Archive for the ‘education’ Category

The Hundred Dollar Laptop

February 7, 2007

MIT Media Lab is the leader in creative technology and it has a initiative called, One Laptop Per Child (OLPC), which is working with industry to design and produce an inexpensive and durable laptop for the children in poor countries. The laptop will be very basic and will have essential functionalities to connect children from all around the world. One of the most interesting feature the laptop will have will be the common textbooks for certain age group so that children can learn basic math and sciences. This will reduce cost of printing and distributing books in these poor areas. The laptop will also have WiFi connection so that these children can learn on their own. Although, the countries will have to spend initially on some infrastructure like WiFi access points, which are infact becoming easier to set up and cheaper to use.

The laptop will be custom-designed, will have power saving features and specially designed Linux based operating system.

I think this is a very creative initiative because it has the potential to connect people from all around the world like never before. Also, this will make the education dynamic for these students rather than static learning that we have been doing through books. This can also provide education in a more useful way because the kids can solve problems or provide information that can be useful for their parents. The biggest advantage this can provide is one of collaboration between students from all around the world where they can learn from each other. The laptop will include following features:

High-Resolution Screen – The screen is custom-designed instead of standard LCD screen. Even though it is expensive than LCD screen it was needed because the LCD screen does not display certain languages like Arabic very well. The custom-designed screen will have a gray-scale mode, which is easily readable in the sunlight. It will have certain power saving features as most poor countries have limited supplies of the same.

No Hard Drive – Yes, you heard me right. There won’t be any hard drive because it requires lots of power. The memory would instead be provided by flash drive, which has become much cheaper thanks to popularityof MP3 players.

Human powered recharge – Have you heard about hand-pulled generators? Well, since power is so limited in poor countries, the laptop could also be charged using hand-pulled generator. This will give 10 minutes of power for 1 minute of pulling. OLPC is looking into other innovative ways to power the laptop and most ideas may come from these countries itself.

Unfortunately, Indian Government, the biggest market OLPC was marketing to, has dismissed the laptop. This can be because of two reasons, maybe because the Government doesn’t think it will be useful or maybe because they already are developing their own indegenius cheaper laptop, which can only be good for the project. The Government of Thailand have ordered 500 and will order a million more if successful. Argentina, Brazil and Nigeria have also shown some interest in the project.

This is said to be the most important project to have come out of MIT Labs and has the potential to change the world as we see it. We need more projects like these esp. coming out from countries like India that can take the lead into this new form of creative education.