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One Laptop Per Child

SJ Klein is giving us a quick overview of the One Laptop Per Child project.

They have deals with five countries: Argentina, Brazil, Libya, Nigeria and Thailand. Each will be getting 1,000 laptops.

The monitor can run in ultra-low-power mode, reflecting ambient light. “The display technology is the most remarkable technology in the laptop.” The display “IP” is co-owned with the screen producers.The OLPC is working to make it reusable in 3 years wrt patents.

It weighs 3lbs. A pound of that is plastic. The plastic is 2mil instead of the 0.7mil of a typical laptop, e.g., a Thinkpad.

It comes with Squeak, JavaScript and Python as programming languages. And MediaWiki. (And more.)

Q: What is it missing? What will the critics say, “It’s fine, but it’s missing a ____”?
A: It’s not a normal desktop computer. It has a 512MB flash disk and 128Mb of RAM. It can run lots of apps simultaneously, but not typical office apps.

It has an integrated browser.

Q: Does it run Flash?
A: Yes. There’s a lot out there in Flash. But it’s not an open format.

Ethan points out that the bulk of the machine is behind the screen, so there isn’t a lot passing through the hinge; the hinge is the most common point of failure in laptops.

SJ says that the battery runs about 2 hours if you’re running flat out. But for reading, he hopes and thinks kids will get about 8 hours. The best recharging technique is a pull thingy that’s sort of like a lawn mower starter. The battery is nickel metal hydride.

It’s designed to last six years.

Q: (Me) The social software?
A: WikiMedia. Drawing/chat program that lets you see everyone that’s there is part of the operating environment (= Sugar). Etc. [Sounds like an opportunity. What social software might work in these environments and cultures?]

Ethan worries about students wanting to use them to the max while the teachers want to confine the usage to class-focused activities. Ethan doesn’t want the laptops to assume that education has to be entirely webby and non-traditional.

The OS is a modified version of Fedora. The file system is different because it’s compact flash. E.g., you can’t use swap and they’ve had to write low-level stuff to keep Linux from writing to the first sectors of memory until it burns out.

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13 Responses to “One Laptop Per Child”

  1. BTW, I think the OLPC would be ideal for emergency communications:
    * self-powered
    * self-networking because of mesh
    * you could download essential disaster response information in advance, in case there was no connectivity at all.
    I know, from an exchange of emails with Negroponte, that they don’t want to take their focus off the educational mission, but I’d like to think that global disaster recovery would be equally important, and perhaps revenue from sales of the disaster versions could help fund the educational program.
    W. David Stephenson | Principal| Stephenson Strategies
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  2. This is one of the great moments in this, western centred, modern world. Education being taken back to the Academy by developing world.
    Investigating, connecting and sharing
     

  3. I too echo this worry:

    “Ethan worries about students wanting to use them to the max while the teachers want to confine the usage to class-focused activities”

    Much of Negroponte’s and Papert’s thoughts around the learning environment do not have much use or room for traditional teachers. Love them or hate them, they are a reality and respected leaders in the developing world.

    Disrespecting or disregarding their role is done at great peril.

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  6. Great idea to get children involved in technology early because computers are not going anywhere!

  7. “One Laptop per Child” is yet one more ridiculous project by do-gooders foisted on the third world. Thank God these people have someplace to work off their excess energy, otherwise they might do some real damage.

    To begin, nothing on this computer is compatible with the vast majority of other computers in the world. Not much about windows and file folders might be “intuitive”, but yet another incompatible user interface is not helping anyone.

    Second, a fast internet connection is far more important than exactly what computer hardware is used for access. I would rather have one good broadband internet connection shared per classroom, than a whole classroom of “One Laptop per Child”.

    But software and software compatibility is really hard, and the hardware types just don’t have any interest or appeciation of just how important this is.

    Negroponte might hate Word and Excel and other aspects of his culture, but when these kids try to get work they will be asked if they know Word and Excel and Windows, not a stick figure interface.

  8. a fast internet connection is far more important than exactly what computer hardware is used for access.

    Yep, for me any computer without a fast internet connection is DEAD.

  9. it may not be the best laptop out there, but at least some of these countries will get their younger students involved with tech

  10. The One Laptop Per Child is a terrific program. Distributing computers in this day and age is as important as distributing books, paper, pens, pencils or small chalk boards have been since school was invented.

    Anyone who thinks an internet connection is necessary has no clue what learning is about. By distributing the tools necessary to learn Modern reading, writing and arithmetic we are making the world a better place.

    Basic computer literacy, typing skills and having an enormous library at the tip of your fingers is much more important.

    Dump these arrogant pro-micros**t software, super computer elitists in the middle of a third world nation for a year and let them come back and tell me how important it is to have access to badly written memory/processor hog software.

  11. Basic computer literacy, typing skills and having an enormous library at the tip of our fingers is much more important.So, in this use we give more work in this computer.

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  13. Anyone who thinks an internet connection is necessary has no clue what learning is about. By distributing the tools necessary to learn Modern reading, writing and arithmetic we are making the world a better place

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