Monday, December 3, 2007

Will this change the world?

One Laptop Per Child

The $188 laptop. I want one. I am getting one after Christmas and therefore donating one to a child in the developing world in the process.

Why do I think it might be appropriate for AT applications?
1)cost

It's not just a financial matter. Low cost = lower expectations = lower anxiety
No one wants to admit they don't know if a $6000 communication device will work for a child. No one wants to admit discomfort or the fact that they are unsure about their own abilities to make it work. So they come up with excuses.

2) portable and rugged as hell
It's designed for a third world country. Dust, dirt, liquids, heat, cold, rough handling. Yup. My kiddo with autism ate the SD card out of his mini-Auggie. So harsh environments are the norm where I work.

The only thing even close is a panasonic toughbook and it's a few thousand bucks.

3) good battery life
WAY better than any other off the shelf laptop. And you can recharge by solar power or a hand crank. How cool is that?

4) Operating system
Sugar
Open Source linux
At first, I thought this was a disadvantage. Windows owns the world, like it or not. Even Macs are hard to come by these days in schools. I just rounded up a whole bunch of outdated Mac software at my school. I wouldn't know where to find a mac.

But, I really truly believe that because this is open to the community, I can really find resources to help me make this do what I want it to.

For some people, like M., the fact that it doesn't look like a traditional windows OS will be an advantage. She has such a bad history of being intimidated by computers that this will seem like a neat toy. For the kids at work who stim endlessly on flash games on Nick Jr and see computers as a toy they use to isolate themselves from the world with, this will be different enough to be functional for them.

It's a kid-friendly OS that relies heavily on large, understandable graphics.
No five million different drivers and extra windows junk to mess with. Stripped down.

However, Linux severely limits what I can do with my laptop. I can't run any R.J. Cooper software, for instance, which I think is the best software out there for communication, learning, etc. I can't run most of the special education programs out there. No intellikeys, no boardmaker. I can do touch screen adapters though.

Still, boardmaker, speaking dynamically, intellikeys, etc are GREAT programs, however, many teach people and educators think they are the only games in town. This requires thinking outside of the box a bit.

And learning Linux!

5) video camera and still camera built in.
Can we say "picture schedule"?????

In comparison to a regular, off the shelf laptop, the functionality is really poor.
But when compared to similarly priced devices, like say an alphasmart for education or a video game console system or mp3 player for recreation, what this thing can do is amazing.

And I like being part of something, you know? As I get into AT, I spend a lot of time seeing solutions that others have come up with and tryng really really hard to make them fit for someone else. I spend my time looking at third party vendor sites and trying to convince someone to buy a piece of equipment for a child. By getting this laptop, I would be part of a solution. It sounds cheesy, but the line that got me was something like "We encourage you not to think of yourself as a buyer of a product but a contributor to an educational movement."

I like that.
I'm a sucker for cheese.
But man... if I can make it work...

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