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Waveplace FAQ

On this page you'll find answers to our most frequently asked questions. If you have a question that's not covered here, please contact us.

Is Waveplace just about laptops?

Our mission is much more than free laptops. Though laptops get all the attention, they're really just a vehicle for something much cooler. As Alan Kay said, "you can donate pianos, but they work much better with piano lessons." We recognize this, which is why most of our emphasis is on course materials and teacher training. Our larger goal is encouraging kids and adults to use the laptops to their full potential, which can have profound educational benefits.

What educational benefits are possible?

A laptop can be used as a kind of magical sketchpad that engages a child to think more creatively. As children learn to program the computer to do simple tasks, they gain a sense of mastery over what they're "teaching" the computer, which gives them confidence in their own creative problem solving. Again and again, we see children gain a sense of ownership over their educational terrain, a trait that profoundly affects their work in all their classes. We call this "spark", and it's what Waveplace is really all about.

How is this different from other computer classes?

Our approach has little in common with the way most schools use computers. Most teach "computer literacy", which focuses on computer basics such as word processing, web browsing, and email. The rest use "edutainment" software to teach things like math and reading. Both of these approaches fall far short of what's possible with computers.

Why did you choose OLPC?

Waveplace chose OLPC for two reasons: 1) the laptops are inexpensive, which means more laptops for children, and 2) OLPC believes in the same educational approach that we do, so their laptops are well suited to us.

Shouldn't we be giving kids Windows or Mac machines?

If someone tells you a child needs to learn Windows, ask them what they think Windows will be like when the child enters the workforce. Very likely, it won't resemble the Windows of today.

Waveplace focuses on core computer fundamentals that apply to all computer systems, both now and in the future. What we teach them now will help them learn (and create) the software of tomorrow.

Are you worried about Intel competing with OLPC?

Not at all. The competition validates the goal of OLPC, which is to make laptops more affordable for the children of the world. Such competition will result in better and cheaper laptops for all.

The Waveplace courseware is based upon Squeak Etoys, which works equally well on Windows, Mac, or OLPC. Should a better laptop become available for the same price, we can easily support it as well. While we love the XO, we're not tied to it in any way. We're hardware-neutral.

Could you come to my favorite island?

We'd love to! To get us started in a particular region in the Caribbean, please contact us with suggestions for a local partner organization.

What's a partner organization?

Waveplace works with local partner organizations that know how to get things done in their region. Our partners guide everything we do. They help us arrange pilots, conduct teacher workshops, and talk with local governments on our behalf. Our policy is to always work through such local organizations.

How can my school get laptops?

We work through teachers, so if you want to jumpstart things, find some progressive teachers and administrators and convince them to contact us.

How can I help?

We're very glad you asked! The best way to help is to donate money. Every dollar we receive helps us help more children.

We also need volunteers to help with fundraising and courseware. If you have experience with grant-writing or if you'd like to test our courseware on your own class, please contact us.

We also need help spreading the word about us. Please tell your friends and put our nifty link-to button on every website you know. Blab about us in forums and social networking sites. Tell your local newspaper or rotary club.

This is definitely a group effort. We need you!

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