Blog of Random Thoughts and Pictures

Edutainment Desktop and the OLPC

May 22nd, 2008

Some times I bring work home with me ……. but when I finish reading those emails, the laptop gets left on the kitchen table for a little while and Kate becomes curious …..

what does the puter do daddy?

With it being a Tablet PC we have found some great online colouring sites, with the Crayola Digi-Color head and shoulders above the rest. The use of the ‘electronic’ pen is great for Kate as she doesn’t get messy at all !
After numerous times running this and a couple of related colouring websites I got more interest (while my daughter got more bored) in finding other sites or even running her own desktop …. but what should I go with?
Well to start with this GPL Edutainment Software article on Slashdot was very timely, and I found it handy. But in running these I wanted a more tightly closed desktop environment.
Then the One Laptop per Child [OLPC] (or $100 Laptop) project appeared on the radar and its Sugar GUI. Well really there isn’t anything else out there (well I know there’s Edubuntu but its not suitable for the age group). I was really curious because there seemed to be tons of activities specially tailored for kids as part of the GUI and so I got a great LiveCD called LiveBackup XO-LiveCD to check it out for myself (and for Kate of course).
Sugar GUI
And sure enough on an old Compaq Presario the LiveCD boots just fine (no networking though) and we can have a look at a number of the Sugar Activities like Turtle Art, Paint(Oficina), TamTam amongst others.
They were good ………. but the overall GUI was for me confusing (Kate didn’t seem to mind so much), especially the ‘STOP’ symbol for closing programs instead of an ‘X’ button or symbol. Now I know the whole environment has a different design philosophy, but it’s just that it doesn’t translate to anything out there, and I’m not so sure its such a good idea !
Anyway since our little experiment there’s been loads of news from the OPLC camp, $100 laptop’ embraces Windows XP, ‘$100 laptop’ platform moves on and finally I find myself back at Slashdot looking at A View From Inside the OLPC Project. This all points to some very interesting times for the OPLC, and for the moment I’ve not re-run the Sugar GUI in a couple of weeks, the original colouring websites will keep us busy for the time being.