The OLPC Project

OLPC logo

"It's an education project, not a laptop project" is how Nicholas Negroponte describes the non-profit organization, One Laptop Per Child (OLPC). The organization attempts to improve education in the developing world by subscribing to the constructionist theory that actively making things in the real world can make learning most effective. OLPC aims to provide $100 laptops to every child in the developing world to bring constructionist learning into practice.

The XO laptop is specifically designed for children in the developing world with, among other features, its low power consumption, resilience against dirt and moisture, and low cost. While it has not achieved the desired $100 price, through engineering feats and large orders, OLPC is producing $188 XO laptops. Multiple countries have already placed orders for the XO laptop and individuals can also donate XO laptops. Other companies have also begun working on initiatives to create cheap laptops, as low as $47 per laptop, that would compete with the XO laptop.

Despite its education-focused goals, OLPC has also received plenty of criticism. People have questioned whether developing countries have the resources to buy laptops for their children, even at the low cost of $188 per laptop. The $188 price tag is actually less than the real cost of buying these laptops since they require Internet access, support and training. There is also disagreement over whether the money spent buying XO laptops would be better spent furthering education in other ways such as libraries or schools.