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Education Hardware

OLPC To Be Distributed To US Students 338

eldavojohn writes "The One Laptop Per Child Project plans to launch OLPC America in 2008 , to distribute the low-cost laptop computers originally intended for developing nations to needy students here in the United States. Nicholas Negroponte is quoted as saying, 'We are doing something patriotic, if you will, after all we are and there are poor children in America. The second thing we're doing is building a critical mass. The numbers are going to go up, people will make more software, it will steer a larger development community.'"
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OLPC To Be Distributed To US Students

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  • Patriotic??? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by iamacat ( 583406 ) on Sunday January 13, 2008 @12:14AM (#22021522)
    A patriotic thing would be to offer OLPC in US before elsewhere in the world. I am not saying it would be the most practical thing to do, but turning home only after selling everywhere else and some may say after failing to realize the volume is certainly not patriotic.
    • never mind patriotism, producing these laptops in bulk for richer countries would probably help tweak the process so that they could be produced as cheaply as planned or at least better than they are now. That way it could allow for a lot more of the rest of the world to get these cheaply as well.
      • zigactly (Score:5, Insightful)

        by mckwant ( 65143 ) on Sunday January 13, 2008 @12:56AM (#22021784)
        Someone will have to explain how artificially limiting your market to those least able to pay makes ANY sense whatsoever.

        Sell them in the US for $250, and let that drive your product for the first year. Asus shipped hundreds of thousands of the eee pc last quarter, so the market is there. Buy one get one was just a little more altruism than the market could bear.

        OLPC is a terrific idea, but the implementation is an unmitigated mess.
        • I'm with you on this one. If people with more money want to be the testers of the first generation, that seems like a win-win.

          At the very least, the more wealthy individuals can help to achieve an economy of scale and work the bugs out of the computers before people that can't easily bring them in for repair get them.

          It still seems very much like a misguided attempt at saving the third world with something that is most helpful in the second or first world areas. Achieve a price reduction to the point where
          • Re:zigactly (Score:5, Interesting)

            by fictionpuss ( 1136565 ) on Sunday January 13, 2008 @01:58AM (#22022200)
            It's about market share - which educational computing system will become the successful standard for children in developing nations? Intel have demonstrated that they are very interested in this market and will happily use underhanded [] tactics to claim it.

            In this light it would make absolutely no sense to service the wealthy geek niche while Intel/Microsoft maximise profits at the expense of education, because by the time the OLPC had done whatever else it would take to satisfy you, the contest would be over.

            This isn't an anti-capitalist hippie parade either, but quite simply that all profit which is extracted from these developing nations represents lost opportunity for education. Intel/Microsoft can either help or hinder, but they have no sympathy from me if they continue to choose the latter.

    • turning home only after selling everywhere else
      Actually, many (now-Western) institutions were tested first in the colonies before being applied at "home", so what he is doing make sense, but it sounds conflicting with what he set himself up to do\ldots{}
    • Re:Patriotic??? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jorghis ( 1000092 ) on Sunday January 13, 2008 @01:31AM (#22022036)
      Every time someone tries to sell something to the government they spin it as "patriotic". When Halliburton sells to the government they make noise about how "patriotic" it is that they are selling to them. The same is true of everyone who builds anything from roads to aircraft carriers to now laptops. Maybe I am being cynical, but I do get tired of seeing the word "patriotic" used so many different ways for so many different reasons that it really doesnt seem to have the meaning that it used to.
      • Re:Patriotic??? (Score:5, Informative)

