Talk:Software ideas


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Also, we don't want kids to be punished by rewards.

Will there be terminal software of any sort? I can't imagine using my own Linux computer without the console, rxvt, or xterm; there is such a wealth of undemanding applications available for use at this level.

  Don't see why not.  Maybe that is your contribution...a terminal editor.  Be sure to make it social.  
  Like maybe a button that lets a user invite some other user to share the terminal window so the 
  kids can show stuff to one another easily...  Lee.Sailer 22:10, 23 June 2007 (EDT)

Most of these ideas on the article page seem so solitary...calculator, units converter, and so on. I am trying to think social software and virtual Wiki optimized for kids drawings, or tagging services, or *gasp* something like MySpace. A local do-it-yourself Music Genome project for local music (or teachers, or uncles, or whatever the kids want to rate). Maybe just Usenet-like, optimized for kids, pictures, voice, drawings, or whatever the kids decide is cool. Lee.Sailer 22:11, 23 June 2007 (EDT)

Oh well. Social software and virtual community is cruel to the kid who nobody likes. Imagine the XO network display which shows activity sharing. Lots of kids are sharing. One kid is left out, and everybody else can see this whenever he turns on his XO. Ouch. He'll just leave his XO off to avoid the humiliation. AlbertCahalan 19:33, 3 September 2007 (EDT)
So your point is that something shouldn't be created or implemented because that one kid will feel left out? I think Lee Sailer is onto something, something potentially big. First of all, it should be about what the kids want to do, how they want to use their laptops. And, if MySpace and FaceBook (and the many other Social Network sites) are any indication, kids (and adults) want to connect with the world at large. They want to establish an identity for the online world and they want to socialize online, both with people they know locally and with people on the other side of the world that they've never met in real life. In my mind, OLPC is not about the technology. It's about connecting people to the larger world thru technology. Besides, those kids that nobody likes will be able to find each other, and either become nerds or *gasp* goths.
A social networking site tailored to The Laptop's capabilities and limitations is really the missing component of the project. This is what kids want to do online and with computers. If I correctly comprehend the larger purpose behind OLPC, we want the haves and the have-nots and the have-littles to be connecting, talking, and making friends with each other, regardless of economic or national boundaries. I think Google is pointing the way with its Open Social initiative, but just providing raw frameworks for social networking is not going to be enough. There has to be an actual "place" on the internet to draw the crowd. Perhaps something like Ning would be a good place to start. -- 12:44, 12 November 2007 (EST)

Some software that kids liked

Following is some software that worked with 25 children in a children's home in Metro Manila, Philippines. The children were aged 4 to 11 and this was their first experience with computers.

1. Kids Without (Iceberg v1.0), an Edubuntu derivation. They almost exclusively used gcompris. The children especially liked motor movement activities such as clicking the mouse on pictures and moving pieces around the display. The distro was obtained from:

2. Davidson's Learning Center Phonics, a commercial CD for Windows 95, Windows 3.1 and Macintosh. It was donated, so was "free" to us. They liked the creative voices and creatures displayed, and the rewards given for correctly identifying phonetic combinations (rewards such as sentence builders and some new things that appeared on screen).

3. Much of the JumpStart series ( Commercial again, Windows/Mac again.

Some JumpStart CDs that they liked:

  • Advanced Preschool (liked colors, sound effects, music, pretty artwork)
  • Preschool Fundamentals
  • 2nd Grade Fundamentals
  • Mystery Club Vol. 1


Some software that kids did not like

Some JumpStart CDs they did not like as much:

  • Preschool Art For Fun (limited number of activities; few visual/sound effects)
  • Preschool Language Club (this focused on teaching three or four specific languages, including English)
  • 2nd Grade Field Trip Adventure (complicated navigation; too much work to obtain rewards; rewards were not much to brag about: e.g. put a sticker in a scrap book)

Sorry to break the news, but they showed little interest in any word processing or reading activities.


  • word processing is of course uninteresting until it serves a need. Possible need: write a letter to grandma, write a letter to a boyfriend, make a party invitation, make a sign to taunt another student (sadly, such is life), make a sign to post about a lost dog, etc.
  • reading suffers much of the same, except that the learning curve and benefits are both more extreme. Little nerd kids will read though, and that is really what one should hope for. For political reasons, one can not give laptops only to the kids who will make the best use of them.
  • Of course the reading was uninteresting; you provided addictive video games as an alternative!

