My XO laptop arrived yesterday, 2008-03-25. I can see
already that it is a severe threat to the established
hardware vendors, but I could not imagine just how
much the XO’s unique software threatens the existing
When MJ was younger, I got the “blaster” learning
games. While they were a great improvement over the
rote quizzes that characterized a lot of eduware of
the time, he soon saw through the entertaining
graphics to the quiz engine underneath. After that, he
played those learning games no longer.
It used to be that computers in schools were not used
for vocational training. Instead, they were used for
explorational learning with tools like LOGO, as well
as introductory programming in the BASIC and Pascal
languages. Somehow we’ve gone away from actually
letting students learn and toward the kind of
mind-numbing learn-by-rote that formerly only
described memorizing multiplication tables.
Teaching schoolchildren to click a particular set of
menu choices to perform a certain task is a tremendous
waste of time and money. By the time most of them are
in the workplace, the arrangement of those choices
will be different enough that the former student may
need retraining. Instead, we need to teach kids to
think for themselves and to be comfortable exploring
the computer to learn how to perform any specific
About the ‘activities’ or software: I’m trying to
blend exploring into my already cramped schedule, but
I’ve enjoyed the Measurement activity (a moving graph
of the sounds around the unit which could be used as a
fascinating introduction to acoustics, wave theory,
and related topics), watched the Etoys demo, and
opened the TamTam music activities, browsed the Web
with the built-in browser, and opened the chat
activity. I am writing this using the AbiWord-based
Writing activity. It does not yet use ODF, but the real AbiWord (v. 2.4.6) still has problems with the format as well.
I can definitely see how this beats boring quiz games and word processing.
About the laptop itself: the keyboard is definitely
kid-sized, and it occasionally does not catch keys I
press, especially when I start to speed up. The screen
is bright and clear. I can read things at smaller
sizes than I normally can. The wireless picked up
more than double the number of networks than I knew
existed around here.
This thing is so much fun that I really hope that they
bring back Give1 Get 1. I think my family would like several.