Learning from Seymour Papert – #BacktoLearning

Far beyond the idea of giving computers to children with “an educational purpose”, like if education meant just providing content to be consumed, the origins of the learning philosophy of OLPC has been to provide kids with computers so that they can compute.


Seymour Papert believed, supported by decades of research, that by computing (coding, programming), the learner could be empowered to understand, create and think about their own learning, especially at early childhoold.

This panel from the Spring 2014 Member Event at the MIT Media Lab will explore more in detail the learning vision of Papert. Enjoy!

Panelists: Mitch Resnick, Marvin Minsky, Alan Kay, and Nicholas Negroponte.

Nicholas Negroponte: Re-thinking learning and re-learning thinking

Published on Mar 19, 2013

Re-thinking learning and re-learning thinking

Nicholas Negroponte, Technology Visionary and Founder, One Laptop per Child

What if we have learning all wrong?

In this thoughtful, provocative keynote, Professor Negroponte explores the implications of the work of One Laptop per Child (OLPC), the non-profit association he founded in 2005. Distributing 2.5 million rugged laptops around the world and seeing how impoverished children use them has provoked Professor Negroponte into re-considering much that we take for granted about how children — and all of us –learn.

The industrialisation of schooling, he argues, has replaced our natural wonder of learning with an obsessive focus on facts. We treat knowing as a surrogate for learning, even though our experience tells us that it is quite possible to know about something while utterly failing to understand it.

And compounding this is instructionism’s fatally flawed belief that anything can be taught and that there is a perfect way to teach everything. If we have learned one thing from OLPC, it is that the human mind is too rich, complex and wonderful for that.

This lesson does not apply only to children, and it does not apply only to developing countries. Children can — and do — learn a great deal by themselves before they have their natural curiosity extinguished, too often by school. And those children grow into adults. So how would our education systems and our adult lives be better, if we focused a little less on measuring what we tell people and a little more on understanding how they discover?



CEO of One Laptop per Child received award “Los 100 Colombianos” from President of Colombia

Rodrigo Arboleda honored as 2012 “100 Colombians”

Photo: Kien&Ke

Rodrigo Arboleda, Chairman and CEO of One Laptop per Child
Association) was honored last Wednesday December 5, in a ceremony presided over by President Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia as a 2012 recipient of the “100 Colombians”.

President Juan Manuel Santos

The award annually recognizes Colombian-born individuals living outside Colombia for their exceptional contribution to the country and the world. Arboleda was recognized for his leadership of OLPC and for his thirty year effort to introduce IT technology in the schools in Colombia, his birthplace.

Arboleda’s first project in IT technology for Colombian children began in 1982 when he convinced then President Belisario Betancur to introduce an online learning platform developed by his classmate Nicholas Negroponte and the French government.

Rodrigo Arboleda, Nicholas Negroponte, Alfonso Ospina

In 2008 Arboleda worked with then Minister of Defense Santos to launch an OLPC 1:1 learning project in a previously FARC guerrilla controlled part of Colombia. Today through his efforts there are over 30,000 OLPC laptops in use by children across Colombia, most
recently in the town of Itagui, Antioquia, and new projects with government, non-profit
and private sector organizations are being added monthly.


Arboleda is also a founding member of the Give To Colombia Foundation, and an active member of their Board of Directors. He was, for 6 years, a member of the board of Trustees of Save The Children Foundation, one of the largest charities in the world.

“I have worked tirelessly for my native Colombia to improve the quality of children’s
education and the support of so many organizations has been instrumental to this
success” said Arboleda. “I am honored to be recognized for my efforts and for President
Santos’s involvement in this event. I look forward to giving back to my native Colombia
for many more years to come”, said Arboleda.

“If kids can learn to read, then they can read to learn” Nicholas Negroponte – Tablets Reading Project in Ethiopia

MIT Technology Review’s annual EmTech is the premier conference focused on emerging technologies and their impact. Each year, this unique event brings together key players from the technology, engineering, academic and management communities to discuss the technological innovations that are changing the face of business and driving the global economy.

During the last conference, Nicholas Negroponte presented the latest information about the Reading Project, an experiment/research, conducted with kids in Ethiopia to see what can happen without a teacher, because these kids have none.

During September, MIT Technology review posted the article “Another Way to Think about Learning” describing some of what was going on. Recently, a new article explains more on the latest findings; “Given Tablets but No Teachers, Ethiopian Children Teach Themselves

After several months, the kids in both villages were still heavily engaged in using and recharging the machines, and had been observed reciting the “alphabet song,” and even spelling words. One boy, exposed to literacy games with animal pictures, opened up a paint program and wrote the word “Lion.”

Learn more about the Reading Project explained by Nicholas Negroponte in the following video (min 57:53):

Watch live streaming video from emtech2012 at livestream.com

Nicholas is back to the stage on a Panel: minute 2:19:20

One Laptop per Child in history – Kofi Annan’s words about OLPC



Tunis, 16 November 2005

Mr. Negroponte,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Some inventions are ahead of their time.

Others are perfectly of their time.

Still others seem so obvious and natural upon their unveiling that people start asking what took so long for them to come into being.

It is the rare invention indeed that manages all this at the same time.

But Nicholas Negroponte and his team at the world-renowned MIT Media Lab have given us just such a breakthrough.

The $100 laptop is inspiring in many respects.

It is an impressive technical achievement.

It holds the promise of major advances in economic and social development.

But perhaps most important is the true meaning of “One Laptop Per Child”.  This is not just a matter of giving a laptop to each child, as if bestowing on them some magical charm.  The magic lies within – within each child, within each scientist-, scholar- or just-plain-citizen-in-the-making.  This initiative is meant to bring it forth into the light of day.

With these tools in hand, children can become more active in their own learning. They can learn by doing, not just through instruction or rote memorization.  Moreover, they can open a new front in their education: peer-to-peer learning.

Studies and experience have shown repeatedly that kids take to computers easily – not just in the comfort of warm and well-lit rich-country schools, dens and living rooms, but also in the slums and remote rural areas of the developing world.  We must reach all these kids.  Their societies and the world at large simply cannot do without their contributions and engagement.

I thank all involved in “One Laptop Per Child” for this truly moving expression of global solidarity.  I commend the International Telecommunication Union for its role in making this event possible.  And I urge all leaders and stakeholders attending this World Summit to do their part in ensuring that this initiative is fully incorporated into our efforts to build an information society.

Thank you very much.