Thursday, May 8, 2008
Testing the XO laptop
I have been working with some RIT students testing the XO laptop from the OLPC project. There have been earlier posts regarding this on my blog.
The idea of this test was to see how the students liked the laptops and to test a collaborative aspect of the machines.
The first few groups were given the laptops and were asked to explore, they found stuff and played around, but that was about it. They found some things and did not have too much trouble working with the machine
The rest of the groups were given a writing assignment. They were to collaboratively write a given paragraph. The paragraph was colored red and black, with one student assigned the red lines and the other the black words. One of the aspects of the xo laptop is that it can be used collaboratively, that is in the writing function, if the computers are meshed together, the screen is the same on both computers, that is both are working at the same time on the same text. Two cursers appear on the screen and each is a curser. They have the ability to write simultaneously.
Few of the groups took advantage of being able to write at the same time, most would wait until the other was done with their passage and then type theirs. Most were aware they could type together, but were confused by two people typing at once. I can see how this could be confusing at first.
Most of the students enjoyed the computer, liked the look and size, a few complained about the keyboard size, as I do. Other than that it was good.
The issue may be the ability to share. One student was afraid someone could steal her ideas if this was a classroom situation. One thought it would be good for sharing notes in class, not class notes mind you. All like the portability and weight.
The mesh network started to break down by the last three groups
There will be better results coming out in a paper from RIT, and will be on the Rochester OLPC webpage.