Notes on potential impacts


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Notes on the Potential Educational Impacts of OLPC


To understand the potential impacts of an OLPC programme, one can start with more generally understood impacts of ICT in education* [1], and then focus on the particular characteristics of OLPC, with its core principles, specialised technology and foundations in constructivist learning [2]. We can then study the processes by which an OLPC project can affect change in terms of a traditional school effectiveness model, and the challenges that are presented to countries wishing to implement OLPC programmes [3]. Finally, we must understand the priorities for education reform in the region, in the context of globalisation and the need to steer the reform towards more culturally relevant approaches in education [4].

  • Note that many ICT initiatives in Education start with a Computer lab model. OLPC put the laptop in the hands of the teachers and learners all the time so that they can use the tool whenever they need to learn. This is a very different approach gives very different results.


The diagram illustrates how the results of an OLPC program must take into account all of these priorities and challenges, together with a reflective management approach informed by an effective, continuing evaluation process.

The XO as an Agent of Change for Education in Pacific

In many countries, OLPC has been effectively used as a Change agent for the education system and in fact, the OLPC program was designed around this principle

  • Helps integrate and support local cultural values into education system,
  • Helps shift to more culturally relevant ways of learning
  • Opens up new ways of pooling and sharing resources, and for collaborating, especially across the region
  • Offers new highly scalable approaches to the localisation and development of relevant educational resources
  • Helps change form a Teacher centric model to a Learner centric model
  • Facilitates bridging of distance in teaching, learning and education
  • Helps shift focus of educational goals to lifelong learning, communications and IT competence, information-based employment, etc
  • Helps build intercultural communities of learners and educators within the Pacific to counter the dominance of external influences

Learning Environment

  • Teaching methods are affected positively through the use of the XO in T & L, including more/improved:
    • Guided Learning by Doing
    • Learner-focused teaching
    • Group learning /sharing/collaboration
    • Inclusion / engagement of all students
    • Curriculum development to suit the new environment
    • Impacts seen in all education sectors, but mostly with early age education (ECE and PE)
  • Active learning and authentic assessment is promoted by the ICT. Examples:
    • Using the Record activity to photograph natural objects studied in science
    • Interacting with students in another country via e-collaborative activity
    • Using TamTam to simulate music from other cultures
    • Using the text-to-speech sythesisor (Speak) to learn how to pronounce new words (i.e. in English)
  • The XO is used to investigate reality and build knowledge
    • Through scientific and measuring tools on the XO
    • Through learning research skills with improved access to resources, on server and via Internet
    • By collecting and analyse data, using the XO
  • Impacts on basic education:
    • Basic literacy and numeracy improved through specific reading/writing and numeracy activities on the XO
    • Localisation features help implement teaching in the vernacular for early ages
  • Improved engagement of students by motivation and challenge, for example
    • Using the word processor (Write) activity with the multimedia functionality to create autobiographies, etc
    • Solving problems using the scientific tools
    • Using the XO adds variety and stimulation
    • Learning embedded in games formats, with multiple levels of challenge
  • The technology provides tools to increase student productivity
    • Using the XO to reduce repetition of low-level tasks and through sharing and building
    • Teachers can review students work on line
  • The ICT is used as scaffolding to promote higher level thinking
    • Modelling / visualisations tools / activities on the XO
    • Allows a deeper study of issues through access to better resources
    • Using word processor (Write) to edit narratives into different tenses, etc.
  • Increased learner independence through use of the ICT
    • Students learn to research and self-learn
    • Access to educational materials and learning via distance
    • Development of Information Literacy skills
  • Increased collaboration and cooperation
    • The XO is unique in that collaboration is a core functionality and principle
    • Group work and activities
    • The ICT can enable participation in activities beyond the school, for instance a marine conservation project involving schools throughout the region
  • Learning is tailored to the learner
    • The Speak activity can be used to read out aloud text from a book, etc
  • Physical disabilities can be overcome
    • Through improved community education, changing attitudes to disabilities
  • Curriculum and supplementary content made available electronically via school server
  • Resources made available over the world wide web for
    • Professional development of teachers
    • Research by students
  • ICT helps teaching practices to be more culturally sensitive. More regionally and locally relevant curriculum resources made available. Examples include:
    • Intercultural exchange within the region is made easier
    • Sharing of educational resources between countries in the Pacific becomes possible
    • Local content development by teachers made possible, locally and collaboratively over distance
  • ICT helps teaching practices keep in tune with student attitudes/aspirations, which are changing because of globalisation.
  • Enables teaching and learning of information literacy
    • Developing skills for the Knowledge economy

School Environment

OLPC projects around the world have seen an improved relationship between the school and the community. This comes from

  • Increased enrolment or improved attendance, absenteeism of teachers and learners reduced
  • Improved discipline
  • Teachers have improved morale and work together to learn to use the laptop
  • Parents take a stronger interest in their child’s education
  • Computers used to inform school administration on student performance, enabling effective change
  • School administration more effective
  • Higher demand / enrolment / retention (teachers and students)
  • Teachers and students regard the XO and OLPC project positively

Teacher Development Indicators

An early indicator of development in teachers is to see the teaching resources they are using and any professional development work they are engaged in. OLPC facilitates

  • Networking and collaborative tools such as UNESCO-TOFI and ‘Wiki Educator’ used by teachers
  • Local content developed by teachers and students
  • Teachers receiving training support via distance mode, and access to continuing education
  • Teachers are able to integrate the use of XO in formal and informal class-work
  • The XO is used in Teaching and Learning
  • Teachers have improved access to resources and training support

The School Within The Wider Community

  • School seen more positively by the community
  • More involvement or active participation of parents in the school
  • Using the ICT to enable learning activities that involve the community
  • Community have improved access to information and communication services
  • Rural economy benefits from improved communications


  1. A Framework to articulate the impact of ICT on Learning in Schools, Dr. C. Paul Newhouse, Western Australian Department of Education, 2002 (Specialist Education Services, Perth)
  2. One Laptop Per Child (OLPC), website,
  3. Tackling the problems of Quality and Disparity in Nepal’s School Education: The OLPC Model, Saurav Dev Bhatta, University of Illinois, 2008
  4. Pacific Voices, Teacher Education on the Move, The PRIDE Project, Pacific Education Series 3, USP, 2007 ISBN 978-982-01-0810-3
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