The Lunchbox Laptop

A colleague once noted that student computers in the future will look no different than their current lunch-boxes– bright colored plastic and pop culture cartoon characters. Xeon Hello Kitty with WiMax and bluetooth headset (Barbie tiara design, of course).

MIT $100 LaptopNot too many years ago, I handed out dozens of Apple Emates to fourth graders. The cases were made of football helmet plastic. The dark green translucent, however, was pretty calm.

Today, the official photos of the MIT $100 laptop were released. Note the plastic and colors. Note the child-sized hands. I don’t see the Disney stickers yet, but… I digress.

The goal here isn’t to provide kids with computers that look like their parents’ (we’ve done that plenty already). The goal is to reach as many kids as possible with tools that they can have ownership of. That may not mean they take them home forever, but that they are responsible for the “virtual workspaces” that are becoming increasingly important. Cognitive tools, like pencils, paper and laptops, should never be devalued, but in this case maybe the tools are too important to be taken seriously.

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