One Laptop Per Child – Redux

While Noah Burdett has already completed an entry on this venture, I thought I would expand and look at the project from a different angle.  I have closely followed the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project for a number of years now; the philosophy and controversy behind the project fascinates me.   Negroponte and the program have struggled to get the devices produced, on budget (the XO no longer referred to as the $100 laptop), and adopted by countries.

However, after finding this video:

I think Negroponte may have found a buyer that typically has much deeper pockets than the educational branch of government one would expect this product would be marketed to.  Here, Negroponte partners with the Columbian Ministry of Defense to bring laptops to children in remote areas.

Depending on the motivations of a country’s military, having a wired, educated, distributed network of users in remote locations that have traditionally been under the control of guerrillas or insurgents could prove a boon to these isolated areas.

As adage goes, the military rarely holds bake sales to fund its operations and the paltry $200 cost per device compared to other communications systems typically employed by the military could make this a very interesting experiment – and most importantly, will get these device into the hands of the kids.

Running this through the cube we get:

Market: Developing Nations (and philanthropic individuals in developed nations who participate in the buy one, give one program).

Offering: this is a hardware offering and arguably a service as the mesh network created by the laptops for a community web.

Buyer: Still a national level – only large scale purchases can produce the low price of these machines.  If Negroponte can “pitch” the benefits to branches of government other than education, we will see some significant development of this project.

Piece of the global market: Definitely targeted towards underserved, developing nations with established education system but little other supported technology.

Development of the market: This is a contentious piece.  Many think this project can revolutionize education in impoverished areas – many think that $200 per child could be better spent on teachers, food, clean water, shelter, etc….  The market seems to be still in the pioneering phase.

Integration of learning technology: The environments that these laptops are entering have, almost by definition of the marketplace, little integrated learning technology as we would see it from a western perspective.  The laptops offer a quantum leap in environments where they are placed.

October 4, 2009   7 Comments

Cube: Inspiration 8

Software:  Inspiration 8

Powered by the proven techniques of visual learning, Inspiration 8 supports multiple learning styles with three unique environments for creating diagrams, outlines and mind maps. Using Inspiration, students develop critical thinking, planning and organisational skills for lifelong learning and achievement.

Face 1:  Market Focus

  • Although Strategic Transitions, the parent company of Inspiration 8, markets the software to all ages.  I’d say the main market demographic that they appeal to is the K-12 segment. Although they clearly state that it is meant for students age 10 to adult.  Inspiration is similar to CMAPS the minding mapping software that we currently use at UBC. 


Face 2:  Types of Offerings

  • Inspiration is Infrastructure based.  Inspiration can deliver graphical organization of content through creating visual representation of the course material.  The software allows students to make and create their own connections to the material that they are learning.  As the learn new concepts they plot them in their concept map.  Within these concept maps they can embed hyperlinks to websites, wikipedia definitions, pictures, video etc.  This multimedia graphical display enriches the overall education experience. 


Face 3:  Who is the Buyer?

  • In our district (SD36) the buyer was the curriculum planning and support branch of the district.  They purchased a district wide license centrally for Inspiration a few years ago.  Then they made it available to high school in the district for free.  This central branch of the district has been heavily promoting the software throughout the district.   It is up to each school to use the software through guides or facilitators in the schools.  This form of a buyer is probably similar to other parts of the country where Inspiration 8 is marketed in.


Face 4:  Global Markets

  • A major component of their market is wired Anglophone Countries.  There head office is located in Aurora, Ontario.  But they also provide software to international markets as well.  There products are available in multiple languages; English, French, Spanish, and German.  It seems they are mainly marketing their software to developed nations in North America and Western Europe.  These global markets have a lot of money to spend on education.


Face 5:  Development of the Market

  • Inspiration has great potential around the world.  Large markets are available in Asia.  It might be worth while to develop software for the Chinese and Japanese market.  Chine is an up and coming market.  Although these markets might also have local companies which provide the same software.  In countries like India and China many post-secondary intuitions provide education in English.  This might a great place to market Inspiration 8.


