XO Laptop Support for Children and Parents

   
   
   
   
   
olpc chile
Parents are a part of XO learning
My name is Corey Ewing, and I'm just a parent (I moonlight as a geek and IT Professional). I've spent a bit of time tooling around with various Linux distros over the course of time, but primarily I've dealt with Windows. My purpose for buying these machines for our kids was threefold.
  1. First of all, I work for a school district that struggles to get technology into the hands of kids, and this frustrates me to no end as a parent. So if the school district won't do it, my wife and I will.
  2. Secondly, there's the philanthropic aspect (coupled with the spirit of giving at this time of year) of donating a machine to a child.
  3. Finally, I'm a geek, and I'll get to play with it as well).
What I'm wondering is how do we talk parents "off the ledge" who are just seeing not only Linux, but a variant that is vastly different than any distro that has ever existed? We've heard a lot of information from the technical side of things regarding the XO and the "clock stopping hot technology".

Helping G1G1 Parents

However, I think that there are a lot of parents out there who are going to start surfacing more and more who are in the same boat as Drew: a little bewildered with the XO laptop.

The easy answer to this question is "Give it to the kids, they'll understand.". But what about the first time they don't understand? They're going to go to their parents and they won't understand either, and the machine is going to end up just like last years Christmas gifts, gathering dust in the bottom of the toy box. I applaud parents like Drew who are at least making the effort in advance to understand the machine prior to putting it in the hands of their child.

I'm thinking about this from the "first world" point-of-view, and I can't imagine what things are going to be like in the third-world (where these machines are going) where it's not only the first time that the kids have seen or used a computer, but the teachers as well. I think we as a tech community (and OLPC as well) need to focus on supporting not just the devices, but the people (adults and children) who own these devices.

What's your ideas? And actions?

And how can we publicize them on OLPC News and promote them in the OLPC News Forum?

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34 Comments

Well, this is, in part, a result of different opeating system and user interface that was necessitated in the XO. And one of my concerns with the purchase of G1G1 by folks intending to give them to kids or elderly parents. There isn't much in the way of an established support infrastructure. You can't call the Geek Squad and have them help, you probably can't call almost any geek friend and have them help either. It is not a simple translation from experience with a PC or Mac to the XO.

But there are user groups starting in many cities. (Seattle had its first user group meeting on Sunday and we had maybe 30 folks there, from kids to much older folks.) And as those groups evolve and firm up, there will be resources developed to help out, both in person and on the web. And isn't that one of the reasons we bought the little beasties? To share in the fun and excitement of learning something new. And if your kids don't know, and you don't know, then that's a chance for the two of you to find out together, isn't it. Relax and enjoy the journey.

Chris

I started the OLPC News Forums specifically because I saw the great need for a G1G1 support forum and a place for users to organize local user groups. So far, its been a decent success at both. We have over 1,000 registered users connecting and helping through 930 topics and +7,100 posts.

A vibrant XO laptop support system that I hope replicates in every OLPC country in its own way and unique voice.

The olpcnews forum is a great place for support. (I really like the new color scheme Wayan!) I don't think I would have been able to get Opera running without it. OLPC also has their own Community Support forum- since I had a very hard time finding it through their convoluted wiki I will post the url here http://olpc.osuosl.org

What really concerns me is hardware support. Who will be stocking spare parts, where do we get spare batteries, what is the process for getting an XO repaired if it breaks, and what does it cost?

Yes, these will gather dust, as they have at our elementary school.

My only hope is that the OS will be fixed, printer support provided, and educational apps written that will allow XO's to actually be used to support literacy education.

Right now, they are paperweights.

Parents are not "seeing Linux" at all. Most of them have never heard of Linux. I think this is a non-issue. They don't really even know what Windows is. They aren't concerned that their PDA or their phone or their DVR has a different interface than what they have on their desktop at work. Parents shouldn't even have to know or be concerned about what OS is on the laptop. It's a device, a utility, and the innards are irrelevant to them. However, I am glad that it runs Linux so those of us who do care about that sort of thing can have fun.

