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Monday, 23 February 2015 20:33

New OLPC laptop, but still no talk of education Featured

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One Education, which is a front for the One Laptop Per Child programme in Australia, has announced that it is developing a new laptop for children which is modular and, which, it claims, can be put together by a four-year-old.

However, One Education has not produced anything in the way of evidence to show how this new laptop will help improve education for children. That was the aim of OLPC but one which survey after survey in various countries has shown does not hold up in practice.

According to a media release from One Education, "the XO-infinity will be both a tablet and laptop and allow children to swap and upgrade parts over the course of their primary schooling, reducing the costs and environmental burdens associated with technological change".

The release quotes Rangan Srikhanta, the chief executive of One Education, as saying: "The XO-infinity will provide endless possibilities for parents, schools and children to choose between Android, Windows and Linux and be tied down to none.

"We also see immense potential in expanding the user base of the XO to any child in the world and allowing communities to trade modules, reducing the cost of change and helping our organisation to address the digital divide in an innovative way”.

But not a word about education. So is One Education using money from the Australian taxpayer — it wheedled $11.7 million out of the Gillard government in 2011 — the Commonwealth Bank, News Limited and Telstra among others to sell computers? Children seem to be easy targets for misguided would-be do-gooders who have little or no clue about what they are doing.

The release says the XO-infinity will have a target price that is more affordable than the current XO. It also claims that the device will last 10 years. This flies in the face of Moore's Law but this would not be the first time that one has to suspend belief when writing about OLPC.

One Education does not seem to want to engage with media, apart from TV and radio outlets. The release says: "Interviews – Rangan Srikhanta and Natalie See (Primary School Principal) are available for TV or radio interviews." Looks like they want to avoid outlets that ask hard questions.

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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