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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

sj (not verified) says: Thank you for the kind wishes, Bhanu. August 10, 2010 at 7 pm

sj (not verified) says: Arunan, let us know what you learn and share in Goa. August 10, 2010 at 7 pm

sj (not verified) says: Sebastian, you can see from our latest post about the project in Argentina; it will involve laptops, not tablets. Once the first OLPC tablets come out, they will be available worldwide, but perhaps used in classrooms and at home in different ways. August 10, 2010 at 7 pm

Opinion: The $35 tablet isn’t hogwash | Cheapest Laptop Deal (not verified) says: [...] we still await a point-by-point reaction to the OLPC project’s open letter, Mr Sibal reflected Nicolas Negroponte’s belief that the device is a vehicle for knowledge [...] August 12, 2010 at 5 am

Shekhar Agarwal (not verified) says: This is truly a remarkable piece of work. This would improve the quality of education by many folds.
This device should also be exported to countries like Africa. August 13, 2010 at 2 am

Opinion: The $35 tablet isn’t hogwash | MyStreamTv.Com (not verified) says: [...] we still await a point-by-point reaction to the OLPC project’s open letter, Mr Sibal reflected Nicolas Negroponte’s belief that the device is a vehicle for knowledge [...] August 13, 2010 at 3 am

Sarves (not verified) says: Being an Indian I am eagerly waiting for 'tablet' in the hands of would be creators of world. According my knowledge, Indian government openly called many private companies for this wonderful project, but no one had given a prompt reply ( they want cores of cores rupees and moreover what will they have if included?). At last they have given this project to government organizations. But Mr.Nicholas who has seen this vision of Indian government, openly offered any help for 'tablet' and invited them for sharing of technology.
If we all do a small bit for this type of projects, in no time we will see world of innovators,but not an innovators of world.
I am heart fully appreciating Mr.Nicholas suggestions and offer. August 14, 2010 at 12 am

OLPC welcomes Education transformation in India « OLPC South (not verified) says: [...] for Indian students.  In response, Nicholas Negroponte, Founder and Chairman, OLPC  published the open letter in the Times of India welcoming India for transformation of education with technology and provided suggestions for [...] August 15, 2010 at 4 am

The $35 Indian tablet « Azkaar Ali (not verified) says: [...] I still awaits a point-by-point reaction to the OLPC project’s open letter, Mr Sibal reflected Nicolas Negroponte’s belief that the device is a vehicle for knowledge [...] August 17, 2010 at 3 am

Marmaridis Ioannis (not verified) says: [...]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.[...] August 17, 2010 at 7 am

Marmaridis Ioannis (not verified) says: Μπράβο και ευχαριστώ. August 17, 2010 at 7 am

Clyde (not verified) says: This is a lovely open letter to India.
I just came to know of a place in Mumbai called "Study street", where less fortunate children gather every night to study under street lights. August 20, 2010 at 5 am

Clyde (not verified) says: Imagine what a $35 laptop, with access to free wifi and online resources such as Google Books would do for them.
http://realvision.ae/blog/2010/08/lower-city-education-under-digital-lam... August 20, 2010 at 5 am

Clyde (not verified) says: India has the potential to be a game changer in invention and innovation as the laptop clearly shows.
Let's hope corruption does not rear it's ugly head in this project. and hopefully the implementation is quick and not lost in translation. August 20, 2010 at 5 am

Clyde (not verified) says: All the best. August 20, 2010 at 5 am

sj (not verified) says: Clyde, what a nice post. Thank you for sharing -- we do see children reading and working with their families at night in Peru where they previously rarely had light -- having electricity from their school charger, and a light source that uses it, is one of the useful features of the project for them. August 24, 2010 at 3 pm

sj (not verified) says: Shekhar, Sarves, good to hear from you. I look forward to seeing how India's program develops. August 24, 2010 at 3 pm

¿Cuán barato puede llegar a ser el ordenador más barato del (not verified) says: [...] operativo y aunque muchos se mostraron escépticos en un principio incluso la gente del OLPC le dio la bienvenida deseándoles lo mejor y ofreciéndose a colaboraciones futuras con algunas ideas [...] August 26, 2010 at 5 am

sobre tecnologia » Blog Archive » ¿Cuán barato puede llegar (not verified) says: [...] operativo y aunque muchos se mostraron escépticos en un principio incluso la gente del OLPC le dio la bienvenida deseándoles lo mejor y ofreciéndose a colaboraciones futuras con algunas ideas [...] August 26, 2010 at 6 am

¿Que tan barato puede llegar a ser el ordenador más barato d (not verified) says: [...] operativo y aunque muchos se mostraron escépticos en un principio incluso la gente del OLPC le dio la bienvenidadeseándoles lo mejor y ofreciéndose a colaboraciones futuras con algunas ideas [...] August 26, 2010 at 10 am

John D.Jayakumar (not verified) says: I hope and pray that Mr. Sibal really keeps his promise and he doesnot consider Mr. Negreponte's offer as someone trying to hitchhike on his glory wagon of $35 tablet. I do hope the politicians who are very quick to raise their own salaries and perks will allow then this crumbs to fall from their table and I do earnestly hope the future generations empowered by this education tool will learn of their learning, think about their thinking and question their own questionings and not spare the 'democratic' tyrants, baffoons, illiterate criminals masquerading as leaders of this still lovely land August 29, 2010 at 6 am

Siva Prakash, Jinja, Uganda (not verified) says: Wish I could develop some interesting programs using open ware for this $ 35 tablet .... August 29, 2010 at 4 pm

OLPC India Now Targets 1M XOs In 2010; Negroponte Writes Abo (not verified) says: [...] Read Negroponte’s open letter here. [...] September 7, 2010 at 1 am

travion vanhorn (not verified) says: my sound is not working.
I can't play music on my laptop.
my language on scratch September 12, 2010 at 11 am

Jeya (not verified) says: This is an excellent post. The Indian developers must keep those words in mind on point no:6 inn their future development of this laptop. But the big question now is, who is going to manufacture this laptop for this price. Is Indian Government will support and fund it's manufacturing. Being an Indian, I could say that, this laptop should cross too many obstacles before it reaches the Indian market. let us wait. September 19, 2010 at 9 am

leiataua (not verified) says: The offer is invaluable for future generations of students. As usual there will be spin offs for the private people but for now, Negroponte has done a most noble thing.
As the father of the internet commented when in Samoa(oceania) a few years back, sharing knowledge is power. Hope India will run with the olpc offer. September 21, 2010 at 4 pm