Monday, October 12, 2015

One Education Infinity Kids Laptop

One Education is a Sydney based organization planning to build a low cost laptop computer called the Infinity Kids Laptop/Tablet for education, costing US $249 to US $299. As One Education point out, this is not a new idea and is essentially a reboot of the One Laptop per Child Project (OLPC) concept, but with newer technology. Like the OLPC XO-1, "Children's Machine", the Infinity is has a brightly colored case designated to appeal to kids and be robust for them to use.

The Infinity has a conventional 8.9" LCD screen. The XO-1 had a 7.5 inch dual-mode screen which was designed to be readable in monochrome mode outdoors and color indoors, but always looked dull and hard to see. The Infinity is a tablet device which docs with a keyboard. The XO-1 had a permanently  attached keyboard, but with a screen which could rotate and fold over the keyboard to make it an e-book.


Display: 8.9 inch Resolution: 2560 x 1600
Storage: 8GB Processor:1.4GHz Quad Core
Size & Weight: Height: 188.5mm Width: 264.5mm Length: 245mm Thickness: 40.8mm Weight: 1.5kg
Camera: VGA Front & 2MP Rear
Audio: Dual Mode Audio In/Out (External)
Touch Technology: Multitouch Capacitive
Operating System: Android Lollipop,
Windows & Linux Coming Soon
Battery & Power: 7000MAh USB-C Connector

The Infinity uses USB-C to connect together hardware modules, allowing upgrading. I have owned several computers which had a modular upgrade feature. But I have never purchased an upgrade for any of these. There either were no upgrades available, or they were so expensive that it was cheaper to buy a whole new computer. Perhaps the Infinity will be different. Exactly what modules the Infitiy has I have not been able to work out, as the highly "responsive" web page for the project keeps jumping about.

Another aspect of the project I have been unable to work out is if this is a for-profit, or not-for-profit project. I suggest it would be better as a for-profit project as this would impose some commercial disciplines on the team. But in either case, it would be good if One Eduction's legal status was clearly and prominently displayed on the web site.

The biggest question for One Education is how this device help children's education. Research shows that the OLPC made minimal improvements in children's education in developing nations. The OLPC well have been harmful, by diverting resource from more useful conventional educational facilities, such as books and teachers.

Having spent the last seven years as a student of on-line pedagogy, one clear finding from the literature is that hardware makes very little difference to education. What is important is educational content relevant to the needs of the student, peers for them to study with and, ideally, a teacher. My preference would be to create educational content which uses web based formats and can be provided as responsive web pages, as off-line e-books (call them "apps" if you want), and can also be delivered on paper and used in a conventional classroom.

What it might be useful for One Education to do is consider modular educational content to complement their modular hardware. One group to target would be students in remote Australia. This could include both remote indigenous communities and students on remote cattle stations. Currently these students are supported (or not supported) by a plethora of uncoordinated state and federal schemes. One Education could aim to deliver a consistent student experience for all Australia students. At the same time this could be used to overcome problems with the NBN Interim Salivate Service.

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