After working with science students in the US, a few of us got together and decided that the XO laptops could be used for a lot more good than the various national governments currently allow, so we decided to try our hand at an unofficial OLPC deployment! Our focus was to try and use the XO as a learning tool for the subject of science, for 6th, 7th, and 8th graders at a small grammar school in India.
We started our academic year two weeks ago here in Meerut, India. The 6th, 7th, and 8th graders have been using the XO laptops about half of the class days, alternating with hands-on experiments and required, standardized textbooks.
As there is no state certified content for the laptops, we feel that this "bridging the gap" effort has added merit as compared with a strict XO laptop regiment. Currently, the students are studying various levels of electricity and magnetism.
We're trying to gather as many data points as possible for the OLPC community. We aim to present the findings and unique perspectives generated by this opportunity with larger bodies of educators. By sharing results (and content) with first through third-world organizations, we can fill the gap left between the official OLPC deployments, and those first world individuals with a laptop.
In this way, the XOs can be leveraged by a much larger number of students worldwide: home-schooled students worldwide, G1G1 children, and other schools with a computer to student ratio of less than 1:1. Specifically, we are already understanding and overcoming challenges faced by unofficial deployments of the OLPC learning platform where there is limited support, both in terms of OLPC training for teachers and for the laptops themselves.
Currently we have 5 XO laptops from US donors of the G1G1 program. As there are between 8 and 12 students in the classes that use these laptops, we could use a few more. We have already noted a definite, quantifiable difference in the effectiveness of the laptop when a student has his or her "own" XO laptop vs. sharing with 1 or 2 students, even within class period time limits.
We're definitely interested in acquiring a few more laptops. Because our XO-compliant curriculum is already underway, any XO donated can make a huge difference in our program! Each XO means that two students get to use their own laptop as a learning tool or science experiment setup! If you do have a G1G1 laptop, please consider letting a student learn on it!
Holden Bonwit reminds you that you can still develop code without the XO laptop itself, by emulating the XO.