The vision of OLPC about “Home Computers and Child Outcomes: Short-Term Impacts from a Randomized Experiment in Peru”

By Rodrigo Arboleda

On Wednesday February 27th, Reuters published the article Poor kids with laptops read less, do more chores in Peru -study“, based on the working document of the Inter-American Development Bank entitled Home Computers and Child Outcomes: Short-Term Impacts from a Randomized Experiment in Peru “. I would like to make some observations on the vision of One Laptop Per Child, of which I am CEO and President:

Situation

As an organization we know first hand this report, published by the IDB, which expressly states that it tries not to evaluate the One Laptop Per Child initiative or educational one to one projects. It is further known that the same organization designed an experiment using the OLPC XO laptop for children who do not belong to the OLPC program in Peru in order to understand and measure the impact of the computer in the home. Therefore, the experiment is different from a comprehensive intervention based on a one to one learning project, such as promoted by multiple organizations including OLPC. A comprehensive study involves the education system, teachers, family and community.

Like this experiment, numerous studies and research in the last decade by recognized academics (1) have shown that the provision of technology alone has no effect unless there is an appropriate intervention process. It is for this reason that the results of the experiment showed little effect and did not generate changes in reading habits, cognitive skills or academic achievement.

The OLPC program

Using the preliminary results of this experiment as a basis for governments to promote one to one learning programs is wrong because the objectives of the programs are many and varied. The plans for program implementation must consider the local objectives and context. The computer at home is just one element in those plans. What has been confirmed by experts is that technology alone will not make any difference.

Results in countries where the program is implemented

To illustrate this, consider two major projects within the ecosystem of OLPC. The first, One Laptop Per Child in Caacupé, was implemented by Paraguay Educa Foundation, which aims to make every child in Paraguay develop technological and life skills. The second project, in Colombia, which began with advice and funds from the IDB, has been implemented by the Barefoot Foundation. Unlike the project objectives of Paraguay, the Barefoot Foundation seeks to improve skills in the areas of Spanish and Mathematics in grades two and three of primary schools.

Both programs have developed implementation plans to meet those objectives and have articulated infrastructure, connectivity, awareness, community service, teacher training, logistics, maintenance and repair, and other elements to achieve their goals. Significant achievements have been reported.

First report of the IDB on One Laptop Per Child program Peru

In a report also published by the Inter-American Development Bank in March 2012, entitled “Technology and Child Development: Evidence from the One Laptop per Child Program” the report presents findings related to cognitive abilities, the results of the Raven test, which showed a positive impact. In this study, after 15 months of implementation of the program, with a sample of 319 rural schools (which is significant), children in the OLPC project in this country have an advantage on average of 5 months in the development of their cognitive abilities with respect to children who have not been helped by the program.

This study perhaps shows that when fully implemented, the OLPC program proves to be effective, develops skills and responds to the main premises of One Laptop Per Child. This study shows the difference of an isolated experiment of computers at home without a comprehensive intervention strategy that did not generate impact.

Latest report submitted by the IDB, Home Computers and Child Outcomes: Short-Term Impacts from a Randomized Experiment in Peru

It was an experiment conducted by the IDB, which gave away laptops for home use, to determine whether it would increase reading habits. In this case the experiment did not try to determine whether the One Laptop Per Child program outcomes were achieved but rather whether through the use of technological tools an increase in reading habits could be shown.

We would like to emphasize the one to one learning project led the Zamora Teran Foundation in Nicaragua. The Foundation, in partnership with USAID has developed an important strategy that includes literacy training and support to teachers, design and delivery of manuals, and a collection and delivery of digital resources for teachers, students and parents. This initiative has begun to yield significant results. The results and findings of this project let us reiterate that intervention strategies to achieve a real impact on education of children through the use of technology require a comprehensive intervention plan that involves all actors in the educational community that goes beyond the provision of computers.

For this reason OLPC continues to expand, to use the 7 years’ of acquired experience working on the integration of technology in education and social projects and to implement our philosophy: rethinking education.


[1] Harrison, C., T. Fisher, et al. (2002). ImpaCT2: the Impact of Information and Communication Technologies on Pupils’ Learning and Attainment.. Coventry, DfES

- Ting Seng Eng (2005). The impact of ICT on learning: A review of research. International Education Journal, 6(5), 635-650.

- Underwood, Jean D. M., British Educational Communications and Technology Agency, corp creator. (2009) The impact of digital technology : a review of the evidence of the impact of digital technologies on formal education.

Itagüí: Educational Revolution

Itaguí’s Municipal Administration in partnership with the University EAFIT began a technological modernization project in Educational Institutions

On Tuesday September 4th, Itagüí’s Municipal Mayor, CARLOS ANDRES TRUJILLO, officially handed over the first massive installment of XO computers from One Laptop per Child (OLPC) to teachers of basic primary education official institutions of the municipalities. The main event took place at the Southern Cultural Auditorium in Itagüí (Antioquia, Colombia).

