Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

One Laptop Per Child Is Still A Great Idea

Not so very long ago, before the stock market “adjusted itself”, banks went under, and General Motors needed a bailout, there was a terrific idea that became a reality. Its aim was nothing less than to revolutionize how we educate the world’s children.

olpc XOBig players in the tech industry established a non-profit association “to provide educational opportunities for the world’s poorest children by providing each child with a rugged, low-cost, low-power, connected laptop with content and software designed for collaborative, joyful, self-empowered learning.”

Unlike a lot of great ideas, this one did not die on the vine. The device was actually developed and is available — it’s called the “XO”. It was designed with the real world in mind, considering everything from extreme environmental conditions such as high heat and humidity, to technological issues such as local language support. As a result, the XO laptop is extremely durable, brilliantly functional, energy-efficient, responsive, and fun.

The computers use flash memory instead of a hard drive, run a Fedora-based operating system and use the Sugar user interface. Mobile ad-hoc networking based on the 802.11s wireless mesh network is featured.

The OLPC XO contains technology that would barely be called sufficient in today’s terms (sub-500-MHz processor, only 256MB of RAM, 1GB of flash storage), but that is enough for a child in a developing country who has never used a computer before. It’s encased in a rugged exterior that is splash-, drop-, and hot/cold-resistant. It has an LED backlit screen that can be read outdoors in direct sunlight. And it uses so little power that an external hand generator or a solar panel can power the system.Children in Ulaanbataar

But this really isn’t about the technical specs of a notebook computer. One Laptop Per Child is about getting this educational tool into the hands of young children in impoverished and under-developed countries.

OLPC is simply one of our better ideas, and is worthy of our attention and support.

Please visit the OLPC website and look around. Find out how easy it is to participate… even during these uncertain economic times.

To get a feel for how the project is faring, visit the OLPC Wiki. You may also be interested in the OLPC Wikipedia page for a more comprehensive overview and history.

Today’s free link: The Stormy Seas Of Life

Today’s free download: GOM Player is a free multimedia player with popular video and audio codecs built-in. GOM Player supports file formats such as AVI, DAT, MPEG, DivX, XviD, WMV, ASF. Users don’t have to install codecs separately. GOM Player is capable of playing incomplete or damaged AVI files by skipping the damaged frames.

Copyright 2007-9 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved. post to jaanix

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July 9, 2009 - Posted by | computers, News, tech | , , , , , , , , , , ,

23 Comments »

  1. I agree, get children computer proficient at a young age, that way they’ll know all the best porn sites by the time they hit 11 or 12. Let their parents try to put on a child security lock, these kids are going to be computer masterminds.

    Like

    Comment by Mike Tamillow | July 9, 2009 | Reply

  2. I think Netbooks are a great tool for children. My daughters are 5 and 2 and frequently use the computer.

    Like

    Comment by agent58 | July 9, 2009 | Reply

  3. I remember seeing the commercial for this a while ago. Thanks for bringing it back to my (our) attention! And…WOW…I had no idea that there were computers that could be run on solar panals.

    It’s nice here in the world…out from under my rock! :)

    Like

    Comment by Forrester McLeod | July 9, 2009 | Reply

  4. The first country in the world who uses OLPC was Uruguay, and there is an awesome experience.
    This program must go ahead, they work very well and is a tool for childrens to get out there, on the internet.

    For poor people who has not a good economy, this is a must.

    Regards

    Like

    Comment by Denis Antunez | July 9, 2009 | Reply

  5. OLPC computers are also being used to make a difference for underprivileged children in the United States, specifically in Wisconsin. Click here to check it out.

    Like

    Comment by sandraknz | July 9, 2009 | Reply

  6. There is an argument to be made that a laptop-per-child ideal is outmoded, as laptops themselves become increasingly replaced by smaller, cheaper instrumentation (notebooks, readers, and the like) which operate on internet-based systems and do not require local storage. New interfaces such as Google Chrome and Microsoft programs provide good examples of how little utility an entire laptop really provides, and how little productivity they contribute in the economy-of-free of the internet. However, the problem then becomes one of internet access in countries with developing information systems.

    Like

    Comment by Sir Gnome | July 9, 2009 | Reply

    • Sir Gnome,
      Without subtracting from your points, the OLPC project isn’t simply about getting these children Internet access.

      Like

      Comment by techpaul | July 9, 2009 | Reply

      • Then how, pray, will they twitter and Huffpost their feckless leaders out of office? Just kidding, and apologies for the triviality. This is an excellent project, and I wish you the best of luck!

