Technology for children takes a big step with the soon to be released $100 laptop. Nicholas Negroponte of MIT Media Lab envisions putting millions of these internet ready machines into the hands of the world's children at around US$100 a pop. He calls this ambitious project One Laptop Per Child (OLPC). The ruggedised computers will be powerful enough to do just about anything you might expect a laptop to do. They feature an innovative hand crank which provides power to recharge 'C' or 'D' sized batteries. They will also have an AC cord which doubles as a carry strap and a number of USB ports.
Negroponte sees the laptops as tools for constructionist learning. Constuctionism means learning through the making of personally meaningful artifacts. This could include designing a webpage, building a model of a park, or making a film or book.
All software is open source to maximise expansion capacity and minimise costs. Included with the machine will be a web browser, word processor and a few intriguing extras. For example, MIT is currently working onScratch, a free programming language for children that will allow learners to produce their own multimedia. Many of the machines are destined for developing countries, but this map shows broad interest in the project around the world. For each child to have their own laptop will alter the face of education.
It will benefit teachers who will be able work with small groups while the rest of the class engages in personal and peer-to-peer learning.
OLPC puts laptop computing within reach of all. "One laptop per child: Children are your most precious resource, and they can do a lot of self-learning and peer-to-peer teaching. Bingo. End of story." ―Nicholas Negroponte
I have noticed that whereas administrators wish to emphasise numeracy and literacy in education, in my experience about 80% of what children bring to the teacher are problems of communication and conflict. Here is an interesting P4C article in which Children discuss conflict