[Editors note: any mistakes in this post are the editor’s, not the contributor’s. PB] Nicholas Negroponte, chairman of One Laptop per Child (OLPC), originally wished to provide inexpensive laptops to poor children in developing countries. That seminal vision is now being realized in places like the rural community of Gaire in Papua New Guinea where the deployment of laptops is attested to by the canonical images of eager children gazing upon their new devices.
Yet from the beginning some observers wanted low-priced individually-allocated laptops distributed in developed countries too. One commentator said “To have the United States be the only country that’s not in the OLPC agenda would be kind of ridiculous.” Indeed those were the words of Nicholas Negroponte, himself.
So we now have pictures of engrossed young students at the elementary school P.S. 5 in the Bronx in New York City. The blog OLPC in NYC is documenting the project and it says that in the pilot school, P.S. 5, “every child will receive an XO laptop”. Teaching Matters, an educational non-profit, is donating XO laptops to selected NYC classrooms. Laptops have already been placed in the Kappa IV middle school in NYC as reported in OLPC News.
The purpose of the pilot is two-fold. First, we want to determine if the OLPC device can significantly lower the cost of technology access for schools by lowering the total cost of ownership (hardware and ongoing maintenance.) Second, we will test this environment in conjunction with a curriculum designed to improve teacher practice in the teaching of writing. The curriculum has been designed to take best advantage of one to one computing environments.
The NYC laptop story was covered in the New York Sun. The city of Birmingham, Alabama, also has a pilot program with XO laptops.