A tool for collaboration: The XO computer

XOToday is October 15, a day declared as “blog action day,” where blog writers have been asked to write a post about the environment in their own way. The first thought that came to me was this One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) Project. If you don’t know about this, you should. It’s a project that MIT and other humanitarian organizations have been involved in to bring an inexpensive computer to children in developing countries. Not only may this technology alter the way that children learn in these countries, but it may serve as a model for our own computing needs. Here’s why:

Hardware:

The “green” features of the laptop are impressive. The display screen, for instance, can be viewed in bright sunlight. The screen is black and white high resolution in sunlight and color in a room or at night. Also, the display uses 1 Watt of average power consumption and when the backlight is off, it uses 100 milliwatts of power. While idling, the computer (called the XO), uses about 1Watt of power. (The newest Energy Star requirement is for a laptop to use 14 watts while idling.)

Battery life is impressive, with the battery designed to last over five years or 2,000 to 3,000 recharges. The XO can easily go for 10 hours on a single charge (due to the low power consumption discussed above). Also, the price of a battery replacement is very low ($10).

The wireless system turns every XO into a wireless router. Users can quickly see who is on their mesh network and communicate and collaborate with other users. When I think about the ways that this might simplify a lot of collaborative work among students, I get really excited.

The rubber membrane of the computer is resistant to water and dirty hands. It is designed to be easily swapped out to account for different languages and character sets.

Software:

The XO uses the Fedora Linux-based Sugar interface, an adaptation of Linux which is mainly used for simple applications and learning games. This interface includes capabilities for managing files, tasks, and applications. When combined with the wireless networking of the XO, the Mesh view in Sugar is, according to Jim Rapoza of eWeek, “one of the best and most innovative collaboration environments that I’ve ever seen”(Meet the XO).

To find out more about the XO, read the “Meet the XO” link above. I think you will be astounded by the power of this very efficient and inexpensive computer. For instance, the XO also has a built-in camera and microphone that allows uers to communicate via video or audio chats. The sharing features and the seamless collaboration tools are what really got my attention, as we are currently looking at tools to enhance face-to-face collaboration. This computer may provide all of the tools that more expensive software applications are trying to provide.

So, can you get one of these computers, you are probably now asking? I found a website that SEEMS to be authentic, but I would definitely look more into this: http://laptop.org/

If you visit this link, http://www.xogiving.org/, you will find a place to sign up for an email reminder about Give 1 Get 1. This starts November 12 for a brief window of time in North America. For $399 you can purchase two XO laptops–one that will be sent to a child in a developing nation and one that will be sent to your home. As you peruse this website, you can find out more information about the XO.

Sounds like a worthwhile donation and a great way to test out this innovative technology. Have a great day.

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2 thoughts on “A tool for collaboration: The XO computer

  1. It is very promising to see how there are people and organizations that reach out to people and share what they already know and have. And at the same time, be able to look at environmental considerations.
    I enjoyed reading your post.

    Like

  2. Pingback: Give One. Get One. A laptop, that is. « Teaching with Technology@BSU

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