I’ve been following the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project, but Nicholas Negropante’s keynote was amazing and greatly deepened my understanding of the reasons behind the project – pedagogically, technically, and financially. And I shouldn’t forget the political and altruistic motivations. I feel lucky to have seen him speak. I’d love to meet him one day, but as he’s traveling internationally 28 out of every 30 days, that’s not likely to happen any time soon. As Eva said, it was inspiring just knowing there are powerful people doing that kind of work.
In any case, he reminded me the importance of teaching thinking with computers. From his (Papert inspired) perspective, he’s saddened to see students learning Word and Excel instead of something like LOGO. I have to say that I agree. It’s sobering that kids were doing more cognitively significant things with Apple IIs 25 years ago than they are with iMacs today. I also had the opportunity, directly after the keynote, to head up to the sails pavillion and get my hands on a prototype of the $100 laptop… and to try out a working motherboard (connected to a monitor and keyboard). It is as fast as he says. Amazing what a can happen if we cure “featuritis.” I’ll be posting more on this I’m sure.
ISTE President Kurt Steinhaus’s Address before the keynote was inspiring in its own right, especially after hearing Tom March talk during the webcast yesterday about the different perspective that Australian educators have. (He felt they were more interested in trying something that might be good for the students rather than responding that they can’t try something new because they’ve got to do all these other things.) Steinhaus’s talk really inspired me to become more involved with ISTE – for the exposure to more national and international perspectives. They are doing good work and I’d love to be a part of it. I’m particularly excited about the coming reinvention of the National Educational Technology Standards. Maybe we can actually get them adopted in California this time.