The vision of OLPC about “Home Computers and Child Outcomes: Short-Term Impacts from a Randomized Experiment in Peru”

By Rodrigo Arboleda

On Wednesday February 27th, Reuters published the article Poor kids with laptops read less, do more chores in Peru -study“, based on the working document of the Inter-American Development Bank entitled Home Computers and Child Outcomes: Short-Term Impacts from a Randomized Experiment in Peru “. I would like to make some observations on the vision of One Laptop Per Child, of which I am CEO and President:


As an organization we know first hand this report, published by the IDB, which expressly states that it tries not to evaluate the One Laptop Per Child initiative or educational one to one projects. It is further known that the same organization designed an experiment using the OLPC XO laptop for children who do not belong to the OLPC program in Peru in order to understand and measure the impact of the computer in the home. Therefore, the experiment is different from a comprehensive intervention based on a one to one learning project, such as promoted by multiple organizations including OLPC. A comprehensive study involves the education system, teachers, family and community.

Like this experiment, numerous studies and research in the last decade by recognized academics (1) have shown that the provision of technology alone has no effect unless there is an appropriate intervention process. It is for this reason that the results of the experiment showed little effect and did not generate changes in reading habits, cognitive skills or academic achievement.

The OLPC program

Using the preliminary results of this experiment as a basis for governments to promote one to one learning programs is wrong because the objectives of the programs are many and varied. The plans for program implementation must consider the local objectives and context. The computer at home is just one element in those plans. What has been confirmed by experts is that technology alone will not make any difference.

Results in countries where the program is implemented

To illustrate this, consider two major projects within the ecosystem of OLPC. The first, One Laptop Per Child in Caacupé, was implemented by Paraguay Educa Foundation, which aims to make every child in Paraguay develop technological and life skills. The second project, in Colombia, which began with advice and funds from the IDB, has been implemented by the Barefoot Foundation. Unlike the project objectives of Paraguay, the Barefoot Foundation seeks to improve skills in the areas of Spanish and Mathematics in grades two and three of primary schools.

Both programs have developed implementation plans to meet those objectives and have articulated infrastructure, connectivity, awareness, community service, teacher training, logistics, maintenance and repair, and other elements to achieve their goals. Significant achievements have been reported.

First report of the IDB on One Laptop Per Child program Peru

In a report also published by the Inter-American Development Bank in March 2012, entitled “Technology and Child Development: Evidence from the One Laptop per Child Program” the report presents findings related to cognitive abilities, the results of the Raven test, which showed a positive impact. In this study, after 15 months of implementation of the program, with a sample of 319 rural schools (which is significant), children in the OLPC project in this country have an advantage on average of 5 months in the development of their cognitive abilities with respect to children who have not been helped by the program.

This study perhaps shows that when fully implemented, the OLPC program proves to be effective, develops skills and responds to the main premises of One Laptop Per Child. This study shows the difference of an isolated experiment of computers at home without a comprehensive intervention strategy that did not generate impact.

Latest report submitted by the IDB, Home Computers and Child Outcomes: Short-Term Impacts from a Randomized Experiment in Peru

It was an experiment conducted by the IDB, which gave away laptops for home use, to determine whether it would increase reading habits. In this case the experiment did not try to determine whether the One Laptop Per Child program outcomes were achieved but rather whether through the use of technological tools an increase in reading habits could be shown.

We would like to emphasize the one to one learning project led the Zamora Teran Foundation in Nicaragua. The Foundation, in partnership with USAID has developed an important strategy that includes literacy training and support to teachers, design and delivery of manuals, and a collection and delivery of digital resources for teachers, students and parents. This initiative has begun to yield significant results. The results and findings of this project let us reiterate that intervention strategies to achieve a real impact on education of children through the use of technology require a comprehensive intervention plan that involves all actors in the educational community that goes beyond the provision of computers.

For this reason OLPC continues to expand, to use the 7 years’ of acquired experience working on the integration of technology in education and social projects and to implement our philosophy: rethinking education.

[1] Harrison, C., T. Fisher, et al. (2002). ImpaCT2: the Impact of Information and Communication Technologies on Pupils’ Learning and Attainment.. Coventry, DfES

– Ting Seng Eng (2005). The impact of ICT on learning: A review of research. International Education Journal, 6(5), 635-650.

– Underwood, Jean D. M., British Educational Communications and Technology Agency, corp creator. (2009) The impact of digital technology : a review of the evidence of the impact of digital technologies on formal education.

