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India Should Forget Its $35 computer

Posted on July 29, 2010 at 10:45am 0 Comments

Going for Cheap: India’s $35 Computer - Digits - WSJ

So, variants of the above article have been running all over the Internet, newsrooms, and blogosphere this week. India has a $35 computer. Great!

Except that they don't, probably won't anytime soon, and likely shouldn't anyway. Shouldn't? Yep, they shouldn't. Yet don't expect any of our journalism corps to ask…

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At 9:37pm on January 28, 2009, Jack said…
Hi Ed. I was wondering if your students would be interested in participating in a nationwide SAT Vocab Video Contest @ MIT university. Perhaps you have some educator contacts you could direct me to. You can view contest details at BrainyFlix.com Please let me know. Thanks!
At 8:04pm on January 6, 2009, Mark Cruthers said…
Hi Ed,

With your interest in Education Technology, I recommend you take a look at Wiziq's virtual classroom and authorstream's power point presentation platform. Both are web based platforms, have a bunch of features and free basic service.
At 3:13pm on December 29, 2008, Alyshia Olsen said…
We're not sure if we're going to be open source or not (I'd love to hear your thoughts on the issue of open-source)

We're thinking about using something called PHP Cake. I'm not the lead on the programming end of things - my colleague Evan Morikawa is on this network as well though, and he's doing the bulk of the research into what frameworks we're using, if you'd like to ask him about it.

As far as this year-off of school goes, we're not at all endorsed by the college. No funding, no housing, no food...most of us are living out of our own pockets, or with some help from our parents. This project isn't getting us any credit-what it is getting for us is some real life experience in the business world, and a lot of experience designing, talking to users, programming, and taking an idea from start to finish. We're planning on registering ourselves as a business in early January, and hopefully this will continue on to become something bigger.

As far as assumptions about our user resources go, we're located in a relatively affluent area. We've been talking to schools in Waltham, Weston, Needham, Wellesly, and Natick. This 'upper middle class suburban' distinction gives us some wiggle room to assume that most of the schools and homes in the area have some form of high speed internet. We hope to eventually enter into other areas, but for our original pilots we're sticking with the schools that we know have the bandwidth for something like this.

Our budget at the moment is coming out of our own pockets. Fortunately, we haven't had to purchase much thus far, save a few conference tickets and office supplies. I'm not sure if we're planning on purchasing any programming tools, but if we win this ideablob competition, we'll have a $10,000 pool of startup funding to help push this forward.

Right now our timeline is to have a pre-beta pilot available for teachers on April 15th. If we receive enough funding for this project, we'll be able to work through the summer and hopefully launch another beta version early in the 2009-2010 school year. We haven't hashed out all of the details of the pre-beta yet, but we'll be making a more detailed timeline once we do that.

Thanks for the questions-pretty helpful in letting me think about some things, and I'll be forwarding them all to the group.

At 1:24pm on December 29, 2008, Alyshia Olsen said…
We're actually still working on the website right now-a better description should be up in the next few days. The description that's up on ideablob is also not geared towards teachers-it's a very general description of what we're doing made to fit within the 1000 character limit we were given.

The six of us have been doing a lot of research and user studies-talking to teachers, students, and parents to see where their values lie and what types of software would be most helpful to them. To add to that, we have an engineering bias which has been reinforced by much of the reading we've been doing on technology in education. This results in a very strong belief on our part that students need to have the technology that they use in their daily lives integrated with the learning environment that they are in. Thus, we would be doing two main things. We would incorporate technology into the learning environment by

1. acting as an aggregator that would bring some very useful web tools to the fingertips of students (things like google docs, digg, and wordpress blogging)
2. giving students a different medium (one that they likely already use in their daily lives) to actively (even passively) learn in.
3. giving teachers a simple and intuitive way to integrate this technology into their assignments while keeping everything simple and intuitive

We would also be serving as a platform to increase and enhance communication between teachers, students, and parents. For students, in addition to keeping their schoolwork and study aids/information all in one place online, this would act as a social network in which students, teachers, and parents would be able to communicate. We understand that there are many security concerns with something like this, and we are in the process of addressing exactly how those interactions would need to occur so that security would not be an issue.

We've come up with a lot of ways to do this thus far, and right now we're in a stage where we're further defining ourselves and getting ready to throw out some designs of a few of the core features we expect to have. Keep in mind that all of these features and designs will be tested against the teachers, parents, students, and administrators at a few schools that have agreed to help us out with this project. We're still in a stage where we're very open to feedback and adjustments in our direction.

For a much shorter description, think blackboard/moodle, only
a. web-based so that individual teachers can sign up and use the site,
b. web 2.0 so that the site looks cleaner and is more intuitive - somewhere people /want/ to go when they're online
c. a different slant (which I've explained above), where we don't try to do everything and anything as blackboard does. We want to start out by doing just a few things, and do them well.

I'd love to have a conversation with you about this if you're still interested in the finer details of the project. More advice is always welcome!

Thanks for the advice, and no, I haven't heard the story of John M. Olin...apparently he's the son of Mr. Franklin Olin who made my college possible :)

At 9:33pm on December 28, 2008, Alyshia Olsen said…
Hi Ed,

My name is Alyshia Olsen; I am a 20 year old college student from Olin College of Engineering. I am a part of a group of 6 Olin College students (we're in Needham, MA, and engineering students) who has taken a year off to work on an education related project. Since you are in the 'e-learning and online teaching' group, I thought you might be interested! Our project is called AlightLearning, and this is our "short" project description:

Under the assumption that within ten years, the landscape of modern education will have fully integrated what we now define as new classroom media: video, online collaboration, open source curriculum and other web tools, we hope to pioneer a web software tool that acts as a platform for this new media, bringing the power of the web and its tools to students, teachers and parents in a secure, comfortable and innovative environment. Our goal is to have our free software at a pilot middle school by April 15th, 2009, continuing to develop and coordinate with our users to create a product that other schools want to pilot and use at their schools, while allowing individual teachers to implement this tool in their own classroom.

Our project, titled Alight Learning, is currently trying to win a competition for startup funding on ideablob.com. You can find us at http://ideablob.com/3975 . We would love your support in the form of a vote within the next couple days, but more importantly we'd love your feedback and comments. Our description on Ideablob is short, and even the one above hardly gets at many of the issues we would like to take a stab at solving, but at least it's a start.

Feel free to email me back, check out alightlearning.com, anything you like!


Alyshia Olsen
At 6:44am on September 24, 2008, Millis High School said…
We will look into your site in our class tomorrow, but here is the link to our schools Wiki.

At 6:06am on September 24, 2008, Millis High School said…
Hey Ed, just wanted to let you know that we are a Web 2.0 Class at Millis High. We are working on, through technology, ways to bring collaborative project into the classroom. Do you have anything to offer?
At 3:12pm on February 20, 2008, Connie Weber said…
Your comment made my week1 Congratulations--wonderful!!
This is so exciting. I hope you'll make a big post about it when you get the chance, both here and at Fireside.
Having communities for professional learning has made all the difference for me, too--and for so many people I send thanks to Steve for founding this site, and for everyone who reaches out with support and encouragement to their online colleagues.
I love your emphasis on civic culture. It's been a great inspiration. Please share what you are learning and proposing about building sustainable initiatives in education. Thank you for being such a leader in this.
Thank you so much for the good news and for the warmth of your note, which is validating the work we put into caring for each other, caring to know about what's going on, caring to learn what we're all up to in our endeavors to make a difference!
At 12:56pm on February 11, 2008, Andrew said…
Thanks, Ed.
At 7:17pm on January 22, 2008, Lynn Marentette said…


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