Today Uruguayan President Tabaré Vázquez handed out the last XO in the initial project of Plan Ceibal, Uruguay’s national olpc project, providing an XO to each of the 395,000 children in primary school from 1st to 6th grade across the country’s 2332 public schools. Of these, some 1900 are connected to the Internet; and those students and teachers generate a significant percentage of traffic to this and other OLPC websites (sending us hundreds of thousands of visitors a month).
The handout was of the last laptops was made in Montevideo at Escuela 28/80. It is remarkable to see how quickly they reached this first milestone, and I can’t wait to see what the program does next.
When I visited Uruguay in August, I got to see one day-long handout at a school; the care with which the head teachers worked with every parent to introduce them to the laptop along with their child for a minute apiece as they were taking them home for the first time has stayed with me. It was very much a social process, not technical training, making what might be foreign to parents seem fun and natural.
Plan Ceibal have already published the most comprehensive evaluations of a full-saturation olpc project to date, for both teachers and administrators, and a series of remarkable videos and books about the project for the lay public.
I should post an image of the bag I purchased from the PTA fundraiser at the school I visited: one parent had sewn a couple hundred bright-colored hand-made bags for XOs in different colors and pocket-sizes and had one left at the end. For these families, Ceibal to date has only been the prelude to its main body of work: realizing the transformations in primary schooling enabled by this saturated network of creators, publishers, learners and collaborators.
UPDATE, 11/08: A full evaluation, perhaps including a presentation for the general public, is being conducted through early 2010, and is said to involve a range of case studies, large-scale technical, social, and academic datasets, and varieties of self-assessment.