Are mini-laptops worth deploying without Internet access?

I think the answer to this is "Yes" for a variety of reasons but I'd like to get some feedback from you. Peru is beginning to roll out 400,000 OLPC XO laptops this week to villages throughout the country, according to Technology Review.

I think the answer to this is "Yes" for a variety of reasons but I'd like to get some feedback from you. Peru is beginning to roll out 400,000 OLPC XO laptops this week to villages throughout the country, according to Technology Review.

As the article points out, though, 90% of the villages to which the XOs are being deployed don't have Internet access.

Peru's effort, if successful, would be a model for other nations. In the training now under way, teachers must become versed not only in how to operate and maintain the laptops, but also in how to do their jobs within a newly laptop-centric educational model. The laptops will contain some 115 books, including textbooks, novels, and poetry, as well as art and music programs, cameras, and other goodies.

To my mind, the textbooks alone are worth the cost (assuming, as I have always maintained before, that basic needs are already being met in the villages) if they meet the curricular needs of the teachers and students. However, a key element of a computer's utility in 2008 is Internet access. How do you feel? To be truly effective and provide the most benefit to students, should communications infrastructure be in place before laptops like the XO and Classmate are rolled out?

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