One Laptop Per Child: a manufactured mismatch between digital media and Education
The dissemination of OLPC (One Laptop per Child) over developing countries from Africa and Latin America occurs since the middle of the 2000’s, when Nicholas Negroponte, , settled at MIT and from the same generation of Alan Kay and Adele Goldberg, launched, in 2005, the One Lap Top Per Child (OLPC) project. Although the considerable amount of governmental investment that has been allocated, the outcomes of the adoption of this new artefact in the context of teaching and learning have not be convincing. Evidences from Brazil show policy challenges as well hardware design limitation that prevent improvement in the teaching and learning process.
The purpose of this paper is to examine the design concept of the mini-laptops known as OLPC (One Laptop per Child), which is the most popular digital media for use in primary education, in face of the “ Dyanabook metamedium” concept, which was first idealized by Alan Kay, Adele Goldberg and the team of the Xerox PARC in the 1970’.
Questions to be answered
While the envision of mobile devices and mobile learning principles can be identified in the documents produced more than 40 years ago by Kay and his team, to what extent the OLPC can be considered a development of the “metamedium” concept? What are the consequences of OLPC current design to the experience of teacher and students at schools? What were the constrains for the OLPC to be developed as it is today? How common sense ideas as “digital native” and technology deterministic approaches help to explain the current scenario of low adoption of digital technology at schools.
Source of information:
- Alan Kay “A Personal Computer for Children of all Ages.” Palo Alto, Xerox PARC, 1972.
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- Interview with Kay in Time Magazine (April, 2013). Interesting background on the conceptual history of the GUI, computer interfaces for “interaction,” and today’s computing devices.
- Brian Arthur, The Nature of Technology: What It Is and How It Evolves.
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How the transistor got invented, from the perspective of 55 years later, in the words of the primary scientists involved.
Source: AT&T Archives : Foundations of the Information Age: The Transistor
A Guide to Important Sources for Further Research
Systems, Architectures, Complexity: Macro-Level Studies
- W. Brian Arthur, The Nature of Technology: What It Is and How It Evolves. New York, NY: Free Press, 2009.
- Donald A. Norman, Living with Complexity. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2010.
Complex System Design: Modularity, Abstraction, Layers & Levels
- Herbert A. Simon, “The Architecture of Complexity.” Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 106, no. 6 (December 12, 1962): 467–82.
- Carliss Y. Baldwin and Kim B. Clark, “Modularity in the Design of Complex Engineering Systems.” In Complex Engineered Systems: Science Meets Technology, edited by Dan Braha, Ali A. Minai, and Yaneer Bar-Yam, 175-205. Cambridge, MA: Springer, 2006. [On the key concepts of modularity in computer design and the efficiencies and benefits for business. Note the emphasis on “design options” as part of design thinking.]
Parnas, D.L., P.C. Clements, and D.M. Weiss. “The Modular Structure of Complex Systems.”IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering SE-11, no. 3 (March 1985): 259–66.
Cognitive Artefacts, Semiotic Technologies
- Terrence W. Deacon, The Symbolic Species: The Co-evolution of Language and the Brain. New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Company, 1998
- Steven Pinker, “The Cognitive Niche: Coevolution of Intelligence, Sociality, and Language.”Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 107, Supplement 2 (May 5, 2010): 8993–99.
- Itiel E. Dror and Stevan Harnad. “Offloading Cognition Onto Cognitive Technology.” In Cognition Distributed: How Cognitive Technology Extends Our Minds, edited by Itiel E. Dror and Stevan Harnad, 1-23. Amsterdam and Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing, 2008.
- Colin Renfrew, “Mind and Matter: Cognitive Archaeology and External Symbolic Storage.” In Cognition and Material Culture: The Archaeology of Symbolic Storage, edited by Colin Renfrew, 1-6. Cambridge, UK: McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, 1999.
- John C. Barrett, “The Archaeology of Mind: It’s Not What You Think.” Cambridge Archaeological Journal23, no. 01 (2013): 1–17.
