The $35 Aakash Tablet Will Fail Education Just Like the $100 OLPC Laptop Did
Recently, the CEO of Datawind presented his case to the World Bank on why the Aakash tablet computer will revolutionize education in India. During his talk, he presented this slide as justification that his tablet was not the XO and that Datawind would be more successful in reaching a 5 million units sold milestone than OLPC.
While I agree that Suneet Singh Tuli’s business plan of selling tablets directly to consumers based on clear market advantages is more sound than Nicholas Negroponte’s idea of selling millions of laptop to governments based on a handshake with presidents, I do not see a better education plan. In fact, I see none.
What I do see is Datawind and OLPC focusing on hardware sales. OLPC started the netbook revolution – cheap laptops for everyone, and Datawind is starting a “netlet” revolution – cheap tablets for everyone. Congratulations to both. But without a serious focus on educational software and content, and the integration of both into the national curriculum and into teachers’ daily instruction, the Aakash will have the same issue as the OLPC:
It will be a cool gadget that pushes boundaries in computing, and leaves education as moribund as before.