Presenting One Laptop Per Child at Conference Booths

xo laptop booth
Showing off XO laptops

As someone who has never done sales, tending a booth for One Laptop Per Child is a unique experience. While tending a booth has the downside of repetition and lulls in activity, the booth approach is great for the audience.

After all, the kitchen sink can be thrown at an audience in a presentation; but seeing is believing. Once people actually get to play on an XO, you'll have them hooked! Our setup was simple:

  1. one 8 foot table;
  2. three chairs on the opposite side with an XO for each "station";
  3. two "floating" XOs for people coming around;
  4. a 2' x 3' OLPC sign;
  5. 35 XO handouts, which was not enough!
Considering the conference had over 100 people in attendance (largely decision makers), we had a total of over 40 visitors. Not a single person who visited simply picked up a handout and walked away: everyone stayed for at least a few minutes.

xo laptop booth
OLPC excites conference attendees

More importantly, everyone who came by and spent the time loved the little green machine: no one left disappointed. Also, we came away with several leads: people with concrete interests of getting these laptops into their schools. The XO is truly a great machine to demo.

As others have said in developer-speak, presently the XO hardware is "gold", the Activities are "beta", while the operating system is "alpha". What this means in the land of booths and demos: it passes the five minute credibility test with flying colors.

This is an essential first step, an ice breaker if you will, because no one will believe that the XO will work for them until they see if they can "break it". Once they try all the obvious things and it still works, they are then very impressed.

Best of all, they want to take the next step.

Brian Basgen is an active member of the Greater Arizona OLPC XO User Group and hopes you'll present OLPC in your community too.

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I suspect the hardware is also not "gold", but rather reflects wishful thinking that it just got to be better than the OS.

"we came away with several leads: people with concrete interests of getting these laptops into their schools."

And now they will find out they cannot get them, unless they pay up front and then wait 4-8 months.

No doubt the OLPC would sell - if it were available

While at the Texas Computer Educator Conference last month, I took my XO with me. I thought surely there would be another XO within wireless range at some point. I left my neighborhood view open almost the whole time.

At any rate, I did the reverse of a conference booth. I just carried my laptop out in the open. Some recognized the XO, others didn't. It got some attention though. I even showed it to the booth showing off the Classmate - the guys there hadn't even heard of it! ha!

The Classmate was faster and had a wider variety of apps available, but it's much heavier and more costly (*What would a $400 or $500 XO be like?*). The XO did beat the Classmate is ease-of-use, language portability, power and sound (solid state versus active cooling). I hope we don't see XP on the XO, ever. In my opinion, that will signal the end of this project.

To wrap up, take your XOs to those conferences, just carry it around. People will ask. Create more buzz about our favorite "little laptop that could".

I took mine to the Ohio Digital Commons for Education conference
in Columbus, Ohio last week and did just what TommyGober suggested.

Much of the conference focused on Web 2.0 and teaching in the 21st century with an emphasis on open source software. I am still trying out (on my XO) all the great sites that were suggested, especially those from Carrie Rathsack at Bowling Green State University - you can find some of these in the conference blog.

Sadly, there were no other laptops to mesh with, but my little green laptop generated a lot of interest. I probably talked to more people than a lot of the vendors.

This week, there was OpenExpo in Berne, Switzerland on Wednesday (and Thursday, but then I wasn't there). There was a booth for I was not expected to be there, but on Tuesday I found out about the Expo and that next day was my free day, so I went. I saw the booth, took my XO out of my backpack, started helping out with answering questions - and they virtually adopted me within five minutes to be part of :) At the end of the day, my throat was sore :)