Face 6:  Learning Technology Competing with Other Forms of Learning

  • Inspiration 8 is just one piece of the puzzle.  It is not a platform to teach e-learning but a tool to add to the e-learning environment.  Because of this there are probably many competing software packages out there. Old technology is also a competitor.  Inspiration’s graphical organizers can also be duplicated with a pen and paper.  Thus the competition is the old technology.  And if schools cannot afford to purchase this software, students can still get the educational benefit of creating mind maps on the board or a piece of paper.  Although it is hard to embed links and pictures into a static piece of paper. 

October 4, 2009   2 Comments

Group 4’s Social Technology Ning is Launched!

Hi everyone!

Group 4’s site on “Social Technologies” is now open! You can find it at: . You will need to create a Ning account for yourself, if you are not already a member of Ning. Luckily, it’s free!

The Social Technologies Bandwagon!

The Social Technologies Bandwagon!

Please participate in the discussions, take a survey or two and explore the links. Most of the sections have RSS buttons, so you can pull in the feeds from the site. Probably the best one to use is the “Latest Activity” feed (

Enjoy being a part of our social learning network!

Anthony, Barbara, Cari, Ed, Erik and Noah

October 4, 2009   1 Comment

BridgeIT Tanzania

This project, is supported by the International Youth Foundation,  The Tanzania Ministry of Education and Vocational Training, Forum for African Women Educationalists, United States Agency for International Development and Nokia Siemens Networks. It distributes cell phones to teachers and gives them the capability to view information on the phones that helps them teach in elementary classrooms. The project adapts and creates mathematics, science and life skills videos and establishes the necessary technological infrastructure for teachers to access the content in their classrooms.


Face 1: Market Focus

BridgeIT is aimed at teachers in elementary schools, so the focus is k-12 (although there is an element of training involved in that the information goes to teachers to improve their instruction rather than to the children directly).

Face 2: Types of Offerings

The end product of the program is content. Information is provided to teachers on hand-held mobile phones. One of the partners of the program is Nokia, and they presumably are interested in selling mobile phones, so there may be some interest in providing hardware as well which would come under the heading of infrastructure.

Face 3: Who is the buyer?

In this case the buyer would be the schools who have agreed to be part of the project, although at this stage they are not paying for the devices or content. Perhaps, then, the buyer is the International Youth Foundation that is funding the project? Presumably the idea is to develop a product and service that can eventually be sold to schools and teachers across developing nations.

Face 4: Global Markets

This project is aimed exclusively at markets where there is poor or non -existent internet availability. If the product and the project are successful, it might be possible to market this kind of product to vast populations in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

Face 5: Development of the Market

At the present time, this project is in a market that does not support learning technologies. The hope is that projects like BridgeIT will develop products and services that will become viable opportunities. Presumably this is why companies like Nokia are involved in the project.

Face 6: Learning Technology Competing with Other Forms of Learning

This project is bringing content into schools where there was previously no access to this kind of information. This does not compete with any other forms of learning.

October 4, 2009   1 Comment

Pitch Pool Assessments: Recombo 2005 vs. UBC OLT

Recombo 2005

CEO Credibility
Brad Mcphee.  At first I found his presence not powerful enough to lead the company during a time of transition.  As I watched further, I found he was knowledge but still did not provide with a clear vision about what Recombo’s goals were.  Maybe that is why there is currently a new CEO leading the company.
CEO 2009: Mike Gardner     Source:


Management Team
Only name mentioned in the video was Brad Mcphee.  He also mentioned that there are a total of 3 sales people and 12 current employees.  They are in the process of hiring 10 new employees. 


Business Model
Recombo has technology that allows users to run their course content on.  I believe there product and business model is feasible.   They are trying to sell existing technology to customers.
Private Company with investors


Competitive Products
Have switched from a product based company to a service based company.  “Services provided over a architecture”.   Trying to prove that they have technology that solves business problems.-
-“Content integration router” new product out.  “Adapter “is a performance evaluation product.


Market Readiness
Recombo is currently in a year of transition.  They are shifting from a product centered business to services centered business.  


Technical Innovation
Their lighthouse technology seems to give them a competitive edge.  It seems like there are constantly innovating new ideas and re-packaging old ones to make them better.


