The OLPC renewed?

The new Infinity:One has grown from the OLPC project and from a visual point of view, there’s a definite family resemblance.

flickr photo by Emmadukew shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-SA) license

Educational Computers – including OLPC: flickr photo by Emmadukew shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-SA) license

(Excuse the clutter in that pictures, I hadn’t got a clearer one of just the OLPC; which is currently in a packed away in a box with the Pi)

Infinity One: Source:

Both also use low cost technology, and, while the Infinity One uses Windows 10 (rather than the Child friendly SugarOS that is linux based); it’s much easier to update the Infinity than the OLPC ever was. Would have been great had they been able to include the screen that could be both backlit and eInk of the original; I think they had great potential. Meanwhile, I’ll just wait for the Infinity to get to the UK, and then my wee family of educational computers might get a new member 🙂

Raspberry Pi vs ZX 81

My first computer was a ZX 81 – cost £69.95 (assuming Wikipedia’s correct; I can’t remember!) That’s c £236 (This is Money) or 0.3% of an average house (House Price Crash). Came with 1kb of memory (expandable to 16kb) – Operating System & Keyboard inc; monitor required (monochrome output).
The Raspberry Pi goes on sale today … for £21.60 (0.01% of average house [does that say more about cost of houses or electrical components, one wonders!]) – you get 256mb memory, though you do have to add a keyboard and Operating System, as well as the monitor!

Me: I’d have one on order, were it possible to get through to a website!

ALT-C 2009 (2)

One of the sessions I attended was the Online Identity workshop run by Frances Bell, Josie Fraser, James Clay & Helen Keegan. As usual from that crowd it was interactive, thought provoking & they’d set up an accompanying Wiki.

They started off by asking us to write our names on a postit. Trustingly we all *did* (At least, I think everyone wrote down their name, not someone elses). It wasn’t until afterwards on the train that I realised they’d lost a wonderful teaching point – the fact we all trusted them not to use our names in some malicious way. That said, we did have to find out 3 facts about someone we didn’t know … and Frances then took the flipchart away with her. Should I start to worry…
This was really a start into looking at what data’s out there about each of us – whether it’s things over which we (think we) have control, or that over which we have no control. The issue of uniqueness was also raised – do those of us that have (more or less) unique names need to exercise greater or lesser control than those who haven’t. Guess, in part, it depends what those you share a name with do online!

I joined in with James’ offering on video. I really have no excuse for not using it, heck even the OLPC has a webcam (the 3rd laptop took the photo!), 2 web cams & a digital camera that takes video in my office most of the time. (Granted, my phone only does stills). However, I’ve never uploaded a video to YouTube, (though I did experiment with 12seconds recently – managing to mess up linking it with Twitter :()
The conversation we had surrounding accessibility was useful – it seems that most share my view – that especially with “quick & dirty” media developments (i.e. those that are only intended for the current cohort) should suit the needs of current students, not any that might come in the future. i.e. if no visually impaired screen reading students present, then video doesn’t all need subtitling (though, one could argue, it makes searching for sections much easier for all)
Unfortunately, time ran a bit short, so we didn’t really get to hear what the other groups had done, nor, for that matter, have a go with (later, later). Also, not really time to look at the sort of data folks had found out about each other – though at least one person pointed out it wasn’t their information that had been located.

Ada Lovelace Day 09

Ages ago, I signed the pledge to write a blog post for Ada Lovelace Day – about a woman in technology that I admire. I then wondered who on earth I’d write about; there are quite a few I could think of off hand, but trying to think of someone who I felt had really made a difference to many – wasn’t so easy. About two days after I’d signed the pledge, the January issue of the BCS magazine arrived – a special on Women in computing. One they featured was Mary Lou Jepsen. And my mind was made up!
As those of you who’ve read this for some time will know, I’m very impressed with the OLPC – it’s not just the hardware (and certainly not the keyboard – thought I’d give up on rubber ones when I gave up on the Speccy!) – nor is it just the software – it’s the combination of both, and more importantly the concept that I find fascinating.

I started to do a bit of research – Jepsen’s the same age as me (also a good reason for writing about her!) – and it’s a lot! Time magazine have listed her as 49 in their list of 101 influential people. (She’s 10th in the sub-list “scientists & thinkers”).
She was an LCD screen designer and had done a range of innovative work (HDTV, large scale holographic displays, minature displays etc., etc., etc.,) – so when Negroponte came up with the idea of the so called “$100 laptop” – with low cost and low energy use being prioritised, she became the chief architect of the project. Her particular innovations were the screen, with its minimal energy requirements & readability in sunlight.
The mesh network (again, something she contributed to) – while minimising the number of computers that need to be online (and sharing the data around the class/ village) has also allowed the software teams to really look at software that enables collaboration – and encourages children to work together. Having worked in Papua New Guinea (which, I understand now has some OLPCs) I’ve seen some of the problems of schooling where there’s no electricity, limited resources etc., and feel that the OLPC offers a wealth of information, potential, opportunity – you name it, it offers it – so thank you Mary Lou!

