Children's low cost laptop fund data

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General Questions

What evidence is there that providing every child with a laptop is beneficial?

Some anecdotes from pilot schools.(this might not be enough but its a good start)

look at laptop.org. (some possible links: http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Learning_Vision, http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Core_principles)

What benefit do the children derive from owning/having one?

In today's education climate here and abroad, there is still a disparity between communities and the quality of education. While No Child Left Behind has made an attempt to create standards and a system of accountability, I think we can all agree that it's still a work in progress, and that it fails completely in many areas such as education of children who do not speak English as their first language, and special needs students.

The emphasis on the high-stakes testing leaves precious little classroom time for the broader exploration that should be childhood learning experiences. By leveraging low-cost laptops for all Illinois schoolchildren, we have an opportunity to level the playing field, and to give students a powerful learning tool that will propel them even farther in their educational journey. Each child having their own laptop means they each have access to the best educational content that the global village we live in can provide.

Because low-cost laptops are being deployed globally right now through innovative programs like One Laptop Per Child, our schoolchildren in Illinois can create learning experiences with students from all over the world. They can enrich their learning experiences by exchanging content and messages with children in Uruguay, Mongolia, and Peru. Units on the Incas can be augmented with exchange work with students from Peru.

Child ownership is the crux of this bill for a particular reason. Children act differently when given responsibility for the care and maintenance of something of importance. By giving Illinois schoolchildren low-cost laptops, we are telling them that their educational experience is important, that we believe they can create real things, contribute to the community, and teach others in their community - be it their parents, their peers, or community members.

Quote the laptop.org child ownership line item. http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Core_principles

Won't the laptops get broken a lot?

A rugged child-friendly laptop would be best for this deployment, so as to avoid some of the problems that could happen to a high-cost laptop that would render it unusable. Some key features that should be sought for an Illinois child laptop program would include:

  • Rugged case design
  • Weather/spill-proof or resistant keyboard
  • Reinforced hinges and other flex points
  • Sturdy screen, preferably one that maintains readability in sunlight so students can use laptops in outdoor exploration units.
  • A handle or other easy carrying device built-in, so that students aren't as likely to drop it.
  • Reinforced corners, in the event of a drop, to help protect the laptop.
  • Solid-state computing should be considered. Hard drives have spinning parts that are delicate and generate a lot of heat. Most low-cost laptops are using a different method of storage called Flash memory, which runs on fewer parts, generates less heat, and is less prone to defect.

What support (deployment, ongoing, repair) exists within the One Laptop Per Child Program?

Any bill funded by the Illinois house and senate would need to consider the matter of support. Existing systems of support within schools will need to be augmented at the community level. Low-cost laptops all leverage open-source software, such as the Linux operating system. This instantly delivers a business benefit of no need for site or individual licenses for software.

The software available for low-cost laptops is all free. It is supported by a huge (find reference to estimate the size of the open source community) community of developers and technologists who passionately support open-source software efforts. (list of some open-source software societies and conferences, education specific if at all possible.) Still some portion of funding will need to be spent on the development of a deployment plan, infusion of local support options (some of which may benefit from partnerships with local universities and chapters from organizations like One Laptop Per Child) and maintenance.

Can we really get laptops that will be useful and fully functional for under $400?

In addition to the price of the laptop, what are the other costs?

How are the teachers going to learn how to use this new tool?

What infrastructure is required to support every child having a laptop?

How will purchasing laptops help increase student test scores?

The learning activities students engage on with the laptops would need to be structured around existing curriculum goals as determined by No Child Left Behind. The strong benefit of a flexible Linux-based platform is that if those curriculum goals change over time, if No Child Left Behind undergoes significant changes in goal or aim, the content taught via the laptops can also change.

Because the activities on low-cost laptops would largely be child directed, students will engage with a higher level of reasoning. They will retain more information if they are active explorers of information rather than passive receptacles for it.

What other states have done laptop projects?

  • Maine, using Apple laptops.
  • Illinois is considering HB5000, The Children's Low-Cost Laptop Act

Will this make them asocial hermits who don't like interacting with the world and want to code instead?

What warranty/replacement/repair plans are available? How are they maintained?

How about ergonomics, will 7-year-olds get RSI?

Won't kids spend all day gaming and stuff they shouldn't see/do?

Specific OLPC/XO questions

Why Linux?

