Lessons learned: Two weeks with the XO laptop
Repeat after me. The XO laptop from the One Laptop Per Child project is designed for kids. Why bore yourself with that mantra? If you don’t you may find yourself griping about something that wasn’t designed for you in the first place.
That’s one of the big takeaways from my two weeks with the XO (see unboxing gallery). Let’s face it–I bought the XO for me (err my daughter). Sure, she’d play with it, but dear old dad’s gadget lust–along with doing a good deed–drove the purchase.
So what did I learn?
1. It’s my daughter’s laptop. I’ve barely seen the thing since she’s been doing non-productive things like looking at herself in the Webcam and showing her one-year old sister the toy. Checking email? Silly grown up things. The XO is about the built in drawing program, the Web cam and icons my 5 year old guinea pig grasped instantly.
2. The XO is rugged.
A lack of “big thinking” by politicians has stifled a scheme to distribute laptops to children in the developing world, a spokesman has said. Walter Bender of One Laptop per Child (OLPC) said politicians were unwilling to commit because “change equals risk”.
But, he said, there needed to be a “dramatic change” because education in many countries was “failing” children.
In an interview with the BBC, Nigeria’s education minister questioned the need for laptops in poorly equipped schools.
Dr Igwe Aja-Nwachuku said: “What is the sense of introducing One Laptop per Child when they don’t have seats to sit down and learn; when they don’t have uniforms to go to school in, where they don’t have facilities?”
“We are more interested in laying a very solid foundation for quality education which will be efficient, effective, accessible and affordable.”
Mary Lou Jepsen, the chief technology officer of the One Laptop Per Child program has stepped down to pursue commercial interests.
Her departure, coming at the end of the Give One Get One (G1G1) scheme which sold the laptop commercially to users in the US, will be seen by many observers as another piece of bad news for a project which has proved difficult to get off the ground.
Few at OLPC would argue that the scheme has yet to turn the idea of one laptop per child into actual laptops in the hands of millions of children.