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Welcome: $35 tablet for education

India's HRD Minister Kapil Sibal spoke recently of a $35 tablet for Indian students.  In response, Nicholas published this open letter to India.  (Read it also in Hindi, Spanish, French, and German.) One Laptop per Child applauds Minister Kapil Sibal for promoting a $35 tablet. Education is the primary solution to eliminating poverty, saving the environment and creating world peace. Access to a connected laptop or tablet is the fastest way to enable universal learning. We agree with you completely. Please consider this open letter OLPC’s pledge to provide India with free and open access to all of our technology, and our experience with 2 million laptops, in over 40 countries, in over 25 languages. As a humanitarian and charitable organization, we do not compete. We collaborate, and invite you to do so, too. In the meantime, let me offer the following six suggestions.
  1. Focus on children 6 to 12 years old. They are your nation’s most precious natural resource.  For primary school children, the tablet is not about computing or school, it is about hope. It makes passion the primary tool for learning.
  2. Your tablet should be the death of rote learning, not the tool of it. A creative society is built not on memorizing facts, but by learning learning itself. Drill and practice is a mechanism of the industrial age, when repetition and uniformity were systemic. The digital age is one of personalization, collaboration and appropriation. OLPC’s approach to learning is called constructionism. We hope you adopt it too.
  3. Tablets are indeed the future. OLPC announced its own eight months ago. However, caution is needed with regard to one aspect of tablets: learning is not media consumption. It is about making things. The iPad is a consumptive tool by design.  OLPC urges that you not make this mistake.
  4. Hardware is simple. Less obvious is ruggedness, sunlight readability and low power. We use solar power because our laptop is by far the lowest power laptop on the planet. But do not overlook human power – hand cranking and other things that kids can do at night or when it rains. Just solar would be a mistake. Rugged means water resistant and droppable from 10 feet onto a stone floor.
  5. Software is harder. Linux is obvious, but whatever you do, do not make it a special purpose device with only a handful of functions. It must be a general purpose computer upon which the whole world can build software, invent applications and do programming. We know that when children program they come the closest to thinking about thinking. When they debug, they are learning about learning. This is key.
  6. More than anything, of all the unsolicited advice I have to offer, the most important and most likely to be overlooked is good industrial design. Make an inexpensive tablet, not a cheap one. Make it desirable, lovable and fun to own. Take a page from Apple on this, maybe from OLPC too. Throw the best design teams in India behind it.
India is so big that you risk being satisfied with your internal market. Don’t. The world needs your device and leadership. Your tablet is not an “answer” or “competitor” to OLPC’s XO laptop. It is a member of a family dedicated to creating peace and prosperity through the transformation of education. In closing, I repeat my offer: full access to all of our technology, cost free. I urge you to send a team to MIT and OLPC at your earliest convenience so we can share our results with you. Nicholas Negroponte Founder and Chairman One Laptop per Child Foundation Cambridge, Massachusetts USA

Comments

L’Inde annonce sa tablette « Sakshat » : vers un rapprocheme (not verified) says: [...] du projet OLPC, a publié quant à lui sur le blog OLPC une lettre ouverte (« Welcome: $35 tablet for education« ) appelant au rapprochement entre les deux projets éducatifs. Nous vous en [...] July 29, 2010 at 10 am

Joshua Gay (not verified) says: This is fantastic! What a fabulous open letter and statement. I wish more educational non-profit organizations took the stance that "we do not compete [...] we collaborate". So many of the existing non-profits working on technology and resources for education do not take this stance. They want to keep their technology proprietry and secretive and they often compete with other non-profits in their space. So, it is a welcome relief to see OLPC reach out to other institutions with the offer to "full access to all of our technology, cost free". Thank you!! July 29, 2010 at 11 am

Nishant Indian (not verified) says: Its a fantastic and realistic offer and not an illusion. I being an Indian dont want to have baised comment by supporting Kapil Sibal for his foolish anouncement. We are all here to collaborate and not compete with each other. July 29, 2010 at 12 pm

