Teach students that education can change the world

Ferreñafe, Peru

The XO laptop developed by the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) organization is an “education project, not a laptop project.” I think this would also make a great lesson for students in the developed world about how children live and learn in poor, developing countries.

The OLPC wiki has lots of field diaries, videos, and stories that would be very appropriate to share with students and start a conversation about education around the world. This isn’t a “isn’t it sad how poor they are” lesson, it’s a lesson about how much education means to people even when they seem to have so little. Start here.

Go the next step
OLPC does give you the opportunity to simply donate money, and if your students feel strongly about helping, they could plan a fundraiser. Schools could also get some of the XO computers for themselves in the current Give One Get One program, but there are some caveats I pointed out in this blog post, Should your school participate in the XO G1G1 program. If your students are gung-ho, though, do it!

Kick it up a notch
Many young people around the world have contributed directly to the OLPC effort whether they actually have an XO laptop or not. There are suggestions for participating on the OLPC wiki including offering to answer tech support emails, translating, hosting or participating in local events, developing applications, and more.

  • A student club can help develop new activities and participate in the XO community. People around the world are working on these open source activities, collaborating, and sharing. Teach students what it means to be a global citizen. Programming is NOT hard; it is well within the capability of many high school students and some middle school students. Even if you don’t have an XO, there are emulators that allow you to program for them.
  • Join or start a local XO support group. They already exist in New York, San Francisco and Washington DC.
  • Have a code jam. Perhaps a local Linux users group would help out.
  • Do a presentation or pass out flyers at a local community event. OLPC offers ready made templates for you.
  • Ask students what they would like to do to “change the world” for youth seeking an education in developing countries. Students need to understand that education is not a “zero sum” game, meaning that if other countries get better at educating poor children, we all benefit.

I’d love to hear about what youth have done to help support the OLPC effort!

Sylvia

Give a Laptop. Get a Laptop. Change the World

Starting today the XO laptop will once again be available to consumers in the US and the EU. This is the remarkable laptop invented by the One Laptop Per Child organization for children in the developing world.

In the Give One, Get One (G1G1) program, you have the opportunity purchase two XO computers. You get one, and a child somewhere in the developing world gets the other. Last year, over 100,000 laptops were donated to children this way. (See photos)

This year will be even better!
Last year, there were problems with the distribution, as OLPC was running it by themselves on a shoestring. This year, Amazon will run it. It would be the understatement of the year to say it will be better. There are a few other changes this year as well – it will include EU countries plus a few extra (full list and FAQs here). Sorry my Aussie friends, no mention of your part of the world.

Other good news, this will be an ongoing program. So if you have an idea about doing a fundraiser or planning a school event to get your own XOs, you have time.

Posts about the XO
Last year I got an XO laptop through the Give One, Get One program. Some of my posts from last year:

Spread the word! Here are some suggestions from the OLPC G1G1 wiki page:

  • Blog it, add a comment about it to every article about OLPC and the XO.
  • Social site updates — Facebook, Twitter[1], MySpace : there are OLPC accounts on many of these sites which need maintenance and regular updating. For instance some 2007-era badges and promotions need to be updated to link to the Amazon site.
  • Viral marketing. Put http://www.amazon.com/xo in your e-mail signature. Mention G1G1 in blog posts. Comment on misinformed or incomplete articles online, and include the link and the date, Nov. 17.

Sylvia

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