XO + touchscreen = XO Touch

The next iteration of the XO will finally have a fully armed and operational tablet mode, thanks to an optical touchscreen from Neonode.

This week we signed a licensing agreement with them to embed their optical touchscreens into future ‘XO Touch’ laptops. The XO Touch will be a true laptop + tablet, with the same 7.5” sunlight-readable display, and Neonode’s fast-scanning multitouch. There are a lot of applications I have in mind for those prototypes…

Neonode are energy-conscious, thanks to their history of work with mobile devices, and have features such as gesture-activated wakeup that will help the XO remain the lowest-power laptop around. Neonode is also proud of their screen’s low-latency pen or brush sensors, and ability to sense proximity, pressure, and depth and measure object-size.

Leaders of both projects commented on the partnership:

Thomas Eriksson, Neonode CEO:

We are honored to be collaborating with OLPC to produce the XO Touch, a truly pioneering and sustainable device that shows the broad versatility of our technology. This market entry confirms that our MultiSensing technology makes it possible to create a top class product that is both affordable and extremely energy saving and still has a user interface that is radical enough to satisfy the uncompromising demands of knowledge- and entertainment-thirsty children. Our company philosophy is to contribute to a better and happier world, and we have the opportunity to do so by supporting OLPC’s mission.

Rodrigo Arboleda, OLPCA CEO:

OLPC is proud to partner with an organization that shares its appreciation for innovative and transformative technology. Neonode’s expertise in engineering and design will turn the XO Touch, which combines the best features of laptop and tablet, into a next-level innovative machine.

XO cameo in Oliver Stone’s Savages

The green machine makes an appearance in a future-looking scene, towards the end of Oliver Stone’s new film Savages. The production team asked for a set of laptops back when they were wrapping filming, as a vision of what the world will look like when every child has a laptop to study with. It’s good to see the scene ended up in the final picture.

Those three XOs will be a nice collector’s item one day…

Claudia Urrea inspires educators to reflect on what’s worth learning

Over at Edutopia, Suzie Boss covered Claudia’s recent keynote at PBL World, the annual project-based learning conference. From her writeup:

When Claudia Urrea was growing up in Colombia, her family made a point of doing projects together. Whether they were focused on fun — “building the coolest kite” — or more practical household matters, projects taught her the value of learning by doing. “Projects move students from being told what to do to owning their learning,” says Urrea.. Instead of thinking about “what I learned today and might use someday,” Urrea says, “help them see that what they learn today they can use today.” And for many years to come.

The whole piece is worth a read, with nods to Papert, Scratch, and the OLPC mission. As is the rest of the PBL World coverage. Now if only they’d put the video of Claudia’s talk online!

OLPC comes to North Carolina! Knight Foundation sponsors XOs for 3,200 students in Charlotte

The Knight Foundation yesterday announced it would join community leaders from Charlotte, North Carolina in contributing to Project L.I.F.T., a 5-year $55M+ project to improve education in West Charlotte schools.  (It began last January with a $40M round of fundraising; and this year raised another $15M.)

Knight’s contribution will fund a community engagement coordinator to keep parents and local communities in touch with the project as it develops, and for an OLPC program (including XOs and training) for all students and teachers in grades K-5 in the L.I.F.T. schools: roughly 3,200 in all.

This builds on our work together earlier this year, to develop a digital literacy program at Holmes Elementary School in Miami.  Our experience so far suggests that giving elementary students access to computers – and letting them take them home and use them with their families – helps promote better informed and engaged communities.

We are delighted to see this new project take off within the framework of the existing L.I.F.T project. And looking forward to working more closely with the Knight Foundation, whose input has already informed some of our practices. Their background is in community engagement rather than education, which complements the viewpoints of our other partners. And the added focus on community engagement is one of those necessary elements that can make all the difference in longevity and impact.


Children receiving XOs in Miami’s Holmes Elementary School

XOrduino & XO Stick designs

via the ananialog

I banged out two open hardware designs this week, designed for use with the OLPC XO laptops.

The XOrduino is a stripped down low-cost Arduino-compatible board that plugs right into the XO’s USB ports. But wait, there’s more: it’s also compatible with the Scratch Sensor Board, so you can use this device to control Scratch (and Turtle Art?). It should be compatible with the Arduino IDE and all Arduino Leonardo-compatible shields.

There are only 20 components needed for basic Arduino functionality, costing $5 from digikey (in quantities of 100 or more). Local labor or even older kids could assemble this by hand.

The XO Stick is for when $5 per student is too much money.  Based on the AVR Stick and the ATtiny85 processor, it costs only $1/student. It’s not as user-friendly as the Arduino-compatible board, but can be used to teach simple lessons in embedded electronics.

Eagle design files on github:

I expect to have a small number of each board in a few weeks; let me know if you’d like one in exchange for help with hardware and software bring-up. Schematic and layout review would also be appreciated (I did the PCB routing late at night under time pressure leaning heavily on autoroute, it’s certainly not the prettiest). And feedback from Arduino and Arduino shield hackers would also be welcome.