Negroponte approva il tablet indiano da 35$ | Netbook News (not verified) says: [...] olpc blog Tags: governo indiano, News & Rumors, olpc, [...] July 29, 2010 at 2 pm

India’s tantalizing tablet | One Laptop per Child (not verified) says: [...] our tech and experience with an India project to help their vision succeed. Nicholas published an open letter to the Ministry inviting them to Cambridge. July 29, 2010 at 6 pm

Saurabh Adhikari (not verified) says: Its a real world battle between a vision of the future and those who need to worry about their survival today. In India, few decisions are taken because of high moral or vision content. The Times of India used a report in one of its smaller editions and its difficult if Kapil Sibal will ever see with OLPC offered. July 29, 2010 at 11 pm

Saurabh Adhikari (not verified) says: For all his strange ways, Kapil Sibal knows and meets Satish Jha often enough. A better way will be to reach out to the media effectively in a way that Kapil Sibal and his masters get an opportunity to listen. July 29, 2010 at 11 pm

Saurabh Adhikari (not verified) says: Even better a way will be for OLPC to take a higher view and deploy 10,000 OLPC laptops and demonstrate their value in India. July 29, 2010 at 11 pm

Saurabh Adhikari (not verified) says: Poor are poor for some reason. If they could see several generations ahead, will they be poor? To expect them to make a better decision without some help in effectively demonstrating it is as good as no decision at all. July 29, 2010 at 11 pm

Harriet Vidyasagar (not verified) says: Any innovation is welcome news. Prof. Negroponte's lucid and amazingly worded comments echo our sentiments. We need to learn from the experience of taking something from the design board to commercial production and distribution. He has made a very generous offer and has already gifted the first round of XO laptops to get us started in India way back in 2007. As someone very closely associated with the OLPC programme from its earliest deployments in India...all I can say is: Seeing is believing: Anyone in India who has never held an XO laptop or seen a classroom with kids working on XOs with the Sugar Learning Platform and other free software has only to come and see the children and their families in action with the XO at the centre of their learning, to believe the unprecedented opportuntiy we are being offered in India. The Govt. of India and some private sectors companies coming together have the capacity to scale up our current little OLPC projects, that no longer need a proof of concept. To the millions of Indian children at the primary school level in villages across India who have the ability but not the economic means..this may be their last hope. July 30, 2010 at 2 am

$35 Tablet with Made-In-India tag - Gadgets Tech - Lounge In (not verified) says: [...] Re: $35 Tablet with Made-In-India tag Read more ...... (No copy paste :P ) http://www.pcworld.com/businesscente...35_tablet.html http://blog.laptop.org/2010/07/29/we...indias-tablet/ [...] July 30, 2010 at 11 pm

2¢ Worth » Stager Nails It (not verified) says: [...] the the One Laptop Per Child) project.  It was sent to the Times of India.  You can read the text here. Twitter This [...] July 31, 2010 at 7 am

OLPC Founder Offers Help To Make $35 Tablet « Revelations Fr (not verified) says: [...] a congratulatory note to the government, OLPC Chairman Nicholas Negroponte said the world needs the $35 tablet, and he [...] July 31, 2010 at 2 pm

OLPC تعرض تكنولوجيتها لمساعدة الهند في تصميم لوحها بـ 35 دول (not verified) says: [...] جمعية (OLPC (One Laptop Per Child أشاد بالمبادرة الهندية و التي تسعى لإنتاج أول لوح إلكتروني بـ 35 دولار ، و عرض [...] August 2, 2010 at 6 am

Negroponte offeres OLPC tech to India’s $35 tablet program | (not verified) says: [...] a congratulatory note to the government, OLPC Chairman Nicholas Negroponte said the world needs the $35 tablet, and he [...] August 2, 2010 at 6 am

