Monday, April 5, 2010

Papert vs. Shaw on cost of putting computers in schools #edtech

Perhaps one of the most heated parts of the 1995 Congressional Hearing on Technology in Education was this clip where David Shaw interupts Seymour Papert insisting that 1:1 computing in schools is not a good idea economically because "80-90% of the cost of a computer is not a capital expenditure but rather maintenance," and that the functional life expectancy of computers is, "2-3 years." Papert nearly pulls his hair out insisting that, "kids could learn to maintain (or even build) the computers." He also points out that Shaw is, "trying to cram new ideas into an old framework."

What is most interesting to me, 15 years later, is that Papert testifies that it would only increase school budgets 2-3% to place a computer in each kids hands at a time when computers cost $1,000. Adjust for inflation and take today's price tag of $400 or less for a quality netbook (that does exponentially more than the Mac or PC of 1995) and that figure must be more like .5-1.5%

On this issue, who was right? Papert or Shaw?

1 comment:

Mrs. Tenkely said...

This is still an issue that creates such heated debate. It is one that I am dealing with right now as I propose a 1 to 1 pilot. In our situation, we have to get tech support from the church staff tech support team. They charge the school a flat $1000/computer or device every year. Our support is NOT anywhere near that. That is in addition to a flat rate that we pay. I beg for them to let me have a student tech team to solve small problems immediately to help augment the cost. So far it is falling on deaf ears. Ridiculous!