One Laptop per Child Birmingham: Case Study of a Radical Experiment


The One Laptop per Child (OLPC) program has sought to transform education by developing and distributing to low-income children around the world an inexpensive computer with an innovative interface and applications. This article investigates the implementation of OLPC in Birmingham, Alabama, where some 15,000 of the group’s XO laptops were distributed to all first- through fifth-grade public school students and their teachers. Surveys were collected from a representative sample of children before and after they received their laptops, supplemented by observations and interviews in a Birmingham school. The use of the XOs by teachers and schools, the ways social and technical infrastructure affected program implementation, and the types of XO use by students are examined. The disappointing results of the Birmingham program, which has been discontinued, are analyzed in relationship to OLPC’s technocentric approach, the organization’s principle of child ownership, and the design elements of the XO hardware and software.

This work is featured in the International Journal of Learning and Media in Volume 3::Issue 2

Mark Warschauer

Published under Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported license.

Publication Date
Thursday, January 26, 2012