I’m a huge fan of iPads. That’s been documented quite frequently on this site. I’ve advocated for more classrooms to adopt them and even given a few away to teachers. That being said, the new OLPC (One Laptop Per Child) Tablet, dubbed the XO-3, may very well be the answer to your interactive learning prayers. Here’s 5 reasons why:
The entire tablet is wrapped in durable rubber and since it’s designed for usage in developing countries, it’s made to be dropped and mishandled. This makes it perfect for younger learners who may be a bit, ahem, clumsier than others. Personally, I’d rather see my student drop an OLPC Tablet rather than iPad. I’d let out a shriek but probably not as loud.
OLPC was somehow able to price the XO-3 at $100. While that’s up from the rumored $75 pricetag, it’s still about $400 LESS than an iPad. To do the math out for you, a classroom of 30 students would need to have about $15,000 worth of iPads. That same classroom would need just $3,000 in XO-3 tablets. While they may not offer the same amount of learning resources, it’s a start to get students excited about interactive digital learning. NOTE: The hand-crank and dual display are options, thus raising the price a bit.
It’s easy to use
The tablet uses a Marvell Armada PXA618 processor, has 512MB RAM and will run either Android or Sugar, OLPC’s kid-friendly Linux. But the most interesting parts are the screen and case. The 8-inch 1024 x 768 3Qi display comes from Pixel Qi. Indoors, it looks like any other tablet screen. Outside, you can use it as a reflective e-ink type display, and the resolution jumps accordingly. Not only does this let you use it in sunlight, it also means you can turn the screen down in bright light — not up — saving power. -Wired
It’s great for field trips
The XO-3 can be dropped, kicked, and used outside with no problem whatsoever. That’s because it’s durable (see above) but also has an e-ink display that works well in sunlight as well as a solar charger. Couple that with the more powerful hand-crank and the extremely low power demands of the device… and you got a great field trip companion. Students can wander and use the XO-3 to their heart’s content to take notes, read on the bus, watch movies, and just keep their minds engaged no matter where the field trip may take them.
It’s display is more innovative than the iPad
I think this point is so important it needed to me made again in greater detail. The screen of the XO-3 is downright amazing. I saw a few videos of it in action and am very impressed with its functionality despite the low price. The screen is something Apple should pay attention to. It lets you use the tablet as an e-ink reader in harsh sunlight (or whenever else you want) but also as a normal glossy tablet display when you want. The ramifications for this type of screen are numerous and I hope education districts realize how important this is.
Overall, the OLPC Tablet is a great step towards helping students around the world get their hands on some interactive learning tools (literally). While the OLPC Tablet is only being sold in bulk to education systems, the price is low enough that your school could buy a bundle for a lot less than the cost of any iPad order. At $100 apiece, it’s worth the gamble.
What do you think? Would you be satisfied with an OLPC Tablet instead of an iPad? What do you think of the tablet? Join the conversation on the Edudemic Facebook page today.