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.


Anonymous said...

Are you referring to the ability to share from a learning standpoint or that the student may have been "trained" to not share his/her work. I can see this holding true since our current model of school is that student's do their own work most of the time.

tsakshaug said...

There seems to be a hesitation of the part of students to want to share, there is a competitive aspect to our schools. It was hard getting the students to speak up during the session, they would whisper to each other, which is what they are trained to do.
We did have a discussion that the students are trained to "take turns" which made the simultaneous writing difficult

Frederick Grose said...

Ted Sakshaug, the students, teachers, and Tom Gallagher, Superintendent, of Wheatland-Chili School District have made a tremendous contribution to the One Laptop per Child learning project.

Just six weeks ago there was one Rochester Institute of Technology usability testing class looking for a backup project after losing a planned sponsor. Ted noticed that there were a few people with XO laptops looking for collaborators to support the OLPC project. With quiet confidence, and no expectations other than providing a learning opportunity, he has proceeded to guide the usability class into the halls and hearts of TJ Connor Elementary School.

The usability team was able to work directly with about twenty 5th-grade students, but when we had a chance to share the story of the OLPC project with all the 5th Graders, it was inspiring to see the interest and the promise of new learning adventures in this growing, worldwide generation of people connected by modern technology—stimulated to thrive in new communities based on human collaboration.

The OLPC project is ambitious, but because it has a grand vision to advance education above all, it attracts those with foresight, like Ted, Tom, and the Wheatland-Chili faculty and students—those who are willing to invest freely of their time and positions to build a better community!

We are all sincerely grateful and honored to be collaborators with you. The OLPC project community will make good use of your collective efforts by using them to refine and build better software to allow more natural tools for learning.

Please keep up the good work and vision!