Many of you have heard of the OLPC - One Laptop Per Child project. Also known as the $100.00 laptop (which is actually now the $188.00 laptop, but the price is falling), the intent of this project is to bring affordable computing to those nations and children who cannot afford traditional computing and/or network infrastructures.
The mission of the OLPC project is:
"To provide children around the world with new opportunities to explore, experiment and express themselves. "
Or as the founder of the project, Nicholas Negroponte puts it - "It's an education project, not a laptop project.”
To date the organization that created the OLPC has only sold the laptop to national agencies and governments, but for a short period of time beginning November 12th, 2007, you have the chance to get your own OLPC through the "Give One Get One" programme. The way the programme work is that you pay $399.00 US and for that donation one laptop is sent to a child to learn in a developing nation, and one that will be sent to you for a child or school in your neighbourhood )or for your own use for that matter).
Why would you want to do this besides the obvious charitable reasons? Well the OLPC is actually a very capable computer and would make an excellent first computer for any child or novice to computing. It has some amazing features that we may see some day on mainstream, traditional laptop computers like the ability to create its own network of fellow OLPC laptops if no Internet connection is available, providing simple, and low cost classroom networks. It is aso very rugged, perfect for a child, and has some very neat power handling features. The battery, which is a $10 dollar part has a much longer life than batteries currently used in conventional laptops, significantly reducing the environmental footprint of used batteries.
You get a lot of computer for $100.00. The basic specifications can be found here, and include flash memory, a water resistant keyboard, wireless, tablet mode, and a Linux-based operating systems (mostly from Red Hat's Fedora Core 6) which all result is a very capble computer.
Here is a review of the OLPC by Davis Pogue:
Here is another review of the OLPC from Geek.com - Lessons To Learn From The OLPC - and there are many lessons that we could apply to the computers and networks that we are currently using for education, and for that matter even business applications.
I think that this is an amazing project with world-transforming potential. As an educator, I see the OLPC having terrific potential, not just in developing nations, but also here in Canada and other developing nations as an inexpensive way to give many of our under-privileged and developing children access to computing - skills that will be as necessary in the 21st century as reading, writing, and arithmetic. So on the 12th of November, I'll be Giving One and Getting One. Will you...?
(many thanks to my good friend Randommind for blogging about this - you always find the good stuff...)