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Stager Nails It

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NPR calls him an education “technology leading light.” Some who know Gary Stager might rather call him an education “bold of lightning,” inspiring some and irritating others. Regardless, what ever Gary says, we listen to it — and National Public Radio (NPR) was listening yesterday.

The issue was India’s recently announced $35 Tablet for Education, and NPR heard it when Gary tweeted…

Newsflash: India invents schools so its children have a place to store their useless “$35 laptops.” #vaporware ((??Stager, Gary. 24 Jul 2010. Online Posting to Twitter. Web. 29 Jul 2010.))

Contacting him as a source for his story (A $35 Tablet For Education? Cost Isn’t The Only Factor To Consider)?, NPR contributor, Wright Bryan, asked Gary to expand on the tweet. I’ll let you read what he said in the article, which is pretty much what his readers would expect when a fully charged Gary Stager faces any initiative that short-changes learning for the sake of being able to say, “Look how we’re advancing education so cheaply.”

I want to point you to a part of his statement that really nailed it for me. This short paragraph shows why Gary is so much more of a contributor on Twitter than I am — he can put in a few striking words a quality of ideas that expand my own thinking regarding topics that take me an hour to express on a stage.

He says that a computer,

..especially if it’s the only one we can be sure they (students in India) have access to, must be capable of making the poems, musical compositions, movies, radio programs, simulations, video games, scientific breakthroughs and acts of civic participation that we know children are able to create with the right software, support, time and high expectations. ((?Bryan, Wright. “A $35 Tablet For Education? Cost Isn’t The Only Factor To Consider.” All Tech Considered 28 Jul 2010: n. pag. Web. 29 Jul 2010. .))


Learning is Work!

..because, today, Work is Learning!

In case you are not reading the comments, last night Gary Stager provided this link to an open letter from Nicholas Negroponte (the visionary behind the the One Laptop Per Child) project.  It was sent to the Times of India.  You can read the text here.


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  • Ernie Cox

    Cost being a factor – what is the least expensive item of technology that can offer our students the highest possible work/learning opportunities.

    • http://Plakboek.livejournal.com Roland gesthuizen

      A stick, a friend and a strand of beach sand are cheap technology tools.

      Seriously though, google xo3 for details of new laptop.

  • http://stager.tv/blog Gary Stager


    Thank you for the exceedingly kind words.

    It just so happens that Nicholas Negroponte wrote an open-letter about the “$35 tablet” expressing many similar sentiments. It’s worth a read.


  • http://gnuosphere.wordpress.com Peter

    I wonder what Gary thinks the “right software” is. Last time I checked, he seemed to be hung up on power. That is, the more powerful the software, the better it is for education. He often pooh-poohed the very idea of sacrificing power in the short term for software that truly does enable “civic participation”. That is, Free/Open Source software.

    For nations to develop, they need freedom. Getting powerful software into the hands of children so they can make the flashiest (pun intended) videos and games is short-sighted when the tools they make habitual use of are controlled by others.

    On that note, I do sympathize with the pointlessness of offering children machines that basically do squat. But would we be doing them any better by putting iPads in their hands? Granted, it would make their poor existence a little sexier looking.

    What is it Gary is nailing?

    • http://stager.tv/blog Gary Stager

      So, what are you advocating? I’m not against free and open-source software. I’m for good software.

    • http://stager.tv/blog Gary Stager


      I’m unclear on what you’re advocating. I’m not against free and open-source software. I am for good software designed by people who give careful thought to designing learning environments for kids – sone of them even need to feed their families.

      I’m not a big fan of iPads for students either, unless they own one already. The iPad thus far fails in the same way I criticized above.

      • http://gnuosphere.wordpress.com Peter

        I know you’re not “against” FOSS. Just as I’m not “against” well designed software.

        I’m advocating the promotion of software that, first and foremost, students can modify, study, and share with others. That’s “good” software. That’s software that allows for “civic participation”. That’s freedom – which is the basis for economic development. Here, “good” is your euphemism for “powerful”.

        While acquiring powerful software for the purpose of creating is a useful goal, you seem to disregard (shall I link to earlier conversations we’ve had?) the importance of the freedom to create and build upon the software itself. That is, you neglect the tool itself as economic leverage in its own right. Powerful software that comes with a dependency upon proprietary developers isn’t a step forward for children of any nation – affluent or poor.

        It’s not that I disagree with you, Gary. It’s that we can talk all day (and agree) with what Papert and Kay have to say, but until we integrate talk of “good” technology with the *reality* of copyright, patent, and trade secrecy laws, we’re swinging the hammer at the little nail when we could be going for a home run.

        Let me ask you a clear and up-front question: Do you think the issue of who controls the underlying technology (of the powerful computers you advocate for) matters to any significant degree? If it does, you’re awfully silent.

Photo taken by Ewan McIntosh in a Taxi in Shanghai

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