One Laptop Per Child ... Including Yours (page 2)

One Laptop Per Child ... Including Yours

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Updated on Mar 5, 2009

Little or no telecommunication infrastructure? No problem. Nudge up its little antennae ears and it can sense other XOs nearby and connect to them instantaneously. Each machine is a wireless router so that all children in a local community can see each other and interact online—adding a paragraph to a shared story, a few strokes to a communal painting, or a drum beat to a piece of music. All kids need to do to interact is press a single button.

Outdoors with laptop in tow? Kids can read the screen in full sunlight as clearly as they could a newspaper, by switching it to black-and-white mode. Away from an electrical socket? No worries. The laptop’s battery charge can last for 6 hours of heavy use, or 24 hours of reading. And in locations without electricity, kids can generate power themselves by either solar or human-powered charging, through pull cords and hand cranks.

There’s a lot of bang for two hundred bucks. A built in video camera (so teachers can send notes home to illiterate parents), a built in microphone, a kid-sized rubberized keyboard sealed against water, dust, and dirt. Plus the ability to edit text, create music, collaborate on games, and make and share movies. The user interface allows kids to take a peek at what activities they and others in their community are engaged in, and to join in those activities, making learning and teaching a social activity.

Sound cool, but still not sure what one laptop can do? Here’s what Kofi Annan, former Secretary General of the United Nations, had to say: “This is not just a matter of giving a laptop to each child, as if bestowing upon them some magical charm. The magic lies within—within each child, within each scientist-, scholar- or just plain citizen-in-the-making. This initiative is meant to bring it forth into the light of day.”

Most of the nearly 2 billion children in the developing world are inadequately educated. One in three does not complete the fifth grade. It’s going to take a lot of monetary muscle to tackle the problem. But this could be the start. To date, donations to the “Give One Get One” campaign have averaged 2 million dollars per day. To add yours to the mix, log onto, or call 1-877-LAPTOP.

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