Exit Strategy
– Although they have a great product, I believe they do not know what success looks like.  They are prepared to walk away from a business if it does not fit there business model.  Estimated dollar value is 100 million.   If the price is right he/shareholders would sell the business.


Overall Investment Status
Have a signed a new deal with a publisher that is equal to their entire revenue.  Are a growing company which is hiring an additional 10 employees.  Current employee base is 12.   I would invest in this company. 




CEO  Credibility
Michelle Lamberson (Director).  She seems to come across very knowledgeable and credible.   She understand some the problems that OLT faces and some of the opportunities as well.


Management Team
Nothing is really mentioned in the video.  When access the OLT website the page cannot be displayed.   Page might be down for maintenance.


Business Model
Role: OLT plays a leadership role in Facilitation, Coordination and Communication of technology within curriculum of courses at UBC.   I believe because they are part of university most of their funding comes from the government and student tuition.  This means they are not selling a product or service in the open market .
-Public Education Institution.


Competitive Products
They provide a services of hosting and maintaining e-learning platforms at the university.   It seems they have no other competitors within the university.

Course Management Software. 
– Recently they have bought a new server to host web blogs and wiki’s.


Market Readiness
Success for OLT is not measured in profits but more in the learning success of students within the e-courses at UBC.  Seamlessly integrating technology into courses is a measurement of success. 


Technical Innovation
– learning through blogs and wiki is an new project that they are trying at UBC.  Their goal to always incorporate new ideas.  And they understand that some will fail and others will succeed


Exit Strategy
Student centered goals.
Driven by UBC faculty and students.  As a support unit OLT will always have to be there as a non for profit organization of the university.


Overall Investment Status
They have to keep showing the university that are benefit.  They will never really earn the university money but that is not their role.  Their role is to help facilitate the technology

October 4, 2009   No Comments

Story Tools

Hello Everyone:

Here is a link to a site that suggests 5o ways to create web-based stories:

I quite enjoyed using this learning platform.  Following is an amateur piece I did some time ago: “”



October 4, 2009   2 Comments

Web 2.0

Reading the articles regarding Web 2.0, I realized the need for the term. In beginning to read Web 1.0, I was wondering what it was referring to. Why do we need to place  one as before and one as after. The differences the articles suggest regarding 1 and 2  is extremely relevant especially as a user who has grown up with the development of the Internet, it makes sense. The change over from Netscape to Google, the popularity of Napster, the ideas of Flickr and the whole concept of blogging. Stepping back and looking at the perspective the articles take creates a sense of objectivity. There is that moment of “Aha” when I read the articles and it does begin to make sense. From first glance, it appears the coining of 2.0 was needed to describe the difference in user participation and the changed nature of content. There is a shift in the way people use the Web now and the relevant tools and applications. That is something certain. Perhaps, the newer generation would not be able to relate to the need for a differentiation because all they have known have been social web tools. However, this change is definitely something that needs to be addressed and discussed.


Looking at the pitch for CrowdTrust, it really makes a point about data management. How do users deal with the chaos associated with their online self. We have an entire life online. How do we manage the data being created everyday? How do we make sense of this online self? In reality, these things seems to be separated into categories on their own. The family lives in a home on a street, but my family online is scattered among the many other email addresses with the people I have known since high school. Online, it all becomes a blur of chaos. The idea of a personal creative commons can really help to not only organize the online reality of who we are but also highlight the things that are important to us. Being able to objectively step back and see our own online “DNA” is a very exciting step because it is so honest. The connections CrowdTrust is able to make is accumulated from our day to day lives. This ability to map out who we are will make our online self even much more organized than that of our reality.

Last Note

The way social technologies have changed the way we surf the Internet and interact with the people in our lives is both exciting and overwhelming. The dynamics between people, the politics between our online and real self, and the organized chaos of it all is quite overwhelming because of all the possibilities. Our existence whether online or offline is bound to the notion of what is meaningful. The lack of boundaries, the power and the freedom of being “social” is a topic one can continue to discuss and pursue.

October 4, 2009   2 Comments