News and Trends(26)

8/15/2006 By: T&L Editors

Negroponte Speaks Out

By Susan McLester

MIT Media Lab chairman and NECC keynoter Nicholas Negroponte updated a packed audience on his One Laptop Per Child project, which aims to equip the most impoverished children globally with $100 laptops (see "On the Horizon").

In addition to tracing the progress of OLPC in Senegal, Costa Rica, Nigeria, Thailand, and other places, and displaying the evolution of the colorful prototype devices, the eminently quotable Negroponte used the forum to address issues raised by critics of the initiative. On the criticism of Microsoft, Intel, and others of the $100 laptop:

"When people like that don't like it, you must be doing something right."

On equipping children with take-home laptops in a remote Cambodian village where Negroponte has built a school and installed WiFi, in the absence of electricity:

"Parents love the laptop because it's the brightest light in the house."

"Their first English word was Google."

On why the United States is not a target market for the $100 laptop:

"We don't treat malaria here. And those countries have no power, no telecommunications, and no teachers."

On how OLPC's ambitious plans to ship 5 million to 10 million laptops in 2007 and 50 million to 150 million in 2008 will work:

"Fifty percent of the cost of a laptop is sales, marketing, and distribution. Companies keep adding new features to keep the price from going down."

"Elements of the $100 model include: no caps lock key; power consciousness; more human power; no bloated software; and an absence of 'featuritis.'"

On how it's possible to develop an inexpensive laptop:

"The price floats because currency changes. For instance, the price of nickel went up 20 percent between April and May."

On what Negroponte sees as the poor design of full-price computers:

"Whoever decided to put the caps lock key just above the shift key should be put in jail."

Negroponte invites educators' reactions and suggestions. Contribute your ideas at: http://wiki.laptop.org.


New at NECC

By Susan McLester

In a press conference, ISTE CEO Don Knezek noted that among this year's conference trends were an increased international focus, with attendees representing 55 countries; a Global Gallery exhibit; and a Borderlands Collaboration with Mexico enabling a strand of 30 Spanish language sessions and presentations. Broader accessibility was another theme, with podcasts, blogs, live video streaming, Webcasts, and iTunes' broadcasting of keynotes, and other conference content both during and after the event (www.neccsite.org).

Research on the Rise

By Susan McLester

At NECC, several companies and organizations announced recent and soon-to-be-released studies and surveys regarding technology and education. Among them are the Partnership for 21st Century Skills, Cisco, NetDay, Education Networks of America, Texas Instruments, and CDW-G (see "Tipping Point," this page). Stay tuned for a closer look at findings in upcoming issues of T&L.

Tipping Point

By: T&L Editors

In CDW-G's study involving 1,000 teachers, "Teachers Talk Tech 2006," 88 percent of participants agreed "strongly" or "somewhat" that 21st century skills are important for success.

The World's Largest Scrapbook

By Susan McLester

With a mission to build a sense of community and engender empathy, Connect and Join is launching a portal that allows students and educators to communicate with U.S. soldiers in Iraq via a national scrapbook that will be presented to the troops during the December holiday celebration. At www.connectwiththetroops.com, those wishing to participate can download photo page templates, create or decorate existing photos, and access lesson plans and other standards-aligned learning experiences. The deadline for submissions to The World's Largest Scrapbook is November 15, 2006.

Net Neutrality Debate Heats Up

By Amy Poftak

Should all content on the Net receive equal treatment? This was the issue debated this summer by the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee, which in late June rejected an amendment that would have barred telecommunications companies from charging content providers for speedier data delivery. Supporters of so-called Net neutrality—the general principle that the Internet should remain free and open—include Yahoo, Google, and Amazon, as well as the American Library Association and the nonprofit ed tech group Educause. Opponents include AT&T, Comcast, and other broadband companies.

Why should educators care? In a word: money. If technology companies, especially those who offer rich media via the Web, have to pay a premium to have their content delivered to schools, they'll likely have to charge more for their services. Randy Wilhelm, CEO of Thinkronize, developer of netTrekker, agrees. "Maintaining Net neutrality is the best way to ensure digital curriculum will be delivered to schools at the lowest cost," Wilhelm says.

One thing is sure: Expect a vigorous debate on the issue when Congress reconvenes this September.

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