One Laptop per Child


One Laptop per Child
One Laptop per Child
Formation January 2005
Type Non-profit
Headquarters Cambridge, Massachusetts
Official languages Multilingual
Chairman Nicholas Negroponte
Key people Rodrigo Arboleda Halaby, Seymour Papert, Alan Kay, Mitch Bradley
Website one.laptop.org
A short video covering OLPC's main mission principles

One Laptop per Child (OLPC) is a project of the Miami-based One Laptop per Child Association, Inc. (OLPC-A), a U.S. non-profit organization set up to oversee the creation of an affordable educational device for use in the developing world. The organization was originally funded by member organizations such as AMD, eBay, Google, News Corporation, Red Hat, and Marvell. Its current focus is on the development, construction and deployment of the XO-1 laptop and its successors. There is also a Cambridge-based non-profit foundation, One Laptop per Child Foundation, Inc. (OLPC-F) led by its Chairman Nicholas Negroponte,[1] which focuses on fund-raising and the development of future learning technologies, including the OLPC XO-3 tablet.

Contents

History

At the 2006 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) announced it would back the laptop. UNDP released a statement saying they would work with OLPC to deliver "technology and resources to targeted schools in the least developed countries".[2]

The project originally aimed for a price of 100 US dollars. In May 2006, Negroponte told the Red Hat's annual user summit: "It is a floating price. We are a nonprofit organization. We have a target of $100 by 2008, but probably it will be $135, maybe $140."[3] A BBC news article in April 2010 indicated the price still remains above $200.[4]

Mass production

OLPC XO-1 original design proposal

Intel was a member of the association for a brief period in 2007. It resigned its membership on 3 January 2008, citing disagreements with requests from OLPC's founder, Nicholas Negroponte, for Intel to stop dumping their Classmate PCs.[5][6]

Ivan Krstić (former OLPC Director of Security Architecture) resigned in late February 2008 because, he said, learning was not what the OLPC was about even for Negroponte (see quote below).[7][8] On April 22, 2008, Walter Bender, who was the former President of Software and Content for the OLPC project, stepped down from his post and left OLPC to found Sugar Labs. Bender reportedly had a disagreement with Negroponte about the future of the OLPC and their future partnerships.[7] Negroponte also showed some doubt about the exclusive use of open source software for the project[9] and made suggestions supporting a move towards adding Windows XP which Microsoft was in the process of porting over to the XO hardware.[10] Microsoft's Windows XP, however, is not seen by some as a sustainable operating system.[11] Microsoft announced on May 16, 2008, that they have let them have Windows XP for $3 per computer.[12] It would be offered as an option on XO-1 laptops and possibly be able to dual boot alongside Linux.[13]

OLPC XO-1 laptop in Ebook-Mode.

Charles Kane became the new President and Chief Operating Officer of the OLPC Association on May 2, 2008.[14][15] In late 2008, the NYC Department of Education began a project to purchase large numbers of XO computers for use by New York schoolchildren.[16]

Advertisements for OLPC began streaming on the video streaming website Hulu and others in 2008. One such ad has John Lennon advertising for OLPC, with an unknown voice actor redubbing over Lennon's voice.[17]

The 2008 economic downturn and increased netbook competition reduced OLPC's annual budget from $12 million to $5 million and a major restructuring resulted effective January 7, 2009. Development of the Sugar operating environment was moved entirely into the community, the Latin America support organization was spun out and staff reductions, including Jim Gettys, affected approximately 50% of the paid employees. The remaining 32 staff members also saw salary reductions.[18][19]

Technology

OLPC XO-1 laptop

The XO-1, previously known as the "$100 Laptop" or "Children's Machine", is an inexpensive laptop computer designed to be distributed to children in developing countries around the world,[20] to provide them with access to knowledge, and opportunities to "explore, experiment and express themselves" (constructionist learning).[21] The laptop is manufactured by the Taiwanese computer company Quanta Computer.

