LesleyT was the lucky recipient, and now that the month is coming to a close, we have an update on XO laptop usage from an excited user group: special education students in North Carolina.
First off, let's hear Leslie's description of her special needs user group:
The children I use the XO with are in a special education class, and I'm only with them a few times a day, usually during their computer lab time. Most of them can read, write, and speak, although not always at grade level.While waiting for the XO laptop to boot, Leslie's students put the screen through their own version of ruggedness - the lick test. Thankfully, Leslie reports that Mary Lou Jepsen can add "saliva resistant" to the XO check list. Leslie also reports that her students take to the XO in other ways too.
They are vociferous consumers of media, especially flash games, but I'm unsure if they understand what they are doing. They click and pound. They ask to be put on a specific site if they can't find it in the drop-down menu, then click on pictures of cartoons they like until they come to a game. If a game is too hard, or freezes, they simply open another browser, or move to another computer. While waiting for internet explorer to start, they might click enough times to open 10 browsers.
The kids are not allowed to open word or other programs in the computer lab, which, considering their click and pound tendencies, I totally understand. (I caught a girl typing text into a program's .ini file in notepad.)Assistive Technology XO User Group to look at other ways OLPC can impact the learning challenged.
If a word processor is opened, it's usually used to type long strings of joyful gibberish. So I let them type long streams of joyful gibberish in write. I also had a student type her spelling words, maybe the only time all year she hasn't complained about them.
Speak will be great for the gibberish typers to understand what a word is or isn't. I tutor a 19 year old with Angelman Syndrome, Jessie, and Speak was magic for her. She is mostly non-verbal, like most people with AS. She would sign a word and I would help her type it. She is familiar with speech output devices, but with Speak she seemed to realize that all those letters that I've been hounding her about for months create words.
What Jessie loves most is the screen rotate button. Jessie is non-verbal. When she moved the mouse while the screen was flipped, it did not go correct direction. She raised her eyebrows, pointed the mouse and said "huh"? I'm overjoyed that she knew something was wrong and told me about it.
But back to Leslie and her thoughts on One Laptop Per Learning Challenged Child:
My kids need access to possible resources. Computers can be an important resource, but only if these students stop seeing them as televisions with keyboards and start learning how to actively make their computers create what they want them to create. The XO, I hope, will be an important step in that process. At the very least, it's been fun.True that. Especially for the kids licking the XO screens. I wonder what they taste like? Maybe a snozzberry?