        by Monsuco ( 998964 ) on Sunday January 13, 2008 @03:47AM (#22022904) Homepage

        When Halliburton sells to the government they make noise about how "patriotic" it is that they are selling to them.
        Just something I would like to mention, there are really only two major companies in the world that are able to do all of the jobs we hire Halliburton for particular field. Schlumberger and Halliburton. Since Schlumberger mostly is based in the Netherlands and France, and since Halliburton is an American company (though it also has a headquarters in the United Arab Emirates) there was little question of who the contract would go to. There are other companies that do some of what these two do, but these are the only ones who do all of what we hire Halliburton to do. Also for several years, Halliburton was losing money in Iraq, only recently did they finally manage to make a profit. Just thought I would mention that.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      It's an education project, and giving a computer to a child who may not have even seen one previously has more impact than giving it to some inner city kid who would be able to access a computer at school or a library. This is also an example of why doing things because it is patriotic, is sometimes a quite short-sighted approach.
    • I honestly don't see the point. Statistically, what industry is using the OLPC over Windows, Mac, or just plain Linux?
      • Re:Patriotic??? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by fictionpuss ( 1136565 ) on Sunday January 13, 2008 @02:19AM (#22022328)
        I grew up on an 8bit Z80 128k Spectrum (+2). I learned more from that and its single instruction book (no internet) than I would have from an 'industry standard' computer of the time - because I could poke and peek inside it, because it was designed to be explored and played with - the ROM/OS even had little messages inside to reward the curious.

        The point is, that these kids will be able to learn more about computers and technology with the OLPC because it comes from the same sort of heritage, than they could with a box which has any other existing commercial OS (or even just plain Linux) shoved inside.

    • On the other hand, lets be charitable to the OLPC. Might it not be that they realize that both 'Educashun' and computers are a huge yawn in most of the English speaking first world?

      If the OLPC was launched in any of them it would have probably taken off like the proverbial lead balloon. However they launched their machine in countries where education is a very sought after activity, with considerable media fanfair and the message 'No, Rich Folks, you can't have one'. Thus creating a considerable degree of e
  • ...for buying one for my 2nd grader last November with the Give One Get One program. I am beginning to think OLPC stands for One Laptop Per Consumer.
    • by VValdo ( 10446 ) on Sunday January 13, 2008 @01:18AM (#22021954)
      Well, now I feel like an idiot... ...for buying one for my 2nd grader last November with the Give One Get One program.

      So wait-- you spend $400 for one computer given to a kid in Afghanistan and one for your 2nd grader- who up until this announcement would have had almost no chance of finding anyone in his school to communicate/collaborate/share with (a major feature of the Sugar UI).

      Now that some OTHER American kids will also have the opportunity to use an XO... how do you lose out exactly? How does your kid?

      I don't get it. What are you complaining about?

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by ConanG ( 699649 )
        Maybe he thinks he got hustled into buying one for a kid in Afghanistan. He wanted one for his kid and paid the extra $200 for it. Now all these other people won't have to buy one for kids in the boonies. Not the most altruistic attitude, but it would explain his complaining...
  • by zazenation ( 1060442 ) on Sunday January 13, 2008 @12:28AM (#22021620)
    Hurray for OLPC team!

    Maybe we might begin to develop a generation of students who haven't been mesmerized by the MICROSOFT logo. Tweaking around with the OS for fun will sprout a new generation of "garage" hackers. I'll never forget my first erector set. Now it will be virtual. Go kiddies GO !
    • by jd ( 1658 ) <> on Sunday January 13, 2008 @12:53AM (#22021766) Homepage Journal
      Garage developers are an essential step to producing inventors. Inventors are an essential step to producing genuinely new ideas and new products. (Generally, "innovation" - as opposed to invention - seems to involve stepwise improvements at best, more often just slightly better eye candy and a thicker manual.) The same mindset that produces inventors also produces "deep science" (radically new work, as opposed to filling in the gaps) and other important original work. Originality is the key element, here, because it is both rare and potent. A lot can come from original work. As originality declines, the return on invested effort declines, but the return will always decline faster.
  • I'm glad that the US will get OLPC's attention. There are plenty of under served communities that could benefit from a cheap laptop for every student.

