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March 9, 2006

an idea

so, I've been thinking about negroponte's one laptop per child project, and have been looking at other hardware and connectivity initiatives in the developing world. Last I heard negroponte had about $7 million in pre-orders and I think even if he misses the $100 price point, others will jump on the bandwagon quickly...both on the purchasing side as well as on the development side. Bottom line - there will be a huge number of people that will be getting their first laptops in the next few years, and in particular children that are enrolled in some sort of learning program.

it seems that now would be a great time to begin to develop a software development community to start creating applications that can be used on these machines.

here's what I'm thinking:

a place to start. in developing countries children with developmental disabilities are often grouped together. they are the broken kids. kids that are blind, deaf, have MS, paralysis or severe learning disabilities are removed from schools and placed in special learning facilities that unfortunately do not have the funding to provide specialized services that address the particular needs of their disability. Its not negligence, its just that there isn't money or training available. My guess is that there are a number of simple toy-like applications that could be developed around individual needs that would at least provide something in the meantime. Toys that develop fine motor control by encouraging rapid keystrokes, sound reactive toys that encouraged vocalization, or simple language toys that reinforced auditory learning. Simple is the key here. I don't think we need over-designed, rich illustrations to power this stuff...just a focus on fun.

We could use a team of folks to help on defining the problem sets: Specifically early educators, occupational therapists, play therapists and clinical child psychologists. They could suggest basic activities that seem to motivate certain populations could also give feedback from actual test populations.

I imagine the community being open source with opportunities to join for-profit initiatives in the future that relate to online learning in general.

any feedback here would be great.

edited to add:

thanks for the links...they are greatly appreciate...yes, by help i mean any suggestions and leads that might help me better formulate this plan. as for cultural impact...my guess is that is so tied to specific places that it is almost impossible to discuss in a general way. I think that the best sorts of tools for this would be language independent and have as little built in context as possible. I'm thinking of the sorts of activities that can be found at addictinggames.com. very simple things that promote activity. there's a ton of it out there - i just want to create a space that provides some guidance for a specific population.


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Comments (5)

I think that you are just trying to make up for parking in that handicapped spot to run in and get coffee. You silly do gooder you.

Really I am a big proponent of your proposal. I however have no expertise in the fields that you are looking for to aid you, so I am left with the only recourse and that is to bring back the Arsinio-Hall-arm-whip-in-the-air-move to show my support. WOO WOO WOO

Posted by: entropies [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 9, 2006 4:45 PM

Other professionals that can lend their experitise: Speech-language pathologists, clinical neuropsychologists, physical therapists, art therapists, music therapists, children's book illustrators and writers... The list can go on and on!

There are lots of programs out there already that are designed as games for chilren to play on their own (one called Lexia comes to mind). I don't know what kind of programs exist for other languages but this is the kind of project that would benefit from alliances with higher education institutions in the areas where these laptops will be sold.

(More info on Lexia can be found at: http://www.lexialearning.com/)
On a side note, has there been any discussion abou the cultural impact these laptops might have on the traditions of the areas where these laptops might land?

Posted by: k [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 10, 2006 10:26 AM

a Child a Laptop...

let me think...

It sound to me a big humanitarian effort to cover real business.

100$ a Child could save a lot of Child's life today if used for example for medicine like vaccins.

Education is veeeery important , but more important is fight ignorance.

Thinking Laptop as solution for education is ignorance?


Posted by: smastro [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 10, 2006 11:50 AM

Hi,
Thats a pretty big task. You need a lot of different specialists! I am an audiologist which means I look after children with a hearing loss (in America you have to call them Hard of Hearing -welcome to Political correctness!. It may be that some of these kids in third world countries need hearing aids before they need laptops!

And maybe the same goes for children with other disabilities hence the lack of funding for things like laptops. However, the internet is an incredibly liberating and valuable thing for a deaf child. It is one medium where you do not need to hear. It overcomes the isolation of not being able to communicate easily with most of the population. So laptops for these kids would give them a wonderful means to discover the world and make friends. Also things like free skype video chat, once it is able to transmit in real time, will also open up signed conversation to anyone anywhere in the world!
Cheers.

Posted by: Simone [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 13, 2006 5:22 AM

the thing with less effort to make the good move even bigger would be
just link to this page!!
everybody.. I'm shure something will raise..

but even more easy..with ajax these days there isn't much to develop . just to create some desktops..

I will start with a link . and I would love to help..
may we finde some space for a road - map..
a zefrank - wiki roadmap..

bon vibes
yours
mathias

Posted by: Mathias at May 19, 2006 9:43 PM

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