One Laptop Per Child


As correspondent Lesley Stahl first reported last spring, the laptop, called the XO, was the brainchild of Nicholas Negroponte, a professor at MIT.”

Nicholas Negroponte graduated from MIT to become a Greek American Architect and founded both the MIT Media Lab and One Laptop Per Child. He was motivated to create the non-profit because he grew up with dyslexia and has publicly acknowledged his difficulty reading. Negroponte is an entrepreneur who has founded 30 startup companies that aim to help others.

Negroponte’s idea developed when he was visiting a village in Cambodia called Reaksmy.  With the help of his family Negroponte developed a school and soon introduced the students to computers as well as the internet. Every child in the town wanted to attend school and show their families the opportunities that the computer offered.  Negroponte then decided that he wanted to take this great idea and implement it into other schools around the world.  However, he understood that the standard computer used in the United States was too expensive for those in developing countries to acquire. This issue prompted him to create a cost effective and durable laptop that could be distributed to children in developing countries. He aimed to increase the educational experience of children throughout the world. This became a non-profit called, “One Laptop Per Child.” People are able to purchase a laptop in developed countries while, simultaneously, providing a laptop for a child in need. This soon became an initiative that is sold to governments in developing countries for educational benefit and economic growth. Click here to see a few countries experiences with the XO Laptop. 

Interacting with the Laptop

What They Claim…

What We Experienced…


Although Negroponte’s idea of One Laptop Per Child came from a place of goodwill, the computer has consistently failed in its mission to increase access to education. The computer is difficult to use and the countries they aim to impact do not have the training to understand and utilize the product effectively. In developing countries that rely on vocations such as agriculture, this laptop focuses little attention to real world tools students need. One of the major flaws was, Negroponte’s idea was that kids don’t need teachers to learn the how to use the computer. They can pick it up by experimenting on their own – with help from a friend.” Although this may be true of today’s tablet, children using this  technology would require basic training to navigate the symbols and complicated display. The processing and software needs have resulted in a cost increase of $100. This is twice the promised price for outdated and not easily updatable  laptop. In today’s society the widespread cell phone use and accessible and updatable laptop technology, the XO Laptop is becoming increasingly obsolete. Click here to see where OLPC is implemented in the world today.

“Given the resources that poor countries can reasonably allocate to education— sometimes less than $20 per year per pupil, compared to the approximately $7500 per pupil spent annually in the U.S.—even a doubled or redoubled national commitment to traditional education, augmented by external and private funding, would not get the job done. Moreover, experience strongly suggests that an incremental increase of “more of the same”—building schools, hiring teachers, buying books and equipment—is a laudable but insufficient response to the problem of bringing true learning possibilities to the vast numbers of children in the developing world.”

-Nicholas Negroponte

“We cannot visualize a situation for decades when we can go beyond the pilot stage. We need classrooms and teachers more urgently than fancy tools.” 

Indian Education Minister 


-Broadens children’s educational and technological horizons

-Includes features such as mesh networking and low power consumption that increases accessibility and portability

-Gives children access to educational resources and learning experiences

-Increased global mindset of students to communicate with and learn about other countries and cultures

-Can create a tool for entrepreneurship

-Increases independent learning through interaction and exploration with XO laptop

-Laptops are proposed to increase educational level of students and thus sustained economic growth

-Cost effective and durable laptop









-Teachers and parents aren’t adequately trained to use and teach children to utilize the features of the laptop

-May not be teaching students realistic skills for future vocational needs in community

-Low quality processing and cannot be easily upgraded, which will most likely make the laptop obsolete after a few years of use

-Parents and teachers in developing countries may not effectively support the use of technology because they have to worry about basic needs over technology

-Most schools to not have the infrastructure to support technology when the primary needs for education are not being met

-Countries in need may not be able to afford this resource

-Those in charge of distribution may exploit their power and gain financially if not monitored

-No good way to measure benefits of costly initiative

-Little technological support after distribution for students

-Production causes environmental waste


Then and Now:

One Laptop Per Child compares with IPad and Tablet devices that are becoming widely used in classrooms across the world today because of their affordability, user friendliness and size. These tools have eclipsed the intentions of the XO computer by creator Nicholas Negroponte. In order to see the improvement between the two devices in user friendliness, they should be placed next to one and other in the Media Archaeology lab. If you would like to see back to back interactions of this technology by children click here. If the XO computer remains on its own in the lab, there should be instructions or a key to distinguish icons so the user can explore the device to its fullest potential.

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Works Cited:

“Big Educational Laptop and Tablet Projects — Ten Countries to Learn from.” Edutech. Web. 7 Dec. 2015.


“Boston University Arts & Sciences Writing Program.” A Blurry Vision: Reconsidering the Failure of the One Laptop Per Child Initiative » Writing Program » Boston University. Web. 7 Dec. 2015.


“One Laptop per Child.” One Laptop per Child. Web. 7 Dec. 2015.


“The Failure of One Laptop Per Child.” The Failure of One Laptop Per Child. Web. 7 Dec. 2015.


“What If Every Child Had A Laptop?” CBSNews. CBS Interactive. Web. 7 Dec. 2015.