Itagüí: Educational Revolution

Itaguí’s Municipal Administration in partnership with the University EAFIT began a technological modernization project in Educational Institutions

On Tuesday September 4th, Itagüí’s Municipal Mayor, CARLOS ANDRES TRUJILLO, officially handed over the first massive installment of XO computers from One Laptop per Child (OLPC) to teachers of basic primary education official institutions of the municipalities. The main event took place at the Southern Cultural Auditorium in Itagüí (Antioquia, Colombia).

Thus, Itagüí began a process of educational revolution in the implementation of the use and appropriation of technology information and communications  that are planned for the education sector and that is being conducted in partnership with the University EAFIT. The project also seeks to raise awareness and ensure the appropriate use of new technologies among all students and make full use of these tools by teachers for the continuous improvement of the teaching process, which will be reflected in management plans  within the 24 official educational institutions.

Photo by rededucativaitagui

The project includes in its first phase leaving a defined strategy that allows for the proper implementation of technologies in the classroom, for which, activities such as training of teachers, school administrators and adequacy of the infrastructure necessary for the operation thereof are being carried out. To do this, educational institutions with XO laptops have already been endowed; in each of the classrooms a whiteboard was installed, each of them gas given a video beam and they installed a central database (CPU) with keyboard and mouse. Additionally, an educational software that allows students to create new experiences, innovate and develop their intellectual capacities and technologies facing the globalized world has been prepared.

Photo by rededucativaitagui

The Municipal Administration has been working hard in order to improve school environment and provide new tools that allow the education sector of the municipality move forward and become a national model framed in change and transformation of education.

Photo by rededucativaitagui

Are you working with XO laptops that need an upgrade?

By Martin Langhoff, Software Architect – OLPC

Part of our focus is to support deployments that have made a long term commitment to work with us. When we have new models, we work hard to provide them as an upgrade.

This means that if you have today XO-1 or XO-1.5 laptops you can purchase an upgrade kit that will turn it into an XO-1.75. It does require that you perform the motherboard replacement, but the savings can be significant.

XO-1.75 with grid membrane and mechanical keyboard. Photo by Sandra Barragan

With this upgrade you get a modern ARM CPU, much lower power consumption (it runs long hours on each battery charge, and performs fantastically well on solar panels). Depending on options, you can get larger RAM and storage. You can also choose to get the new grid membrane keyboard.

If you are thinking of doing this, get in touch with us. If you know the SKU number of the laptops you have, which you can find in the battery compartment, that will make the process easier.

For each variant of the XO you need a slightly different upgrade kit, so it is important that we get it right. Our engineers have done quite a bit of work to plan the different upgrade kits.
Do you know of any laptop manufacturer that supports upgrading 5 year old models to the latest and greatest with a motherboard change, and at a fraction of the cost?

At this time, there is a minimum order quantity of 100 kits. If you are interested in ordering 100 upgrade kits or more, please contact  at OLPC for further details. Make sure you indicate the SKU of the units you want to upgrade.

Unfortunately, due to packing, shipping, customs and warranty logistics, OLPC is currently unable to offer upgrade kits for orders under 100 kits. The costs of shipping individual components packed properly is high.

Order quantities of 1000 kits and larger can be processed faster and at lower cost.

If you have an early XO laptop and would like to see it run better and faster, our latest Operating System release can give it a new life, see .

We thank you for your interest in the OLPC project.

Training focused on the holistic development for students in Rwanda

By Desire Rwagaju, OLPC-Learning Development Officer

One Laptop Per Child Association in collaboration with Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village (ASYV) proposed, planned and is implementing a training that focused on the holistic development (cognitive & social) for its students in senior six and five. This Training aimed to strengthen the ASYV student’s knowledge on the use of OLPC laptop for deep learning, lesson planning and implementation of project based learning activities.

Brief history of ASYV:

After 1994 genocide in Rwanda, one of the biggest problems Rwanda faced was the vast number of orphans with no systemic solution to support their well-being and development. Anne Heyman and her husband Seth Merin (living in New-York City) were inspired by the similar challenge that Israel faced after the Second World War, when there was a large influx of orphans from the Holocaust. As solution to the problem Israel built residential living communities called youth villages. This is the model residential living communities brought to Rwanda by Anne Heyman, Agahozo-Shalom Founder. Called “The Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village (ASYV)” is a residential community in rural area in Rwanda. It is a home to youth who were orphaned during and after the genocide in 1994. Its mission is to enable orphaned and vulnerable youth to realize their maximum potential by providing them with a safe and secure living environment, healthcare, education and necessary life skills.

