The non-profit group, Teaching Matters, is donating OLPC XO laptops to selected New York City Public Schools to assess their effectiveness in city classrooms. While only a small number of classes are currently piloting the miniature laptops, one such rollout has spawned a very interesting blog, chronicling the good, the bad, and the ugly of implementation in a mainstream setting.
OLPC in NYC is
a “project blog” to help document our experiences with the XO laptop in NYC public school classrooms.
Teaching Matters will run a collaborative pilot with the Department of Education to test One Laptop Per Child mobile computing devices in connection with our Writing Matters content in a middle school ELA classroom. The purpose of the pilot is two-fold. First, we want to determine if the OLPC device can significantly lower the cost of technology access for schools by lowering the total cost of ownership (hardware and ongoing maintenance.) Second, we will test this environment in conjunction with a curriculum designed to improve teacher practice in the teaching of writing. The curriculum has been designed to take best advantage of one to one computing environements.
The actual rollout to on 6th-grade class at Kappa IV Middle School began at the end of January; the project has very well-defined and reasonable objectives, making the blog well worth following for those of us looking at low-cost 1:1 solutions:
1. Test whether OLPC laptops are viable on the NYC school network 2. Test whether the device can support middle school core and new literacy objectives around research, writing, revision, and publishing. 3. Determine if the device can support Writing Matters and Voices and Choices digital content. 4. Identify modifications required to the laptop or to the content programs to ensure compatibility. 5. Determine whether device is accepted by middle school students and teachers as an acceptable [alternative] to higher end devices. 6. Observe improvements around motivation for writing, quantity of writing, and meaningful use of technology. 7. Document the number of technical support issues encountered by students and the degree to which they can be resolved without outside intervention.
Initial student impressions on the blog have, of course, been positive. However, this project looks well-planned enough to really evaluate utility versus novelty long term. Initial staff impressions have also been positive, but there are some interesting technical hurdles described as well. Keep up the good work, folks...this is how to make decisions on 1:1, regardless of the platform you ultimately choose.