I have yet to receive my XO. In the past I have only briefly toyed with a Linux distro and have no real experience with this type of open source community.

I have been browsing the forum and slogging through the OLPC wiki and have been totally impressed with what I'm seeing in regards to community support. All the things that I have wondered about (wireless configuration and everything else to make the XO functional for just about everything I really need) all seem to be explained somewhere; although it might take a bit of hunting.

In regards to the third world. I have faith in the children. I must have been around 8 or 10 when my family got a Preforma. My sister(two years my senior) showed me how to launch an application. Ever since I have been sending e-mails for the rents (just kidding, Mom). Kids will figure it out because they have to figure it out. They'll explore, learn from, and add to the community just like everyone else in the first world. Language might be a barrier in some cases, but not for long, I'm sure.

As for hardware. Perhaps OLPC will support something for participating countries(I'm not so worried about us :-P). Hopefully the kiddos won't break them too fast.

If my child was in the target age group and she came home from school with this I would wonder what exactly she's supposed to do with it.

I would imagine she would go the the same websites she's going to now, only there's less fighting for the computer. My child's school still wants printouts so anything that was going to be handed in would be done on the "real" computer.

Over on the forum there's plenty of technical help but very little about educational uses.

Tracey's right, people don't care about interfaces, but they do care that machines do what they "expect" them to do.

Clarification, parents who expect to hack Linux code will probably have a blast learning alongside their kids. Those who don't will be looking for educational applications to utilize the specific hardware features of the XO. If there's nothing XO specific they'll go to the same sites that they go to now.

Lillie makes a very crucial and valid point: people don't care much about OS's or interfaces, but they do care *a lot* about machines doing what they expect them to do.

On the educational front, the XO has not, to this day, delivered the promised "constructivist" learning environment that Prof. Negroponte claimed was at the heart of his OLPC Project.

When he talks about "exploration", "collaboration", "discovery", etc, and delivers a computer that actually does far less than a regular off-the-shelf laptop, we have to wonder when the "constructivism" angle actually escaped the project.

So far, there is no clear answer to the question of "how is this computer to benefit my child?". We only have vague allusions to things kids can actually do - sometimes much better - with ANY computer (browse the internet, communicate with other kids, explore, write, draw, play games, etc., etc.).

I guess what makes the XO especial, in most people's minds, is not its education-related features, but its hardware and price. Unfortunately, that has nothing to do with education.

I'm not sure if this is a significant need under the OLPC's current distribution plan. The bulk of OLPC machines aren't heading for the hands of children in developed countries whose parents are well grounded in Windows. They're going to countries and learning contexts where childrens' parents aren't familiar with PCs, and where the bulk of learning about the machine will happen among peers in the class/school setting.

Don't get me wrong, I think this *should* be a need, since I think OLPC should sell units in the US and other developing countries (and do it without the prior added "donate one to buy one" burden).

I believe giving a computer with internet access to people is a far more powerful learning tool than any piece of individual software can ever be.

The hardware and price are very much part of the means by which these powerful tools can be accessible to such a large amount of people who might otherwise have no means.

Is it not empowering to have nearly any piece of human knowledge you can imagine at your fingertips?

and Doom?

Irvin,

"When he talks about "exploration", "collaboration", "discovery", etc, and delivers a computer that actually does far less than a regular off-the-shelf laptop, we have to wonder when the "constructivism" angle actually escaped the project."


What a lot of nonsense. There's no other laptop (or otherwise) which comes with more educational software pre-loaded and plenty of it can be viewed by a user, modified and shared with others (perhaps you need to review software available on XO and to read up what "constructivism" means :? ). I bought my laptop a few years back two grand to be 1) portable (XO is much lighter), 2) durable (XO is much more durable), 3) with decent battery life (very few can match XO here), 4) flexible (would need to spend at least hundreds more for a tablet mode and in-built webcam that XO has) and with easily (no more printouts just to be able properly read documents, thanks) readable content (no laptops costing much, much more can offer XO eBook readability, not even the current crop of dedicated eReader machines costing twice as much have the screen dpp matching XO). In other words, if you looking for a 'laptop' replacement of your desktop you should look somewhere else but if you want a laptop par excellence (see Alan Kay's Dynabook for the description) then there' s nothing on the market that matches OLPC's XO...

