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Steve Eskow's rant

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  • Edward Cherlin
    Steve, your mail system is still broken. I got six copies this time. ... Steve, you have completely misread the news. Again. You are distorting the record into
    Message 1 of 4 , Jun 8, 2008
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      Steve, your mail system is still broken. I got six copies this time.

      On Sat, Jun 7, 2008 at 5:29 PM, Dr. Steve Eskow <drseskow@...> wrote:
      > This is to all who care about the future of computing and education, and the truth.ons tha
      >
      > I thought I was the only one who saw that there was little or no evidence to support the grandiose claims of the OLPC promoters, who saw that the progress to date was a triumph of marketing rather than a plan for educational improvement grounded in experimental support and the cautions that are the marks of genuine science and scholarship.

      Steve, you have completely misread the news. Again. You are distorting
      the record into unrecognizability. Again. The serious study of
      computers in education began in the early 1960s, and its successes (as
      well as the many failures of poorly conceived and incompetently
      executed programs) are well documented. I am creating a bibliography
      of this and other education research literature, and other materials,
      at http://wiki.sugarlabs.org/go/EducationTeam/KnowledgeBase.

      > I should have known better.
      >
      > I did not know when I started exchanging here that Walter Bender, whose name still appears on the OLPC Wiki, had quit the project, saying that he could no longer be associated with a lie.

      Walter left to start Sugar Labs, where Sugar development is
      continuing. The principal "lie" in question is allowing Microsoft to
      put XP on the XO, not the merits of Constructionist education. There
      are other issues of mismanagement and miscommunication at OLPC,
      summarized on the Wiki at http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Controversies.

      > I did not know that IVan Kristic, another leader of the OLPC team, had quit, reporting that the Dakar experiment featuring computers and Constructionism and the active involvement of Nicholas Negroponte and Seymour Papert, was a disaster, a failure unrelieved by any glimpse of redeeming virtue.

      Ivan is active at Sugar Labs, as you can see in the archive of the
      its.an.education.project mailing list at
      http://lists.lo-res.org/mailman/listinfo/its.an.education.project.

      > For Kristic's account of OLPC as a hoax, see:
      >
      > http://radian.org/notebook/sic-transit-gloria-laptopi

      Not so. He said that Nicholas Negroponte brags about a project that in
      fact collapsed in acrimony, but he did not say that he is opposed to
      the XO or Sugar.

      > Meanwhile the marketers of this unproven product continue to sell it with lengthy tributes, e.g. the article on OLPC proposed for Nepal, more invitations to divert money badly needed for food and learning to hardware and dreams.

      These rants are unacceptable, Steve. I have nothing more to say to you.

      > Steve Eskow

      --
      Edward Cherlin
      End Poverty at a Profit by teaching children business
      http://www.EarthTreasury.org/
      "The best way to predict the future is to invent it."--Alan Kay
    • Steve Eskow
      All, How can we here help the poor countries learn that the OLPC initiative, the invitation to spend billions of dollars for millions of computers, is grounded
      Message 2 of 4 , Jun 8, 2008
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        All,

        How can we here help the poor countries learn that the OLPC
        initiative, the invitation to spend billions of dollars for millions
        of computers, is grounded in faith and no evidence, and is to date a
        triumph of marketing? Has anyone anywhere begun this important work?


        The heart of Ivan Kristic's critique, the charge that needs refuting
        or action to counter the mystique of OLPC is this:

        <<As far as I know, there is no real study anywhere that demonstrates
        constructionism works at scale. There is no documented moderate-scale
        constructionist learning pilot that has been convincingly successful;
        when Nicholas points to "decades of work by Seymour Papert, Alan Kay,
        and Jean Piaget", he's talking about theory.>>

        So: how can we cut through the hype and the rhetoric and the nonsense
        and deal with this core question. Is there evidence to support the
        claims that are made on behalf of large scale Constructionist
        interventions supported by millions of little computers, or are
        dealing here with a religious faith and true believers?

