One XO Learning Laptop Per South Carolinian School Child

   
   
   
   
   

Last year, One Laptop Per Child/South Carolina launched a XO laptop pilot project at Britton's Neck Elementary in Marion School District Seven and Rains Centenary Early Childhood Center in Mullins, with 500 computers and an over-riding goal: one XO learning laptop per South Carolinian school child.


New South Carolina XO laptop users

Now, a year later, One Laptop Per Child/South Carolina is a huge step closer to their goal with 2,300 laptops deployed at 14 schools across the state through a partnership between the South Carolina Department of Education and the Palmetto Project, funded with donations from Greenville executive Erwin Maddrey and Charleston philanthropist Linda Ketner, as well as a $500,000 donation from Blue Cross Blue Shield.

Here are the South Carolina schools that will be getting XO this school year:

  • Chester Park Technology Center, Chester
  • Mountain View Elementary, Taylors
  • India Hook Elementary, Rock Hill
  • Buffalo Elementary, Buffalo
  • Foster Park Elementary, Union
  • Monarch Elementary, Union
  • Sandy Run Elementary, Swansea
  • Vance-Providence Elementary, Vance
  • North Vista Elementary, Florence
  • Rice Creek Elementary, Columbia
  • Port Royal Elementary, Port Royal
  • North Charleston Elementary, North Charleston

OLPC South Carolina plans to order another 5,000 units by this fall and as many as 50,000 by spring 2012 to get the same results as expressed in this video from Britton's Neck Elementary:

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8 Comments

Windows or Linux?

That's the most important question you have? "Windows or Linux?" That's the single most important question when putting laptops in an educational setting?

Good grief.

If you watched the video a music teacher mentions TamTam, a Sugar app, and in the shot at 2:17 it shows an obviously sugar interface.

These teachers claim to be making good use of the technology, and we got a couple samples. Since this is an open platform, it would be really nice if they could contribute back the lessons they are using so other people implementing it can get some ideas to build from. There is a site for open OLPC educational content, right?

0:30 "We can individualize"
How are you doing that?

0:45 "Head start acquiring computer skills". This argument gets thrown around a lot.
I had access to technology at a young age. Don't know how much of a head start I got since things changed completely from the time I first got exposed to computers to now. About the only constant is typing.

1:00 "Using web to research stuff in social studies and science". The Flickering Mind touches on this, and I agree, that a lot of information gleened from the web, although though quick, and a lot of breadth, there isn't as much depth as you'd find from things called "books". What are they doing with the material once they get it?

1:11 "It's cool"... ooo wow, something shiny...

1:40 "I'm a coach in the classroom" So it's additional staffing in the room... better student:teacher ratio. Nothing new.

2:17: The music teacher's talking about using TamTam. It seems to be doing something useful for the class.

2:50 It looks like there's about 6 PCs in the background. So it doesn't look like this is being implemented in a school that's in complete shambles. Also the teacher talks about how quick / how much they are learning about the machines... how does that translate into what they are learning academically?

3:55 "Learn how to access games". Great, you're teaching them at a young age how to dick around on the computer.

Thank you for your reply.

I unfortunately wasn't aware that every comment on OLPC News is obligated to address "the single most important question when putting laptops in an educational setting." If you could please point me to where that rule is published, I'll be sure to follow it in the future.

At the same time, you may be interested in knowing that "windows or linux" is hardly a trivial question. Currently, there are one-computer-per-student laptop programs in only about 1%-2% of classrooms in the U.S. The main reason for that is cost (see national survey data in America's Digital Schools 2008). New low-power, very low-cost laptops are coming out which won't run full versions of Windows (and may not perform well on any version of Windows). Thus whether or not school districts are willing to take a chance on Linux (and evaluating the experiences of districts that have done so) may make a substantial difference in whether and how fast they transition to one-computer-per-student laptop programs.

I realize that, having read the Flickering Mind, you have more basic questions about whether laptop programs are suitable for schools. I applaud you for your critical look at that question. Personally, I already came to a conclusion on that after my two year research project on the question (see., e.g., Laptops and Literacy: Learning in the Wireless Classroom). There is certainly much more to learn, but we already know a lot.

