Master Yngve Refseth
Title of dissertation:
Green machines for growth of knowledge. Implementation of One Laptop Per Child in a School in Ethiopia.
The thesis examines how the implementation of the One Laptop Per Child affects the learning environment inside and outside a classroom in Ethiopia. The thesis is written in the field of ICT and learning. It has a special education perspective since the intention of the implementation is to improve the conditions for learning and development for a group of vulnerable children. The problems discussed in the thesis are how the XO-laptop mediates activities in and outside school, changes in the relationships between those involved, the impact on the culture of the school and the differences in views on knowledge. The approach of the thesis is ethnographic; both quantitative and qualitative methods are used. The data is analyzed from a sociocultural perspective in a proprietary framework. The primary sources are observations, interviews, questionnaires and field notes. The secondary sources consist of web pages, reports, policy documents and examination questions. Among the main findings are that children's self-esteem increased. Use of laptops laid the foundation for the utilization of other types of computers. The machine compensated for lack of resources. All the children got digitized textbooks, and physics experiments that otherwise were impossible to implement, could be simulated. The laptop was barely integrated in teaching. Teachers received limited training and the institutional framework was not changed while students shared their experiences and wanted more cooperation. Students' skills challenged the teachers’ authority and access to new information challenged textbooks authority. The girls were equally competent in the use of laptop as the boys and the girls became more visible in the classroom. Outside school the laptop was used for other activities than homework. The imposed homework formed a bridge between home and school. Many students taught their parents how to use the machine and the relationship between them was less authoritarian. Information on the machine was a resource for the whole family. The investigation has shown that the machine changed the established practices and roles at school. The study also shows the importance of training of the teachers and the need for the institutional framework to be changed. OLPC has surely sown some seeds and time will show if they will grow.