For more details or to request boards, please see the original blog post, and Alessandro Paganelli’s review in Linux Support magazine.

Uruguay celebration update: a new Ceibal video

guest post by Nick Doiron

Update with a lovely quote from the day: “5 yrs ago,Uruguay began Plan Ceibal with OLPC.  Now 100% of our kids have laptops; 99.5% are online. ”

Plan Ceibal posted a cool 6-minute video on their YouTube. No English subtitles yet:

Highlights:

  • Kids in the first class to receive laptops react to their interviews from 2007
  • Update on what laptops are used for in their more advanced classes ( including Magallanes/Classmate laptops )
  • Scratch programming
  • Lego NXT robot programming (!)

Fundacion DJ designing a DJ app for XOs

Fundacion DJ is building an app for the XO to let kids become DJs. They will be able to play two tracks at the same time, switch from one track to another with a cross fader, and use effects and pre-recorded sounds to mix in, just like a professional DJ.

They can record and export their mixes so they can share them or submit them to future contests – like the one the Foundation plans to run. They say of their work on this project: “This will be an alternative way to get kids interested in the art of music so in the future they can become DJs Agents of Change.”

From their site:

Fundacion DJ en colaboración con One Laptop Per Child crearan una aplicación para sus computadoras portátiles XO donde los niños podrán jugar a ser DJs.

La aplicación le permitirá a los usuarios poner dos canciones al mismo tiempo y tener la opción de cambiar entre una y otra con un cross fader. También tendrá efectos y sonidos pre-grabados para que puedan mezclar tal como lo hace un DJ profesional.

También tendrán la opción de grabar y exportar sus mezclas para que las puedan revisar y enviar para un concurso que estamos planeando hacer.

Esta será una alternativa para crear interés en los niños por el arte de la música y que en un futuro se conviertan en DJs Agentes De Cambio.

Australian brilliance: AU government provides $11.7M for OLPC pilot

via Rangan Srikhanta

It gives me tremendous pleasure to inform you that the Australian Federal Government has committed to fund One Laptop per Child in Australia for $11.7M this year, to launch a pilot project to reach 50,000 children in indigenous communities.   Additional funds will come from the schools participating in the program and from corporate/public donors.

From the Schooling section of the annual budget:

The Australian Government is providing over $11 million to support the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) Program which will deliver over 50,000 custom built laptops to primary students in regional and remote Australia as part of a 12 month pilot program. The OLPC Australia Organisation (OLPC Australia) aims to support the learning opportunities of indigenous children, particularly those in remote Australia, by providing primary school aged children with a connected XO laptop as part of a sustainable training and support program. Participating schools will also receive information and communications technology (ICT) coordinator professional development, local repair kits, and access to helpdesk and online support.



From the
full budget breakdown, It seems that some of the funds for this was redirected from a project pool for the “Digital Education Revolution”.   The government is also extending OLPC Australia’s tax-deductibility for another three years, as part of this continuing commitment.

This is fantastic news.  Kudos to Rangan, Sridhar, Tracy, Rita, Sasha, Ning, and the whole team. A formal press release will be out in the coming days.  There is much more to come from Australia — stay tuned!

Free Universal Construction – LEGOs and more

The Free Art and Technology Lab today announced a Free Univeral Construction Kit consisting of blueprints for 3D printing of 80 blocks and connectors that allow you to connect a varity of existing building kits.

Currently the kit interfaces with Lego, Duplo, Fischertechnik, Gears! Gears! Gears!, K’Nex, Krinkles / Bristle Blocks, Lincoln Logs, Tinkertoys, Zome, and Zoob pieces.  Individual adapters can be found on Thingiverse.com or downloaded as a package of STL files.

Three cheers for easier and better building experiences.  We are big fans of building things as a component of learning and as motivation, and have done extensive work with LEGO over the years including making the XO easy to connect with LEGO WeDo kits and other robotic tools.

Sonora State: Making connectivity a universal right since 2011

In October 2011, Sonora State added the “right to connectivity” to the first article of the state Constitution, along with the right to liberty, education, and housing. They were the first Mexican state to adopt such a right, and one of only three states in the world.  People are still writing about it today as an example of how to provide effective access to knowledge – as debates unfold over how to keep the Internet open.

From the announcement last year:

La iniciativa que adiciona un párrafo segundo al Artículo 1° de la Constitución Política del Estado de Sonora fue promovida por los diputados Enrique Reina Lizárraga y Gorgonia Rosas López, a fin de transformar el acceso a Internet en un derecho o garantía de la ley fundamental local.

“Es decir, que el Estado deberá garantizar el acceso a la conectividad de redes digitales de información y de comunicación dentro del territorio sonorense a todos sus ciudadanos, pues este tipo de servicios cada día han logrado convertirse en un factor indispensable de cualquier ciudadano.”