Thus, Itagüí began a process of educational revolution in the implementation of the use and appropriation of technology information and communications  that are planned for the education sector and that is being conducted in partnership with the University EAFIT. The project also seeks to raise awareness and ensure the appropriate use of new technologies among all students and make full use of these tools by teachers for the continuous improvement of the teaching process, which will be reflected in management plans  within the 24 official educational institutions.

Photo by rededucativaitagui

The project includes in its first phase leaving a defined strategy that allows for the proper implementation of technologies in the classroom, for which, activities such as training of teachers, school administrators and adequacy of the infrastructure necessary for the operation thereof are being carried out. To do this, educational institutions with XO laptops have already been endowed; in each of the classrooms a whiteboard was installed, each of them gas given a video beam and they installed a central database (CPU) with keyboard and mouse. Additionally, an educational software that allows students to create new experiences, innovate and develop their intellectual capacities and technologies facing the globalized world has been prepared.

Photo by rededucativaitagui

The Municipal Administration has been working hard in order to improve school environment and provide new tools that allow the education sector of the municipality move forward and become a national model framed in change and transformation of education.

Photo by rededucativaitagui

Are you working with XO laptops that need an upgrade?

By Martin Langhoff, Software Architect – OLPC

Part of our focus is to support deployments that have made a long term commitment to work with us. When we have new models, we work hard to provide them as an upgrade.

This means that if you have today XO-1 or XO-1.5 laptops you can purchase an upgrade kit that will turn it into an XO-1.75. It does require that you perform the motherboard replacement, but the savings can be significant.

XO-1.75 with grid membrane and mechanical keyboard. Photo by Sandra Barragan

With this upgrade you get a modern ARM CPU, much lower power consumption (it runs long hours on each battery charge, and performs fantastically well on solar panels). Depending on options, you can get larger RAM and storage. You can also choose to get the new grid membrane keyboard.

If you are thinking of doing this, get in touch with us. If you know the SKU number of the laptops you have, which you can find in the battery compartment, that will make the process easier.

For each variant of the XO you need a slightly different upgrade kit, so it is important that we get it right. Our engineers have done quite a bit of work to plan the different upgrade kits.
Do you know of any laptop manufacturer that supports upgrading 5 year old models to the latest and greatest with a motherboard change, and at a fraction of the cost?

At this time, there is a minimum order quantity of 100 kits. If you are interested in ordering 100 upgrade kits or more, please contact Leah@laptop.org  at OLPC for further details. Make sure you indicate the SKU of the units you want to upgrade.

Unfortunately, due to packing, shipping, customs and warranty logistics, OLPC is currently unable to offer upgrade kits for orders under 100 kits. The costs of shipping individual components packed properly is high.

Order quantities of 1000 kits and larger can be processed faster and at lower cost.

If you have an early XO laptop and would like to see it run better and faster, our latest Operating System release can give it a new life, see http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Release_notes/12.1.0 .

We thank you for your interest in the OLPC project.

Training focused on the holistic development for students in Rwanda

By Desire Rwagaju, OLPC-Learning Development Officer

One Laptop Per Child Association in collaboration with Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village (ASYV) proposed, planned and is implementing a training that focused on the holistic development (cognitive & social) for its students in senior six and five. This Training aimed to strengthen the ASYV student’s knowledge on the use of OLPC laptop for deep learning, lesson planning and implementation of project based learning activities.

Brief history of ASYV:

After 1994 genocide in Rwanda, one of the biggest problems Rwanda faced was the vast number of orphans with no systemic solution to support their well-being and development. Anne Heyman and her husband Seth Merin (living in New-York City) were inspired by the similar challenge that Israel faced after the Second World War, when there was a large influx of orphans from the Holocaust. As solution to the problem Israel built residential living communities called youth villages. This is the model residential living communities brought to Rwanda by Anne Heyman, Agahozo-Shalom Founder. Called “The Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village (ASYV)” is a residential community in rural area in Rwanda. It is a home to youth who were orphaned during and after the genocide in 1994. Its mission is to enable orphaned and vulnerable youth to realize their maximum potential by providing them with a safe and secure living environment, healthcare, education and necessary life skills.

