Archive for August, 2007

Introduction

August 24, 2007

This is a little blog to give a friendly, personal update on how things are going with me and OLPC.

OLPC is One Laptop Per Child, an interesting organization that is seeking to provide educational opportunities to children in the developing world.

My name is Todd Kelsey, and I’m the language learning coordinator for OLPC; it’s a volunteer role, and it has been an educational experience for sure.

Most of the work I’ve put into it has consisted of a flurry of emails and phone calls, talking to people, getting the word out, seeking to establish partnerships, explaining the project, and inviting people to get involved.

It’s all about getting involved.

There’s different viewpoints on the approach that OLPC is taking; in particular, there are people who’d rather see resources put into basic infrastructure such as water, sanitation, and other critical foundations of society. I celebrate the notion of putting resources into these areas, and at the same time, I think that education is a foundation too, a cornerstone.

OLPC is not out to tell the world what to do; this much I’ve learned. The spirit is truly “open”. They’re not engaged in cultural imperialism — just the opposite — they’ve been going to make friends in countries, and give people the opportunity to get access to technology at a much lower cost than the current computer industry makes it available for. They don’t say “do this” or “do that”, they seek to help provide tools that people in their own countries and cultures and languages can use to do what they see best.

Their philosophy is “constructivist”, which basically means they think kids should be allowed to explore as part of the learning process. So some people have an issue with this. I suppose I’m somewhat in the middle. I like exploration, I like having some structure.

As far as I’m concerned — the project is happening, has been happening, will happen. It’s changing the world already.

It’s not a panacea — it won’t solve all the world’s problems, but I think it will help to develop awareness of the developing world. And the laptops are not just for the developing world — they may end up in the developed world as well.

This is why I’ve lost sleep, made sacrifices in various parts of my life, squeezing this in outside of work, and finishing my PhD, and maintaining friendships and relationships. Again, I don’t think it is “the” answer, but I think is “one” answer.

So tonight I started this blog, and today’s report is that I finally added a page to the OLPC “wiki” — a wiki is a kind of web page where anyone can edit the page — so it’s good for open collaboration. You may have visited Wikipedia — the reason it has grown so much is because anyone can go and find information, add information, etc.

So I added the Friendly Language page, and I need to go to bed pretty soon, but here’s the link at least:

http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Friendly_Language

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