Useful references:

$10 laptop?

I’ve written several times about the OLPC (aka $100 laptop) – and have one.
(I like curiouslee’s viewfinder for it!)

There is now a plan in India to create a $10 laptop – which they intend to launch at India’s National Mission on Education through Information and Communication Technologies The BBC’s report did note that they might have meant 5,000 rupees ($100), rather than the original 500 rupees ($10), but even that significantly undercuts the OLPC, which has never got near its original target of $100.

India already has the Simputer, though I’ve not heard much about that for quite a long time.

Via: Wired Campus

OLPC getting going

I’m working on the OLPC now. I’ve beenable to get it on line at home, though not at work. it’s got a range of inbuilt activities, the most exciting probably being the acoustic measure, which lets you measure the distance between 2 OLPCs. Shame I’ve not got another to test it with!

I’m rapidly coming to the conclusion that 2 fingered typing is easier than using them all. That said, for small children (the intended group afterall), they won’t have the same stretching problems they have on a regular keyboard.

I’m currently writing this in my kitchen, using the monochrome display which is very clear – despite the fact it’s very bright outside. I normally have to turn the display to  max to see it in here.  The display is pretty awesome – 1200 *900 pixels for a 7.5″ screen. I thought my tablet was good at 1400 for a 12.1″ screen.

The main problem  I’ve encountered (other than the speed and the mouse problems that are documented elsewhere) is the fact that it’s a US keyboard, so I can’t find everything. I  have just noticed the £ on the H key. The tilda still alludes me. There are 2 things that look like it, but they aren’t.

OLPC Education Project Should Take an Opportunity to Learn

Wayan Vota makes some comments on a Wall Street Journal article about the OLPC. He comments, as I’ve said before, that it’s not just the hardware. It’s the software that’s worth looking at (See Alexandre van de Sande’s post about the interface; a very clear explanation – emphasising the community aspects of learning)

We aren’t shipping Windows. If countries want to use “the standard”,

Community aspects aside, what’s interesting to me is that children can adapt. Many UK computer users have moved from BBC-B / Acorn Archimedes in school, perhaps a Sinclair or Vic 20 at home, have used Windows 3.1 – and are now using XP or Vista. We’ve managed the change quite easily. Are they really thinking that Windows won’t change between now and the time that a 7 year old is ready to go to work? Or, perhaps, they’re suggesting that while Western Kids can cope with those changes, kids in the majority world can’t.

In the UK, more and more schools are moving to Linux based systems. It’s cheaper. That may well take off even more with the Asus EEE, which is similarly priced to the OLPC.

I can see that officials in some countries might think that Windows is the way that they ought to be going, but I’m sure that’s as much lack of knowledge about the alternatives, (most likely due to M/S’s dominance of the market place), than a particular reason for wanting to have Windows.

It’s worth noting that this article was first posted on November 26th, before the “Give one Get one” project started shipping; so few people had had access to them. (Still waiting for mine..).

Via: Stephen Downes

Reconsidering Digital Immigrants…

Henry Jenkins looks again at the “Digital Immigrants/ Digital Natives” debate. Jenkins points out:

Talking about youth as digital natives implies that there is a world which these young people all share and a body of knowledge they have all mastered, rather than seeing the online world as unfamiliar and uncertain for all of us.

while acknowledging that part of the ongoing use of the phrases is simply because no-one’s managed to develop a better one. He goes on to discuss some of the (negative) implications of the use of the word “Immigrants” – that it could potentially be seen as inferior/ that digital immigrants aren’t really needed. He comments:

Yet, I worry that the metaphor may be having the opposite effect now — implying that young people are better off without us and thus justifying decisions not to adjust educational practices to create a space where young and old might be able to learn from each other.

… and starts to wonder about “digital multi-culturalism”.

The (current set) of comments are worth reading too; supporting Jenkins discussion of the use of the terms, while recognising that they make a good starting point.
For me, I guess if I am a digital immigrant; having started with a ZX81 and gone via several other systems, to be now using a range of Web2.0 tools (though not yet got Vista on my PC) – well, I must have been on the digital “first fleet” !