This interview on BigThink.com with Nicholas Negroponte about the ongoing One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project is well worth the click and the time for you to watch, and perhaps most interesting of all, there are several other topics there worth watching.
I found it to be very open and authentic as Negroponte answered the following questions:
- How did One Laptop Per Child get started?
- How did you design a laptop specially tailored to children’s needs?
- Do you worry about the laptops growing rapidly obsolete?
- What evidence is there that One Laptop Per Child is working?
- How can teachers and students make the most out of a new laptop?
- How do you respond to critics who say, “Students should read books, not play with computers?”
- What will be the equivalent of the “Negroponte switch” in the next 20 years?
- What are the most radical technologies forthcoming from the MIT Media Lab?
- Should people “unplug” more to avoid media oversaturation?
- Following the battle between newspapers and Google, will walls between media increase?
- Which of the projects in your career has been the most difficult?
In the interview Negroponte provides some very reasoned and fascinating commentary about how he judges success for OLPC with examples such as truancy rates dropping to zero in many places (from up to 30% previously) and stories of how kids with an OLPC are teaching their parents to read and write.
Negroponte also makes some very revealing comments and tell some interesting stories about the reactions and effects on teachers where the OLPCs are in place. He notes five consistent comments they get from the teachers involved:
- Discipline problems go down in the classroom.
- They've never loved teaching so much.
- They've never had parents so deeply involved with school.
- Not only does truancy drop to zero, but the energy level in the classroom is just undeniably different.
- They just get swamped by emails with questions from the kids.
Negroponte also discusses things like the “Negroponte Switch” where he predicted about 20 years ago:
“…that most of the information that you got through the ground, through wires and physically, would in fact come through the air, and most of the things we got through the air, like television, would come through the ground.”
You can also hear about his more recent thoughts on how he believes that the next big change will be at the “space between biology and silicone”. Negroponte discusses some of the most recent work going on at MIT and his thoughts on “unplugging” and how he sees life now as more of an omelet!
The interview video runs almost 30 minutes but I strongly encourage you to watch more than just the beginning or read through the transcript. For me, much of the best was at the end where he talks very openly about the projects in his life which have been the most difficult.
I also liked the way BigThink.com put together this interview where the questions appear as just text on the screen for a few seconds and then all the rest of the video is simply a head and shoulders shot of Nicholas with an all-white background. They nicely provided a full text version of the interview accessible with one click, which then scrolls down below the video. It’s very handy for people like me with limited bandwidth and for those who want to grab relevant bits of the interview.
Both Nicholas and OLPC are worth watching in 2010.