Thank you, Delphi, for proving my point in dramatic fashion!

Every point you make to support the XO's *superiority* is based on hardware specs (some of them very dubious claims). No mention whatsoever of how it will actually make a difference in a child's education, which was *exactly* the point I made in my post.

In other words: "the XO is a great little machine. Education? Who cares?"

Delphi also says:

"There's no other laptop (or otherwise) which comes with more educational software pre-loaded..."

So, loading a computer with Tamtam, Etoys and assorted software will MAGICALLY result in a "Constructivist" education?

I don't think so...

Granted, it's a cheap, rugged way to access the internet, a great piece of hardware. If that's what the OLPC project is about then fine, put a check in that box. I thought it was an education project, not a laptop project. What does the XO do that implements "constructivism"? Etoys? Or is access to the internet the education part of the program?

John said -
The bulk of OLPC machines aren't heading for the hands of children in developed countries whose parents are well grounded in Windows.


If Negroponte's numbers are close to accurate at least 150000 laptops were sold via G1G1. That's the biggest sale so far. A big chunk of those will end of in the hands of children in the developed world.

http://www.olpcnews.com/sales_talk/g1g1/g1g1_success_uk_iran.html

One important to keep in mind about the XO is that the software is currently VERY beta. I wish there was someplace "official" that made this clear, but it is definitely true. The development team is still nailing down a lot of painfully basic issues. They're very busy working on the next software release, but it isn't here yet. And even the next release may be beta-level. Think how long it has been since the XO was just some plans, and now it is real shipping hardware with real semi-usable software on it. Compare that to how long it takes Apple or Microsoft to bring out a new software release, with all their resources and money. The OLPC people are doing amazingly well, all things considered!

This is a big, complex project with a lot of new parts. It definitely is NOT just a cheap laptop with some educational apps thrown on. Everything is being designed to work with each other in a way I've never seen before. The XO software, whenever it is done, will be the ultimate groupware, far beyond any existing commercial product.

On a different topic:

Personally, I think that the XO is currently perhaps too constructivist. It needs more Activities that are oriented towards teachers in a traditional classroom setting. Tools like eBook publishing and sharing apps, quiz generators and graders, etc. Or, well, I don't know.

Perhaps a real teacher can chime in with what functionality it needs to be useful for them?

I believe that people connected with OLPC read these posts and pay attention to them. So, comments beyond "yar boo sucks" and "they're dust collecting paperweights" might just make a difference.

Molesworth 3 over and out.

Hello.

I am doctoral student in Educational Psychology and Research (learning theory is at the core), a 6th grade teacher, and a parent to a 5 year-old.

Oh, and I got my XO on December 21. I'm pretty good with Linux, running Ubuntu on two machines at home, but no expert by a long shot.

I disagree with the notion that these machines provide a magically constructivist environment. If anything, the confusing environment makes it terribly difficult to navigate and is counter-intuitive. In fact, I would posit that the level of cognitive load experienced by users not familiar with the operating system will be very high initially. Would it be so high on Windows? No, because there is established schema.

Now, does that mean they are not useful? Certainly not. I speak Spanish and lived in Peru for a while so watching the interviews with kids in Arahuay has proven interesting. They are not doing anything with the laptops in terms of education that they could not do with less expensive equipment. For example, they take pictures of the few plants around their school. What is the affordance of this as compared with sketching the plant on construction paper? The technology is not necessarily a benefit.

Perhaps video is a bit of a benefit, but we've not seen any videos created in that environment, and the lack of editing makes only a certain quality of video available.

The Internet is a big deal, but a previous commenter mentioned that the kids read up on soccer and do research. I would imagine that kids are using web sites for research without checking for validity. I don't know this first hand but access to a spotty internet connection does not a smart kid make.

I'm curious to see more of what comes out of these areas, and I'll post more about this on my blog at www.crucialthought.com.

