XO = no poor children?

Points of views and questions about the OLPC project. What should it be? How could it be better? Where is it needed most? Ask your questions here and let your opinion be known.

XO = no poor children?

Postby Camus.com » Thu Jul 23, 2009 11:40 am

Can anyone describe for me, what exactly the XO can/will do for poor children? I know that OLPC calls it a solution to unlock their potentials and that it will provide a brighter future. But how?

What is it within the programs, the mobility, the Linux-system, the ability to mesh-network etc, that can make a change? I'm not question if it works. Im just asking how it works?

To say that poor kids (or any kids) should use XO, is to say that, there must be some kind of evidens or description that in fact it is true that i works. Otherwise why not just give them a rock or the 100 dollars instead? I apologise for the sarcastic alternative, but it has puzzled me ever since I first came to know OLPC.
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Re: XO = no poor children?

Postby ektoric » Fri Jul 24, 2009 2:15 am

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Re: XO = no poor children?

Postby Camus.com » Fri Jul 24, 2009 9:16 am

Thank you. But I've allready read this. And it sounds very persuasive. My problem isn't that the mission-argumets couldn't be true based on evidens.

The question is still not answered.

(..."it's about giving children a great tool for education so that they can learn skills to end poverty and hunger in their communities in future".)

I would like to hear or see some examples on specific skills that the XO can provide that can end poverty and hunger.

The best argument I believe OLPC has provided is the cost of the XO. If its true that the computer is cheaper than two educational textbooks, I can see why poor children should engage with this computer. But it's only the begining of the argument. The basic argument is still missing. How should they engage with this technology to end poverty?

The computer as a window to the world could be a good argument, but so is a television. Then there is the argument that no one controls the internet. maybe it's the internet that can end poverty. But how does the internet do that? What is on the internet that guarantee a nice future living for a poor kid in Africa?

But is it only the internet that can end poverty and hunger? What about the other programs on the XO? Are they merely stuffing for play and fun (in a no money-benefit kind of play and fun)?

Another way of reading and interpret the above-mentioned quotation is to say, that the XO just is a piece in the big educational puzzle. So education with various educational tools (i.e. XO) can end poverty and hunger? But the XO is not an ordinary tool otherwise it would have no importance to make it a global project. The XO is a unique tool for every poor child (person) globally OLPC says. It is written in the OLPC-documents that it has a force, a powerful technology. In what way? What power? What force?

("It's a tool to learn learn"). In my interpretation the "first" learn implies the learning-skills of the technology. Once you have the skill-knowledge, you can use the skills to make your own i.e. a math-program so you will learn ("second" learn) math - therefore self-learning. Is it math or the proces of self-learning that can help to end poverty. - It is...that helps end poverty because....?

I'm still wondering
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Re: XO = no poor children?

Postby generalludd » Sun Aug 02, 2009 12:00 am

Hello: In the mission statement i read "However, most children have their basic physiological and safety needs met." I didn't read further. The Mission Statement is obviously written by intellectually gifted person(s) who just want to ...write. What third world nation is the writer referring to? Not parts of Africa certainly. By definition, poor children do not have all their needs met. Or are we comparing "poor" to Western consumer-driven standards.

I am not a typical child for whom XO is intended, being 79, somewhat acquainted with computers-mostly Macintosh, and having a rather short short-term memory. However; in early 2008 before the G1G1 program ended, i "purchased" four of them (two for me) which i have since (by following instructions which i haven't the foggiest idea what they do) updated to the latest 8.2 build. I also installed the Opera Web Browser 9.52 (again just following somebody's instructions) on them. One of them also has Flash Media player.

I am at a loss to understand just what part of the many Activities (Applications) will be most useful to children. I've even added some like VNC server. Some look interesting as far as they go, but the documentation doesn't go far enough. Who explains to the children how they do all the good things that these machines are capable of. Can they figure it out for themselves when even people who have computer science degrees (not me by the way) have said they have trouble understanding it?
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Re: XO = no poor children?

