In January of 2005, Nicholas Negroponte conceptualized a ‘$100’ laptop that could be provided to children in developing countries. That same month, Negroponte formed the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) program, charged with developing the laptop around his design and creating relationships with countries for their distribution towards the realization of its mission statement: “To eliminate poverty and create world peace by providing education to the poorest and most remote children on the planet by making them more active in their own learning, through collaborative and creative activities, connected to the Internet, with their own laptop, as a human right and cost free to them.”
The laptop itself, dubbed the ‘XO-1,’ is designed to be rugged, easily-recognizable, versatile, and intuitive. All motor-driven components were either intentionally omitted or replaced with alternatives, such as a solid state hard drive like those found in USB drives instead of a conventional hard disc unit. A distinctive green bezel and ‘rabbit-ear’ WiFi antennae make the XO-1 easy to identify. Software-side, a unique version of Linux called ‘Sugar’ was created with the goal of having an operating system that was easy to learn and use by individuals who had never before interacted with a computer.
This year, The College of Wooster’s Office of Information Technology began exploring the possibility of creating a course around the One Laptop Per Child program to study the relationships between the cultural and economic structures of developing countries as well as the social ramifications of introducing novel technological devices into those countries as a tool for greater learning. This course would be realized as a Program in Interdisciplinary Studies (PIDS) in the 2009-2010 academic year; any faculty members who feel that such a course would be appropriate to their discipline or area of research are encouraged to contact the Instructional Technology Department. A number of ‘XO-1’ laptops are available from the Instructional Technology department for interested faculty members to learn more about the devices.
For more information, visit the OLPC website.