Friday, October 05, 2007

One Laptop Per Child - Education and GeoNetworking

Recently at a meeting with some friends we talked about the One Laptop Per Child (O.L.P.C) initiative designed to provide low cost rugged laptops to two billion educationally underserved children in poor countries. Interestingly, even though I have been following news of the project development for the past few years, my friends were not familiar with it.
(Photo courtesy of the FuseProject)

Yesterday David Pogue wrote a very good article about the OLPC initiative in the New York Times and I decided to send it to my friends and also post it here.

Personally, I believe this is one of the most important educational projects being developed in the world today that should have exponentially increasing and long range positive social/environmental and GeoNetworking implications in the future.

On the OLPC Wiki page Nicholas Negroponte who founded the project at M.I.T, is quoted, "It's an education project, not a laptop project." The goal of OLPC "is to provide children around the world with new opportunities to explore, experiment, and express themselves."

Pogue comments that "The truth is, the XO laptop, now in final testing, is absolutely amazing, and in my limited tests, a total kid magnet. Both the hardware and the software exhibit breakthrough after breakthrough — some of them not available on any other laptop, for $400 or $4,000." He also notes that it consumes very little battery electricity and can be charged by solar or a pull cord, and to replace the battery only costs $10. The article lists many other features, including "...both regular wireless Internet connections and something called mesh networking, which means that all the laptops see each other, instantly, without any setup — even when there’s no Internet connection."

A new program to help distribute the laptops is available for two weeks in November. Called "Give 1, Get 1" you pay for two laptops and one is sent to a student in a poor country and one to a child in your own family. Or you can also donate the second laptop to a child in a developing nation.

It will be interesting to follow the developments that may soon connect the OLPC laptops to Social Networking, Semantic Web search opportunities and GeoWeb projects like Google Earth.

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