The coronavirus pandemic and homeschooling have made it clear how important it is to equip students with devices for digital learning and communication. Nicholas Negroponte presented his idea of a 100-dollar laptop for schools in developing countries back in 2005, with the aim of closing the “digital gap” between industrial countries and countries in the third world. His “one laptop per child” initiative attracted attention internationally, even if the XO laptop designed by Yves Béhar was not able to fulfil all expectations.
Now the company Kano has launched a new laptop that was specially developed for children and pedagogical purposes. Kano believes that the conventional laptops used in schools are rarely designed for the needs of teachers and children. When components such as the battery, keyboard or speakers break, the entire device is usually thrown away or replaced at great cost. Bruno Schillinger, head of industrial design at the company, says the Kano computer has a modular design, which means that the users can assemble or update their devices themselves and learn something while doing so.
The computer, which runs on Windows, is characterised by the vibrant colours of orange, blue and red. They form part of the brand’s design language. A similar colour scheme could be seen in the DIY computer kit developed together with Barber Osgerby back in 2013. The housing of the new laptop is transparent, which is how users can identify various elements based on colour codes. The indicators on the corresponding circuits, for example, flash red or blue when the network cable or speakers have been plugged in. “We developed this design language so that not only teachers but also students can repair the devices if they should ever break after extended periods of use – they are designed to be tough enough for the classroom yet also accessible enough that they can be repaired,” says Schillinger. The computer’s modular design is therefore not only for practical reasons, but also due to pedagogical considerations.