Thursday, July 16, 2009

A Kindle in Every Backpack??

Someone from my Virtual Learning Environments class posted this to the class blog (which, if you're interested, can be found here) and I thought the concept was quite interesting. "A Kindle in Every Backpack" is sort of the same concept as One Laptop Per Child, with that latter being far more practical and reasonable. The OLPC idea intends to distribute rugged wifi-capable netbooks to children in low-income areas and under-developed nations, netbooks that are easily adaptable (ie have open-source software that therefore would not require upgrades) and durable under harsh conditions. OPLC is a not-for-profit organization that seems to have the right idea when it comes to promoting early childhood education, media literacy, and international connectivity.

The Democratic Leadership Council's plan to put a Kindle in every backpack, however, seems to assume that every child in America already has access to the Internet, a laptop, or even just an Internet-capable desktop or public library computer. Jumping ahead to give every child a Kindle, which is essentially a walled garden that would require system upgrades and could potentially fall victim to discrepancies in available functionality once new versions of the Kindle (or whatever eReader the DLC chooses) emerge, seems to be completely neglecting the fact that some people in rural areas of the country still don't even have broadband due to lack of infrastructure and/or funds.

Before providing every child with an eReader, the first step is definitely to improve Internet access in public schools and community institutions and increase the number of student netbook owners. The DLC seems to be a little blind to the current lack of connectivity that some (maybe a just few, but still SOME) rural and low-income Americans still face. And would these Kindles be the student's, or property of the educational institution? Since most students in public institutions don't have to pay for texts in the first place, doesn't this seem like it would be a huge financial burden if the DLC decided to make students start paying for their eBooks?

Oh, and here is a really cute video of OLPC's mission.

1 comment:

BuckBonz said...

Very well put. You don't start building a pyramid from the top down. Focus on the infrastructure and netbooks. And if we can get a netbook in every backback or home, do the kids really even need a Kindle?

I suppose the DLC's plan does have some merit if they pursued the development of a cheaper, open-source Kindle-like device, and not the Amazon branded one, and introduced it into a system built around the classroom as a connectivity hub without requiring internet access at home.

Of course, the lack of wide spread broadband in rural areas still persists.