Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Museums and One Laptop Per Child

ExhibiTricks reader Sean Hooley asked for some space to express his enthusism for the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) program and its applications to the museum world, so take it away Sean:

This spring I started doing some work with One Laptop per Child (OLPC) as I transitioned from working in interaction design back to the museum exhibit field. While not involved in deployments or the learning team, I have seen the enormous potential of the XO (the '$100 laptop') including talks by volunteers about the great educational opportunities afforded by the laptop.

OLPC just restarted the Give One, Get One (G1G1) program, where people/organizations in the US can pay for 2 XOs and get one, while the other is donated to a child in the third world. So, it seemed like a good time to get museum people talking. Here is an interesting use of the XO, at a science club in Washington, DC: http://www.olpcnews.com/use_cases/user_groups/olpc_learning_club_d.html

I feel that the museum world would benefit from working with XOs (and vice versa) so I am trying to get people thinking about ways for museums to participate in the US (OLPCs mission is to deliver them to children in the third world). OLPC is making the XO available again in the US (and probably for longer than the 2 months it was for sale last year.) This could allow more opportunities for museums to get involved with the XOs.

Therefore, I created an outline for a section in the community media page of OLPCs wiki for museums and hope that people will edit /add to it. You can also email me or check out some of the links below.

Some ideas were:

1. Museums acting as local XO community centers where XO users can get together, taking advantage of the social aspects of the XO (this is happening at the MIT museum, but why not more?)

2. Museums can create educational activities (applications) for the XO to add to the community (both in the US and abroad), based on their subject knowledge as well as their experiences with informal learning

3. Educating the public about the open source software movement and OLPC's work in developing countries through exhibits/programs, etc.

4. Learning tools for Children's Museums, often within the exhibit halls

This is the wiki page where I just started (still pretty empty and rough) putting museum resources down. I expect to put goals/ideas and other info about museums and the XO, and wanted others in museums to add to and start a discussion about this.

To participate in 'Give One, Get One’:

General OLPC Info:

Thanks to Sean for bringing up many interesting ideas about the OLPC program!

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