Education in ASYV and OLPC involvement:

ASYV aims on developing students both cognitively and socially. Village education focuses on both Formal Education (schooling) and Informal Education to expand each student’s talents, skills, and capacity to become not only functioning members of society, but leaders of their communities. This is where ASYV’s education aligns with OLPC’s learning philosophy and approach–using mobile technology to empower each student’s individual learning process in some of the most remote and difficult conditions. With connected laptops, learners are liberated to actively engage with others with similar interests in cultures of learning by doing without being limited by time or space. Children can learn by teaching, actively assisting other learners and freeing the teacher to focus her experience and expertise where most needed. It was seen as an opportunity for this village to benefit from this learning approach, which will enhance all the great initiatives already in place.

Trainees explore sugar learning environment, diagnosed and solved different hardware and software problems, as well as disassembling and assembling the XO.

 

At the end of the first phase of the training (August 10th) all trainees were going to vacation, they have been assigned to different schools received olpc laptop in previous deployment done by the government of Rwanda in 30 districts of the country. They will be helping the project with the upgrade of the anti-theft key, as they will be introducing kids and teachers at schools nearby their homes on the use of xo laptops. The Training will continue after they come back from vacation to reinforce trainee’s capacity of planning and conducting trainings for teachers.

 

Latest news on Sugar Activities

At the urging of Reuben Caron, who had been contacted by the OLPC deployment in Armenia, Walter Bender wrote a chess activity for Sugar. It is a Sugar front-end to the gnuchess program, which is a quite sophisticated chess engine for GNU/Linux. The actvitiy, Gnuchess, can be downloaded from the Sugar activity portal and is documented on the Activities/Gnuchess page in the wiki. A few fun features include:

(1)  you can play against the computer, another person on the same computer, or over the network

(2) you can use a generic set of pieces, load in some Sugar-colored ones, or those of your own design

(3) when you play against someone over the net, they will see your artwork and you’ll see their artwork

(4) the computer will offer very good hints to new users

(5) games are recorded and can be played back as an animation or saved in standard chess notation.

Walter also have been making a number of subtle but important changes to Turtle Blocks. Cynthia Solomon (of Logo fame) has been giving him feedback and as a result, Walter thinks the box and action naming is much more streamlined and consistent. Also, the new flow blocks are much easier (and more intuitive) to use.

Check out Version 154 and keep an eye out for Version 156, coming soon.

Also, Claudia, Melissa, Cynthia, and Walter hosted a learning workshop at the OLPC office in Cambridge at which Walter got some feedback on the Portfolio and Bulletin Board activities. He is in the midst of streamlining Portfolio and also enabling comments to be made over the web. (You can get a sneak preview of Version 27). With the learning team, we have been developing a classroom protocol. Once the Portfolio activity gets released, the Bulletin Board activity will follow.

Walter has also been withing with the Fundación Zamora Teran team on the Nutrition activity.
More region-specific foods have been added and a new game: match the food to its food group. A new release will be available soon; a preview is available here.

One Laptop per Child Confirms Upcoming Launch of Groundbreaking Dual Function XO-4 Touch

MIAMI–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Following an announcement last week from Neonode, One Laptop Per Child (“OLPC”), a nonprofit organization whose mission is to provide every child in the world access to new channels of learning, sharing and self-expression, confirmed today that an exciting new and transformative version of the XO device is currently in development.

Part laptop, part tablet, the XO-4 Touch will represent a huge leap forward in what OLPC can offer. As its development name, the “XO-4 Touch” suggests, the device will come equipped with an optical multi-touch capable screen from Neonode. The XO-4 Touch will combine the XO’s existing laptop functionality and sunlight-usable display with a full-fledged tablet mode. The XO-4 Touch also runs the new Marvell® ARMADA®2128 processor.

OLPC CEO Rodrigo Arboleda said, “There is constant debate over laptops versus tablets in educational programs. But the truth is both have their merits. While maintaining our XO’s award-winning design from Yves Behar’s FuseProject, we have combined features of both devices to deliver dual benefits. The new XO-4 Touch is more than just a device, it’s a new way of facilitating learning.”

With their impressive history with mobile devices, Neonode has developed energy-efficient technology that is ideal for the XO. Neonode touchscreens are fast scanning, have low-latency pen and brush sensors, and can detect pressure. All of these features will help take the new, dual-function XO to a new level.

In addition to the new hardware technology, OLPC has been very active in strengthening strategic partnerships with world-class educational content developers, including Sesame Street Workshop, UNESCO and Little Pim, to provide content for the XO laptops and tablets. While the XO-4 Touch’s launch date and pricing are yet to be confirmed, the release is expected in Q1 in 2013.

Five Educational Lessons I Learned from Kids Around the World: Why I’m proud to serve as the Goodwill Ambassador for the One Laptop per Child Project

By Dr.Michele Borba, Parental and Teen Educational Specialist

I’ve been a teacher, writer and researcher for over thirty years and like many, I’m haunted knowing that millions of children on our planet will never receive an education or walk into a classroom. Imagine! I’ve pondered again and again how we can give poverty-stricken kids-especially those living in remote areas where teachers, textbooks, classrooms or even running water don’t exist-a chance for hope. I did find the answer, and ironically, it came from children far from home.