@Mark Warschauer: There's no official "rule". No unofficial one either. My beef isn't with you in particular, just in general I see a lot of people turning the whole project into a Linux vs. Windows war, argue about different technologies, and overlook how it fits in the classroom and whether it's being implemented correctly.

Expanding on your original three word response adds some nice worthwhile context around it.

Mine isn't just the basic question of whether they are suitable for schools at all, but more along the lines of are they being used effectively. And whether they're being used as a tool to enhance the learning of the curriculum, or are standard topics being dropped for what amounts to training on the programs on this particular computer.

In many cases we're just given a nice shiny glossy media friendly version of how great the computers are. For example this video, and what seem to be unitless "amazing" results from Peru: http://www.olpcnews.com/countries/peru/tantalizing_results_from_olpc_peru.html, and many other reports of how much the "kids just love them" without going into detail about what's actually going on.

@eduardomontez: Apparently you are unaware that a great many books are available on the web. And you're apparently also unaware that the XO is designed to be,among other things, a pretty good e-book reader.

Watch the video. It doesn't look like the little girl is reading e-books to get her information. It sounds more like she's just surfing the 'net. She talks about "going on the web" and how you "find new stuff each time you go on". Sounds more like random surfing to me.

Of course we're always promised that this project will unlock and sustain a lot of quality, open educational material. Which will among other things include ebooks.

Where is that material?

@John Smith. Thanks for your reply. I am not part of any ideological war over operating systems. In my prior research on 1:1 programs with laptops, I extensively studied 10 schools--all of which were using commercial (Mac or Windows) operating systems, and none of which were using Linux--and reported very positive findings from them as a whole.

As for how effectively laptops are deployed, that's going to vary substantially from school to school and classroom to classroom (and you probably won't learn very much about that from a promotional video). My own prior research suggests that, at least in the U.S., laptops will make a good school better, but will not make a bad school good. In other words, they will amplify the good or bad things that are already being done in a classroom (with good things being engaging students in authentic and autonomous opportunities to write, collect and analyze data, engage in critical inquiry/research, etc. -- and bad things being wasting time.)

@John Smith:

"And whether they're being used as a tool to enhance the learning of the curriculum, or are standard topics being dropped for what amounts to training on the programs on this particular computer."

It's very hard to judge this from the first stages of implementation. Yes, of course, in the first couple of months students will spend a disproportionate amount of time learning hardware and software. But actually, one of the very positive aspects of 1:1 laptop programs, is that, in the long run, such learning constitutes a much smaller percent of computer-use time.

Let's say, for example, it takes 20 hours of instruction to learn to use a computer. If you access the computer 24/7 throughout the year, you get through that 20 hours pretty quickly and then the rest of the time you can focus on real learning. But if you only access the computer in a lab an hour or so a week, that 20 hours might represent the majority of your computing time all year.

Our interviews and observations confirmed that 1:1 laptop programs were thus far superior to other types of technology deployment in schools for enabled curricular and instructional use of computers, rather than computers for computers' sake.

@jonn smith:

"The Flickering Mind touches on this, and I agree, that a lot of information gleened from the web, although though quick, and a lot of breadth, there isn't as much depth as you'd find from things called "books"."

Apparently you are unaware that a great many books are available on the web. And you're apparently also unaware that the XO is designed to be,among other things, a pretty good e-book reader.

If anyone is interested... I launched a company to make educational video games. My first game, www.dimensionM.com puts algebra in a 3d action adventure video game world. You'll find a full research study on the site (raises underachievers grades 2-3 grade levels).

I use the computer for 3d rendering and action of a "world" with a fun story that puts the algebra into a context. students have to use the algebra to make their way through the world.

All kinds of learning gains, engagement, and application here.

A better use of computers I think - simultate multiple dynamic systems, focus attention, apply knowledge, trial and error, big picutre thinking yet objective based competency...

check it out, lots of good stuff ; )

-Robert

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