Stark ReAlity

The Social Media tidal wave is gaining momentum, are you prepared?

Let's get a laptop in the hand of every K-12 student in Indiana. They're doing it in Ethiopia, Borneo and Haiti

I donated $400 to the One Laptop per Child Initiative on New Year’s Eve last year. It was the last day to participate in the “Buy One Give One Program.” I donated to this 501(c)(3) rather than purchasing a new Dell Laptop because it did my soul good to know a child in Afghanistan would receive a laptop with meshed networking capabilities.

I slowly became disillusioned with the project because I never received an email with a projected ship date. Toward the end of February, I sent an email to the foundation outlining my disappointment in their silence. Open lines of communication between any not-for-profit and its donor base is vital. Donors will forgive mistakes and errors, but not silence or cover-ups.

When I received my laptop on March 28, 2008, I fell in love again with the, “get a laptop in the hands of EVERY child” mission, and all was forgiven. I was thrilled to discover John Blue from Truffle Media also participated in Buy One Give One and he showed me how they mesh. I proudly carry mine and show it off whenever I can!

I share this story today because I received an email “thank you note” on Nov. 16th that I wanted to share. Viral marketers should be taking notes on this one:

...“Thanks to your donation, tens of thousands of children in the emerging world are now learning with their XO laptops. They are recording their own stories, and discovering new ways to create and explore. Soon this new generation will emerge with the power to change the world.
On November 17th, this year's Give One, Get One campaign will launch. You can help make it another success.”

There is an incredible Flickr site documenting the mission’s progress and I encourage everyone to check it out.

I voted for you, Mitch my man, and I want to know why students in Indiana don’t have one of these? If you want to keep our state competitive globally, you need to get laptops in the hands of every K-12 Hoosier. It is easier than you think; just ask me!

If you join the discussion here, I will print the entire dialog and promise to get the message to Mitch.

Views: 31

Comment by Amy Stark on November 19, 2008 at 1:52pm
Reply by Thomas Ho on November 17, 2008 at 12:53pm on Smaller Indiana
It's a good idea as long as the state is ALSO willing to invest in professional development for the teachers!
Personally speaking, I most enthusiastic about the impact that Web 2.0 services could make on teaching and learning. That would be one of the most compelling reasons for a one-to-one laptop program, but it ALSO requires robust and pervasive Internet access!


Reply by Amy Stark on November 17, 2008 at 1:34pm

I clicked on your good idea link above and was dismayed that the PDF it directed me to --The Impact of Maine’s One-to-One Laptop Program on Middle School Teachers and Students-- was written in February 2002. Will someone in the Indiana Public School system please pick up the clue phone, it's been ringing for a few years.

I am not AS concerned about access to the Internet as getting technology in kids hands and letting them form a community amongst themselves. I don't know the range of the mesh networking capabilities of the XO, but in Cambodia they nailed inexpensive repeaters to trees, in effect they created a village intranet.

Your point about using the power of Web 2.0 services is key, Thomas. A social media platform must be established -- ala Smaller Indiana -- to provide a space for users to build community and find answers .


Reply by Thomas Ho 1 day ago
Internet access is KEY especially IF you used netbooks because you'd then have to do just about all of your computing "in the cloud"


Reply by Amy Stark 1 day ago
What about pre-loaded curriculum on each device? If the main school server was connected to the Net, couldn't each laptop do a daily download? I'm thinking out loud here, so please forgive any ignorant thing I may type.
Comment by Amy Stark on November 19, 2008 at 1:58pm
Reply by Mark R Platt on November 17, 2008 at 2:32pm On Smaller Indiana

There are a lot of areas that need to be considered here.

1. Each school would have to be fitted for wireless along with internet security for the school and internet monitoring for the students and teachers. That cost would be passed to the tax payers.

2. If each student has a laptop then teachers would have to come up to speed on teaching applications to effectively use the technology in the class room. Probably would have to have a month seminar in the summer. Cost would be to pay the teachers for taking the class and then whoever teaches it.

3. IT Administration just went up as there would have to be tech guys at each school to fix problems that come up. Increase cost to the Administration Budget. Schools could outsource some of this cost, but there would be cost associated.

4. Laptop initial cost of procurement and then on-going cost to refresh those laptops.

5. Who owns the laptop? If the School does then what if a child breaks it? Does that cost go to the parents to some that couldn’t afford to replace it. If the parents have to pay for it, who owns the intellectual property (software) that is on the laptop at the end of the year?

6. Software licensing for common Microsoft and then each application that they use for the class room. That cost could easily be in the millions.

7. Tax distribution: Schools in different counties would be able to collect more taxes to pay for this venture than schools in low economic counties that could not afford this upgrade. How would tax distribution be distributed amongst counties to pay for a State mandate.

8. Public verse Private/Charter Schools. Would public money be going towards private and charter schools to help pay for the cost?

I am more likely willing to have my tax money go to children after 6th or 7th on up being given laptops, but younger then that I fear it would cost more than less to keep them going. Also with technology comes personal disconnect and I think that younger children need that connection with the teacher and their peers more locally. I listen to my nieces and nephews (the oldest 13) conversations now that grammar is missing completely and I am no expert. The difference between the US and every other country is that every child is given an education. Almost every other country there is some level differing programs to no public education. You have to watch global education reports as the information can be misleading from when comparing country to country as come countries only report a certain level of their education system. Anyways, at the end of the day if this program would take off the public is going to have to expect and be willing for their taxes to go up and for other programs to be cut from the State budget.


Reply by Amy Stark 1 day ago

Fabulous questions, Mark. I am so glad you asked. I will address them one by one...

