We were at friends’ house when their daughter, now in grade 2 of high school (North American 8th grade) brought out her school-issued laptop. Unlike the kiddy OLPC units that the little fashionistas use – i.e., this:
the high school version is quite a cool little laptop. Whereas she never used the one above, preferring the family’s desktop computer, she loves having her own laptop now. (Who wouldn’t?)
It runs on Ubuntu Linux, and has full access to the universe of open source applications. I haven’t been able to find much info about its specs (and didn’t have my specs along to read much on the small screen), but saw that it had Open Office and WINE installed, amongst many other programs.
For some families, our hosts explained, this is their only computer.
And they are all connected! When one has internet access, so do the others – not necessarily at blazing speed. We had internet problems recently, and could from time to time connect to a signal from a Ciebal laptop nearby, sometimes with internet long enough to check email and a web site or two. Plan Ceibal also provides open internet access points throughout the country. In 2007, Uruguay became the first country to place an order for laptops – 100,000 of them. By now, it’s over half a million. For a country of 3.5 million. Pretty cool.