Postby manymny » Tue Aug 18, 2009 10:43 am

i don't think anyone (including the people that wrote the mission statement) really believes that you can just upgrade "poor children" to "children with laptops," and that will solve the world's problems.

i think it will help, a lot. olpc has lots of problems, it's an ambitious project too. i think it's admirable, and i think it will improve if people don't give up on it. i think it's already got a lot going for it, but as far as the poor, the easiest thing you can give to everyone that helps them find their own way our of poverty is to give them a better education.

in the 21st century, that also means a computer education. i have yet to see a project that does more to that end than olpc, even if olpc will have to improve to be relevant- there's a lot of great stuff you could say about it already, if you (and i don't mean literally "you") know what you're talking about.

people really need to stop thinking of "saving the world" in blockbuster film terms. it's little things that turn the world from harsh to brilliant, like gandhi making salt. no one who understood him asked: "making salt = freedom?" that's kind of what it is. no one took it so literally as to think suddenly all forms of oppression would disappear from india, either. olpc is a not a plan to end poverty, it's a tool to help fight it.
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Re: XO = no poor children?

Postby Camus.com » Wed Aug 19, 2009 10:17 am

[quote="manymny"] olpc is a not a plan to end poverty, it's a tool to help fight it.

I know that I asked in a metaphorical sense in math terms as to balance the equation of poverty with XO computers, wich of course is to easy to suggest.

But manymny (and others); it may be trivial (not to me), but in what sense can the tool (XO), not end help, but fight poverty? what is it that the XO can do, or people with the XO can do?

- Is the peoples interacting with what programs?
- Is it the internet, and how?
- Is it just an ideal?
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Re: XO = no poor children?

Postby manymny » Thu Aug 20, 2009 7:18 pm

asking what people can do with the xo is like asking what people can do with text- it's an issue of literacy. traditional literacy is called "literacy." capability with numbers and math is called "numeracy." these are both skills vital to lifting yourself out of poverty. does that mean that learning to read and write will make you wealthy? i wish! but you're much worse off without it. literacy opens doors.

in the 21st century, we can't pretend that computer literacy isn't just as important. we've fought illiteracy and innumeracy, and using the xo with the internet and educational tools like the ones people in wealthy and developed countries grow up with and take for granted- that can help even further in the fight against illiteracy and innumeracy. it can also help fight computer illiteracy.

the xo will probably not help more than any other education tool can (potentially) help, but good education as i said is one of the best things you can give to fight poverty. (food and shelter are obvious choices as well, but they don't make education any less important.)

what seems pretty unique about the xo, with sugar, is that it's really a tool for all ages. i'm no more impressed with the problems the first generation of xo's had than anyone else, but i've watched projects like ubuntu start out impressive (with just as many problems) and mature in amazing, unexpected ways. it's reasonable to expect the same of the xo, from its hardware to the services, and the right amount of criticism will probably help.

that said, i wish i could buy one for every 5 year old on earth. i was lucky to grow up with pc's, and i want that for the next generation, and i remember the tools that taught me very clearly. i'm not too much impressed with the tools we've made for the next generation, but some of the most impressive tools i've seen for teaching computing are included with the xo. my biggest complaint is that we can't teach adults to learn how to play again, because if they could do that they could become programmers just by playing with the xo. it has many layers of subtle brilliance, and includes the first version of redhat i've been able to enjoy "playing" with (redhat is a serious tool, about as serious as any) since it was called redhat.

from moment you use sugar, you're taught to point and click at things. honestly, there are adults who struggle with that, only because they're afraid. we need more friendly, inviting playthings for the pc. tasking, searching, interacting, typing, scrolling, coding, drawing, dragging and dropping, thinking. the world is full of adults as threatened by computers as illiterate adults are by words. this is a kind of impoverishment, even in the wealthier nations.

imagine being someone who is unable to work a radio in the 40's or a television in the 70's. imagine the world of information you'd never have. "knowledge is power." if i had to choose between giving a child an xo, and sending them to a school without computers, i'd give them an xo. giving them an xo and sending them to school is probably better. mind you, even i'm not trying to say the xo is the greatest thing ever invented. it's a really good idea. it would look less impressive next to better classes, but how do you have better classes? i really think we need classes taught by computer literate teachers. if olpc is successful, we'll have computer literate teachers for the next generation of students, and we'll have learned a lot about how to teach them computer skills.

