legislation to improve education is subject to inherent limitations. Laws can only do so much to try to foster social change. As Dick Schultz said, "research based" doesn't mean "research proven" either, so political capital is currently being wasted to some extent on a single-minded conservative agenda that doesn't accept deviation from issues like faith in standardized testing.

    That's where the real problem for this initiative will lie. Access for homeschoolers and religious institutions.

    If we look at as an opportunity to provide universal open access curriculum to every person in the U.S., it will meet with some measure of approval on the far right.

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