    It is high time that the inefficient paper-based education system be overthrown by digital technologies. Open Source style text-"books" on an Open Source platform could revolutionize education for all the places that can't afford to educate their kids.
  • by jorghis ( 1000092 ) on Sunday January 13, 2008 @12:44AM (#22021710)
    It actually is a good strategy, US State/municipal/national governments are notorious for wasting money. There is a chance they will actually be able to push their laptops over commercial products which give a better cost/value ratio. They could never sell it to a commercial enterprise because they actually have to answer to investors/shareholders who dont like to see money being wasted unnecessarily. As long as he hires some good lobbyists he has a shot.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Kingrames ( 858416 )
      It's not that America is wasteful. It's that skilled workers are VERY profitable for your country. There was a time when most of the most skilled workers in the world were American. People are finally starting to realize that it's a very bad thing to keep the trend going as is.

      Much like globalization/free trade, it's a sort of globalization of education. Finally these people in other countries are getting this opportunity. It would be wasteful to make it equal between America and the rest of the world.
      • It's that skilled workers are VERY profitable for your country.

        Not quite afaik. The more skilled your workers are, the less you will be able to convince them that low wages are normal. This of course doesn't work for the US-like societies, where workers actually believe that wages correlate with hard work... Anyway, you get the point (being an overly simplified equation)- the more educated your workers are, the less profit you'll get out of them.

        There was a time when most of the most skilled workers in th

    • Do you know what the OLPC computer is and what software it runs?! ... you definitely do NOT want your government stuck with them.
    • by rbrander ( 73222 ) on Sunday January 13, 2008 @01:57AM (#22022194) Homepage
      Many reviewers unconnected with the OLPC project would take issue with the notion that any other product has a better cost/value ratio. The review by WIRED contrasting the XO (OLPC's laptop) with the competitor "Intel Classmate" had the headline "One Looks Like a Toy, the Other Acts Like One": []

      A few reviews have found the opposite, but a common criterion is self-fulfilling: that running Windows and Office is a killer feature because it instructs the kids in the "software standards" of business. That's relevant for teaching "computers for business" but not relevant for using the computer to teach reading, arithmetic, history, geometry, etc.

      Especially for primary-school levels, the target market.

      Bottom line: the XO has half the horsepower and Flash drive, the same RAM, comparable screen, except in sunlight where it has the unique, power-saving, read-by-reflection trick that'll be a killer app in some locations. It has a long list of recharge options, for the Classmate only standard power will do. It has a a wider WiFi range and the network-extending "mesh" trick; the sealed-membrane keyboard makes it less typeable but more rugged. And the XO is at least $75 cheaper. And greener, when you're producing a billion of them. Whoops, forgot to mention the youtube video of an 8 and 10-year-old replacing the motherboard using only a screwdriver: []

      Particularly for primary grades, the XO has a lot of value-for-money to offer.

      And it's the opposition that has the money to hire lobbyists. OLPC is the non-profit, so not much motivation to push them where they don't work or aren't wanted.

      • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

        by jorghis ( 1000092 )
        That review mainly gave the XO the edge because it was based on the idea that you are living in third world conditions (no power outlet) and the XO wins on being able to recharge in different ways. This is not an issue that anyone living in the US is going to face.

        That video has an adult in the background clearly giving them advice. A random 8 year old with parents who dont know anything about computers will be very unlikely to be able to replicate that.

        Furthermore, why assume that an American kid should
  • by HandsOnFire ( 1059486 ) on Sunday January 13, 2008 @12:45AM (#22021718) distribute the low-cost laptop computers originally intended for developing nations to needy students here in the United States.

    Wouldn't it have made sense for him to have started in America, seeing as the education system is similar to that in quality of the systems in the developing nations? :p

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by timmarhy ( 659436 )
      i know you intend to jest there but it's actually the truth. there are plenty of 3rd world students more educated then americans, mostly because they know what it's like to starve in the streets and know the value of an education.
      • by aktzin ( 882293 ) on Sunday January 13, 2008 @02:10AM (#22022276)

        I can confirm this from personal experience. I was born in Mexico and when I was 13 my family moved to the US. I was halfway through the equivalent of 7th grade (Jr. High in the US). At that point I had learned the following as part of my education (note - this was in public school, no advanced placement / gifted program or anything):

        Math - Had basic geometry covered and was starting on algebra. I already knew some basic number theory, sets, square roots, and how to read numbers in the trillions and beyond. I could convert from decimals to fractions and back.