Education in ASYV and OLPC involvement:

ASYV aims on developing students both cognitively and socially. Village education focuses on both Formal Education (schooling) and Informal Education to expand each student’s talents, skills, and capacity to become not only functioning members of society, but leaders of their communities. This is where ASYV’s education aligns with OLPC’s learning philosophy and approach–using mobile technology to empower each student’s individual learning process in some of the most remote and difficult conditions. With connected laptops, learners are liberated to actively engage with others with similar interests in cultures of learning by doing without being limited by time or space. Children can learn by teaching, actively assisting other learners and freeing the teacher to focus her experience and expertise where most needed. It was seen as an opportunity for this village to benefit from this learning approach, which will enhance all the great initiatives already in place.

Trainees explore sugar learning environment, diagnosed and solved different hardware and software problems, as well as disassembling and assembling the XO.


At the end of the first phase of the training (August 10th) all trainees were going to vacation, they have been assigned to different schools received olpc laptop in previous deployment done by the government of Rwanda in 30 districts of the country. They will be helping the project with the upgrade of the anti-theft key, as they will be introducing kids and teachers at schools nearby their homes on the use of xo laptops. The Training will continue after they come back from vacation to reinforce trainee’s capacity of planning and conducting trainings for teachers.


Latest news on Sugar Activities

At the urging of Reuben Caron, who had been contacted by the OLPC deployment in Armenia, Walter Bender wrote a chess activity for Sugar. It is a Sugar front-end to the gnuchess program, which is a quite sophisticated chess engine for GNU/Linux. The actvitiy, Gnuchess, can be downloaded from the Sugar activity portal and is documented on the Activities/Gnuchess page in the wiki. A few fun features include:

(1)  you can play against the computer, another person on the same computer, or over the network

(2) you can use a generic set of pieces, load in some Sugar-colored ones, or those of your own design

(3) when you play against someone over the net, they will see your artwork and you’ll see their artwork

(4) the computer will offer very good hints to new users

(5) games are recorded and can be played back as an animation or saved in standard chess notation.

Walter also have been making a number of subtle but important changes to Turtle Blocks. Cynthia Solomon (of Logo fame) has been giving him feedback and as a result, Walter thinks the box and action naming is much more streamlined and consistent. Also, the new flow blocks are much easier (and more intuitive) to use.

Check out Version 154 and keep an eye out for Version 156, coming soon.

Also, Claudia, Melissa, Cynthia, and Walter hosted a learning workshop at the OLPC office in Cambridge at which Walter got some feedback on the Portfolio and Bulletin Board activities. He is in the midst of streamlining Portfolio and also enabling comments to be made over the web. (You can get a sneak preview of Version 27). With the learning team, we have been developing a classroom protocol. Once the Portfolio activity gets released, the Bulletin Board activity will follow.

Walter has also been withing with the Fundación Zamora Teran team on the Nutrition activity.
More region-specific foods have been added and a new game: match the food to its food group. A new release will be available soon; a preview is available here.

One Laptop per Child Confirms Upcoming Launch of Groundbreaking Dual Function XO-4 Touch

MIAMI–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Following an announcement last week from Neonode, One Laptop Per Child (“OLPC”), a nonprofit organization whose mission is to provide every child in the world access to new channels of learning, sharing and self-expression, confirmed today that an exciting new and transformative version of the XO device is currently in development.

Part laptop, part tablet, the XO-4 Touch will represent a huge leap forward in what OLPC can offer. As its development name, the “XO-4 Touch” suggests, the device will come equipped with an optical multi-touch capable screen from Neonode. The XO-4 Touch will combine the XO’s existing laptop functionality and sunlight-usable display with a full-fledged tablet mode. The XO-4 Touch also runs the new Marvell® ARMADA®2128 processor.

OLPC CEO Rodrigo Arboleda said, “There is constant debate over laptops versus tablets in educational programs. But the truth is both have their merits. While maintaining our XO’s award-winning design from Yves Behar’s FuseProject, we have combined features of both devices to deliver dual benefits. The new XO-4 Touch is more than just a device, it’s a new way of facilitating learning.”

With their impressive history with mobile devices, Neonode has developed energy-efficient technology that is ideal for the XO. Neonode touchscreens are fast scanning, have low-latency pen and brush sensors, and can detect pressure. All of these features will help take the new, dual-function XO to a new level.

In addition to the new hardware technology, OLPC has been very active in strengthening strategic partnerships with world-class educational content developers, including Sesame Street Workshop, UNESCO and Little Pim, to provide content for the XO laptops and tablets. While the XO-4 Touch’s launch date and pricing are yet to be confirmed, the release is expected in Q1 in 2013.