In English:

The initiative, which adds a second paragraph to Article 1 of the Constitution of the State of Sonora, was promoted by representatives Enrique Reina Lizarraga and Gorgonia Rosas López, to transform Internet access into a fundamental right or guarantee of the local law.

This means that the State must guarantee access to digital information and communication networks within the Sonoran territory, to all its citizens, because daily access to such a service has become indispensable for any citizen.

 

Kudos again to Sonora for their farsighted planning.  They not only support free software as a foundation for learning, but  have recognized connectivity as infrastructure for modern life, and not a luxury.

Michele Borba interviews children, parents and teachers in Nicaragua

Dr. Michele Borba, the inspiring parenting and educational consultant who has been working recently with OLPC, travelled to Nicaragua with Rodrigo and the deployment last week for the Ometepe project launch.  She writes, “[We] looked like a mini-United Nations representing Germany, Argentina, Italy, Colombia, Denmark, Honduras, the Dominican Republic, Bosnia, South Korea, Belgium, India and the U.S. We were teachers, bankers, doctors, writers, embassy representatives, lawyers, and businessmen, but we all shared a commonality knowing that something immensely significant was about to happen on that Island, and could feel it the moment we walked onto a huge field.

She also visited a school that has been part of an existing OLPC project near Managua for over a year, and wrote about the history of the program there.

The first delivery of XO laptops to Nicaragua was in 2009, and the impact is already evident. Statistics show a 40% reduction in drop-outs, a decrease in retention and in violence. Best yet, parents are starting to come to the schools to be involved in their children’s learning, and the teachers recognize those laptops are affecting their teaching!

I visited a small rural primary school (San Francisco de Asís) outside of Managua using XO laptops since November 2010. There is now full OLPC school saturation. Positive changes are clearly apparent: the parents are more involved in their children’s education; there has been a high increase in school registration; and student learning is increasing, and here’s why.

The teachers were all trained by OLPC and continue with monthly staff development training.

Each computer is equipped with grade-level texts including natural science, geography, geometry, Nicaraguan history and culture, a dictionary, and Wikipedia, books (“Mine has Harry Potter!” one boy exclaimed), as well as programs that encourage children’s creativity, music and art. Teachers report that students are now far more engaged in learning. Parents say their kids are using the computers to continue learning at home.

Over the next hours I observed various teaching lessons using the XOs. Sixth graders working in base teams to learn how to mind-map different types of calendars (Mayan, Greco, Julian). Third graders paired with partners to identify bird species. First graders were learning how to use the XO drawing program and discovering beginning programming skills. Fourth graders were mentoring younger students…

Dr. Borba also spent some time talking to students and teachers outside of class:

[A ten-year old] told me that her computer has “greatly advanced my learning… Yesterday I learned about industrial agriculture. Tomorrow I’ll be giving a presentation in my classroom about farming techniques.” She added that her favorite laptop activity at home is doing research on Wikipedia. Her goal, she said, is to become an engineer. I have no doubt that she will.

The whole story is posted on her children and parenting blog.

XO and Sugar in MOMA : now on permanent exhibit!

Since yesterday, our XO laptop, and the Sugar interface itself, are part of the PERMANENT collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Congratulations to the creative teams. Now we just need to clarify the last line of the label for the XO itself…

Part of the exhibit label describing the XO:


lighter than a lunchbox…
Wi-Fi antennas double as covers for the USB ports, for instance, while the handle
servers also as an attachment point for a strap and the protective bumper also
seals to protect from dust. The screen has both a full-color mode and a reflective
high-resolution mode that makes it readable in bright sunlight, and a wide track
pad doubles as a drawing and writing tablet. If electricity is not available, the
computer can be recharged by a pull cord that works like a yo-yo.

Recognizing the Sugar designers:

Lisa Strausfeld (America, b. 1964), Christian Marc Schmidt (German, b. 1977), and Takaaki Okada (Japanese, b. 1978) of Pentagram (UK and USA, est. 1972)

Walter Bender (American, b. 1956)

Eben Eliason (American, b. 1982) of One Laptop per Child (USA, est. 2005)

Marco Pesenti Gritti (Italian, b. 1978) and Christopher Blizzard (American, b. 1973) of Red Hat, Inc. (USA, est. 1993)*

Sugar Interface for the XO Laptop
2006-07
Design: Illustrator, Photoshop, Flash, Inkscape, and GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) software; implementation: Python, GTK+ (GIMPToolkit), and Cairo software

Gift of the designers, 2008

Teams from Pentagram and Red Hat created this icon-driven interface in which collaboration is the core of the user experience. The laptop encourages social interaction, and most activities center on the creation of an object — a drawing, a song, a story a game — and on “real-world metaphors” such as chatting, sharing, and gathering. All the laptops are connected in a wireless network, both to the web and to one another. The more laptops are connected, the more powerful the network becomes. “By exploiting this connectivity within the community, among people and their activities,” the designers say, “One Laptop per Child makes use of what people already know in order to make connections to new knowledge.”