The rugged, low-power computers use flash memory instead of a hard drive, run a Fedora-based operating system and use the Sugar user interface.[22] Mobile ad-hoc networking based on the 802.11s wireless mesh network protocol allows students to collaborate on activities and to share Internet access from one connection. The wireless networking has much greater range than typical consumer laptops. The XO-1 has also been designed to be lower cost and much longer-lived than typical laptops.

OLPC XO-2 design study (retired)

The laptops include an anti-theft system which can, optionally, require each laptop to periodically make contact with a server to renew its cryptographic lease token. If the cryptographic lease expires before the server is contacted, the laptop will be locked until a new token is provided. The contact may be to a country-specific server over a network or to a local, school-level server that has been manually loaded with cryptographic "lease" tokens that enable a laptop to run for days or even months between contacts. Cryptographic lease tokens can be supplied on a USB flash drive for non-networked schools.[23] The mass production laptops are also tivoized, disallowing installation of additional software or replacement of the operating system. Users interested in development need to obtain the unlocking key separately (most developer laptops for Western users already come unlocked). It is claimed that locking prevents unintentional bricking and is part of the anti-theft system.[24]

Microsoft developed a modified version of Windows XP and announced in May 2008 that Windows XP will be available for an additional cost of 10 dollars per laptop.[25]

XO-3 concept

In 2009, OLPC announced an updated XO (dubbed XO-1.5) that takes advantage of the latest component technologies. The XO-1.5 includes a new VIA C7-M processor and a new chipset providing a 3D graphics engine and an HD video decoder. It has 1GB of RAM and built-in storage of 4 GB, with an option for 8 GB. The XO-1.5 uses the same display, and a network wireless interface with half the power dissipation.[26] Early prototype versions of the hardware were available in June 2009, and they are available for software development and testing available for free through a developer's program.[27]

XO-3 concept

An XO-1.75 model is being developed that will use an ARM processor, targeting a price below $150 and date in 2011.[28]

An XO-3 concept resembles a tablet computer and is planned to have the inner workings of the XO 1.75.[29] Price goal is below $100 and date is 2012.[30] The XO-2 two sheet design concept was canceled in favor of the one sheet XO-3.

As of May 2010, OLPC is working with Marvell on other unspecified future tablet designs.[31] In October 2010, both OLPC and Marvell signed an agreement granting OLPC $5.6 million to fund development of its XO-3 next generation tablet computer. The tablet should use a ARM chip from Marvell.[32]

Distribution

Distribution model

At a primary school in Kigali, Rwanda in 2009

The laptops are sold to governments,[33] to be distributed through the ministries of education with the goal of distributing "one laptop per child". The laptops are given to students, similar to school uniforms and ultimately remain the property of the child. The operating system and software is localized to the languages of the participating countries.

Early deployments

Approximately 500 developer boards (Alpha-1) were distributed in mid-2006; 875 working prototypes (Beta 1) were delivered in late 2006; 2400 Beta-2 machines were distributed at the end of February 2007;[34] full-scale production started November 6, 2007.[35] Around one million units were manufactured in 2008.

Give 1 Get 1 program

OLPC initially stated that no consumer version of the XO laptop was planned.[36] The project, however, later established the laptopgiving.org website to accept direct donations and ran a "Give 1 Get 1" (G1G1) offer starting on November 12, 2007. The offer was initially scheduled to run for only two weeks, but was extended until December 31, 2007 to meet demand. With a donation of $399 (plus US$25 shipping cost) to the OLPC "Give 1 Get 1" program, donors received an XO-1 laptop of their own and OLPC sent another on their behalf to a child in a developing country. Shipments of "Get 1" laptops sent to donors were restricted to addresses within the United States, its territories, and Canada.

Some 83,500 people participated in the program. Delivery of all of the G1G1 laptops was completed by April 19, 2008.[37] Delays were blamed on order fulfillment and shipment issues both within OLPC and with the outside contractors hired to manage those aspects of the G1G1 program.[38]

Give 1 Get 1 2008

Between November 17 and December 31, 2008, a second G1G1 program[39] was run through Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk.[40] This partnership was chosen specifically to solve the distribution issues of the G1G1 2007 program. The price to consumers was the same as in 2007, at US$399.