        On Sun, Jun 8, 2008 at 12:27 AM, Edward Cherlin <echerlin@...> wrote:
        > Steve, your mail system is still broken. I got six copies this time.
        >
        > On Sat, Jun 7, 2008 at 5:29 PM, Dr. Steve Eskow <drseskow@...> wrote:
        >> This is to all who care about the future of computing and education, and
        >> the truth.ons tha
        The OLPC evangelist on this list says this:

        > Steve, you have completely misread the news. Again. You are distorting
        > the record into unrecognizability. Again. The serious study of
        > computers in education began in the early 1960s, and its successes (as
        > well as the many failures of poorly conceived and incompetently
        > executed programs) are well documented. I am creating a bibliography
        > of this and other education research literature, and other materials,
        > at http://wiki.sugarlabs.org/go/EducationTeam/KnowledgeBase.actic >>

        Note the tactic here. "The many failures" are not failures of the
        theory, they are always "failures of poorly conceived and
        incompetently executed programs." Thus such large-scale failures as
        the Dakar program developed and supervised by Papert and Negroponte is
        not significant, since there must
        >be others to blame for any poor conceptions and incompetent execution.

        We do not need more bibliographies, particularly those assembled and
        annotated by ideologues whose inability to consider the evidence
        fairly is well known.

        The world is convinced that the computer and the Internet and the Web
        are changing the world, and that those changes need to be reflected
        somehow in how we rear and school children.

        How to do that well is not a matter for salesmen and preachers, but
        for patient and thoughtful collaboration between school people,
        researchers, scholars, and those iin government and industry who can
        help finance their work.

        In the US there are words like hype, hokum, and snake oil salesmen for
        those who sell dreams and delusions to people badly in need of real
        help.

        We need some some small scale community experiments--500,5000
        students?--to learn if Constructionism and small computers can indeed
        change schooling, and what ways of bringing together the young, their
        teachers, and their cultures work in practice.

        Steve Eskow


        >> I should have known better.
        >>
        >> I did not know when I started exchanging here that Walter Bender, whose
        >> name still appears on the OLPC Wiki, had quit the project, saying that he
        >> could no longer be associated with a lie.
        >
        > Walter left to start Sugar Labs, where Sugar development is
        > continuing. The principal "lie" in question is allowing Microsoft to
        > put XP on the XO, not the merits of Constructionist education. There
        > are other issues of mismanagement and miscommunication at OLPC,
        > summarized on the Wiki at http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Controversies.
        >
        >> I did not know that IVan Kristic, another leader of the OLPC team, had
        >> quit, reporting that the Dakar experiment featuring computers and
        >> Constructionism and the active involvement of Nicholas Negroponte and
        >> Seymour Papert, was a disaster, a failure unrelieved by any glimpse of
        >> redeeming virtue.
        >
        > Ivan is active at Sugar Labs, as you can see in the archive of the
        > its.an.education.project mailing list at
        > http://lists.lo-res.org/mailman/listinfo/its.an.education.project.
        >
        >> For Kristic's account of OLPC as a hoax, see:
        >>
        >> http://radian.org/notebook/sic-transit-gloria-laptopi
        >
        > Not so. He said that Nicholas Negroponte brags about a project that in
        > fact collapsed in acrimony, but he did not say that he is opposed to
        > the XO or Sugar.
        >
        >> Meanwhile the marketers of this unproven product continue to sell it with
        >> lengthy tributes, e.g. the article on OLPC proposed for Nepal, more
        >> invitations to divert money badly needed for food and learning to hardware
        >> and dreams.
        >
        > These rants are unacceptable, Steve. I have nothing more to say to you.
        >
        >> Steve Eskow
        >
        > --
        > Edward Cherlin
        > End Poverty at a Profit by teaching children business
        > http://www.EarthTreasury.org/
        > "The best way to predict the future is to invent it."--Alan Kay
        >
        >
      • Vickram Crishna
        Steve, I cannot understand what you ask. For instance, millions of little computers is a very peevish way to refer to universal access to the Net and its
        Message 3 of 4 , Jun 8, 2008
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          Steve, I cannot understand what you ask.