Chris

Yes, as to why people in the first world are buying a computer intended for the third world and then claiming that it is useless because they have a much more capable machine already in their house.. what can I say? You're just stupid Americans?

> difficult to navigate and is counter-intuitive
> [..]
> Would it be so high on Windows? No, because there
> is established schema.

You are too old. Your 5year-old doesn't care about established schema. (And no, its not about learning computers.)

> I disagree with the notion that these machines
> provide a magically constructivist environment.

It's indeed not magical but very simple. It has the potential of actually being a usable tool instead of a PC that so few people can manage.

"Every point you make to support the XO's *superiority* is based on hardware specs (some of them very dubious claims). No mention whatsoever of how it will actually make a difference in a child's education, which was *exactly* the point I made in my post.""

Irvin, I have written it before, and I can repeat it know. You actually have no idea what you are talking about.

Do you ever speak to children? Visited a school recently? Have you asked any child with a computer how they would think live would be without the Internet and IM? Spoken a teacher about how her pupils use computers to learn (at home, that is)? Thinking about going without telephone, newspapers, television, or libraries is the equivalence from our yought? (whic, btw, is the situation in most target countries)

Computers in the classroom is a straw man (or a dead horse to whip). Rich/Western children are taught in the classroom and learn at home. Poor children are taught not enough in te classroom and cannot learn at home for lack of books and materials.

I actually went to the trouble of asking children in a rich country whether they could complete their high school without a computer and the internet. The answer was complete bafflement, after they underwstood the question. The answer was, that it would be incomprehensible how to do that. And I can only agree.

Granted, children from my country rate considerably above USA children in the Pisa surveys. So I can imagine many children in the USA have to do without access to the internet.

Winter

Winter wrote:

"Irvin, I have written it before, and I can repeat it know. You actually have no idea what you are talking about."

Too harsh, Winter.

I just have a different, more realistic perspective on things.

"Do you ever speak to children? Visited a school recently? Have you asked any child with a computer how they would think live would be without the Internet and IM? Spoken a teacher about how her pupils use computers to learn (at home, that is)?"

Education is too serious to base my conclusions on talking to a few children about the internet.

Serious studies have been conducted by qualified people on the role of computers in the classroom. Anecdotal evidence doesn't count.


"Poor children are taught not enough in te classroom and cannot learn at home for lack of books and materials."

Perhaps the solution is to improve the schools. Perhaps the XO in the classroom will be part of that solution; perhaps not. Nobody knows at this point. That's why rich and poor countries alike have - wisely - not rushed to spend millions of dollars until serious studies/pilots provide an answer.


"I actually went to the trouble of asking children in a rich country whether they could complete their high school without a computer and the internet."

Not only is yours anecdotal, unverifiable data. It also misses the mark: the XO's target group is elementary school kids, not high schoolers.

Most reasonable people, including me, would agree that the benefits of computer use increase with age: a computer might be just a toy for a 7-year old and a powerful tool in the hands of a college student.


"Granted, children from my country rate considerably above USA children in the Pisa surveys. So I can imagine many children in the USA have to do without access to the internet."

School achievement in the USA is a VERY complex topic, way beyond the scope of this blog, but I will advise a word of caution when reading the results of those surveys: it's very difficult to compare the task of educating a homogeneus, small society with the task of educating an ethnically, culturally diverse and enormous society like the USA's.

As always, thank you for your input.

"I just have a different, more realistic perspective on things."

I have to be adamant here. You have not showed so much a "realistic perspective" but more complete "ignorance".

Now, ignorance is normally a curable condition. I have been affected by it many, many times. However, I remember past discussions about exactly the same points where you were pointed out the errors of the exact same arguments and facts without you even ever acknowledging them.

Whenever people claim they are "realistic", in more cases than not I find an ideology behind it.

Irvin wrote:
"Serious studies have been conducted by qualified people on the role of computers in the classroom. Anecdotal evidence doesn't count."