The program aimed to be available worldwide. Laptops could be delivered in the USA, in Canada and in more than 30 European countries, as well as in some Central and South American countries (Colombia, Haiti, Peru, Uruguay, Paraguay), African countries (Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria, Madagascar, Rwanda) and Asian countries (Afghanistan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Nepal).[41] Despite this, the program sold only about 12,500 laptops and generated a mere $2.5 million – a 93 percent decline from the year before.[42]

Promotional Efforts

OLPC no longer advertises direct to consumers, focusing instead on fundraising efforts.[citation needed] In 2011, they launched a new website designed by Pentagram[43] and Upstatement.[44]

Deployment of XO laptops

Summary of laptop orders

Year Confirmed number (approximate) Date confirmed Purchaser
2007 100,000 October 2007 Uruguay[45][46]
15,000 November 14, 2007 Birmingham, Alabama, United States[47]
260,000 December 1, 2007 Peru[48]
50,000 December 1, 2007 Mexico (Mexican businessman Carlos Slim)[49]
167,000 January 5, 2008 G1G1 2007 program[48]
2008
+200,000 June 2008 Uruguay[50]
+30,000 October 2008 Peru[51]
10,000 November 10, 2008 Ghana[52]
12,500 January 9, 2009 G1G1 2008 program[42]
2009 5,000 April 24, 2009 Sierra Leone
250,000 April 24, 2009 India[53]
120,000 May 14, 2009 Rwanda[54]
+160,000 October 13, 2009 Uruguay (total: 362,000 children, 18000 teachers)
2010 +260,000 March 17, 2010 Peru[55]
+60,000 April 13, 2010 Argentina[56]
+320,000 December 26, 2010 Peru[57]
2011 9,000 May 27, 2011 Paraguay[citation needed]
+12,000 Nov, 2011 Colombia
Total 2,093,500    

Participating countries

The first of shipment OLPC machines in Cambridge, MA
Children in a remote Cambodian school where a pilot laptop program has been in place since 2001

In October 2007, Uruguay placed an order for 100,000 laptops, making Uruguay the first country to purchase a full order of laptops. The first real, non-pilot deployment of the OLPC technology happened in Uruguay in December 2007.[45] Since then, 200,000 more laptops have been ordered to cover all public school children between 6 and 12 years old.

President Tabaré Vázquez of Uruguay presented the final laptop at a school in Montevideo on 13 October 2009.[58] Over the last two years 362,000 pupils and 18,000 teachers have been involved, and has cost the state $260 (£159) per child, including maintenance costs, equipment repairs, training for the teachers and internet connection.[58] The annual cost of maintaining the programme, including an information portal for pupils and teachers, will be US$21 (£13) per child.[58]

The country reportedly became the first in the world where every primary school child received a free laptop on 13 October 2009 as part of the Plan Ceibal (Education Connect).[58][59] However, the South Pacific island nation of Niue also claimed this in August 2008.[60]

Laptops have been delivered to the following countries, either following an order or as part of the Give One Get One program:

  • Africa and Middle East
    • Ethiopia (5,000 laptops received from G1G1 program)
    • Gaza (2,100 laptops received)
    • Ghana (10,000 laptops ordered)
    • Rwanda (20,000 laptops received from G1G1 program, 100,000 laptops ordered)[61]
    • Sierra Leone (5,000 laptops ordered)
  • Americas
    • Argentina (60,000 laptops ordered)
    • Colombia (20,000 laptops ordered)
    • Haiti (13,000 laptops received from G1G1 program)
    • Mexico (50,000 laptops ordered by businessman Carlos Slim)
    • Peru (870,000 laptops ordered, most recently in December 2010)[62]
    • United States of America (15,000 laptops ordered by Birmingham, Alabama)[63][64][65]
    • Uruguay (380,000+ given to 1-6 students and teachers, completing the initial objective.[66][67] 90,000 ordered in 2010 for high-school students).[67]
  • Asia
    • Afghanistan (11,000 laptops received from G1G1 program)
    • Cambodia (3,200 laptops received from G1G1 program)
    • Mongolia (10,000 laptops received from G1G1 program)[68]
  • Oceania