Give the kids what they want

I think you both make good points (wandgo and the anonymous poster). Kids, left to their own devices, will probably not want to read or write unless it serves some purpose. The link at the very top of this page makes a good point about not manipulating with rewards, but that doesn't mean we can't or shouldn't consider ways to encourage basic literacy. I think the way to go, if we want to encourage literacy in an open ended way, is thru social networking. Kids will learn on their own to write if they want to establish an identity and express themselves. They will read if they are curious or interested in others. Make it open ended and the kids will fill it with their own content.
I hate to criticize, especially such a worthy project and such worthy people, but this is a glaring missing component to OLPC. I wish I had the skills and the time to create a Social Networking site specifically for OLPC kids. I suspect that many involved with the project really don't know what kids want and instead are focused on what the laptop needs. Kids want to play, and social networks are the new playgrounds. Create the social network, and reading and writing will become both toys and tools for kids. -- 13:05, 12 November 2007 (EST)

On breaking up the 'Teaching Software' section

I propose renaming the section 'Software for Teachers', and breaking it up into some subsections including 'classroom management' (attendance, grading, test making programs, etc), 'lesson planning', and possibly 'presentation software'. Dialectric 19:48, 26 November 2007 (EST)

Early literacy sites with proven activities

These are two sites with activities proven to contribute to English language literacy. The first I'm sure many OLPC persons know about: "Free Reading" is an "open source" reading curriculum. I think that the activities on that site could be the basis of various MaMaMedia, EToys and Memory Game activities. Of course the site itself is a great resource for teachers of English, and possibly other languages. (As a monolingual English speaker with a dusting of Spanish and German, I'm not qualified to say).

The second site is commercial, but its content is visible from the samples you can access for free.

Leveled readers

As kids learn to read they appreciate books they can read themselves. Much of the content I have seen described here at the wiki so far is great read-aloud or listening (audio books) but not good for an emergent reader to attempt on their own. I think basic leveled readers could be made in the form of comic strips (seems to be what they are doing in Nepal -- and what is that Avallain_Basic_Skills software anyway?) and that the kids can build them for each other using sight words (most classrooms teach about 1000 of these - like a the what ... - teachers put them on a "word wall" in the classroom) and classmates names, plus sounding out words using creative spelling, revised with a literate adult.

Anyway there needs to be a group of activities identified for early literacy.

OLPC as an educational tool

The most important topic is to make OLPC a tool. I notice that mose of the suggestions proposed here are mostly about content that should be inserted into OLPC.

Contents are very subjective but tools are not. Tools should be designed in such as way that contents can be created or converted for OLPC easily and then the contents can be used by the targeted students easily as well.

The first question that needs to be answered in what are normal students required to use in normal schools:

1) text books. Text books are compulsary and highly regulated. No matter how good educational programs are, if they don't comply with the educational system syllabus, it will not be of much use. Unfortunately these syllabus will change easily as well. So the aim will be to provide a system to make it easy for the text book authors to write these text books or alternatively to convert whatever text book that are produced into an OLPC readable format.

The OLPC readable format itself must be easily read and searched by students that are supposed to use these text books. Text book formats need only be readable.

2) In line with these text books will be exercise books. These exercise books need to be writeable.

3) Calculators

4) Drawing aids

5) Filing and organising aids

6) Submission aids(File transfer or sharing)

7) Laboratories

I intent to make the above as the first topic for project contributions because it will organise all the propsals below into the above categories.

Othmanskn 09:33, 18 March 2009 (UTC)

Psychometric Assessment Software

I did some voluntary work with homeless children in Calcutta in the late 90's, and was surprised to see schools using a written test to assess the learning potential of children who could not read or write. I returned to Australia and did a PhD demonstrating that a computer based test test(written for the Mac in an ancient scripting language called "Hypertalk") did a better job of assessing the numbers skills of non-English speaking Aboriginal children than government written tests.

Is anyone working on such tools in the OLPC project? I am currently working on a web based version of the my research tool. It is an open source project hosted at I am happy to share source code and swap ideas with people on this project.

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