OLPC Pledges Support To Indian £23 Laptop Scheme | eWEEK Eur (not verified) says: [...] an open letter published late last week, Negroponte said that he was happy to collaborate with the makers of the Indian device, despite the [...] August 2, 2010 at 7 am

Negroponte offers India OLPC tech | developing-news.com Late (not verified) says: [...] to an open letter published on the OLPC Blog, Negroponte “applauds Minister Kapil Sibal for promoting a $35 tablet,” and states that [...] August 2, 2010 at 7 am

Joe (not verified) says: I think these are the wisest, most deeply empathic words one could find on this topic - of ICT. Being an Indian, I doubt though that the Govt of India has the true political will to take on the entire PC distribution channel. The "Channel Partners", as they call themselves, in collusion with countrywide distributors, have a stranglehold on decisions of Ministers (by way of "lavish gifts" located in Swiss banks) of each state. This is a long drawn out battle. August 2, 2010 at 10 am

Joe (not verified) says: When the Central Govt is forced to transfer diligent, combative, and highly effective officers for having distributed cheap laptops to children in Chennai, you should know that teh system is rotten. these few are actually *punished* for doing what the Cong party promised in the general elections. August 2, 2010 at 10 am

Joe (not verified) says: It is a dirty system. How the GoI is going to actually bring this about is a huge mystery. August 2, 2010 at 10 am

Joe (not verified) says: But this is the right kind of pressure. I hope the media and news channels take up this cause - like their many other nationalist / sensationalist causes - Save the Tiger, Save the Forest, Feed the hungry, etc. August 2, 2010 at 10 am

Joe (not verified) says: Citing Right to Education and Right to information, each new channel must come up with a campaign like this:
"A Tablet to cure illiteracy" August 2, 2010 at 10 am

Joe (not verified) says: ... even before the project is officially launched, because these "Channel Partner" and "Distributor" wolves will be ganging up with their alpha-male behaviour to ward off competition from their territory. August 2, 2010 at 10 am

Joe (not verified) says: If we hunt beasts in the jungle, then GoI must hunt these beasts of the corporate trader jungle that ICT has been malformed into. August 2, 2010 at 10 am

Joe (not verified) says: Or will this pass like countless other false election promises from the Cong? August 2, 2010 at 10 am

Don Barry (not verified) says: Good words, platitudes all. August 2, 2010 at 10 am

Don Barry (not verified) says: But behind it lies a man already marginalized from most of the community that created the
original OLPC, and struggling for continued relevance. August 2, 2010 at 10 am

Don Barry (not verified) says: Contact the people who *made* the OLPC. Most of them are now in other projects. But
I'm sure they'd be quite glad to offer assistance and perspective. Do you really want another
bureaucrat on board? August 2, 2010 at 10 am

sj (not verified) says: Hello Don, August 2, 2010 at 3 pm

sj (not verified) says: Many of the original creators are still working towards that goal together -- Mary Lou Jepsen and Walter Bender are still involved with or directly supporting OLPC projects, and we proudly support their related work in low-power hardware and software tools for learning. August 2, 2010 at 3 pm

sj (not verified) says: Mark Foster, Jim Gettys and Chris Blizzard also had early roles to play, and would each be worth talking to -- though they are no longer working or advocating for the same sorts of developments. August 2, 2010 at 3 pm

sj (not verified) says: Nicholas is currently a prominent figure in the movement, and it means a lot for him to continue to remind people that we should be collaborating, not competing. I would love to see other strong public figures emerge from lower-case olpc efforts around the globe, advocating loudly for lower power, longer-lived, lower-cost computers, and exploring their educational impact. If you have champions of that message to suggest, please let us know. August 2, 2010 at 3 pm

Presidente da OLPC oferece apoio ao tablet de US$ 35 | Gadge (not verified) says: [...] de consumo por natureza. A OLPC lhe implora que não cometam esse erro.”Com informações: OLPC. Leia mais sobre: Índia, Nicholas Negroponte, OLPC, [...] August 3, 2010 at 2 pm