OLPC in the United States

Originally, OLPC announced the United States would not be part of this effort. In 2008, Nicholas Negroponte said "OLPC America already has a director and a chairman and will likely be based in Washington, D.C.,"[71] however such an organization was not set up. As of 2010, Birmingham, Alabama is the largest deployment in the US. Some said the changing economic landscape forced OLPC to adjust their distribution strategy. Negroponte cited patriotism, "building critical mass", and providing a means for children all over the world to communicate.

Criticism

An OLPC class in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

The OLPC project has received criticism both specific to its mission and criticism that is typical of many such systems, such as support, ease-of-use, security, content-filtering and privacy issues. Officials in some countries have criticized the project for its appropriateness in terms of price, cultural emphasis and priority as compared to other basic needs of people in third-world settings.

Approach

Thank You from the Children of OLPC

At The World Summit on the Information Society held by the United Nations in Tunisia from November 16–18, 2005, several African officials, most notably Marthe Dansokho of Cameroon and Mohammed Diop of Mali, voiced suspicions towards the motives of the OLPC project and claimed that the project was using an overly U.S. mindset that presented solutions not applicable to specifically African problems. Dansokho said the project demonstrated misplaced priorities, stating that clean water and schools were more important for African women, who, he stated, would not have time to use the computers to research new crops to grow. Diop specifically attacked the project as an attempt to exploit the governments of poor nations by making them pay for hundreds of millions of machines.[72] Others have similarly criticized laptop deployments in very low income countries, regarding them as cost-ineffective when compared to far simpler measures such as deworming and other expenses on basic child health.[73]

Lee Felsenstein, a computer engineer who played a central role in the development of the personal computer, criticized the centralized, top-down design and distribution of the OLPC, calling it "imperialistic”.[74]

John Wood, founder of Room to Read, emphasizes affordability and scalability over high-tech solutions. While in favor of the One Laptop per Child initiative for providing education to children in the developing world at a cheaper rate, he has pointed out that a $2,000 library can serve 400 children, costing just $5 a child to bring access to a wide range of books in the local languages (such as Khmer or Nepali) and English; also, a $10,000 school can serve 400–500 children ($20–$25 a child). According to Wood, these are more appropriate solutions for education in the dense forests of Vietnam or rural Cambodia.[75]

The Scandinavian aid organization FAIR proposed setting up computer labs with recycled second-hand computers as a more economical alternative.[76] Computer Aid International doubted the OLPC sales strategy would succeed, citing the "untested" nature of its technology. CAI refurbishes computers and printers and sends them to developing countries.[77]

The OLPC project has also been criticized for allegedly adopting a "one-shot" deployment approach with little or no technical support or teacher training, and for neglecting pilot programs and formal assessment of outcomes in favor of quick deployment. Some authors attribute this unconventional approach to the OLPC promoters' alleged focus on constructivist education and 'digital utopianism'.[73]

Open source vs. dual-boot systems

OLPC's dedication to "Free and open source" was questioned with their May 15, 2008, announcement that large-scale purchasers would be offered the choice to add an extra cost, special version of the proprietary Windows XP OS developed by Microsoft alongside the regular, free and open Linux-based "Sugar" OS. James Utzschneider, from Microsoft, said that initially only one operating system could be chosen.[78][79] OLPC, however, said that future OLPC work would enable XO-1 laptops to dual boot either the free and open Linux/Sugar OS or the proprietary Microsoft Windows XP. Negroponte further said that "OLPC will sell Linux-only and dual-boot, and will not sell Windows-only [XO-1 laptops]". OLPC released the first test firmware enabling XO-1 dual-boot on July 3, 2008.[78][80][81][82][83]