          For instance, "millions of little computers" is a very peevish way to refer to universal access to the Net and its information capabilities.
           
          OLPC is not the end-all and be-all of the effort to adopt an inclusive approach to education, it is merely a method to extract commercial money to do what was necessary (and perhaps even overdue): create an environment for the manufacture and distribution of computing devices that are genuinely usable in economically distressed regions.

          It has undoubtedly succeeded in doing that, as can be seen not only in the development of the special purpose XO (the 'green machine' - even the monicker is smart marketing/branding, if hyped against the development of better solutions), but in the avowedly commercial Asus EEE range (at one end of the spectrum, perhaps), and the Jhai PC (community-centric computing) at the other.

          The one has been developed with good old commercial profit for a corporation at its heart, and the other with the help of publicly collected funds, participation from stakeholders in the user regions (including villagers and activists working in villages) and a global community of techies.

          To diss these developments, whilst carrying on a discussion, actually, about the use of computers in education, is quite confusing.

          Vickram
          http://communicall.wordpress.com
          http://vvcrishna.wordpress.com


          ----- Original Message ----
          From: Steve Eskow <steveeskow@...>
          To: bytesforall_readers@yahoogroups.com
          Cc: drseskow@...; Vickram Crishna <vvcrishna@...>; Frederick FN Noronha <fredericknoronha@...>; Partha Sarker <parthadhaka@...>
          Sent: Monday, 9 June, 2008 12:52:06 AM
          Subject: Re: [bytesforall_readers] Steve Eskow's rant

          All,

          How can we here help the poor countries learn that the OLPC
          initiative, the invitation to spend billions of dollars for millions
          of computers, is grounded in faith and no evidence, and is to date a
          triumph of marketing? Has anyone anywhere begun this important work?

          The heart of Ivan Kristic's critique, the charge that needs refuting
          or action to counter the mystique of OLPC is this:

          <<As far as I know, there is no real study anywhere that demonstrates
          constructionism works at scale. There is no documented moderate-scale
          constructionist learning pilot that has been convincingly successful;
          when Nicholas points to "decades of work by Seymour Papert, Alan Kay,
          and Jean Piaget", he's talking about theory.>>

          So: how can we cut through the hype and the rhetoric and the nonsense
          and deal with this core question. Is there evidence to support the
          claims that are made on behalf of large scale Constructionist
          interventions supported by millions of little computers, or are
          dealing here with a religious faith and true believers?

          On Sun, Jun 8, 2008 at 12:27 AM, Edward Cherlin <echerlin@gmail. com> wrote:
          > Steve, your mail system is still broken. I got six copies this time.
          >
          > On Sat, Jun 7, 2008 at 5:29 PM, Dr. Steve Eskow <drseskow@cox. net> wrote:
          >> This is to all who care about the future of computing and education, and
          >> the truth.ons tha
          The OLPC evangelist on this list says this:

          > Steve, you have completely misread the news. Again. You are distorting
          > the record into unrecognizability. Again. The serious study of
          > computers in education began in the early 1960s, and its successes (as
          > well as the many failures of poorly conceived and incompetently
          > executed programs) are well documented. I am creating a bibliography
          > of this and other education research literature, and other materials,
          > at http://wiki. sugarlabs. org/go/Education Team/KnowledgeBa se.actic >>

          Note the tactic here. "The many failures" are not failures of the
          theory, they are always "failures of poorly conceived and
          incompetently executed programs." Thus such large-scale failures as
          the Dakar program developed and supervised by Papert and Negroponte is
          not significant, since there must
          >be others to blame for any poor conceptions and incompetent execution.

          We do not need more bibliographies, particularly those assembled and
          annotated by ideologues whose inability to consider the evidence
          fairly is well known.

          The world is convinced that the computer and the Internet and the Web
          are changing the world, and that those changes need to be reflected
          somehow in how we rear and school children.

          How to do that well is not a matter for salesmen and preachers, but
          for patient and thoughtful collaboration between school people,
          researchers, scholars, and those iin government and industry who can
          help finance their work.