        Science - I memorized the periodic table of elements and had to recite them all to the teacher as part of our test. We had been introduced to astronomy, physics, biology and of course chemistry as I mentioned.

        Geography - Learned the name of every country in the world. For our tests the teacher put up a poster of each continent with national boundaries but no labels. As she pointed to each country we had to give its name and capital.

        Literature - We had read and discussed excerpted versions of the Iliad and the Odyssey, among other classics.

        History - In addition to excruciatingly detailed Mexican history we learned about the history of the world starting with ancient civilizations like Sumeria and Egypt. We worked our way through Greece, Rome, Persia, China and the more recent empires (Renaissance nation-states, European colonial powers, etc.). We covered the world wars in great detail and even discussed world events from that time, like the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

        So when I got to the U.S.A. I was looking forward to an amazing education in the world's richest, most technologically advanced country. What did I get? For math, they started with fractions. For history they covered the US war of independence in the most incredibly dumbed-down way and hardly mentioned any world history. For science, my biology textbook said that all information referring to evolution should be considered a theory and not a scientific fact... shall I go on?

        Don't get me wrong. I love this country and I'm eternally grateful for the opportunities I've had (bachelor's degree in computer science, great career working for a fortune 100 technology company, etc.). It just disappointed me that the educational system was such a lazy affair, where many teachers appeared to be barely competent and most of them didn't take the time and effort to inspire and push the students to do better. Fortunately my family instilled in me the value of education so I made the extra effort to learn more than what the schools offered to teach me. I have heard similar stories from friends who immigrated from other countries, in particular India and other parts of Asia. I have hoped for years that things would improve but I'm not holding my breath anymore. And we dare to be surprised by the outsourcing situation?

        • by bogjobber ( 880402 ) on Sunday January 13, 2008 @02:40AM (#22022464)
          Just curious where you lived in Mexico and where you moved to in the US. There are some pretty large differences from state to state in the US, and I assume that it would be pretty dramatic in Mexico as well. I know a lot of people from Coahuila and Chihuahua, and to put it nicely they don't exactly instill in me a great respect for the Mexican public education system.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by aktzin ( 882293 )
            In Mexico I went to 1st and 2nd grade in Veracruz. 3rd through 7th were in Tamaulipas. After that it was Texas. I don't know anyone from Coahuila or Chihuahua, but people I know who went to school in states like Nuevo Leon, Distrito Federal (Mexico City), San Luis Potosi, Jalisco and Tabasco seemed to have similar levels of education to what I went through.
  • by bogaboga ( 793279 ) on Sunday January 13, 2008 @12:52AM (#22021754)

    'We are doing something patriotic, if you will, after all we are and there are poor children in America.

    That's one fact I did not know about America and specifically the USA. I thought America was a place where everybody was rich. Its government was always funding a significant portion of my country's budget and building schools and hospitals.

    That's what I believed till I came here. I saw what capitalism can be. The rich get richer and the poor have almost no chance of escaping poverty's grip! All in America.

    I also saw something: America is rich in what I call material prosperity...that is, infrastructure and all supporting services; but beyond that, people (most of them) are really hurting and living from hand to mouth. Sadly, our politicians are doing us no good at all. Corruption is rife in America and incompetence is reaching terrible levels.

    The other sad fact is that the situation will get worse before it gets better.

    • incompetence is reaching terrible levels.

      That's because the best way to get a government job in the US is to have an advanced degree of some sort, and no real world experience.