- Andy Clark, Supersizing the Mind: Embodiment, Action, and Cognitive Extension (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, USA, 2008). [Excerpts from the Forward by David Chalmers (attend especially to the comments in the last 3 pages of the Forward); Introduction and focus on Chapter 1 section 3: “Material Symbols” (especially the concept of “cognitive scaffolding” for language).]
- Carruthers, Peter. Language, Thought and Consciousness: An Essay in Philosophical Psychology. Cambridge, UK; New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 1996.
- Clark, H., and Robert Kurzban. “Modularity in Cognition: Framing the Debate.” Psychological Review 113, no. 3 (2006): 628–47.
- Jiajie Zhang and Vimla L. Patel. “Distributed Cognition, Representation, and Affordance.” Pragmatics & Cognition 14, no. 2 (July 2006): 333-341.
Media, Mediation, Socio-Technical Artefacts
- Bruno Latour, “Technology Is Society Made Durable.” In A Sociology of Monsters: Essays on Power, Technology and Domination, edited by John Law, 103-31. London, UK; New York, NY: Routledge, 1991.
- John Law, “Actor Network Theory and Material Semiotics.” In The New Blackwell Companion to Social Theory, 141-58. Malden, MA; Oxford, UK: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009.
- Regis Debray, Transmitting Culture, trans. Eric Rauth. New York: Columbia University Press, 2000. Excerpts from Chaps. 1-2 and 7.
- Debray usefully distinguishes (by redefinition) “communication” from “transmission” (over longer time spans). His more complex model of technical “mediation” involving many co-dependencies — technical, social, institutional, political — is close to Latour’s and Actor-Network Theory (and all systems theory models).
Affordances and Interfaces for Interaction
- Janet H. Murray, Inventing the Medium: Principles of Interaction Design as a Cultural Practice. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2012.
- Apple, Inc. User Interface Design Principles for the Mac OS X: User’s “Mental Model” Note how the “official” design principles for Apple are mainly ways to “operationalize” and “productize” (procedures for implementing functions in specific instances) well-known design principles.
Information and Communication Theory (Signal to Sign)
- James Gleick, The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood. (New York, NY: Pantheon, 2011).
- Luciano Floridi, “Semantic Conceptions of Information.” In The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, edited by Edward N. Zalta, Spring 2014. http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/spr2014/entries/information-semantic/.
- Korta, Kepa, and John Perry. “Pragmatics.” In The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, edited by Edward N. Zalta, 2012. http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/win2012/entries/pragmatics/.
- Terrence W. Deacon, “What’s Missing from Theories of Information?” In Information and the Nature of Reality: From Physics to Metaphysics, edited by P. C. W Davies and Niels Henrik Gregersen, 146–69. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2010.
Computer System Design and Computational Thinking
- Peter J. Denning and Craig H. Martell. Great Principles of Computing. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2015.
- Denning, Peter J. “The Great Principles of Computing.” American Scientist, October, 2010.
- —–. “What Is Computation?” Ubiquity (ACM), August 26, 2010, and republished as “Opening Statement: What Is Computation?” The Computer Journal 55, no. 7 (July 1, 2012): 805-10.
- Rosenbloom, Paul S. “Computing and Computation.” ACM and The Computer Journal 55, no. 7 (July 1, 2012): 820-24.
From Computers to Metamedia Interfaces
- Michael S. Mahoney, “The Histories of Computing(s).” Interdisciplinary Science Reviews 30, no. 2 (June 2005). [The different research and development communities behind concepts and applications for computing.]
- Martin Campbell-Kelly, “Origin of Computing.” Scientific American 301, no. 3 (September 2009): 62–69.
- Martin Campbell-Kelly and William Aspray. Computer: A History Of The Information Machine. 3rd ed. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 2014. [ Excerpts from Part 4 on the Personal Computer, Internet, and World Wide Web.]
- Peter J. Denning, “Design Thinking.” Communications of the ACM, 56, no. 12 (December 2013): 29-31 (parallel with Great Principles of Computing, chap. 10; skim and overview for this week).
- David A. Patterson, and John L. Hennessy. Computer Organization and Design: The Hardware/Software Interface. 5th ed. Oxford, UK; Waltham, MA: Morgan Kaufmann, 2013. Excerpts from Chapter 1. [Excellent overview of important concepts for system architecture from PCs to tablets. For beginning computer engineering students, but accessible.]
