Low Cost Options to Develop Computer Skills
Six years ago a project launched called One Laptop Per Child with the aim of creating an inexpensive low power laptop for children in third world countries. They’ve sold over 2.5 million units at a cost of around $200. That’s success.
Having computer skills enables upward mobility.
Another endeavor is launching at the end of the month (Feb 2012) called Raspberry Pi. This group is releasing two very low cost computers at price points of $25 and $35. They don’t come with a keyboard or a monitor and they are a bare bones assembly. They are aimed at hobbyists and educational use.
I really like how they’ve fashioned the device – it has one USB port so you need to use a USB hub to add components, it runs on Linux, and it uses SD cards as a substitute for a hard drive and it boots from it. It can play Hi-Def video via HDMI and is said to be as good as the first X-Box.
The cost is so low that they can be used for many different purposes. Projects in schools or at start ups can certainly use a hardware solution like this to creatively experiment to achieve different learning goals.
Here are some pics of the different computers:
The Raspberry Pi doesn’t come with a case. It has different connections available and is cheap enough to mess with.
Here is the layout of the different components.
The One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) original laptop. It uses 5 watts of power and has a hand crank to add power. The latest version is using only 2 watts of power and will work well with solar energy sources.
The latest OLPC is a tablet.