The announcement of the One Laptop per Child scheme a few years ago – the $100 laptop – stimulated a lot of discussion and debate. Now, a few years down the road, it has also led to an enlarged debate about the right level of provision for students. Do they all need a device, in their hand, all of the time? What is the perfect device? What resources & software do they need access to? What connectivity will they need? (I wonder, if we have reached a ratio of one computer for every four students, are we now almost at the “tipping point” – where we no longer have computers sitting in a room waiting for students to arrive, but instead students each carrying their own device, and linking to learning wherever they are).
I was prompted to think about this again by this story on the BBC News site, reporting on our plans to trial Windows on the XO laptop (as the $100 laptop is now known). The availability of loss cost, hard-disk-less laptops, makes it more feasible that we’ll get to 1:1 access, and it is definitely worth considering what your long-term strategy will be when (not if) you can put a laptop into the hands of all of your students. We’re waiting for more announcements of low-cost laptops running Windows software – hopefully just around the corner. The magic moment is when we match the computing power students need, with the a size and weight that makes them easily portable.