    • The poor will always be with us.
  • what the hell... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by diewlasing ( 1126425 ) on Sunday January 13, 2008 @12:52AM (#22021756) with the messed up tag: "onelaptopperblackchild"? Am I the only one who thinks that's slightly wrong?
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Amigori ( 177092 )
      Agreed... Being poor has nothing to do with your race/creed/color/etc. Of all the typos throughout the day... Mod parent up.
      • Well, except in the US I guess. My experience of the US is that it is an incredibly racistic society and it is very difficult for blacks to find decent work commensurate with their training. The result is that there are many more poor black kids than poor white kids, despite them being a much smaller part of the population.
        • That's because most of them have a poor education.

          And, that's what OPLC is all about, education.
        • Largest single population of poor people in the US is white. Now, *percentage*-wise, less white people are poor than black, but in sheer numbers? White overwhelmingly. I actually had to explain this to a few of my students last year when I TAd intro sociology, they couldn't wrap their brains around it for some reason.
      • Why sure, you just need to ignore statistics.

        In the US black people are more likely to be poor than white people. There's nothing wrong or immoral in stating a fact, but make any general statement on a group of people and you'll be a fucking *ist. Not right or wrong, an immoral evil person.

    • Yes. The rest of us find it repugnant :P
    • by Khaed ( 544779 )
      I think it's wrong, but it is funny in a "that is just wrong" sort of way. (Like dead baby jokes.)
    • To date, that's what the OLPC program has been. Negroponte in the past has all but ruled out selling the OLPC in America - because he intended the OLPC for 'poor nations'. (Rather than needy children.)

      But, as usual his real reasons shine through: 'The second thing we're doing is building a critical mass. The numbers are going to go up, people will make more software, it will steer a larger development community'. It's all about politics, and the children only interest Negroponte to the extent the
  • by pembo13 ( 770295 ) on Sunday January 13, 2008 @12:55AM (#22021776) Homepage
    I kinda got the impression from my reading about the OLPC project and it's drivers that it was a multinational project. So this news is a bit of a surprise to me.
  • Well I guess I've been doing my own personal informal OLPC project for a while without really thinking about it. Namely, buying iBooks cheap off of eBay and giving them to my nieces, nephews, family, friends, etc, as well as donating my old machines to various places. Haven't we reached the point where there are more than enough computers out there that are more than adequate for basic computing tasks? Can't we donate those old computers to schools rather than wasting resources building shiny new computers
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by rugger ( 61955 )
      Comparing an old laptop to the OLPC laptop is not a good idea:

      The OLPC devices are much better then most other laptops because:

      1) High quality automatic WI-FI meshing.
      2) Very long battery life.
      3) Usable out in bright sunlight.
      4) Highly durable and reliable design, with no moving parts.

      The only thing the old laptops can compete in is performance. Performance is only a small, co-incidental factor in designing a rugged laptop for children.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Don't forget standard setup/os. You can't exactly get 30 used computers with OS's ranging from OSX to Win 95 to Win XP and expect to use them all in a classroom. Instruction would be impossible.
        • by rugger ( 61955 )
          Of course, that is a damn good point that I didn't get around to saying :)

          Also a standard hardware setup greatly reduces the cost of repair/support. The classroom guru doesn't need to learn 15-30 different laptop designs, he/she just has to learn how to use/repair/support that one design.
      • by SSpade ( 549608 )
        The OLPC also has a vastly smaller display (7.5" ?), small (256k) main memory and tiny (1 gig) permanent storage and, I think, a 15Wh batter (as compared to four times that in a typical laptop). Those are possibly decent engineering tradeoffs to ship a cheap system with adequate battery life, but in terms of usability they're pretty crappy compared to second-hand laptops from a couple of generations back.
        • by rugger ( 61955 ) on Sunday January 13, 2008 @01:40AM (#22022102)
          Yep, it is a small display, but it does 800x600 fine in colour, more in greyscale.

          Main memory is 256meg of ram, not 256kb, which is plenty for most reasonably complex software.

          Storage is 1gig, but it is flash ram based and doesn't suffer the same mechanical problems standard drives do.

