Childhood in the digital age
Childhood in the digital age

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Childhood in the digital age

4.2.3 One Laptop per Child

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One laptop per child. That's our name and our vision. We want to create educational opportunities for the world's poorest children by providing each and every one with a rugged, low cost, low power connected laptop. And this is that laptop. Say hello to the XO, a computer unlike any other, designed specifically to work in tough conditions in remote areas. It comes packed with software and activities, to help kids learn, explore, create and share, no matter what language they speak or where they live. The XO connects them to each other, to the world, and to a brighter future. We're a non-profit organisation which makes these kids our mission, not our market.
That’s why wherever the XO goes, there are five core principles everyone agrees to. First, kids get to keep the laptops. They have to be free to take them home and use them whenever they want, that's kind of the point. Second, we're focused on early education which means kids about six to twelve years old. Third, we have to deal in large numbers of laptops. So whole classrooms and schools get them at the same time, so no one gets left out. Fourth, kids should have a connection to the internet, because there's neat stuff to learn on the internet. Fifth and finally, the XO must include free and open source software, then the laptop itself can easily grow and adapt with the needs of the child.
So, in a nutshell, that's us, an organisation that makes a small computer to serve a big cause, bringing education to children all over the world, with one laptop per child.
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We hope we have started to bust the myth that technology is only of value for children in industrialised, developed countries. If developing countries successfully blend access to high-quality teaching with access to technology, this may have global consequences.

Even in developing countries, there has been a focus on integrating technology into the educational lives of children. One Laptop per Child has become a benchmark project for the visionary use of technology in developing countries.

The mission was to create educational opportunities for the world’s poorest children by providing each child with a rugged, low-cost, low-power, connected laptop with content and software designed for collaborative, joyful, self-empowered learning, as the video illustrates.

This project was first trialled in Cambodia, where the charity distributed $100 laptops to every child. Given its relative success, the project has been rolled out further, and currently over 2 million children and teachers in 42 developing countries are learning with specially designed XO laptops.

However, the project hasn’t been without difficulties and criticisms. Kenneth Kraemer and colleagues (2009) have questioned the sustainability of this project and looked at the ‘vision’ versus the ‘reality’. Simply providing a new laptop to every child is only part of the complex puzzle.

Children need training in using the laptop and teachers also require considerable professional development to successfully embed such new devices in their classrooms. Technical support is often unavailable when things go wrong and schools lack the necessary resources or funding to make repairs. It may also be simplistic, if not naive, to assume that the same technology will work equally well in a different context or culture.

However, there are signs of promise with other technologies too, particularly with tablet devices and digital apps, and these are what you will think about next.


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