Negroponte and Charles Kane made statements explaining OLPC's decision to enable XO-1 laptops to dual-boot either open source Fedora or proprietary Microsoft Windows XP:

[Nicholas] Negroponte says that within OLPC, the open-source scrap had become a distraction. "I think that means and ends, as often happens, got confused," he says. "The mission is learning and children. The means of achieving that were, amongst others, open source and constructionism. In the process of doing that, open source in particular became an end in itself, and we made decisions along the way to remain very pure in open source that were not in the long-term interest of the project."
Nicholas Negroponte, May 2, 2008, [84]
"The OLPC mission is a great endeavor, but the mission is to get the technology in the hands of as many children as possible," [Charles Kane] said. "Whether that technology is from one operating system or another, one piece of hardware or another, or supplied or supported by one consulting company or another doesn't matter." "It's about getting it into kids' hands," he continued. "Anything that is contrary to that objective, and limits that objective, is against what the program stands for."
—Charles Kane, OLPC President and COO, May 2, 2008, [84]

Teacher training and ongoing support

The organisation's strategy of simply giving underprivileged children laptops and "walking away" has been criticised because "laptops are getting opened and turned on, but then kids and teachers are getting frustrated by hardware and software bugs, don't understand what to do, and promptly box them up to put back in the corner."[85] This "drive-by" implementation model is the official strategy of the OLPC project, and the mantra "You Can Give Kids XO Laptops and Just Walk Away" are Negroponte's own words.[86]

According to a previous intern, teachers in Peru were given very limited training on how to both use and fix the laptops. The intern observed that in most cases software and hardware issues would result in students becoming too frustrated with the laptops to want to continue working with them.

Hardware and Software Bugs

As is the case with all software, there are bugs present the OLPC's pre-installed programs and the Sugar OS. This is not anything new, however the organisation has been criticised for its lack of troubleshooting support. Teachers in Peru are told to handle problems in one of two ways. If the problem is a software issue, they are to flash the computer, and if it is a hardware problem, they are to report it. In the classroom environment this black-boxing approach is being criticised for causing the teachers and students to feel disconnected with, and confused by the laptop, which results, in many cases, in the laptops eventually going unused.[87] Several defects in OLPC XO-1 hardware have emerged in the field, and laptop repair is often neglected by students or their families (who are responsible for maintenance) due to the relatively high cost of some components (such as displays).[73]

On the software side, the Bitfrost security system has been known to deactivate improperly, rendering the laptop unusable until it is unlocked by support technicians with the proper keys. (This is a time-consuming process, and the problem often affects large numbers of laptops at the same time). The Sugar interface has been difficult for teachers to learn, and the mesh networking feature in the OLPC XO-1 was buggy and went mostly unused in the field.[73]

The OLPC XO-1 hardware lacks connectivity to external monitors or projectors, and teachers are not provided with software for remote assessment. As a result, students are unable to present their work to the whole class, and teachers must also assess students' work from the individual laptops. Teachers often find it difficult to use the keyboard and screen, which were designed with student use in mind.[73]

Environmental issues

In 2005 and prior to the final design of the XO-1 hardware, OLPC received criticism because of concerns over the environmental and health impacts of hazardous materials found in most computers.[88] The OLPC asserted that it aimed to use as many environmentally friendly materials as it could; that the laptop and all OLPC-supplied accessories would be fully compliant with the EU's Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive (RoHS); and that the laptop would use an order of magnitude less power than the typical consumer notebooks available as of 2007 thus minimizing the environmental burden of power generation.[89]

The XO-1 delivered (starting in 2007) uses environmental friendly materials, complies with the EU's RoHS and uses between 0.25 and 6.5 watts[90] in operation. According to the Green Electronics Council's Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool, whose sole purpose is assessing and measuring the impact laptops have on the environment, the XO is not only non-toxic and fully recyclable, but it lasts longer, costs less, and is more energy efficient. The XO-1 is the first laptop to have been awarded an EPEAT Gold level rating.[91][92]

