It all started out with the ‘one laptop per child’ scheme where the vision was to create educational opportunities for the world’s poorest children by providing them each with a rugged, low-cost, low-powered laptop.
Intel joined forces with the One Laptop project and developed the computer popularly known as the ‘$100 laptop’ (although it actually ended up costing $188). The scheme has been a runaway success with many of the world’s poorer nations making the most of the opportunity.
India has just announced that it is planning to unveil its own low cost laptop which it plans to make available to its school children. Early estimations on costs are in the region of $100 – which would significantly undercut the One Laptop Per Child’s XO machine and the Intel Classmate.
The laptops will enable students to access a whole host of e-learning materials which are being specially developed, ranging from e-books, e-journals and translation tools.
Suggestions for use in class
This story could be useful to form the basis of a class discussion – especially for AS students. It would be relevant in a couple of different areas, namely hardware and secondly from the impact on education.
Looking at hardware first, why might India decide to develop and build their own laptop rather than purchase those which are already available? This might be to do with wanting to develop their R&D capabilities – if they constantly buy from elsewhere then they will not have the technical knowledge to develop future products. It is probably also about providing work for their own people rather than allowing the money to go out of the country on foreign exports. It also looks like they have been able to make huge cost savings with their laptop due to come in aroudn $88 dollars less expensive than their main rival.
The impact on education is worth getting students to think about. The OCR syllabus (GO61) has a point where it specifically mentions future developments of ICT in the field of education. It is very likely that at some stage in the future all school children in the developed world will have their own laptop which will become as much a part of their toolkit as their pencil case and exercise books are now. In the UK there is no co-ordinated strategy that will make it likely in the near future. Thus, it is interesting that India already has plans in place to provide a co-ordinated e-learning central repository, called the shaksat web portal.
This news story could be used to stimulate a class discussion on the benefits and problems of e-learning and what impact it might have on the children of India.