1. Each school would have to be fitted for wireless …. //// My answer: Once the hardware is in the kid’s hands, each community should approach a local provider to donate bandwidth in some form or another (isn’t this the mission of IHETS?) The laptops could be configured so that they only have Internet access through the school server. It is VERY easy to program a server to allow access only to white label sites.

2. … teachers would have to come up to speed on teaching… //// My answer: As an IT person, you must see the trend in intuitive user interfaces. I would anticipate no more than a three day training session, which could be pre-loaded on the XO itself. There are several wikis already established on the Internet that are currently addressing the “teaching the teacher” issues. Teachers in Ethiopia, Borneo and Haiti learned how to do it, I’m sure Hoosier teachers would be able to pick it up quickly. A social media platform is a mandatory ingredient in this equation.

3. IT Administration just went up.../// My Answer: Yep, as it should, but not as much as you might think. Whether we like it or not, we are moving away from being an industrial society to an information-based society. We are doing a disservice to our children by NOT providing them with a 21st century skill set.

4. Laptop initial cost of procurement and then on-going cost to refresh those laptops.../// My answer:
I don’t have the latest figures, but the cost of the XO is getting closer to the $100 figure every day. Each laptop would be pre-loaded with FREE open source curriculum and 200 books – either donated by publishers who would love the good PR, or from public domain sites such as Internet or Project Gutenberg.

5. Who owns the laptop? … what if a child breaks it? …[what about] intellectual property (software) … ?/// My answer: I think the child should take ownership of the laptop, and you would be impressed with the overall design. The cost of each pre-loaded XO laptop would be roughly $150; ordering an extra 30% to deal with break/loss would not be prohibitive. Everything on the laptop would be open source, so no need to worry about Intellectual Property rights.

6. Software licensing… cost could easily be in the millions.../// My answer: Two Words—Open Source.

By the way, I spent $271 this year on Book Rental for my 13 yr old daughter. That is just nuts.

7. Tax distribution [wealthy counties vs economically challenged counties]. .../// My answer: With my approach – it’s possible that it will be less expensive per student than current budgets for school districts across the state.

8. Public verse Private/Charter Schools.../// My answer: All schools (including home schools) have a budget per child, don’t they?

For-profit organizations across the state currently donate millions of dollars to charitable organizations, and I want to tap them to cover some of the initial cost. It’s in their best interest to have a viable workforce.

I’m chomping at the bit to address some of the issues you raised in your last paragraph, but my time online grows short so I will answer those tomorrow. I am so thankful for your thought filled response


My Next Response:

Hey Mark, In your last paragraph you raised some wonderful issues that I want to discuss.

You typed: I am more likely willing to have my tax money go to children after 6th or 7th on up being given laptops…/// my answer:
According to Pew Internet and American life project, the FASTEST growing group on the Internet is 2-6 yr olds, but check out this video, it answers this question far better than I can:

OLPC Flickr Video

You typed ..Also with technology comes personal disconnect…/// my answer:
I wholeheartedly disagree. My personal experience with the social media platform Smaller Indiana, for example, is that a few virtual relationships began here, then a few resulted in a lunch, a cup of coffee, or a soiree. Rather than having a disconnect--it gave me a way TO connect with my peers —not restricted by space or time.

On the other hand, some of my long-standing “real world” relationships were enhanced. When you’re awake at four in the morning it’s nice to look through a friend’s profile and discover you share a passion for Mark Twain quotes, or dogs, or the sport of curling.


You typed… I listen to my nieces and nephews (the oldest 13) conversations now that grammar is missing completely and I am no expert…./// my answer:
This won’t be the first time in our history that our language changed. I can’t remember the last time I used the phrase “wouldst thou?”

Do your nephews and nieces text their friends yet? I have a 13 yr old daughter who is always connected with her friends via text messaging—they are defining a new way to share information.


You typed… The difference between the US and every other country is that every child is given an education. … watch global education reports …./// my answer:
I’m so glad you brought this up. My response would come directly from the information I learned from these two videos, they’re both worth your time:

Two Million Minutes

Did you know? Shift Happens


You typed… Anyways, at the end of the day … taxes to go up … and for other programs to be cut from the State budget…. /// my answer:
What if I told you the cost per student would be less? And what if the initiative generated a tremendous amount of free PR for the state? Not to get all sappy here, but should cost REALLY be the highest priority in this equation?

We are in the midst of a paradigm shift, and it’s happening whether we like it or not. Shouldn’t our highest priority be to prepare K-6 Hoosiers to thrive in an information-based 21st Century?
Comment by Amy Stark on November 19, 2008 at 2:02pm
Reply by Erik Deckers 1 day ago

Actually, some of my student mentees have a MacBook laptop as part of the New Tech High School program. They're doing great with it. I don't know if this is part of a pilot program that will eventually see laptops placed in the hands of all high school students, or even if it's just Indianapolis, but it's being done.

I know the OLPC computers are pretty cheap, and you could get 5 computers for the cost of one MacBook, so I'd love to see this happen. The question is where to find the funding for the purchases and the training.


My Response:

So many business donate hard cash to philanthropic causes around the state, Erik. They will see the value in donating money to this initiative on so many levels. Funding isn't the biggest hurdle anyhow, because it can be Less expensive.

The training can come from Hoosier experts on building community such as you, Pat Coyle, Doug Karr, Patric Welch, John Blue, Woody Collins, Lorraine Ball, Kyle Lacy, and many other Smoosier social media advocates, like Robyn Miller, Nicki Laycoax, Nila Nealy, Rae Kridel, Kristie Bradford, etc... I could come up with a very long list of extremely bright Hoosiers who would be willing to donate five minutes here and ten minutes there.

User generated training videos and wiki spaces abound out there already. A You Tube search of "one laptop per child" results in hundreds of user generated training videos. This is my favorite one to date.


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