Indeed, and you can find a lot of real evidence in:
http://www.infodev.org/en/Publication.150.html

Anyhow, you yourself are never very forthcomming with any information on education yourself, so I will have to try to make up for that.

Actually, you have not really paid attention to the field lately. Below you will find a nice writup from the UNESCO. But in case you share the contempt of USA citizens for UNESCO some other "anecdotes".

Irvin wrote:
"That's why rich and poor countries alike have - wisely - not rushed to spend millions of dollars until serious studies/pilots provide an answer."

In my country alone parents must have spend a billion or so on computer equipment for their children. So that argument is really a fake one.

Irvin wrote:
"Not only is yours anecdotal, unverifiable data. It also misses the mark: the XO's target group is elementary school kids, not high schoolers."

Not quite, a third of the children are intended to be high school kids. But that is again not the point. These elementary school kids have not enough books, teachers (70 pupils a teacher) and so do not get enough lessons. As no one has volunteered a solution to the teacher shortage, ICT automatization to increase teacher productivity seems the only solution. If you have a better one, go for the Nobel price. Given your insistence in ignoring this fact, I do not expect you to even address this problem.

Irvin wrote:
"School achievement in the USA is a VERY complex topic, way beyond the scope of this blog, but I will advise a word of caution when reading the results of those surveys: it's very difficult to compare the task of educating a homogeneus, small society with the task of educating an ethnically, culturally diverse and enormous society like the USA's."

Which is of course irrelevant for the OLPC, as they do not plan to distribute in the USA. They DO however plan to cater to a lot of languages and cultures. Personally, I think the educational problems of the USA have more to do with the political and culture wars and a lack of will to use tax money for education. A fact in point is that all discussions in the USA seem to be about what children should NOT learn in school. But that is beside the point.

However, the point is of course not whether students get better grades with internet access, but whether teacher productivity increases. And that has been found everywhere. Some countries (eg, my own) base their complete budget on ICT reducing educational costs. And our students still score high in the Pisa surveys.
http://www.pisa.oecd.org/document/2/0,3343,en_32252351_32236191_39718850_1_1_1_1,00.html

If you go to the Pisa survey you will see that all the top countries are also the ones that invest heavily in ICT.

To get some better view on "real evidence", look at ICT achievements:
http://www.unescobkk.org/index.php?id=828

A very long quote:

Teachers who had computers in the classroom reported higher skill levels in delivering instruction, planning lessons, managing paperwork, and word processing, and more time using computers for reading, maths and writing instruction than teachers whose access was limited to computer laboratories.

A synthesis of various research findings shows that computers in education facilitate:

* Less directive and more student-centred teaching.

* Increased emphasis on individualized instruction.

* More time engaged by teachers advising students.

* Increased interest in teaching.

* Interest in experimenting with emerging technology.

* Teacher preferences for multiple technology utilization.

* Increases administrator and teacher productivity.

* Increased planning and collaboration with colleagues.

* Rethinking and revision of curriculum and instructional strategies.

* Greater participation in school and district restructuring efforts.

* Business partnerships with schools to support technology.

* Increased education involvement with community agencies.

* Increases in teacher and administrator communication with parents.

Further empirical research as summarised by article Technology in the Schools: It Does Make a Difference! has shown a number of achievements related to the use of ICT in education:

* Students were found to score higher in standardized tests

* Students studying language arts in a multimedia environment gain more auditory, language, decoding-in-context, and story-composition skills than students who do not use computers

* High-school students were found to retain math skills longer after using commercially available mathematics software than did students in a control group receiving traditional classroom instruction

* A study of elementary-aged students learning math found that students who used multimedia computer software showed less math anxiety and more frequently perceived the subject as relevant to everyday life than students in a control group

* Another study found that technology improves students' communication skills and the quality of their presentations and makes it easier for them to complete writing and editing assignments

* Researchers analyzing how technology affects the study of science discovered that adding computerized lab analysis tools and simulations to high-school biology curricula led to significantly better content knowledge and science process skills

* Students who tend to refuse to do class work were found to be more motivated and eager to work since they do not perceive computers as an "authority figure"

* Especially "at risk" students were found to improve attitude and confidence towards learning

* Student with learning handicaps significantly improved their problem solving skills

* The use of telecommunications lead to students improve their writing skills

* Students showed increased mastery of vocational and work force skills

* Computer use facilitates student collaboration on projects and thus team working abilities that are indispensable in the work place


Happy new-year, all!

