Providing Lesotho's Children with Keys to the World

This is the story of our efforts to end the vicious cycle of poverty, disease, inadequate education, and early death
in a remote rural community in Lesotho, Africa, by providing quality education and life skills
to the young children there. Join us on our journey ...

Saturday, May 3, 2014

eBook Distribution Solutions Emerge from Africa

Article re-posted from

There is great demand for eBooks in emerging markets however the demand for eTextbooks is even greater. Countries such as Kenya, Nigeria, China and Brazil are struggling to gain access to eTextbooks in their classrooms and universities. The societal factors of some of these countries require easy-to-use solutions that are also scalable and specifically designed for these markets.

The spotlight will be on the London Book Fair during the upcoming days, one of the largest book fairs in the UK. South African startup, Snapplify, has been attending the London Book Fair since they launched in 2011 and has signed leading local and international publishers. The company has been working on new digital publishing models for high growth emerging markets and has recently given a stronger focus to the academic market. This year the London Book Fair has dedicated an entire stream to Education, with multiple seminars focusing on Academic publishing. Snapplify has extensive experience providing digital publishing solutions to education publishers, particularly those expanding into emerging markets via digital textbooks, a topic currently under extensive research by the Snapplify team.

The company has recently launched their Academic eReader which is being used by Macmillan Education. The eReader allows users to make notes, highlights and annotations on their eBooks which is associated to their individual profiles. Snapplify stores all actions made by students in secure cloud servers allowing students to safely access their eBooks on any device using their unique login details. This solution has been widely accepted in African countries where students are sharing devices and cannot afford to own individual ones.

There is a great demand to enable the distribution of eTextbooks to emerging markets where bandwidth and internet connectivity are strained and inconsistent however solutions to these problems are currently being solved in Africa by caching data at institutions and supporting offline reading capabilities. It is fundamentally important to build solutions to solve problems in emerging markets especially where literacy rates are low and access to education is difficult. The state of the academic eBook industry in South Africa has not been critically measured until now. A research paper which will soon be released by the Snapplify team will analyse the adoption rate of eBooks in schools and universities and will go onto expose major obstacles to mass adoption.

[07 Apr 2014 12:27]

Friday, May 2, 2014

Is the One Laptop Per Child Model Still Relevant in 2014?

The views expressed in this re-post from 
Educational Technology Debate 
are not necessarily those of 
Laptops to Lesotho Inc.
Join us for the Educational Technology Debate 

Is the One Laptop Per Child Model Still Relevant in 2014?


A decade ago, Nicholas Negroponte burst into the imagination of educators and technologies worldwide with a brilliant vision of every child in the developing world using a laptop to learn learning. At the time, this was a revolutionary idea, and it brought forth a seemingly endless stream of commentary, hype, and announcements of countries planning massive one computer per child programs.

Since then, the bright idea has run into the realities of technology change, inertia, and innovation, and while the One Laptop Per Child organization continues, no longer are there major announcements of deployments or even a groundswell of excitement around it. Which begs the question: Is the One Laptop Per Child model still relevant?

OLPC vs. 1:1
Now I think we can all agree that there are two models at play here. There is the concept of one laptop per student and the concept of one device per student, regardless of its form factor. While the primacy of the laptop versus the tablet or mobile phone can be debated (and should be), the reality is that we have entered the era where one educational ICT tool per student is an accepted practice.

That doesn’t mean that 1:1 saturation of devices is proven, or is actually the best practice to pursue, but that’s certainly the route that many politicians and parents want. And that brings us to what I think is the larger question: should we be aiming for 1:1?

1:1 vs. 1:Many
In our headlong rush to try and provide computing devices for every student, and with Nicholas Negroponte asking if we would suppose that children share pencils, I wonder just why we believe we need to have a 1:1 ratio of technology tools per student. To Negroponte’s point, yes, there are many schools where children must share pencils, or pencil supply is by parental purchase only, resigning some students to share pencils as a normal course of their school day.

If we are still working to support educational systems to provide the basics, like even teachers or pencils, might we also dial back our expectations of ICT investments? What exactly is wrong with using low-cost projectors so an entire class can learn from one computer?

Teacher vs. Student ICT

Or what about starting with ICT infrastructure for teacher professional development and school administration? In fact, isn’t the low-hanging fruit of ICT4E getting teachers to post grades, get support, and even simply report on attendance levels through mobile phones a great advancement in many countries? Just paying teachers regularly and on time via mobile money would arguably increase learning outcomes as much as laptop deployments.

School level educational management systems, reporting real-time data up to national administrators and out to classroom teachers, would revolutionize education and reveal the great flaws in current practices faster and more transparently that student-centered technology.
Not as flashy or exciting, for sure, but I argue, much, much more effective than one anything per child.

But enough of my rambling, what is your opinion? Do share your thoughts in comments or email us a Guest Post answering questions like these:
  • Is the OLPC model still valid?
  • Do schools still need one laptop per student?
  • Or is computing hardware now totally ubiquitous?
  • Is it time to again focus on curriculum, content, and pedagogy?
  • And can we finally remember the teachers? 
 OLPC News

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