Friday, December 21, 2007


I have just gotten my nerdy little paws on one of the OLPC computers, and have started to play around with it. It is much smaller than I had thought it would be, but that might make it all the more appealing to the age group that it is intended for!

I played around with it without asking any questions or reading any online information sites, just to get a feel for the unit much like a child might. While it was not the most intuitive interface I have ever used, I am sure that a curious and excited student would be more than capable of getting the basic functions of the system down fairly quickly.

It feels very rugged and tough, the handle is very sturdy, the plastic is thick, the keyboard appears to be spill-proof, and the hinge that opens and closes (and swivels the screen around) also has a nice tough feel to it.

The touch pad was a little confusing. It looks and feels like it goes all the way across the bottom, but in fact only the middle square is the active part of the device. I slid off of it more than a few times while trying to navigate the programs and OS and got a bit frustrated by that.

I had to fiddle a little bit to get it to connect to my wireless network, but when I did, it seemed to have good range, and I could use my connection to connect other OLPC's to the network (a nice feature- leapfrogging units to get more distance from the access point).

There are lots of handy programs already loaded, from word processing, art, music, web browser, video capture (there is a camera on the right side next to the screen) , and several measurement tools. I can see a lot of project-based lessons run from the unit if it is in the right teacher's hands! I even think that this would be good for a child to use on their own, too. The computer can definitely allow a child to experiment, write, draw, compose, and research very easily and efficiently.

The OLPC is most definitely a great learning tool, and I hope that I will be seeing it more in the hands of students and teachers everywhere. I cannot wait to see what tools are developed for it, and how students and teachers use this tool to reach their learning goals!

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