Ram (not verified) says: thanks to negroponte for making such a generous offer. India and OLPC dont have such a good relationship and that's probably one reason for india to go its way.
But is producing a $35 laptop feasible or is it a marketing gimic. I hope that the indian government doesn't see this as a big business opportunity instead of thinking of it as universal education. August 3, 2010 at 7 pm

Ram (not verified) says: I strongly feel that India should embrace negroponte's comments. Common, government agencies are so corrupt in for-profit dealings, I dont see anything different here. I hope good things happen. August 3, 2010 at 7 pm

Bakori (not verified) says: This is a good focus for the entire siblings. Iam on the view that India should embrace it. August 4, 2010 at 4 am

Negroponte offers good advice to India’s $35 computer projec (not verified) says: [...] Negroponte, founder and chair of the One Laptop per Child Foundation, just posted an open letter to the Indian government, offering to share his hard-earned expertise and help the government [...] August 4, 2010 at 12 pm

Arunan (not verified) says: I am leaving for Goa, India tonight to see how OLPC works in Goa.
Hope to share my views soon. August 7, 2010 at 11 am

sebastian (not verified) says: hola que tal, queria saber en que momento llegaria la computadora esa a la argentina o si se podria enviar para tener una y cual seria el costo total...responder a mi mail .. gracias August 7, 2010 at 1 pm

sebastian (not verified) says: soy estudiante de la facultad de rosario en ingenieria en sistemas y me vendria bien una de esas computadoras August 7, 2010 at 1 pm

bhanu (not verified) says: Thank you for offering your valuable suggestions to the Indian government but honestly, I do not imagine our govt. considering your suggestions. I do not know if you've made this request officially (sending this document to govt. officials through bureaucratic procedures). August 8, 2010 at 2 pm

bhanu (not verified) says: Good luck! August 8, 2010 at 2 pm

Jaydeep Wagh (computer engineer) (not verified) says: I strongly support OLPC's decision in supporting India in its development for $35 laptop. August 8, 2010 at 2 pm

Jaydeep Wagh (computer engineer) (not verified) says: Moreover OLPC is having a Goal to promote learning than computer awareness.!!! August 8, 2010 at 2 pm

Jaydeep Wagh (computer engineer) (not verified) says: So keeping my fingers crossed, I hope that this project of $35 laptop comes into a reality. August 8, 2010 at 2 pm

Jaydeep Wagh (computer engineer) (not verified) says: I pray hereby. August 8, 2010 at 2 pm

mahesh (not verified) says: sir....
i really agree u from my heart...
this is staring of a big revolution in world.....
i m from INDIA.
i M intersted for this projectn prodect... August 8, 2010 at 10 pm

mahesh (not verified) says: :-) August 8, 2010 at 10 pm

India's $35 laptop scheme needs help | News : News Paper : N (not verified) says: [...] Negroponte’s offer of “free and open access” to Sibal should not be construed as some grandstanding gesture from a man who is clearly disappointed that his efforts fell short of his own goals. It offers the chance for the Indian government to learn from OLPC’s mistakes, curtail development steps, lower cost and actually bring a product to market. [...] August 9, 2010 at 2 am

OLPC India Now Targets 1M XOs In 2010; Negroponte Writes Abo (not verified) says: [...] Read Negroponte’s open letter here. [...] August 9, 2010 at 3 am

Prashant (not verified) says: Hi Sir, August 9, 2010 at 7 am

Prashant (not verified) says: Government of India and several state governments have huge budgets that are lying unused.
More so there are fund to the tune of several millions for every district (county in US) someone need to prove that small is good, then the media hungry politicians of India will latch on to this bandwagon.
I have seen very closely that such politicians need a space for themselves within this initiative, once you have done that, u can start small and improve on that... u can expand statewise - preferably August 9, 2010 at 7 am