          In the US there are words like hype, hokum, and snake oil salesmen for
          those who sell dreams and delusions to people badly in need of real
          help.

          We need some some small scale community experiments- -500,5000
          students?--to learn if Constructionism and small computers can indeed
          change schooling, and what ways of bringing together the young, their
          teachers, and their cultures work in practice.

          Steve Eskow

          >> I should have known better.
          >>
          >> I did not know when I started exchanging here that Walter Bender, whose
          >> name still appears on the OLPC Wiki, had quit the project, saying that he
          >> could no longer be associated with a lie.
          >
          > Walter left to start Sugar Labs, where Sugar development is
          > continuing. The principal "lie" in question is allowing Microsoft to
          > put XP on the XO, not the merits of Constructionist education. There
          > are other issues of mismanagement and miscommunication at OLPC,
          > summarized on the Wiki at http://wiki. laptop.org/ go/Controversies .
          >
          >> I did not know that IVan Kristic, another leader of the OLPC team, had
          >> quit, reporting that the Dakar experiment featuring computers and
          >> Constructionism and the active involvement of Nicholas Negroponte and
          >> Seymour Papert, was a disaster, a failure unrelieved by any glimpse of
          >> redeeming virtue.
          >
          > Ivan is active at Sugar Labs, as you can see in the archive of the
          > its.an.education. project mailing list at
          > http://lists. lo-res.org/ mailman/listinfo /its.an.educatio n.project.
          >
          >> For Kristic's account of OLPC as a hoax, see:
          >>
          >> http://radian. org/notebook/ sic-transit- gloria-laptopi
          >
          > Not so. He said that Nicholas Negroponte brags about a project that in
          > fact collapsed in acrimony, but he did not say that he is opposed to
          > the XO or Sugar.
          >
          >> Meanwhile the marketers of this unproven product continue to sell it with
          >> lengthy tributes, e.g. the article on OLPC proposed for Nepal, more
          >> invitations to divert money badly needed for food and learning to hardware
          >> and dreams.
          >
          > These rants are unacceptable, Steve. I have nothing more to say to you.
          >
          >> Steve Eskow
          >
          > --
          > Edward Cherlin
          > End Poverty at a Profit by teaching children business
          > http://www.EarthTre asury.org/
          > "The best way to predict the future is to invent it."--Alan Kay
          >
          >



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          A Smarter Email.
        • Dr. Steve Eskow
          Vickram, What is being hyped as a way of extracting millions of dollars from nations is a philosophy of education and a set of practices that have never been
          Message 4 of 4 , Jun 9, 2008
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            Vickram,

            What is being hyped as a way of extracting millions of dollars from nations is a philosophy of education and a set of practices that have never been proven in practice. Ivan Kristic is not the only one saying this.

            Steve Eskow
            ---- Vickram Crishna <v1clist@...> wrote:
            > Steve, I cannot understand what you ask.
            >
            > For instance, "millions of little computers" is a very peevish way to refer to universal access to the Net and its information capabilities.
            >
            >
            > OLPC is not the end-all and be-all of the effort to adopt an inclusive approach to education, it is merely a method to extract commercial money to do what was necessary (and perhaps even overdue): create an environment for the manufacture and distribution of computing devices that are genuinely usable in economically distressed regions.
            >
            > It has undoubtedly succeeded in doing that, as can be seen not only in the development of the special purpose XO (the 'green machine' - even the monicker is smart marketing/branding, if hyped against the development of better solutions), but in the avowedly commercial Asus EEE range (at one end of the spectrum, perhaps), and the Jhai PC (community-centric computing) at the other.
            >
            > The one has been developed with good old commercial profit for a corporation at its heart, and the other with the help of publicly collected funds, participation from stakeholders in the user regions (including villagers and activists working in villages) and a global community of techies.
            >
            > To diss these developments, whilst carrying on a discussion, actually, about the use of computers in education, is quite confusing.
            >
            > Vickram
            > http://communicall.wordpress.com
            > http://vvcrishna.wordpress.com
            >
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