Tag Archives: OLPC

One Laptop Per Child Canada


The OLPC has come to Canada.  While touting itself as a highly successful and well-embraced initiative, this controversial pilot program is set to distribute up to 5,000 XO (next generation) laptops to children aged six to twelve in Aboriginal communities across Canada.  The funding comes from major corporate sponsors (Air Canada, Vale, BMO Financial), the Belinda Stronach Foundation, and the government of Ontario.

The slogan of OLPC programs around the world is “it’s not a laptop project, it’s an education project.”  Youth participating in this program will be accessing “culturally relevant” programming with their new netbooks.   The program mentions that Aboriginal youth are the “fastest growing population in Canada,” and have been underserviced through traditional education opportunities.   OLPC has 30 different programs and 8 of them are customized for Aboriginal youth:

  • Owl Vision (Literacy)
  • Swift Feet (Physical Fitness)
  • Healthy Heart (Food & Nutrition)
  • Ekominiville (Financial Literacy)
  • The Meeting Place (Mental Health, Substance Use & Well Being)
  • Calm Waters (Water Safety)
  • Future Generation (Virtual Library)
  • Drum Beats (Science of Sound)

The idea is that children will use the laptops and the culturally designed curriculum above to become more connected with the world, each-other, their culture, and traditions.  Ultimately, this will allow them to be more engaged learners and brighten the future for everyone.

Many of the schools participating in the pilot phase that is set to begin soon are rural schools and spread throughout Canada (13 schools in 7 provinces).   I think the aims of this project are laudable, and some of the books, tutorials, reading links presented in the curriculum are excellent (view here).

I am leery about this pilot because of the history of failure that has marked many 1:1 laptop programs.  The Kelowna school district ran into significant problems when it implemented a 1:1 laptop pilot.  OLPC Canada will have to address all of the concerns (tech support, finances, training) that have plagued past projects plus meet the challenges of being culturally sensitive…that is a tall order for anyone.

The Belinda Stronach Foundation


As mentioned in my previous post, I would do more research on The Belinda Stronach Foundation (BSF). Interestingly enough, I came across more information about the laptop distribution to aboriginal children across Canada. On its website, The BSF states that it “builds partnerships with individuals, non-governemental organizations, businesses large and small, as well as other foundations who work in Canada and around the world to confront global challenges and innovative solutions”. In February 2010, the BSF release a presentation called “One Laptop per Child (OLPC): Creating a Better Future for Aboriginal Children in Canada using Technology”. The presentation gives an overview of what OLPC is, where it is already in use, and why it should be used in Canada for aboriginal children and youth. This presentation does not go into detail about the outcome for Canadian aboriginal users as the evaluation of the program does not occur until October, 2011. I would be very interested to follow up on this.

Aboriginal Children Get Laptops


This article from CBC News (September 29th, 2010) talks about Belinda Stronach Foundation giving 5,000 laptops to aboriginal children across Canada. These computers were given to children between ages 6 and 12. Each computer was supposed to be equipped with 8 software programs tha focus on variou issues facing aboriginal youth. What is interesting to me is that the computers come with a virtual library that includes titles by aboriginal authors.

Since this article is from 2010, I am very curious about the outcome of the laptop distribution. I will try to search for more information about the Belinda Stronach Foundation and also see if there are any more recent distribution of technologies to aboriginal children and youth.