I blogged before about One Laptop Per Child’s Give 1 Get 1 program. Kudos to David Pogue of the New York Times for putting the promotion in such a clear light, and for his review of the new laptop’s features, limitations and capabilities.
My son and I were talking today about whether or not this might be what we do for our holiday giving this year: something for our family, something for others. Having traveled in rural parts of West Africa, South America and Indonesia, my eleven-year-old knows more than most about the people these laptops were designed for. We like the idea of making a connection in this way…
So about that laptop…

  • A pull-string battery charger will give 10 minutes use for every 1 minute of tugging – or purchase the $12 solar charger. In unelectrified regions, this is a boon! (Never mind that the battery is good for 2,000 charges and only costs $10)
  • A novel screen technology runs in either a crisp backlit color, or a super-low consumption black on gray mode that even works in broad daylight
  • With its new ‘mesh networking,’ all XO laptops in range of one another can share documents and more, including a single internet connection. Shares are seen as a color-coded ‘map’ of users, who can, at the click of a button, share any project they’re working on. The mesh network also enables sharing software updates and more
  • Features? Web browsing, word processing, calculator, pdf reader (for textbooks, etc.), a few games, a few music programs, paint program, chat and more. Not only that, kids can look under the hood right at the programming language involved and tinker with it – with a one-button restore option.

And the most underrated opportunity? The chance to leap-frog right over the limitations and expense of print as the means of obtaining and maintaining access to information in developing areas. $200 may seem ‘expensive’ from the perspective of a rural underresourced school, but when it connects students (in a two-way conversation) with a world of schools, libraries, audio, video and more, it becomes, as the worn out ad says, ‘priceless.’

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