While the world revolves around software developed by Microsoft, technology literacy does not. Due to the high cost associated with licenses for proprietary software like that which is developed by MS, this option would immensely increase the cost of this bill. Furthermore, the system requirements to run operating systems like Windows are much more expensive to buy, and few options for durable child-friendly design exist.

Linux-based systems offer further benefits. Because the operating system is open-source, children who are interested in this aspect of technology development are able to view the inner workings of the computer systems. Linux systems are more easily configured than other systems. The operating system is simply more efficient for low-cost hardware. Furthermore, with the extensive base of open-source developers, new applications can be created quickly. Additionally, with many scripting programming languages available on Linux systems, older students would be able to design and build learning activities that younger students could use. This could create a kind of collaboration within and between schools that would drive a strong sense of community.

What specific infrastructure does the XO need?

A likely use scenario of a laptop deployment would include roles such as:

Local Deployment manager

Responsible for receiving laptop shipments for a school or district. Deployments should happen on a school-by-school basis so that all students receive laptops at the same time.

Community Champion

Working via school boards and other local organizations, the laptop deployment should look for community champions who will be willing to talk about the details of the deployments planned for their community. This person could serve as a primary resource for questions about the local impact of these laptops in the community. This post would last from 6 months before deployment of laptops through at least 12 months after. After that, this post could move to a volunteer-level position.

Community outreach and communication events could be planned to introduce the laptops to parents and members of the community.

School-level support

Technology support within each school may need to be augmented depending on existing resource levels. If a school currently has a laptop program, those resources could be adapted to include low-cost laptop support.

Educational champion

At the local level a minimum of one teacher per school should be identified to serve as the educational champion. This person will answer questions from other teachers about how to use the laptop within the core curriculum of the classroom. This resource can also conduct periodic surveys of teachers in their school to determine the adoption curve for the laptops. This will help provide metrics about the success of the program, both for identifying ways to improve the program, and also for identifying the program benefits so that Illinois lead can be followed by other states.

How will teachers learn the XO?

Any major technology deployment needs strong support from teachers to be successful. A deployment plan will need to be created with emphasis on teacher training and education. Local champions will be needed to work within each school to encourage teachers in their use of the laptops and to answer curriculum questions. This role should be separate from any local level support, so as to not overwhelm one resource with extra work.

The initial need for teacher support will be high, one of the highest demands of the program, however the benefit is that in a few short years, teachers will build a base of activities and learning content that can be shared state-wide. It will create opportunities for collaboration and for synergy, and could even reduce teacher workload in the long run as the library of available activities grows and is added to and modified over time.

OLPC News, from User:Walter Bender, April 5, 2008:

The OLE Nepal team led four days of teacher training for 24 teachers, two community members, two school principals, and the School Supervisor for Bashuki and Bishwamitra Schools. Trainers Bipul Gautam, Kamana Regmi, and Dr. Saurav Dev Bhatta led many sessions on how the Constructivist theories of Piaget, Vygotsky, and Papert and the XO can be used to fully engage children in creating, exploring, and expressing. On the final day of training, the teachers led Constructivist lessons using that XO laptops that they themselves designed. See http://blog.olenepal.org

What other costs(non infrastructure and not included with the original hardware costs) should we expect?

Schools that aren't currently networked will need network infrastructure. Schools that are currently networked may need their networks augmented to support the large number of laptops that would be operating within their walls. In addition, some portion of the funding from this bill should be allocated to repair and maintenance concerns, such as the purchase of additional machines and/or spare parts, the creation of a central office to manage the deployment at least on a temporary (2 year) basis. There will also need to be funds allocated to stipends for community, support, and education champions. Again these positions should have a few year span, after which time the community liaison role would become volunteer, and the teacher and local support may be able to be reduced.

Data Sheets

Cost

Issues:this would try to be a per class cost so unit price times 25 or so

  • unit price
  • price to make unit functional(aka +$150 for Microsoft Word on a normal windows install)
  • Infrastructure costs
  • Training costs

Other non Monetary data

Issues: This is the software/hardware sort of stuff

  • OS
  • Word processor
  • Web Browser
  • Picture editor
  • IDE
  • is training included with laptop purchase

Hardware

  • wifi
  • HDD capacity
  • RAM
  • processor

Other Reading

olpc news about teachermate

OLPC Chicago/IL Children's Low Cost Laptop Fund

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