Sunday, March 16, 2014

"One Laptop Per Child may be done", what is the future in Africa?

The following paper appeared in VB  News this week: One Laptop per Child may be done.
While I have been critical about some technical aspects of the OLPC project, it is sad to see this project shutting down. I still believe that Negroponte's vision is the right one. But a vision without execution is hallucination, and maybe it was the execution that failed. In this fast moving IT industry it seems that OLPC was not able to adapt and deliver solutions fast enough and that they miscalculated their market. This is just my assumption as I have no information and OLPC has always been very mysterious, not posting much information on their website. This may also explain why they did not answer my recent emails.
Perhaps another mistake was to concentrate a lot of efforts on proprietary hardware instead of the content. I think that it is really innovative e-learning content that can make a difference in children's education, more than technology that changes almost month by month. Perhaps a better model is to develop that content and make it available on any technical platform, but targeting mobile Internet devices that become more affordable than the OLPC itself.
An example of such content is delivered by Mediae, an organization producing media for education and development. The challenge is the development of quality content both from a technical stand point and from an educational point of view. In Rwanda we have the new Africa Digital Media Academy (ADMA) that trains people doing just that. ADMA can train people creating good quality digital media content, companies like Mediae can help these people developing content for education and development, Rwanda is implementing a 4G wireless network across the country within one year, and affordable tablets become available on the market, It seems that the stars are lining up for a great future for e-learning. And this is not AID or charity! There is business to be done here. Alex Lindsay, founder of Pixel Corps, the Californian company that is partnering with the government of Rwanda for the ADMA estimates that the educational digital media market for Africa is a multi-billion dollar market.

Seeya later alligator...


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