One Laptop Per Child

One laptop per child posts the following as its mission statement:

Mission Statement: To create educational opportunities for the world’s poorest children by providing each child with a rugged, low-cost, low-power, connected laptop with content and software designed for collaborative, joyful, self-empowered learning.

Personally I view OLPC as great starting point for e-learning as it provides the basic tool required to access the wired world.  I once helped ship books to Africa as part of a community service club.  It was time consuming heavy and costly.  The amount of knowledge that we sent was worth less then the cost of the books.  If one could access that information times 100 for only 100$ I think it would be well worth the cost.  Here is OLPC cubed, granted it doesn’t work that well.

Market Focus:

OLPC is focused on bringing learning to the poorest countries through the form of a laptop and the software and hardware that it contains.  The aim is the K-12 market, with the residuel efect of educating those that care for the children.

Type of Offering:

OLPC offers content and services.  The laptop is both hardware and software equipped and training and costume materials can be included.

Who is the Buyer:

So far the buyers have been at the national level including countries such as Nigeria and now Rawanda.  The Laptops have been bought on scale to the 100,000 range.

Global Market

The globe is the market, but specifically countries with high rates of poverty and low education.

Development of Market:

Market does not support Learning technologies.  The solution will be funded at national or international level.  The company tried a buy one give one laptop program.

Learning Technology Competing with other forms of Learning:

OLPC is advocating education.  I don not feel as if it views it self as in competition with other forms of education.


1 Noah Burdett { 09.27.09 at 1:30 pm }

I have used one before and they are amazing for their size.

2 Barrie Carter { 09.27.09 at 3:55 pm }

3 James Richardson { 09.27.09 at 5:30 pm }

I examined the OLPC for an earlier MET course. I viewed it with significant scepticism when I started my research but I am a firm OLPC convert. I haven’t followed it for about 18 months so I am out of the loop but I am quite interested on how some of the early adopters have faired. Nigeria had just entered the program when I wrapped up my assessment. The XO is purpose built and I took advantage of donate one/get one event to see them in action.

4 Sean McMinn { 09.27.09 at 6:00 pm }

Interesting points. While I dp support the principles of OLPC, I question some things, such as the issue of culture and whether countries would apply the programme as it is set out to do. Perhaps, the biggest issue would be how the learning technology imposes and competes with existing learning systems (mostly cultural or socially accepts ones).


5 davidp { 09.27.09 at 8:44 pm }

I’m back up at Barry’s comment re. the XO OLPC computer competing with cheaper and cheaper netbooks. Does it really have a future?

I’m using a $325 MSI Wind right now as my home computer. I’ve hacked it to run Mac OS X 10.5.7 (a hackintosh), and it works perfectly.

One would think that developing countries, or even developed countries with a real interest in this strategy could drive the price down close to zero as is the Chris Anderson (Wired Magazine) contention for the future of commodity technologies.

Free! Why $0.00 Is the Future of Business.

The real issues may be more closely associated with the points Sean raises in his note.


6 David Vogt { 09.28.09 at 9:22 am }

This is a great discussion to anticipate some M7 issues.

I’ve been close to the OLPC roll-out through my work with Project Inkwell. While a huge fan of the underlying potential within networking our planet’s learners in economical ways, I have considerable reservations about the OLPC’s ability to understand and execute effectively. The cultural imperialism (as noted by Sean) of OLPC is difficult to swallow.

A very interesting and rather tragic part of this story is how a few global computer companies (I won’t name them) have unscrupulously manipulated the OLPC and other initiatives in this arena, purely for profit.

Yet this is hardly the first time on our planet that the good intentions of the western world have combined with cultural ignorance and corporate greed to leave third-world dreams unfulfilled. In my mind OLPC is another perfect case study in a course that humanity overall continues to fail in.

7 Noah Burdett { 09.28.09 at 6:57 pm }

Great discussion,

I am curious about the cultural ignorance/imperialism aspect of OLPC. Do the ordering countries have the ability to influence certain software or program components? For example what are the language options?

Or is OLPC simply another form of forced education on peoples that have previously learned in different ways? Is this just another form of residential schooling through a laptop? I guess the old adage is true if it seems to good to be true it probably is. I look forward to M7


8 Bev { 09.29.09 at 9:30 am }

Great topic and one of my main motivations for getting into the MET program. Sean’s comment “Perhaps, the biggest issue would be how the learning technology imposes and competes with existing learning systems (mostly cultural or socially accepts ones)” really resonates with me and an issues I really struggle with. How will ICT affect developing countries? It will affect them culturally and socially just as it has everywhere in the world. It has the potential to affect them economically, politically, and environmentally. The people in these countries need to decide if the changes brought about will do more good than harm in the long run. The key is that the people of these countries must make the decisions. They can’t be imposed on them from the “west” .

9 Noah Burdett { 10.04.09 at 5:30 pm }


Do you think that by using the technologies already and moving the economies more and more to information based economies we are pushing these countries towards a set of decisions.

I guess my question is whether or not they do still have a choice?

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