Nigeria

Lagos Analysis Corp., also called Lancor, a Lagos, US-based Nigerians owned company, sued OLPC in the end of 2007 for $20 million, claiming that the computer's keyboard design was stolen from a Lancor patented device.[93] OLPC responded by claiming that they had not sold any multi-lingual keyboards in the design claimed by Lancor,[94] and that Lancor had misrepresented and concealed material facts before the court.[95] In January 2008, the Nigerian Federal Court rejected OLPC motion to dismiss LANCOR's lawsuit and extended its injunction against OLPC distributing its XO Laptops in Nigeria. OLPC appealed the Court's decision, the Appeal is still pending in the Nigerian Federal Court of Appeals. In March 2008 OLPC filed a lawsuit in Massachusetts to stop LANCOR from suing it in the United States.[96] In October 2008, MIT News magazine erroneously reported that the Middlesex Superior Court granted OLPC’s motions to dismiss all of LANCOR’s claims against OLPC, Nicholas Negroponte, and Quanta.[97] On October 22, 2010 OLPC voluntarily moved the Massachusetts Court to dismiss its own lawsuit against LANCOR.

Other discussions question whether OLPC laptops should be designed to promote anonymity or to facilitate government tracking of stolen laptops. A recent New Scientist article critiqued Bitfrost's P_THEFT security option, which allows each laptop to be configured to transmit an individualized, non-repudiable digital signature to a central server at most once each day to remain functioning.[98]

In 2007, XO laptops in Nigeria were reported to contain pornographic material belonging to children participating in the OLPC Program.[99] In response, OLPC made plans for adding content filters.[99] The OLPC foundation maintained the position that such issues were societal, not laptop related.[100] Similar responses have led some to suggest the OLPC takes an indifferent stance concerning this issue.[101] According to Wayan Vota Senior Director at Inveneo and founder of the independent OLPC News, "The use of computers to look at porn is [a] social problem, not a hardware one... Children have to be taught what's good and what's bad, based on the cultural context."[102][103]

India

India's Ministry of Human Resource Development, in June 2006, rejected the initiative, saying “it would be impossible to justify an expenditure of this scale on a debatable scheme when public funds continue to be in inadequate supply for well-established needs listed in different policy documents”.[104][105] Later they stated plans to make laptops at $10 each for schoolchildren. Two designs submitted to the Ministry from a final year engineering student of Vellore Institute of Technology and a researcher from the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore in May 2007 reportedly describe a laptop that could be produced for "$47 per laptop" for even small volumes.[106] The Ministry announced in July 2008 that the cost of their proposed "$10 laptop" would in fact be $100 by the time the laptop became available.[107] This project is called Sakshat. In 2009 a combination of states announced plans to order 250,000 OLPCs.[108][109]

In 2010, a $35 Sakshat Tablet was unveiled in India.[110][111]

See also

References

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  54. ^ 120,000 XO Laptops Headed to OLPC Rwanda
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  93. ^ "Lawsuit over keyboard design."
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  95. ^ "Discussion of the OLPCs first legal response to the Lancor lawsuit at groklaw.net"
  96. ^ "Nigerian patent suit still dogs OLPC "
  97. ^ "OLPC Patent Infringement Suit Dismissed by Middlesex Judge"
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  107. ^ Presented by CDW (July 29, 2008). "India's '$10 Laptop' to Cost US$100 After All - Business Center - PC World". Pcworld.com. http://www.pcworld.com/businesscenter/article/149131/indias_10_laptop_to_cost_us100_after_all.html. Retrieved 2008-12-05. 
  108. ^ OLPC's Negroponte offers to help India realize $35 tablet, http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/news/2010/08/olpcs-negroponte-offers-to-help-india-realize-35-tablet.ars?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=rss 
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