The shape of disruption: XO laptops in the fifth grade classroom

Gerald P Ardito, Pace University


This mixed methods study investigated how the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) XO Laptops and their Sugar software would influence student independence within five fifth-grade classrooms. It addressed the following research questions: How does the use of the XO Laptops affect the learning environment of the 5th grade classroom? a) Do the students become more independent as learners? b) Do the teachers' planning and design of curricular activities and projects develop in response to this changed learning environment? Over a four-month period, 114 fifth-grade students and their five teachers were trained to use the XO Laptops, which were then incorporated into a series of curricular activities and projects. The study demonstrated that the independence of the learners was positively impacted. This effect was quantified by measuring frequencies of helping interactions between students and teachers and between students and students. During the XO Laptop sessions, the number of student-student helping interactions was over five times more frequent than student-teacher helping interactions. During non-XO Laptop sessions observed, the frequency of student-teacher helping interactions was consistent with the XO Laptop session levels, but there were only about a quarter as many student-student helping interactions. The teachers responded to this student independence in two ways. First, they empowered the student-student helping interactions, frequently redirecting questions directed at them by students to other students. Second, they developed curricular projects and activities that allowed the students to make effective use of the XO Laptops and their Sugar software, as well as work in a collaborative fashion.

Subject Area

Educational technology

Recommended Citation

Ardito, Gerald P, "The shape of disruption: XO laptops in the fifth grade classroom" (2010). ETD Collection for Pace University. AAI3530269.



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