Friday, I had the opportunity to
work explore the XO laptop with Bud Hunt. If you aren’t familiar with the XO you can learn more about it at www.laptop.org and at the OLPC wiki.
We (my wife and I) decided it might be a good idea to contribute to the Give One Get One program being that was offered from mid-November to December 31, 2007. Two reasons, one we’d like to expose our daughter, who is now four, to a computer that is collaborative and built for learning. The second is that I am very interested in the OLPC project. Nicholas Negroponte, the founder of OLPC, states that this “is an education project, not a laptop project“. I think most educators find that statement pretty much sums up a lot of the interest in the XO.
My experience with Bud was very cool and I’ve heard he feels the same. We both visited our respective Starbucks and tapped into the Internet via the 1-year T-Mobile service that came with a G1G1 donation. We weren’t sure how we were going to collaborate to start so we settled on using our “good old” mobile phones to talk through the experience.
Admission: I felt pretty silly working in Starbucks with the childlike appearance of the XO while talking to Bud using my Bluetooth earpiece which is normally reserved for my car only. But it was worth it and I’ll do it again.
Patience is a Virtue
When working with the XO one has to understand that it doesn’t work like the Windows, Mac or Linux platforms we are used to using. What I liked about the conversation Bud and I had was that we kept trying to think like students or teachers in a classroom different than what we are immersed in here in the United States. That’s difficult to do if you haven’t been to a developing country or if you are stuck in a mindset of meeting a set of curriculum standards. But I thought we did a pretty good job of it. At one point, Bud overtaxed his XO and was very patient about it and that helped me understand the importance of being so, especially so early in the project’s deployment.
Our purpose in meeting was to learn more about the XO’s functions and Activities, and to learn more about its collaborative, sharing capabilities. While each Activity can be shared, we agreed to look at a few of the default Activities (Write, Browse & Record). I like that they are called Activities, not programs or applications on the XO. It adds to the concept that the laptop is built around learning and collaboration.
Another thing that was cool was that while we were working a gentleman approached me and asked, “is that what I think it is?” I proudly explained that it was an XO laptop and he asked how he could get one. Unfortunately, I had to tell him that the G1G1 program had ended on Monday and that he could learn more at laptop.org.
So, OLPC if you are reading, know that the more we take these devices out into public (and I intend to) the more publicity it will receive. I understand a few of the reasons for having the program open for a limited time, but I would bet that after a small amount of success there will be even more people willing to donate.
I know Bud and I would like to work more on the XO in the future together. What about you? Do you have one? Would you like to get connected with us to try it out? If you don’t have one, did you know you can still help out by working on content?