Winter

Very good post, Winter. I appreciate the effort in providing input.


Here is a more relevant point of view, when discussing the merits of the XO and its purported "Constructivist" approach (but it deals with the "bigger picture" of computers in the classroom, not the XO in particular):

"The quality of computer-assisted instruction cannot be determined simply from the number of computers available. If teachers are not prepared to use computer hardware and software specific to the academic subject matter (in this case, reading), then even if there are computers present, their students may actually learn less because of unqualified instruction. Sherry Turkle, a professor of the sociology of science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, notes that the possibilities of using a computer poorly "so outweigh the chance of using it well, [that] it makes people like us, who are fundamentally optimistic about computers, very reticent."16 It is critical, then, that any model that purports to analyze computers in the classroom and student achievement include a variable to control for teacher preparation."

Source:

http://www.heritage.org/Research/Education/CDA00-08.cfm

If we accet the premise above premise, we have to conclude that Mr. Negroponte & Co. have a very long way to go before their offer is complete. "Teacher preparation" is conspicuosly absent from the OLPC's roadmap, a grave oversight.


Further conclusions (from the same link)

"Thus, the Heritage model predicts that students with at least weekly computer instruction by well-prepared teachers do not perform any better on the NAEP reading test than do students who have less or no computer instruction.29 These findings are consistent for both 4th and 8th graders. In fact, if the variable were significant, it would indicate that those students who were frequently taught using computers would do slightly worse on the NAEP than those who were not. Both Chart 1 and Chart 2 show that there is a negative percent change in the NAEP reading score for the computer variable. Such a result might indicate that children are not learning critical higher-order thinking skills that achievement exams like the NAEP aim to test. Further, these results are consistent with Wenglinsky's analysis of 1996 NAEP math data.30

At the same time, variables such as race, income, home environment, and parents' college attendance are all significant factors in explaining differences in reading test scores."

As you can see, this is a topic complex beyond this blog's scope.

Further reading for you:

http://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog/CUBOVE.html

Please, read, review and post your detailed assesment ASAP. Thanks!

Irvin,

1) "Every point you make to support the XO's *superiority* is based on hardware specs"

and hence prove false your previous point that OLPC:

"delivers a computer that actually does far less than a regular off-the-shelf laptop"


2) "No mention whatsoever of how it will actually make a difference in a child's education"


A child's education, being knowledge acquisition process, will depend on the tools to gather and process information.


Books are traditional tools used to access information and even though quite expensive no one argues on their use in education. Now, there is a good reason why XO's designers made such an effort to make it a even better eBooks reader than the dedicated ones costing twice as much - XO not only can easily replace the need for traditional text books but, of course, allow access to vast amount of other educational content thru digital means (either locally available server, portable memory, or, ultimately, Internet). That feature alone should make it obvious to anyone that XO has enormous potential in education by not just being far more effective information gathering tool than traditional text books but, ultimately, cheaper as well...

Of course, XO is much. much more than just a super eBook reader - it also a writing/drawing/recording device, a simulation lab and fantastic communication and collaboration tool. The pre-loaded software should make it obvious and the growing library of additional software available for download should make it even more so:

OLPC - Getting started - using activities
( http://www.laptop.org/en/laptop/start/activities.shtml )


A good teacher will see XO as a great tool which will make her not only much more effective (thru collaboration functions) but also providing (eg. simulation) tools to make learning fun and a fruitfull experience for her pupils:

What is Constructionism?
( http://olpcnews.com/forum/index.php?PHPSESSID=a74b68632cd2d6d61482a7f7ffe55984&topic=207.msg5574#msg5574 )

Delphi wrote:

"A good teacher will see XO as a great tool which will make her not only much more effective (thru collaboration functions) but also providing (eg. simulation) tools to make learning fun and a fruitfull experience for her pupils"


Excellent point, Delphi.

