Penguins & Netbooks – Spending budget Options For Education Birthed by Innovation!


A single of my podcasting co-hosts, Mark Gura, and I have been intermittently discussing the $ 100+ laptop project for the last two years on our well-known bi-weekly series. If you occur not to be familiar with the $ one hundred laptop project it has been spearheaded by Nicholas Negroponte formerly of MIT. The significance of it is the way it has leveraged opened the tidal wave of adoption of open source software and forced laptop companies to develop low price netbooks. This education-related project has genuinely transformed the computer industry and tech user expectations!


Negraponte’s project is now referred to as the One particular Laptop per Child project (OLPC) due to the fact the standard goal is to offer low price, tough laptop computer systems to the youngsters of building nations. The prototype of these laptops have gone by way of wide variations, and brought much criticism over the past handful of years and they are in no way meant to be the “does every thing” computer.

These are standard models and yet really revolutionary in a number of approaches. For one, they are really modest, have alternate power sources, such as hand powered, can be linked collectively to form an intranet (wireless broadband that can mesh network) and most of all do not endure from what the founder dubs “Microsoft bloat.” In the devoted efforts to keep the cost so really low, the application that is used is open supply, which needs a considerably smaller installation footprint and hardware operation requirements.

The Original Prototype 2007 Particulars in Short: Linux-based operating system, a dual-mode display, a 500MHz processor, 128MB of DRAM and 500MB of Flash memory. No hard drive, four USB ports and the wireless broadband that creates a mesh network.

Enter: Wider Public Adoption of Open Supply Software!

In several episodes of the Teachers Podcast we go over the merging of another one particular of my favourite technology trends with the OLPC phenomenon- open source improvement and software. Open supply development occurs when groups of individuals openly share supply code in the improvement of the programming languages, operating systems, or yet another application. The purpose is that the neighborhood will be able to test and perform collaboratively world-wide on the project with several minds and perspectives accessible that may well not otherwise be able to meet and function together. It genuinely is a neighborhood and thereby the content material and the product remains “open” that is free of charge for use. Quite often a Creative Commons code license is utilised is to describe use and attribution of the software.

Almost certainly the most well-known current instance is the operating system Linux (identified with by its mascot of the penguin aka Tux). Related to Linux which has scores of programmers operating on it about the world, there are also other Linux-like operating systems accessible also like Apache, Ubantu, Linspire and a lot more. For the education sector open supply software program has been way behind in adoption as schools have stayed mainstreamed mainly on pcs and small number on macs in the younger grades. Nonetheless, getting visited a few educational technology conferences the previous two years I have noticed a various trend lastly becoming paid interest and the OLPC project could push it even much additional again! Let me explain.

At ed tech conferences we have seasoned hands-on demonstrations of Linux or Ubantu network labs which are “dumb terminals” hooked up to a server and all gaining internet access and applications from the server. This first-hand encounter offers a point of entry for several teachers, ed tech specialists and college administrators who may possibly have by no means otherwise regarded these alternatives. In these cases, participants see that there is no wonderful loss in function with this configuration whereas the expense for this equipment is a little fraction of a standard college lab. This is simply because of two apparent significant elements 1), the hardware are not stand alone computer systems, and two) the operating technique is open source. Hardware fees and upgrade fees are also significantly decreased, as nicely as the reality that computer software licensing and upgrades are eliminated.

Open source computer software is no longer just for the tech heads. These platforms are point and click similar to most other applications. And there are thousands of open supply programs freely obtainable for us to meet business, education, graphic, music composition, media design, application needs to name just a couple of As some K-12 superintendents are bringing in open supply networks (they get in touch with them Open Technologies) into their schools we are seeing the march of the penguins, pencils and laptops strut their stuff for education! At a time of improved scrutiny of school budgets and higher accountability, I anticipate that 2009-2010 will be a time when open supply application, dumb terminals, as properly as virtual terminals (to be discussed in an upcoming e-zine article) will be charging ahead at a double- or triple-time pace.

Update Could 2009

The enormous wave of netbooks (Asus, Acer, HP, Dell, and much more) which have flooded the laptop marketplace in the final 16 months has been a welcome relief for consumer and school budgets alike! We have Dr Negroponte to thank for transforming the computing industry practically single handedly by pushing his OLPC project to the forefront of the corporate table of competition. The specifics unfolded close on the heals of the progress of Negroponte was the Asus group and the release of the ee pc with Linux on board (originally).

Not just for tech folks these had been released in the regular grey and black colors, but also shocking pink and green, and white– we can see the marketplace was broader than the regular personal computer sector had been addressing). Their solution was enthusiastically received and so impacted the public marketplace that the major laptop manufacturers had to respond – quickly. Now in June 2009 we have netbooks obtainable from each significant manufacturer obtainable for below $ 500. The resulting smaller sized, much much less costly (roughly 77% reduction in cost) and robust hardware selections we now see all about us in computer and office shops, is originally due to OLPC shake up of a sanguine, over priced method.

A connected wave of adoption is also continuing in spring 2009, and that is Open source, from Open to Linux, has observed quite good year so far. Not only are we seeing more advertisements for these items in mainstream publications, but lay people (non-techies) are asking, requesting, and making use of them. What does this mean for Microsoft? Will there in fact be a backlash against steep upgrade costs? We have talked about frustration for years, but is the time right here for it to have a important impact? These are thrilling times for the voice of the folks!

The Connection

As much more and a lot more men and women catch the vision of netbook and understand they never require higher-finish computer systems for all student classrooms and rather they could even give computers to go house with kids it will be open source application penguins leading that march as nicely. It’s been a extended day coming for our educational program to see that this is a much a lot more economically way to serve the teachers and students and thereby be in a position to serve ALL of them.

An critical aside- really considerably worth the study and exploration- Negroponte is so open source he is now publishing a wiki where he is openly displaying the technical production notes, tech specifications, software, participating nations, images of the prototypes and much more (see: Bringing such tools into the hands of multitudes of schools and students about the planet, near and far, can actually adjust who the voices will be, and who will be in the international conversations in just a couple of months and in our international political future.

Offering such a tool and entry to the outdoors globe for not just students, but also for their households, for that is component of the purpose, can develop a developing wave of social alter through several forms of literacy and understanding. When the walls of Equity and Access are broken down in even in these modest techniques, the possibilities are a lot of for individuals to rise in to new possibilities. Penguins, open source, education and $ one hundred laptop have a lot empowering prospective for the children of the globe, adults and nations.