I did some more playing around with the OLPC operating system today – this time with an eye to on-line content, particularly literacy content. We are thinking about how a pilot might run with the OLPC machines in a k-2 classroom environment; and there are some stumbling blocks, but also a lot of potential.
The number one stumbling block at the moment is the lack of a real flash player on the device. Gnash is the open-source flash player that runs through the default web browser on the OLPC. And while it does “play” flash files – it does not support many of the basic scripts that most online flash content uses! This is a big problem for us (Teaching Matters) because a lot of our literacy content (www.writingmatters.org) uses flash animation and tutorials. We can and will fix our content if we have to; but there is a vast pool of great resources that already exists out there that may have to do the same:
- www.pbskids.org– a fantastic resource for literacy isn’t read properly by gnash
- www.starfall.com – great phonics resource – gnash doesn’t load it
- www.lil-fingers.com– some great games – the java client on the OLPC doesn’t load
- www.unitedstreaming.com (now http://streaming.discoveryeducation.com– thank you discoveryeducation!) – videos won’t run
- www.teachertube.com – videos are messed up
- www.brainpop.com – again, gnash doesn’t load correctly
I’m sure this is just a few – and this is by no means meant as a criticism of these wonderful sites who developed their content the way the rest of the world developed flash content. It is instead to make the important point that the OLPC device needs a real browser with a real flash player and java client. I know it goes against the philosophy of the machine in a way – but it is sacrificing SO MUCH without them. The browser interface is great otherwise, it just needs a simple update on the plug-ins that it runs.