The web-site is now in readonly mode. Login and registration are disabled. (28 June 2019)

One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) - the future for classrooms?

The One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) Foundation developed, promotes and deploys its XO laptops for...

Cloud created by:

Julie Carle
19 April 2010

The One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) Foundation developed, promotes and deploys its XO laptops for primary school children. Hundreds of thousands of these laptops are now being used in dozens of economically poor countries throughout the world. There are many issues surrounding this revolutionary approach to ICTs in education discussed in In Uruguay all primary school children are being provided with XOs through the Ceibal program. This technology supports student-centred learning (constructivism) over teacher-led training. What are the implications for teachers? How are they being trained to maximize the benefits from this technology in their lessons and classrooms? Are there constraints in constructivism or some subjects that are not supported by technology? What about the values that children need to learn when using networked technology?

Extra content

I had not closely investigated the OLPC situation before and I found it really interesting. Thanks for the idea Julie! I have put this in 'extra content' as it is not exactly following the pathway Julie started but I still feel it is very relevant to the issues surrounding OLPC. Hope this is the way to do it!

‘What a difficult history’ was my first thought. People arguing, resigning and controversy all over the place. Such a great idea but so many interested parties. I was particularly interested in the Microsoft/Linux debate as I instinctively distrusted Microsoft’s motives for desperately wanting their system on the machine. I found this quote in ‘Why Microsoft Must Control One Laptop Per Child’ – see links:

“In this case Microsoft is the heroin dealer wanting to make darn sure they can give out free, or very low cost samples, in potential new markets”

It is interesting that this piece was written in 2008 and by September 2009 I was seeing more articles pointing out that Microsoft Windows was too memory intensive and so it was on less than 1% of the OLPC laptops and all those were donated by Microsoft or were part of the pilot project.

"I am told that, although nearly all countries ask about Windows when evaluating OLPC laptops for children 5 to 10 years old, Sugar wins - it is better adapted to kids, has built-in collaboration, automatic backup, and is free, unlike Windows. “ Sean Daly (Sugar Labs) – Inquirer Review of OLPC 2009 – see links.

Does this mean that Microsoft will not be able to influence/dominate the countries adopting OLPC? I feel an innate sense of satisfaction about this. I feel it is much healthier for children to learn to use operating systems that they can play with, experimnet with and eventually adapt for their own use.

Carolyn Hunt
18:50 on 19 April 2010

Embedded Content

Video on OLPC

Video on OLPC

added by Gráinne Conole


Jonathan Turner
6:47am 19 April 2010

I think that the case in Uruguay is specirfic to a particular "market". I.e. despite being a "developing" country, it is a long way from say Central African countries or even South American neigbours like Bolivia. I can see one laptop being a great success in Uruguay but I'm not sure how far it will be avalid template for other "markets"?

godfrey sentumbwe
1:45pm 19 April 2010

I believe the one laptop per child can be a revolutionary education innovation provided ICT becomes part of the training in teacher training courses. Otherwise simply transplanting it and starting it in a country like Uganda can be beset with massive setbacks.

Julie Carle
2:28pm 19 April 2010 (Edited 2:29pm 19 April 2010)

A video link for those of you who want to quickly learn about the OLPC principles

You will notice OLPCs five principles are:

1. kids get to keep the laptops
2. focus on early education 6-12 yrs
3. no one gets left out (whole schools get laptops)
4. connection to the internet
5. free and open source software

No mention of teachers or values. What else is needed for successful implementation?


Carolyn Hunt
7:00pm 19 April 2010

I was interested in the Sugar system used by OLPC and found their ideas on journaling and collaboration and authenticity were really intriguing. I have added a link to their material for teachers in the 'links' box.

I was interested in their basis on ‘Studio Thinking’. I had never heard of this before. Arts based but beginning to grow more widely applicable as far as I could see from a short web search. Howard Garder of Muliple Intelligences fame is closely connected with the Project Zero Harvard project concerning 'Studio Thinking'.

Julie Carle
4:23am 20 April 2010

Some of you may be interested in participating in the live debate tomorrow on lost cost technology in schools

Are most investments in technology for schools wasted?
Wednesday April 21, 14;00 - 16:00 New Delhi Time
Hosted by the World Bank office Delhi, India - find out more from

Student E
5:58pm 21 April 2010 (Edited 6:03pm 21 April 2010)

Providing laptops to children's in the school will definitely change the teaching and learning practices in the developing and under developed countries.

 From my studying and teaching experience in India, I can see at present the technology has been introduced into the education system at much faster pace and still a lot of work needs to be done to provide training to the teachers to teach with technology. As at most of the institutions, teacher–centric evaluation system is followed.

 India is  attempting to develop its own laptop costing $10 for each child as compared to OLPC laptop pricing of $138.

 The point here, I want to make is that if engineers think, it is possible to manufacture such a low cost laptop, it justifies the mismatch between the introduction of technology into the education system without preparing the teachers.

Dave Brown
12:46pm 22 April 2010

I think this is a good example of technology-enabled learning over technology-enhanced learning.

It's strange to think that if the program is successful children in the developing world will effectively have an advantage over some children in the developed world who may not be in schools that are able to offer a ratio of one pc per child.

Student E
9:15pm 22 April 2010

Projects like OLPC are making significant contribution in imparting technolgy enhanced learning experience to children's in developing and under developed nations.

Initially more attention will be needed to focus on the transition phase of switching from teacher-centric evaluation system to student -centric assessment system.

In addition,I think the future generation will be in a better position to understand the concept of global citizenship.


Carolyn Edwards
10:45am 25 April 2010

It's a wonderful project, and in spite of misgivings about

1.  being driven by commercial and political interests

2. little thought being given to the impact on teachers or existing curricula and pedagogical culture

3.  laptop technology not being perhaps the best choice when mobile technology is actually more affordable and accessible in many poorer countries,

the opportunities it will give children in terms of developing useful skills and, as Sandeep says, awareness of being part of a larger community, have got to be worth it in the long run.


Marie Arndt
8:31pm 1 May 2010

I found you! Sandeep the example from india is interesting to hear about, as you have first-hand experience. I have heard that electricity is being installed in more and more villages in a deliberate drive to enhance computer accessibility in the country.

I am still thnking about how more technology will affect the social fabric in these countries, where learning with a teacher plays such an important part in the lives of children who actually see it as a graet privilege to be able to go to school and being taught by a person.

Carolyn Edwards
2:18pm 18 July 2010

Interesting point, Marie.  And for those who don't have that privilege, there are talking books (see link above) where you don't need teachers, electricity or internet access.  I think this is getting closer to the heart of the problem than OLPC.

Jimmy Millar
2:38pm 22 January 2011

I think more has to be done in regards to recylcing laptops.  I see many customers that are willing just to throw away their faulty laptops.  However a quick fix and the system can be up and running again.  We've had great sucess in shipping "reconditioned" systems to the third wold that your average computer user in the UK would think is well past it's sell by date.

Julie Carle
5:32am 27 January 2011

Where the intensions and practices are good the recycling of laptops can benefit all. But they need to meet the current and future needs of the people from the "third world". There have been reports of dumping unwanted computers as shown is this report

Contribute to the discussion

Please log in to post a comment. Register here if you haven't signed up yet.