Laptop Per Child
The OLPC project will go a long way in boosting the education and awareness levels of school-going children, not only in America, but in the world over. The project seeks to equip each such child with a specially designed, connected XO laptop computer, through which the learner is able to access learning materials, as well as connect and share with children in other parts of the world, in this fast-paced digital era (One Laptop per Child, 2013).
The XO laptop is fitted with cloud computing-enabled software and other computer-based tools, through which the user can easily access homework, text books and other learning materials online (One Laptop per Child, 2013). This will tremendously expand the reading and writing skills, as well as knowledge of these children, especially in the most underdeveloped of economies, where such crucial material would be costly and difficult to access. In this way, even those children from the hardship areas are able to access decent learning mechanisms, and gain skills that are crucial to their future personal development and work lives. Moreover, learners can, through the internet, better understand the cultures and workings of other nations, as well as virtually share their interests, passions and learning experiences with children in other environments (One Laptop per Child, 2013). This would naturally have the effect of fostering maturation, growth, and a passion for learning.
The OLPC is an admirable project which will obviously go a long way in the fight against inequality and poverty. However, like any noble project, the OLPC faces a number of challenges. The children who benefit from the same would be subject to insecurity, especially from unscrupulous traders wishing to steal and then sell the same off at throw-away prices (Setzer, 2009). Secondly, there is the risk of grades deteriorating, especially if the computer is used for futile purposes, thereby shifting the learner’s attention from school activities. These issues are, however, uncommon in developed economies such as the United States, and have been reported to be more prevalent in the LDCs. Brazil and Peru offer perfect examples in this regard. This deviation can mainly be attributed to the differences in policy responses (Setzer, 2009). The developed nations have highly sophisticated control mechanisms, which ensure low markets for stolen XO gadgets, and high levels of parental supervision. These kinds of policies either lack, or are very inefficiently enacted in the LDCs (Setzer, 2009).
Through cloud computing, an XO laptop user will be able to access all the programs relevant to his or her learning requirements by simply logging in to a host web-based provider (Strickland, 2013). This saves cost, in that developers will not have to install a different software suite to each computer (Strickland, 2013). Moreover, data safety is ensured as the programs can only be accessed through keying in the correct password and user details.
In my opinion, the XO computer will highly boost levels of interaction and literacy all over the world. It will create a sense of belonging, to both the children who benefit, as well as to their families; and more people will begin to feel as part of the global world. This way, people from all walks of life, and not only the elite, can reap and appreciate the benefits of globalization and digitalization.
The benefits of the OLPC project are evident. It was established with an aim of reducing inequality by providing decent learning opportunities to children who would otherwise have no access to the same (One Laptop per Child, 2013). In order to achieve this, the project developers need to reach out to children in extreme localities, which have been literally locked out of development and developmental projects. People in such areas would ordinarily be strict followers of culture. The best way to get them on-board would be by incorporating these cultures into the design of the XO gadget. Culture is depicted through music, art, etc. The XO developers could, for instance, incorporate features that provide for the capturing and storage of such people’s cultural music (Shah, n.d.). Incorporating cultures in such ways could ensure easier acceptance, and diffusion of the XO computer in these extreme localities (Shah, n.d.).
One Laptop per Child. (2013). One Laptop per Child. Retrieved from http://one.laptop.org/
Setzer, V.W. (2009). A Critical View of the One Laptop per Child Project. University of Sao Paulo. Retrieved from http://www.ime.usp.br/~vwsetzer/OLPC.html
Shah, N. (n.d.). A Blurry Vision: Reconsidering the Failure of the One Laptop per Child Initiative. BU: Arts and Science Writing Program. Retrieved from http://www.bu.edu/writingprogram/journal/past-issues/issue-3/shah/
Strickland, J. (2013). How Cloud Computing Works. How Stuff Works. Retrieved from http://computer.howstuffworks.com/cloud-computing/cloud-computing.htm
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