Mobile Telephony and Mobile Internet Devices: Statistics and Implications
Digital Media and Digitization
- Ron White and Timothy Downs. How Digital Photography Works. 2nd ed. Indianapolis, IN: Que Publishing, 2007. [ Excerpts that cover the basics of the digital camera and digital image creation, memory, and processing.]
- John Watkinson, Art of Digital Audio. 3rd ed. Oxford; Boston: Focal Press, 2000. [You won’t have to read this straight through, but read around to see if you can get the basic concepts of digital audio encoding and how/why it works. This is more detail that you will probably want or need, but very useful for demystifying the well-designed engineering processes behind all the digital audio we use every day! Written at the level of systems abstraction, the author is not concerned with the standards, formats, and commoditization of digital media artefacts that come at the next levels of implementation.]
- Social and Institutional Contexts of Digital Media:
- Paul M. Leonardi, “Digital Materiality? How Artifacts without Matter, Matter.” First Monday 15, no. 6 (2010). http://firstmonday.org/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/3036
- Jannis Kallinikos, Aleksi Aaltonen, and Attila Marton. “A Theory of Digital Objects.” First Monday 15, no. 6 (June 5, 2010). http://firstmonday.org/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/3033/2564.
- Hal Abelson, Ken Ledeen, and Harry Lewis. Blown to Bits: Your Life, Liberty, and Happiness After the Digital Explosion. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Addison-Wesley, 2008. Excerpt from Introduction: “Digital Explosion: Why Is It Happening, and What Is at Stake?
[The authors’ arguments open up important issues, but you will probably see ways to critique the rather totalizing and either/or statements.]
The Internet and Web: Key Design Principles and Extensible Futures
- Janet Abbate, Inventing the Internet. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2000.
- Vint Cerf, David Clark, et al. “A Brief History of the Internet.” Also in another format: “A Brief History of the Internet,” Internet Society. [An excellent history recounted by the major contributors to Internet architecture, design, and policy.]
- Vint Cerf, “A Brief History of Packets.” IEEE Computing Conversations. [How the packet network concept was developed to solve the problem of data connections among mutually incompatible computers across a network, and how packet switching became implemented in the Internet.]
- Barbara van Schewick, Internet Architecture and Innovation. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2012. Excerpt from Chap. 2, “Internet Design Principles.”
- David Clark, “The Design Philosophy of the DARPA Internet Protocols,” Originally published in Proceedings SIGCOMM ‘88, Computer Communication Review Vol. 18, No. 4, August 1988, pp. 106–114. [This is a very useful article on the design philosophy of Internet Protocols from the viewpoint of the engineers who worked on the standards, and accessible to non-engineering specialists.]
- David Clark, Karen Sollins, John Wroclawski, and Ted Faber. “Addressing Reality: An Architectural Response to Real-World Demands on the Evolving Internet.” In Proceedings of the ACM SIGCOMM Workshop on Future Directions in Network Architecture, 247–57. FDNA ’03. New York, NY: ACM, 2003.
- The Internet Ecosystem (ISOC): The organizations and actors that contribute to the Internet.
Internet, Web, and Society Research
- Anderson, Janna. “Digital Life in 2025.” Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, March 11, 2014. http://www.pewinternet.org/2014/03/11/digital-life-in-2025/.
- Anderson, Janna, and Lee Rainie. “Internet of Things Will Thrive by 2025.” Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, May 14, 2014. http://www.pewinternet.org/2014/05/14/internet-of-things/.
- ———. “Summary: Internet of Things.” Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, May 14, 2014. http://www.pewinternet.org/2014/05/14/summary/.
- ———. “The Future of Apps and Web.” Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, March 23, 2012. http://www.pewinternet.org/2012/03/23/the-future-of-apps-and-web/.
- Smith, Aaron. “What Internet Users Know about Technology and the Web.” Pew Research Center: Internet, Science & Tech, November 25, 2014. http://www.pewinternet.org/2014/11/25/web-iq/.
De-Blackboxing and Design Case Studies