Ponderings on Space, Learning, Technology and Choice

We have been given a couple of research papers for critically evaluation. One of them is by Dunleavy et al (2007) which looks at the “value addedness” of the one child per laptop (OLPC) project. What struck me here is that there are similarities between the OLPC initiaive and that of our partly JISC funded project, iBorrow. Whilst the OLPC project is ensuring that there is a “laptop per child” and iBorrow is about “borrowing a laptop” – the similarities here are one of transformation (or at least potentially).

Our students have a choice of using one of the 200 netbook devices or one of the 120 fixed desktop PCs – which ones are they drawn to and under what circumstances? They have relatively free reign in a large learning space (incorporating library, cafes and student services) the size of a football pitch across three floors – which means they have a choice as to where to work, learn and play with these netbooks – and again, which zones are they drawn to and under what circumstances?

Which leads us to another set of interesting questions:

  • What kind of affordances do these devices bring?
  • Are they indeed “value added” or something else?
  • Does the combination of group work and mobile devices differ from that of group work and fixed devices?
  • Does an “underworld” of virtualised peer support exist in these groupings?

I have a lot to think about and mull over before I finally hand in my project proposal in April 2010 – the trick here is to keep the research question(s) tightly focused.

If you are interesting in delving deeper into the OLPC project, Nicholas Negroponte, author of “Being Digital“, founder of MIT Media Labs and founder of the OLPC initiative provides a nice summary of what the initiative is and the some of the issues of getting the project off the ground. James O’Hagan’s blog “1 Laptop : 1 Student” offers some “stories” and case studies taken from practitioners of the initiatives.


Dunleavy, M., Dexter, S. & Heinecke, W.F. (2007). “What added value does a 1:1 student to laptop ratio bring to technology-supported teaching and learning?”. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 23, pp. 440-452.