India: $10 Notebooks for Students

jims80By Jim Shimabukuro

Here’s a tip from Innovate‘s editor-in-chief, Jim Morrison: India’s $10 Laptop to be revealed Feb. 3 (, 30 Jan. 2009)

I’ll be adding more sources to this post as they become available. In the meantime, please submit posts of your thoughts re this new development. What impact will the $10 notebooks have on education? or Is it really possible to produce a useful notebook for $10?

UPDATE 2/2: “Early reports of the cheap laptop suggested that it would cost only 500 rupees (£7). However, this could be a mistranslation, because transcripts of the speech, in which it was unveiled, mentioned it costing $10 (£7) but this was later corrected to $100 (£70).” (“India to unveil low cost laptop,” BBC News, 2 Feb 2009)

UPDATE 2/2: Many other sources are reporting the price at $20, for example, James Lamont in “India to follow $2,000 car with $20 laptop” (, 2 Feb. 2009)

UPDATE 2/4: $10-laptop proves to be a damp squib (The Times of India, 4 Feb. 2009). Photo below by K.V. Poornachandra Kumar, from The Hindu (4 Feb. 2009).


Additional Sources:

The Times of India, 30 Jan. 2009: Rs 500 laptop display on Feb 3 (29 Jan. 2009 IST): Govt set to make computers available @ Rs 500

Amarendra Bhushan, CEOWORLD Magazine, 1 Feb. 2009: India plans $10 or Rs 500 laptop computers for everybody: Sakshat is it for real?

DWS Tech (1 Feb. 2009): Rs 500 laptop announced by Indian govt. – that’s just $ 10 for a little computer!

Background Sources:

From (2 Feb. 2009): Will India’s $10 Laptop Kill PC Business? (DELL, HPQ, AAPL, MSFT, RHT)

Gartner Says the $100 Laptop Is at Least Three Years Away 28 July 2008

nicholas-negroponte-100-dollar2This is a photo of Nicholas Negroponte’s $100 Laptop. (Photo from One Laptop Per Child.) Click the image for David Kirkpatrick’s “This PC wants to save the world” (Fortune Magazine, 24 Oct. 2006).

Here’s a YouTube video of the Victor-70, a “$10 Educational Computer,” posted on 3 Aug. 2008. Could this be the prototype?

One Response

  1. It’s not the hardware; it’s the software!

    It’s also what you’re measuring. Inexpensive computers in the hands of students, as many are already, will improve computer literacy, for example. However, that goal is not what most classrooms strive for.

    Giving everyone cheap cars that are missing transmissions will not promote better driving. The cars won’t move.

    I have only been following science education and the impact of technology on that field and so cannot speak to its impact on language arts, mathematics instruction, learning history, etc.

    For a very long time, most computers in science classes have been substitutes for typewriters (word processing), drawing instruments (presentation programs), and calculators (spreadsheets). None of these applications advance the learning of science by themselves.

    Also, computers have been used in many subject areas to present drill exercises. The same result can be obtained with paper and pencil. Oh, you might be a bit more efficient, but you won’t make a large impact here. Besides, drill is only for learning basics, not for mastering a subject.

    In science education, we’ve seen two broad areas of software: probeware and simulations. I’ve read studies that have praised and have panned probeware. When you consider that probeware mostly takes data automatically that might have been taken by hand, you begin to see the problem. That negative is balanced by the positive of being able to perform experiments more facilely, resulting in somewhat more exploration. Gadget lovers may hate me for saying so, but I see little benefit in making an expensive computer, that does not do well in labs or the field, into a meter. Besides, students should own their data, not have it given to them.

    I’ve written repeatedly regarding simulations. The National Research Council came out strongly against them in “America’s Lab Report.” They keep students away for the core of science: investigating the real world. They convey a mistaken impression that science is precise and simple when it’s actually ambiguous and complex. Truly, no matter how beautifully presented, simulations are no better that drills, demonstrations, or videos in helping students understand science. They add nothing that wasn’t already there while creating misconceptions.

    I cannot speak for the other subjects, but in science adding computers over the years has not improved education because the software wasn’t up to the task.

    The resistance of the education establishment to change, the lack of real education innovations, and the failure of many ballyhooed educational software programs have limited the potential impact of computers on education. Thus, we see some people able to state that $10 computers will not impact education and base their assertion on past performance.

    That conclusion neglects the very real potential for new innovation spurred by an expanded market that will result from low-cost computers for students. I already supply one such innovation that has been widely heralded as valuable and real change. We must have more. Then, the nay-sayers will be converted. Whether a $10 computer has the capacity to support science education applications that can make a difference has yet to be determined, however.

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