Dennis D. McDonald ( consults from Alexandria Virginia. His services include writing & research, proposal development, and project management.

Negroponte: Next OLPC Machine Will Be a Book

By Dennis D. McDonald

olpc2.jpgAccording to Wade Roush in Negroponte Unveils 2nd Generation OLPC Laptop: It’s an E-Book, OLPC founder Nicholas Negroponte said recently that “… The next generation laptop should be a book.” With two screens, Negroponte says, the device he revealed at a recent conference will cost $75 each. (Another article is here.)

I think this is great, perhaps just as impressive as the coming Chinese e-book

But I have one question about this new teaching device: where will the content come from? Who will create the text that is targeted at specific grade levels? Who will create the tests? Who will create the lesson plans? Who will create the graphics that go with the text?

I’m not being negative, I’m just being practical. I read about this topic on Slashdot recently and I was amazed at the lack of understanding that many people have about the textbook publishing process. Even if you have a legitimate argument about U.S. based textbook marketing and adoption processes, you need to understand that quality educational textbooks do not write themselves. So don’t assume that a sub-$100 two-screen e-book distributed in poorer countries will automatically come equipped with all the content needed to take advantage of them in the field. A content production and distribution infrastructure of some sort will be needed.

I’m looking forward to reading about how that will be accomplished. If it can be done at a reasonable price and can take advantage of the knowledge and skills that are already available in textbook publishing, that will be a very good thing.

  • Copyright (c) 2008 by Dennis D. McDonald

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