The key there is the PRESENCE of "a good teacher". I completely agree with you that a good teacher can use tools (not only computers, but also traditional tools, like books, pens, paper, scissors, etc.) to enhance learning.

The only problem is that Mr Negroponte and Co. are trying to sell the world on the idea that the "enhance learning" can take place without the "good teacher", an absurd position.
It is pretty evident that, before schools in ANY country (poor or rich) invest in technology, they must invest in the human element that will put the technology to good use!

Luckily, only a very few are "biting" so far.


Delphy also wrote:

"What is Constructionism?
( http://olpcnews.com/forum/index.php?PHPSESSID=a74b68632cd2d6d61482a7f7ffe55984&topic=207.msg5574#msg5574 )"

Thanks for the link, Delphi. Everyone knows what constructionism is, and those who don't can read and learn about it.

What nobody seems to know is this:

Does the XO, an under-powered laptop (to keep costs down) with a few random applications thrown in, amount to "Constructionism" or "Constructivism"?

Most people seem to think that it does not, thus the reluctance to place orders in the millions.

Irvin,

"Does the XO, an under-powered laptop (to keep costs down)"

I have already shown that XO, as an educational hardware for kids, is actually superior to any other laptop - no need to go in circles in your arguments.

"...with a few random applications thrown in,"

The list of pre-loaded applications is rather comprehensive (and, it's only a beginning) and certainly more so than on any other computer on the market.


"...amount to "Constructionism" or "Constructivism"?Most people seem to think that it does not..."

A rather poorly structured question as you're confusing learning theory (in "Most people" would have very little interest in) with an educational tool. Can XO make education more comprehensive, efficient and ultimately, cheaper (if anything, think of the cost of text books for 5 years...) ? I believe the answer is 'Yes' and you need, I think, to re-read my previous post to see why.

And so will "Most people" once they become aware of XO ...

Delphi,

Here is a "hands-on" experience by a real teacher, supporting the OLPC Project:

http://olpcnews.com/forum/index.php?topic=786.0

I don't think most people will buy it if they become aware of the current issues. Perhaps a future version of the machine will have a chance. As it stands now, the complaints are so many and the dissapointment so widespread that Wayan himself has created a program to "re-gift" the XO by "Give One Get One participants who feel that the XO laptop from One Laptop Per Child isn't right for them"

http://www.olpcnews.com/sales_talk/g1g1/re-gifting_your_xo_laptop.html

That said, I think we have exhausted the topic and I will now respectfully exit the thread. As always, thank you for your input.

Thank you for the links to other discussions. We are hoping to have six XO systems to hand-deliver ourselves to our Primary School partner location in Kenya, East Africa, in July.

Here are the tools I used in the pre-XO days:

http://webquest.org/index-create.php
http://www.alice.org/

I've never used it but phpwebquest is open source and would be loaded on the school server. The others depend on an internet connection. I have used Filamentality.

To Jim the teacher, I can see the XO being useful on field trips, so you might want to reconsider before you consider it bricked.
Here's an example that could easily be modified to fit a field trip to a farmer's market. Since the kids work in teams you wouldn't need so many XOs.
http://www.kn.att.com/wired/fil/pages/webnightmale.html

Much as I appreciate the erudite commentary here, I would add the perspective of a grandparent watching a grandson work with acomputer, and actively learning with it.

Paul is seven. He is in the 2nd grade in an inner city school. Three days a week he goes to the computer lab. In his classrooom he does timed math drills. In very little time he has become an accomplished user of the school computer, and very adept at his math drills.

I check Paul on his addition and subtraction. His answers are uniformly excellent. His reading and comprehension are above grade level. He is smart, but hardly brilliant.

As I watch him use the computer he is natural with it. It is not the brand, it is not the size, it is not the speed. It is the absolute patience of the machine to insist on the right answer before you proceed, and Paul's intuitive use of the machine.

