The XO Laptop

from Technology & Learning The pioneering XO computer balances low price with kid-friendly features. Company: One Laptop Per Child Foundation (www.laptop.org) System Requirements: Electricity (though alternate charging methods such as hand crank, solar and wind are/will be available). Price:
Author:
Publish date:
Social count:
0

from Technology & Learning

The pioneering XO computer balances low price with kid-friendly features.

Company: One Laptop Per Child Foundation (www.laptop.org)

System Requirements: Electricity (though alternate charging methods such as hand crank, solar and wind are/will be available).

Price: Bulk purchase only: 100 XO laptops/$299 each; 1,000 units/$ 249 each; 10,000 units/$199 each.

Pros: Preinstalled applications promote cre ativity and collaboration; built-in digital camera; very rugged; excellent outdoor screen visibility; automatic mesh networking; built-in WiFi; long battery life; low cost.

Cons: Currently no printer support; slow performance; keyboard is an awkward size for adults; scaled-down applications; no Ethernet port.

The One Laptop Per Child Foundation's XO computer is currently available for bulk purchase in the U.S. Designed specifically for children in developing nations, the device balances its low price with a lack of the "bells and whistles" common to mainstream laptops.

For example, the XO does not include an Ethernet port but does have builtin WiFi. And because it targets youngsters, the keyboard is small and kid-friendly—somewhere between the size of a thumb pad and a regular keyboard—which means it's not so friendly for adult-sized fingers. The rugged design is also kid-appropriate, with an integrated handle, rubber protective bumpers, and a display—with excellent visibility outdoors—that can be rotated, tilted, and folded back down for an e-book view.

The XO's parentage is the MIT Media Labs, with its focus on research projects and its historical relationship with Logo computer language, so it's no surprise that both the design and built-in applications promote collaboration, higher-order thinking, and creativity. The mesh networking capability—which reduces the need for an external infrastructure such as the Internet—is a real innovation that encourages team authoring. Other XO users within a certain area automatically appear in a child's "neighborhood" view and can be invited to collaborate on activities via a "share" menu.

The suite of open-source applications includes a word processor, e-book reader, introductory programming application, calculator, turtle art, electronic-circuit construction program, music, and drawing tools. A mediarich authoring game, Internet browser, chat, and other capabilities are also included. The XO supports downloading and installing additional activities, and comes with four external ports, including mic, headphone, power, and USB, plus an SD card reader. Though perfectly functional, applications can be slow-loading and include fewer features than their consumer counterparts. For instance, the AbiWord word processor lets users embed images and insert tables but lacks a spell checker and many formatting options. On the other hand, the built-in digital camera gives students an all-in-one solution for including photos in written documents. Video and audio can also be recorded.

No direct technical support is available, but the Foundation says the machine is so simple, children can learn to troubleshoot for themselves.

The bottom line: view the XO laptop within the context for which it was designed. It's not the fancy computing device students in the U.S. are used to, and it's not the best solution for adults or a business setting. But it's a pioneering effort that's setting a new standard for bridging the digital divide. And that in itself is pretty amazing.

Featured

Related

Getting Results With Laptops

Despite a growing number of mobile computing initiatives across the country, including dramatic statewide adoptions in Maine and Michigan, laptop programs continue to breed controversy. For instance, critics of Maine's laptop program point to a $28 million per year price tag that hasn't yet yielded higher scores on

The Whiteboard Revolution

from Technology & Learning Teachers are clamoring to have interactive whiteboards in their classrooms. What is it about this technology that is so useful and so appealing? Let's look at some of their capabilities. Output device Being connected to a computer and LCD projector, whiteboards allow all

The Big Picture

from Technology & Learning There are a variety of factors to consider when finding the perfect projector. Pick your priorities. A projector connected to your computer gives you the ability to share your screen with a classroom. You can display Web sites, show students' computerized presentations,

Image placeholder title

Laptop Lessons

Although we see more articles every week about schools doing iPad pilots, a great number of districts are finding ways to launch oneto- one laptop initiatives or refresh their laptop carts.

The Fine Print(3)

from Technology & Learning An update on the newest printers and printing trends. Xerox's Phaser 6180 Years ago it was predicted that computers would obviate the need for hard copy. In reality, we print on paper more than ever before. Along with this increase, the choice of types of

Laptops for Teachers?

My site leadership team wants to purchase a laptop for every teacher, but is meeting some resistance from district officials who feel that the money should be spent on student equipment instead. How can we resolve this issue? Research that began in the mid 1990s shows that in order for teachers to make good use

How To: Basic Training

Parallels Workstation — An Alternative Parallel Workstation is a software product that approaches Windows on the Mac in a different manner. It creates what is called a virtual machine on the Mac (see the Wikipedia article at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virtual_machine for a complete explanation of a