Why laptops? Advice for parents from New Zealand

Rob McCrae, ICT Director for Auckland’s Diocesan School for Girls, shares a conversation he had with parents at his school about why laptops are a fundamental platform for children learning. Via Scott McLeod.

What has become important is the “just in time” model. A model which sees essential habits and attitudes of learning being the focus. A model which sees the ability to think about our own thinking as a focus.

And expect to see traditionally-held beliefs challenged. Here is a model of the human brain showing the areas that are being engaged as the same person (an experienced Web surfer) reads a book and, at a separate time, is browsing the Web

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Self-replicating XOs, Part 1

Vik Olliver developed the RepRap 3D printer, an early draft of the holy grail of 3D printing: a printer that can replicate itself. Since then, RepRaps have taken hold of people’s imaginations and workshops around the world. Vik currently runs his own out of his basement, driven by Linux software running off of an XO.

To add another layer of awesome, Vik has been turning out gen-3 viewfinders for the XO. Cruder than gen-2, perhaps, but 10x cheaper.  For those of you who don’t regularly use your XO as a camera, here is the evolution of the XOview viewfinder:

But I just today saw my first of these third-generaiton XOviews, when Mike passed out a stack for our Cambridge office. (Thanks!)

As to how an XO is driving this machine making XO parts, OLPC NZ posted a lovely ‘how do they do that?’ video last fall as well. I’ve watched the video a couple of times, and I still want to see it in person. Are any local reprap owners willing to give a live demo?

Team One Beep – radio software gets data to remote areas

Here’s some research into long distance data transfer over radio frequency, from university students in Auckland New Zealand, that could be applied to future OLPC deployments.  They are currently preparing to compete in the final international round of the Microsoft Imagine Cup, which will take place in Warsaw July 3-9.

Team One Beep, made up of fourth year undergraduates Vinny Jeet, Steve Ward, Kayo Lakadia and Chanyeol Yoo, worked through the summer break to prove their idea could work. Their proposal was to send streams of data across the readily available FM/AM frequencies to impoverished communities.

Their project addresses a common problem encountered by the One Laptop per Child (OLPC) charity. The charity makes education more available to third world countries by delivering low cost laptops to remote and poor communities. They have distributed 1.2 million laptops already, and the number is growing. However a lack of infrastructure, such as broadband or even telephone lines, makes it nearly impossible to update the educational materials on the laptops.

Read the full article here.

Team One Beep intend running field trials in Australia and the Pacific Islands. Solomon Island OLPC deployment has made contact and is interested in collaborating with Team One Beep.