Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Build it and they won't come

What is surprising about the "Indian" Aakash education tablet computer is not the failure of the project, but the continued attempts to build a low cost educational computer. Before the Aakash, there was the OLPC. More recently there has been the Infinity Kids Laptop/Tablet from Sydney and the "Udaan" tablet announced by an Indian government minister ("No date of expiry", by Anubhuti Vishnoi, India Today, January 9, 2015). Mudliar and Pal (p. 1, 2015) explain this optimism over reality in terms of "... the cult of a technocratic leadership, the discourse of indigenous technology, the re-creation of the Silicon Valley dream, and the face of the marginal user". This seems to apply equally well in Australia and the USA, as in India.

The failure of the Aakash and OLPC contrasts with the success of the Raspberry Pi educational computer, several million of which have been produced. The Raspberry Pi has succeeded perhaps because it did not depend on endorsement by a government minister and aimed to simply help teach IT. However, this does not stop people trying: Ali, Vlaskamp, Eddin, Falconer and Oram (2013) describe a project to produce an educational computer for Uganda, based on the Raspberry Pi.


Mudliar, P., & Pal, J. (2015). ICTD in the Popular Press: Media Discourse Around Aakash, the “World’s Cheapest Tablet”. Information Technologies & International Development, 11(1), pp-41. Retrieved from
Ali, M., Vlaskamp, J. H. A., Eddin, N. N., Falconer, B., & Oram, C. (2013, September). Technical development and socioeconomic implications of the Raspberry Pi as a learning tool in developing countries. In Computer Science and Electronic Engineering Conference (CEEC), 2013 5th (pp. 103-108). IEEE. Retrieved from

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