All of the special words you use are interesting, and perhaps they describe what I am seeing. But to the point, and cutting to the chase, Paul is learning using a computer, and he is learning quickly and well. This is in spite of a teacher whose English is a second language, and whose typing skills are nil.

THAT is the value of OLPC, not the 'educanese' of Phd's and testing professionals. Does this work, and does an OLPC make learning possible should be the question, not is it 'constructivist' or not (whatever that means.)

Yes. the OLPC is cute.Yes, in comparison to my desktop it is difficult to use and painfully slow, but it is for a child of tender years, not an adult, and it is LIGHT YEARS ahead of any learning tool I had as a child. That's why I became interested in and why I continue to support Nicholas Negroponte's efforts to make a difference in education.

Anthony Mournian
San Diego, CA

Irvin,

"As it stands now, the complaints are so many and the dissapointment so widespread that Wayan himself has created a program to "re-gift""


I must admit you made me laugh with the above. I can't see the "widespread dissapointment" you speak of - Jim the Teacher's problem seem to be confined to Write document file formats bug - something that has been addressed, as it should have, but unlikely to affect the children in the countries the XO is designed for. Boomer's problem (and he needs to be congratulated for his 're-gift') seems to be with connecting to his WPA home wifi network ( which can be a challenge to setup for anyone with any PC) although we know from numerous reports of no problems with connecting to public network access points.

Neither, and the only, of the above examples you found address the issue we actually discussed ie. the suitability of XO for children - perhaps the following will give you a better idea:


BBC, 12 December 2007 - A child's view of the $100 laptop
( http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/7140443.stm )


"That said, I think we have exhausted the topic and I will now respectfully exit the thread. As always, thank you for your input."

Same here...

Irvin wrote:
"If we accet the premise above premise, we have to conclude that Mr. Negroponte & Co. have a very long way to go before their offer is complete. "Teacher preparation" is conspicuosly absent from the OLPC's roadmap, a grave oversight."

As usual, you seem to completely ignore every relevant information. I DID post a link to a treasure store of studies on the use of ICT in education, especially in the developing world. I also gave a very long quote telling all about the possibilities and experiences with ICT in education.

Now what is your answer?

A link to a study done on children getting a computer lab in a rich country. Trying to see an increase in grades. And then you come with the quoted conclusion.

What in your response is relevant for the OLPC?

The target children cannot currently be reliably graded AT ALL because they simply lack the teachers to do so. The OLPC doesn't want to increase grades, their aim is that the children can actually be graded at all.

That is all in the resource link and quote I gave. But you conveniently ignored.

You simply are blind to the needs of children in the developing world, concentrating exclusively on your historic experience in your own home town.

Winter

For parents using the XO, how old are your children, what kind of school do they go to, how do they use the XO?
Do they use it any differently than the computer they used before? Are the learning learning, learning reading-writing-arithmetic, or learning the XO interface?
Does the XO do what you expected? What did you expect?

Maddie:
Those are excellent questions. I purchased two XO's for two of my children. Ages 5 and 11. Since they are both on Christmas vacation they have not used it for school work. However the special Google homepage with direct links to Wikipedia and the Schools Wikipedia I think will be extremely useful. Both of them are in public school.

Right now my 5 year old has discovered TuxPaint (ok, I loaded it on her XO for her) She absolutely loves this program/activity. Hundreds of stamps (animals, plants, objects,etc) each with a different stereo sound effect, shapes, lines, 30 different "magics" (effects), and as you might expect, an assortment of penguins and igloos- need I say more? All I hear at home now is "Daddy look what I made!!!" I'm not sure if its an educational application, but she is developing her fine motor skills which her kindergarten teacher had some concern over. She has never used a computer and seems to have no trouble grasping the Sugar interface and how to launch an activity.

My eldest has been using it to browse the net, going to various children's sites she knows. Unfortunately a number of the flash based sites don't work on the XO's browser. They both appear to like their little laptops. The day after Christmas my 5 year old's best friend came over and told my daughter "Look, I got a Bratz computer!" to which my 5yr old very proudly replied " Well, I didn't get a Bratz computer, I got a REAL computer!"

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