        Like

        Comment by Sir Gnome | July 9, 2009 | Reply

        • Sir Gnome,
          I do appreciate your sense of humor. I believe, though, that the target for these donations are children ages 6 – 12… and I really hope that they’re too young to get caught up in online politics, or waste too much time on Twitter!

          Like

          Comment by techpaul | July 9, 2009 | Reply

  7. TechPaul,

    Having traveled the World extensively, and having been exposed to poverty conditions that I found unbearable in some tourist centric countries, I have come to the conclusion, shared by many, that education is the only way to break the cycle of grinding poverty faced by the underprivileged.

    The OLPC is a worthy cause, and deserves our absolute support.

    Bill

    Like

    Comment by Bill Mullins | July 9, 2009 | Reply

  8. Thank you so much for this beautifully written post. I’ve been wondering for more than a year about the progress and promise of OLPC, and especially about the work being done at MIT.

    This development is for me a dream come true. For so many years we dreamt of “Model-T” computers for children, of cheaper-than-dirt set-top boxes and of ruggedized handhelds, etc. And now there is something more or less universally embraceable! How simply wonderful!

    Tell me please, though, what you see as the system’s limitations? Is cost a limiting factor? I note that Texas and California buy their textbooks, software and testware border-to-border, for the entire state. And those are two of our biggest states. Perhaps in this instance bulk purchasing, in the unheard-of millions of units, could drive down costs precipitously. (And that’s just a U.S. scenario.)

    What do you think?

    Like

    Comment by Hugo | July 9, 2009 | Reply

    • Hugo,
      I will combine my response to your two comment/questions here.
      One “limiting factor” is probably cost (though $200 is very low) but, yes, the more that are ordered the lower the cost-per-unit.. both in individual donations now, and in the long-term “big picture”. And I think in economic “downtimes”, charitable contributions take a hit across the board.

      The OLPC was intended for truly “undeveloped” areas, and not for here in the US. Here we have a power grid, and phone service, and there’s not as much reason to go for such a minimalistic approach. And, corporations such as Apple are heavily invested in providing units to our schools at a very low-cost (all the better to develop brand loyalty).

      Like

      Comment by techpaul | July 9, 2009 | Reply

  9. BTW, the thing I like so much about low-cost, child-friendly laptops is that they promise “location-independence”, and a timely relief from the exorbitant efforts to wire and goldplate schools we already can no longer seem to afford. A portable device, placed directly into the hands of the child, means so much more computer time than does the rationing of such facilities on the school site during strictly limited hours. Also, our country now has to consider the prospect of mass evacuations of pupils owing to natural or “technological” disaster, and such equipment holds the capacity to knit learners together at times when they might otherwise have their learning plans disrupted or thrown into disarrary.

    Like

    Comment by Hugo | July 9, 2009 | Reply

  10. I appreciate your responsiveness. The prospect of charitable giving is invigorating. I’d just say that I wouldn’t want to cut much of a distinction between what’s needed in the USA and what could be of use elsewhere.

    Like

    Comment by Hugo | July 9, 2009 | Reply

    • Hugo,
      I have to agree with your points. I like the part of the title that says per child. Geography, Race, Creed should play no part — only need.

      Like

      Comment by techpaul | July 9, 2009 | Reply

  11. Yes, techpaul, that’s beautiful. Quite right. Besides, as we all said coming up, the thing is nothing more nor less than an impressive tool, blind to geography, race, creed, etc.

    May a thousand flowers bloom…

    Like

    Comment by Hugo | July 9, 2009 | Reply

  12. This is not about the OLPC although I wish the OLPC team the best. The GOM player is a fine alternative to Windows Media Player and it works very well. I use the VLC Player http://www.videolan.org/vlc/ which is very lightweight, seems to play just about any media file thrown at it, and is Open Source

    Like

    Comment by jgoto | July 10, 2009 | Reply

    • jgoto,
      I have reco’d the VLC Player here as well.

      Pick one or the other folks, you shouldn’t need both.

      Like

      Comment by techpaul | July 10, 2009 | Reply

  13. For Heaven’s sake. Evidently great minds think alike. Isn’t that great?

    Like

    Comment by Hugo | July 11, 2009 | Reply

  14. (Or, in my case, mediocre ones as well)

    Like

    Comment by Hugo | July 11, 2009 | Reply

  15. Will back to read your other useful post ;)

    Like

    Comment by children software | July 20, 2009 | Reply

  16. Reblogged this on mskserver.

    Like

    Comment by mskserver | July 24, 2012 | Reply


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