but let's boil down all the talk of utopian ideals, let's just say that if you could get books- interesting, informative, up to date books- not stale, outdated, boring books- into the hands of every student, it would make a world of difference. computers (like the xo) make that very easy. oh sure, you can make e-readers, but there is no publisher more universal than the net itself. you can have a country of information- that's a publisher- or a world of information like the net. but you need access... even as an e-reader, the xo is worth it. now imagine an e-reader that can not only show e-books, but help you create them. not only an e-reader, but a web browser. not only an e-reader, but tools that teach you how to write software?! i almost think people can't understand the education the xo represents because they don't have a deep enough experience with computers- but i say that with no malice.
teachers that continue teaching should be expected to continue learning; it's an absurdity to have 19th century expectations of 21st century educators. granted they shouldn't have their time wasted (more than students,) or be paid insulting salary.
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Re: XO = no poor children?

Postby generalludd » Fri Aug 21, 2009 12:37 am

"imagine being someone who is unable to work a radio in the 40's or a television in the 70's. imagine the world of information you'd never have. "knowledge is power." if i had to choose between giving a child an xo, and sending them to a school without computers, i'd give them an xo. giving them an xo and sending them to school is probably better."

Have you tried operating some of the radios and TVs they are making today?. With some you need to read a manual to figure out how to turn them on.

My point is the OLPC is a great little computer and i have a lot of enjoyment working with it. However, i would enjoy it even more if there were some additional outside documentation that better explained the uses of the Activities presented. Take the "Measure" activity:

When it is started you immediately get a scope-like screen and you will see a wave form displayed. This is the sound that is being picked up by the XOs microphone. You can see two displays, amplitude and frequency.

If the mouse hovers over the sine wave symbol the words "time base" appears and at the bottom "1 division = 0.10ms. What in the world does that mean to a child?. An instructor would have to explain that you are looking at the amplitude of a sound, and that the frequency of 100 hertz (i hope i got that right). There is slider at the top and when set to the left you see 1.25 ms. Then the slider moved to the right again gives you .26 ms. (That whole thing is confusing and probably indicates the programmer needs to work on the controls.). By the way the sensitivity of this measurement is set by a slider on the right.

Now the next symbol when hovered over indicates "frequency base". That allows you to measure the pitch of a sound. Again that erratic little slider changes from 0.10hz (per division) to .26hz and etc. (that needs work too). I found that humming low causes a bump at the low end. Blowing whistle a bump in the middle, and blowing a dog whistle puts a bump way to the right. If you know how to convert frequency base to frequency you will know the pitch of the sound.

On the right hand side of the display at the top (be sure you have the whole screen and are not in partial mode with the neighborhood, group, home, etc. displayed) you see "now, 30 seconds, 2minutes, ...." There is also a "stop symbol shown" There are also some non-operative symbols shown.

Further capability of the Measure program allows DC sensors to be connected to the mike jack. You can measure voltage or current with this program.

In any case, i have familiarity with oscilloscopes and voltage and frequency measurement and voltage and resistance probes. the use of the Now, 30 second, etc. selections and the associated stop symbol are somewhat obscure. A child would have no idea what was being shown.

This would certainly be a great teaching tool for children in elementary sound/frequency/voltage/resistance measurement, but it would require an instructor who knew these things to explain it. Some of the quirky and not quite logical operation of the controls also need some work.

Regards:

Unfortunately the fine adjustment becomes murky.
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Flash Player 10.2..
People perish for lack of knowledge
(revised 02/28/11).
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Re: XO = no poor children?

Postby manymny » Sat Aug 22, 2009 7:55 pm

first impressions of sugar led me to believe that the activities were supposed to be things you could learn by doing, even by "playing." play enough, you'll know how to use a word processor, search, make a program that draws things on the screen...

and clearly some of the activities are more useful when guided (or even useless unless guided.) i haven't used measure, it's one of those. the ones where guiding is helpful could guide using espeak possibly?
teachers that continue teaching should be expected to continue learning; it's an absurdity to have 19th century expectations of 21st century educators. granted they shouldn't have their time wasted (more than students,) or be paid insulting salary.
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