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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

My thoughts on One Laptop Per Child (OLPC)

How can you possible find any flaws with a company and a piece of hardware that promises to bring technology to the poorest children in the world. Yes, I am speaking of the OLPC program and the XO laptops created by MIT. This low cost computer is bringing technology to poor and third world countries. They are not letting the barriers of poverty or language stop today’s students from learning with the tools of the 21st century. What a truly innovative program. Did I mention that the cost is between $188 to $100 dollars. Now this is something school districts can afford.

The OLPC program has partnered with Microsoft to enhance it’s newest feature, the dual booting XO. Mind blowing. Now students, or users will have a choice between their preferred OS. (Linux, here I come!) To read the May 16th article, click here.

This is a wonderful initiative who’s benefits can be seen almost immediately. Poor or third world countries have a shortage of teachers, with networked computers, students can learn online, wouldn’t it be great if we had volunteer teachers available to teach these online courses. Many of these countries are educating students of different ages and grades in the same classroom. I think the XO will help to solve the major gap that must be an issue for any educator dealing with such a diverse group of students. The introduction of the laptop will introduce self paced learning. Students will be able to learn grade appropriate material at their own pace and most likely, in their own language. We also need to keep in mind that children in these countries are often brought into the school environment at different points in their life. They do not necessarily start at the same age or level of ability. Having technology available not only in the school but in the home may help these students to catch up to their counterparts if not feel more successful in what they do accomplish. The nation of Nepal was one of first governments to test pilot this program. This is the first ever pilot distribution of the laptop in Nepal, and it is codenamed “Sunrise”. Visit OLPC Nepal blog to learn more about the program, the importance to it’s users and view great pictures of the ceremony and the student with their new laptops.

Thank you MIT for making such a worthwhile product for such a worthy cause. Our children.

1 comment:

Kim T said...

Sherry.. funny! We are on the same thought process here. I think it is so amazing and I wish I knew Linux. I am sure it is something I can work on for the future. Cam was pretty well versed in it. I think it is so great to give these computers out to the kids who really need them the most and to see how it can help connect their world to everyone's!