          There are tradeoffs, but the software they run is DESIGNED to handle them, which makes the system perfectly usable.
        • One quarter the storage and 10% of the power requirements. Sounds great! Plus, just about every used laptop I've seen comes with the 'battery holds charge, but not long' disclaimer.

          And it is outdoor readable.

          And small enough for a kid to carry around (unlike the pile of 10 pound Thinkpads in my closet).

          One point of the OLPC project is that the traditional measurement of computer quality doesn't match the needs of an education laptop.

    • The fact that old computers can be recycled and used by people who might not otherwise have had their own computer *does not* imply that everyone should stop buying new computers. First, if people stopped buying new computers then there would be no used computers to give to your nieces and nephews. Second, if people stopped buying new computers then there would be no R&D budget to develop better hardware - and just because you personally are happy enjoying the results of 50 years of exponential progress

  • by theantix ( 466036 ) on Sunday January 13, 2008 @01:15AM (#22021930) Journal
    If the project had offered these laptops for sale to the general public from day 1, they would have sold quite a few (look at how the EEE did at twice the price). This would have helped get towards the production economies of scale they wanted and they'd be able to sell these things to their target market.

    Now I think it's too little, too late.
    • by |deity| ( 102693 ) on Sunday January 13, 2008 @01:29AM (#22022030) Homepage
      I agree they should have offered the laptop to the general public from day one. I don't agree that it's to late to do so now though. There is an untapped market of people that would like to use these as cheap ebook readers. Since they have low power usage and are usable in the sunlight, they could be used as a decent book readers.

      I do wish they would offer them in a different color scheme, say basic black. I don't see a whole lot of non-geeks carrying around a white and lime green laptop that looks like a childs toy.
      • IANAL, but it seems that OLPC is a non-profit might be an issue with selling them to the general public.

        That their CTO left to start a for-profit is great news if it brings these technologies to the computer store.

  • apropos patriotism (Score:3, Informative)

    by towsonu2003 ( 928663 ) on Sunday January 13, 2008 @01:20AM (#22021962)
    Patriotism is dangerous, we all know it by now. Doing something "in the name of patriotism" is even more dangerous.
    • Non-patriotism is also dangerous, like when a US citizen is so unpatriotic, they feel they have to plan or commit acts of terrorism. Actually, come to think of it, pretty much any belief is dangerous without moderation, and it's only the extremely patriotic and the extremely unpatriotic that are at all dangerous.
  • OLPC in Birmingham (Score:3, Informative)

    by Ignis Flatus ( 689403 ) on Sunday January 13, 2008 @01:21AM (#22021968)
    there's some talk of doing this in Birmingham, AL. []

    Students will get laptops with plan Tuesday, November 13, 2007 BARNETT WRIGHT News staff writer Every student in grades one through eight in the Birmingham city school system will receive a laptop computer under a tentative agreement Mayor-elect Larry Langford has reached with a foundation that provides computers in developing countries, an adviser to Langford said Monday. "Over 15,000 children will be receiving their own personal laptops," said John Katopodis, a longtime Langford friend who is negotiating with the One Laptop Per Child foundation on Langford's behalf. "We feel that technology, and the ability to use technology effectively, is an important learning tool," Katopodis said. "We believe providing these children with the tools to catch up will give them a head start in life because technology is such an integral part of learning." Katopodis said some details remain to be worked out. A spokeswoman for the Boston-based foundation said talks are being held this week about implementing the program. Under the tentative agreement, the city would buy the laptops at a discount through the foundation and provide them to the city schools. They would not be the students' personal property. ...
  • I don't live in the US, but my possibly skewed understanding is that the administrations of quite a few school districts have signed agreements with companies (like Microsoft) which state that they're not allowed to do things such as purchase other Operating Systems and competing applications in their schools, unless they forfeit the right to massive discounts and the like from those companies.

