I finally received my XO -- One Laptop per Child (OLPC) computer and I love it. In December, OLPC was running a Give One - Get One program and for $400 bucks you could get two computers. One gets shipped off to some distant land and you get the other. I jumped on it because I thought this little thing was too good to be true. Now, you can buy one on ebay for $400.
While I was getting used to the shrunken keyboard and checking out every Wi-Fi signal in my neighborhood I was imagining some student in some far off land trying to figure out this new gadget. For me it was a toy, but for the other kid it was a glimpse into a unknown world...maybe. It could be the first camera, audio recorder, notebook, video game, internet access, encyclopedia, light...the student owns...all in one...for less that $200 bucks.
When you think how you could transform the classroom for $200 bucks/kid it really gets you thinking. The XO has this great handle. Students could carry it with them to class and you wouldn't have to go to a "technology room" to do technology. Imagine! The XO also forces you to rethink the notions of Microsoft, Apple and Adobe which is a good thing because the equivalent is out there for free.
I recently put in a grant for an iCart. 32 computers that would have missing keys within a few months (or weeks). They would get lots of wear and tear and be shared by at least 6 other students during the day and most likely be farmed out to other classes at every free moment. For the price of the Macs, I could GIVE every student I teach (~175 students) an XO and have them bring it to class. Not just my class, but every class!! Eight times the fun!
I can foresee a few issues with the XO. It might not be as slick as a Mac/PC and you have to work a little slower, but what if every student walked in the door to your class with a real life 21st century notebook?
One of my favorite things about the XO is that there are no instructions....not really anyway. There are a series of pictures that lay out a few ground rules along the lines of not leaving the XO out in the rain. Clearly, times are changing. Computers come in the mail with no instructions and you can figure them out despite it being different than the traditional platform. On top of that, it only costs $200 (unless you go to ebay).