    Can someone a bit closer to the issue maybe comment on whether this will have much of an effect on getting OLPC la

    • I think you are seeing conspiracies where there are none. The closest thing might be that the district would get a discount if they purchased enough at the same time. (any company in any industry will give you a discount if you purchase 10,000 copies of something as opposed to 200)

      Also, Microsoft doesnt generally sell operating systems directly to the schools. They sell them to companies like Dell who then sell their computers to the schools. And it is quite common to see schools that have computers fro
  • We had our first meeting of the San Francisco Bay Area OLPC user group. Not sure if we even have a name. At any rate, a bunch of us got together at the Linux lab in the San Francisco State University to just goof around with these machines. It is really funny to hear them hiss at each other as they try to figure out how close the nearest XOs are. Yep, they talk to each other. They emit a brief hissing sound when you ask them to calculate the distance between XOs. They listen for the hissing sound (or so I was told, dunno, didn't check into it) and then they calculate how long it took for the sound to reach each other, and then they all report back to each other, and they determine how far apart their fellow XOs are. Hilarious.

    They also have built in video, which two of the resident children were really enjoying by making monkey faces, much to the embarrassment of their parents. Insanity, you know, is inherited from your children. heh. One kid composed music on his XO. He is 5. As in less than 6 years old. You can add eyes to the screen, and the screen will talk to you to tell you how many eyes it has. Very entertaining for a 3 year-old. Did I mention that these computers are called One Laptop Per *Child*? They really figured out how to make these computers entertaining *for kids*. This is really a kid-centric device.

    The amazing thing is that it brings out the kid in adults.
  • the aim of OLPC was to develop a $100 laptop for kids in poor nations to ensure they don't miss out on the benefits of computing, and to make sure developing countries don't fall further and further behind modern nations

    And so they're including the USA in the list of underdeveloped, poor nations. Exactly where is the news here? With the state of the US educational system, and the state of the US dollar, this all makes perfect sense.
  • There are plenty of poor kids outside Alabama too. Could be seen by some as giving sub-par systems to poor kids but as they actually are very high-tech, just maybe not your fiery game machine, this could even be seen as an advantage. Smart kids in the U.S. could have input into a national/global education system based on free software and free courseware. I can't see it going anywhere but up.
  • Finally, disadvantaged students will have something to prop up their wobbly desks.
  • by twasserman ( 878174 ) on Sunday January 13, 2008 @03:39AM (#22022866)
    When the OLPC project started looking for customers, they approached national governments, with the idea of getting the leadership of a country to commit to buying large numbers (a million or more) of the XO laptops for their countries. Part of the idea was that such large orders would drive down the average cost. As we now know, that strategy proved impractical for several reasons, including the unwillingness of countries to lay out the money for an unproven approach, the political and economic competition within countries for use of that money, the competition that arose from other companies wanting to produce and sell low-cost computers to schools. The OLPC leadership has changed its strategy, focusing on smaller deployments and pilot projects, such as those now underway in Uruguay and Peru.

    In the US, the federal government has relatively little involvement in such decisions, which are handled at the state and local level. With the change in strategy, the OLPC effort can address individual states and cities. Of course, there are underprivileged students in every state, but here, too, the OLPC sales effort must deal with the same kinds of issues that they found in Thailand, Nigeria, and elsewhere. If you were the Superintendent of Schools for Detroit's school district or the State Secretary of Education in Mississippi, would you spend the taxpayers' money on XO laptops, on teachers to help schools comply with the No Child Left Behind mandate, or on something else?

    I bought an XO laptop during the Give One, Get One promotion, and admire all of the effort that went into its design. It's fun to use, even if it is a bit underpowered and the keyboard is tough for continuous typing. I wish the OLPC team the best of success with their program, but it's also likely to be a tough sale here in the US, patriotism notwithstanding.

  • If laptops were so vital to a child's education, then why wouldn't the Federal Government in the US suppply computers to their own schools instead of relying on a charity?

    It seems rather bizarre and ironic to me that laptops designed to be used in unfriendly, poverty-sticken environments is being marketed at one of the richest countries in the world.

"I think trash is the most important manifestation of culture we have in my lifetime." - Johnny Legend