It all began with a most unexpected phone call. General Mills contacted me to ask if I’d like to be a spokesperson for its “Win & Give” campaign where U.S. kids had the opportunity to win an XO laptop from One Laptop per Child (OLPC) and trigger a donation of the same laptop to kids in Africa. Would I be willing to travel to Rwanda to visit schools and help deliver the laptops to students? Well, I jumped at the chance! I knew these were no ordinary laptops. The XO laptop is made from durable plastic so it can withstand tough weather conditions (think Africa or the Sahara Desert), is childproof, even looks like a toy and has instant connectivity. It comes fully equipped with curriculum in a child’s native language (29 languages and counting now), retails for $185, is designed by some of the world’s most brilliant minds at MIT Media Lab and was developed based on sound theory that supports how kids learn best.

So three weeks later found myself flying to the small East African nation that had experienced unspeakable horrors of genocide. Within 24 hours of landing a few amazing children taught me valuable lessons on how to close the achievement gap. Here are those five lessons I learned about education from kids around the world.
LESSON 1: Never underestimate kids’ ability to be master of their own learning

My first Rwandan visit was to the Murambi School in Kigali for deaf and mute children. In addition to being handicapped and destitute, many were also orphans. I walked into the first classroom and admit I had low expectations. Instead, I was mesmerized.

First, the room was bare–no books or school supplies could be found. I saw only old wooden desks, one blackboard, a cement floor and a teacher. But I also noted that each child was working intently on an XO laptop.

Here were kids with limited language skills and no verbal abilities, who were engrossed in learning and their excitement was contagious.

I knelt to see what they were doing on those laptops, and got the surprise of my life: these nine and ten-year olds were programming! Any doubts I’d ever had about the impact computers can have on impoverished kids’ died on the spot. I saw that specially-designed computers can support a child’s learning and thinking, and when a child cannot talk-or hear–he still is not limited. These children were clearly learning to “talk” to their XO computers in their own way.

They also confirmed Seymour Papert’s brilliant words from long ago: “If we really look at the “child as the builder” we are on our way to an answer.” I was looking at a solution to closing the achievement gap in third world countries: forget spending the money on schools, provide an enriched educational curriculum that was child-directed.
LESSON 2: The “Right” Technology” can excite kids about learning

My experience with OLPC in Rwanda was extraordinary, but I had to see more. Will the effect of these XO laptops impact children living in other cultures or regions? So over the next weeks I visited a Title 1 school in an impoverished area outside Miami, flew to Managua, Nicaragua to interview teachers, ferried my way to a remote island called Ometepe to talk to kids, and even interviewed scientists who invented the XO laptop at the MIT Media Lab at Cambridge. Everywhere I heard two common themes: 1. “Students are far more engaged in their learning after receiving XO laptops.” 2. “Parents report that their kids are using the computers to learn at home.” What’s more, kids in my travels verified those opinions.

Seven-year old Lidia, also from Nicaragua, who said that her XO is helping her as well as her family learn. Her mother and father now know how to use the computer, because she is teaching them. “All kids should have a computer like me, so they can learn,” Lidia told me adamantly.

Nidia Raquel Morales Alvarez, a long name for a precocious ten-year old I met in Managua, told me that her XO computer “greatly advanced my learning.”

When I probed for details she explained: “Yesterday I learned about industrial agriculture. Tomorrow I’ll be giving a presentation in my classroom about farming techniques.” She added that her favorite laptop activity at home is doing research on Wikipedia. Her goal, she said, is to become an engineer. I have no doubt that she will.

Kids in Africa had echoed those same sentiments.

Jean Luc, a young boy from Rwanda, admitted that his computer is his ‘new life.’

“I always make sure my XO is charged before I take it home, and then I work on it all night. Right now I’m composing music. Do you want to hear my song?” he asked. “Would I ever! And so my new friend shared his composition. (Memo to Bono: “Watch out, your competition is coming up! This kid is talented). Jean Luc also divulged that his secret hope is to grow up and become a musical programmer. It’s my hope for him as well.
LESSON 3: Computers can increase student collaboration

Another adult concern I often hear is that computer use will make kids more self-focused and squelch their abilities to become collaborative learners. But in dozens of OLPC observations I found the opposite: In those classrooms enriched with technology-and ones in which teachers are trained in best teaching practices–there is more-not less-socialization amongst students. Educator training in collaborative instructional strategies certainly helps, and teachers I observed were not only trained by OLPC trainers but continued learning effective ways to utilize technology in monthly staff development trainings. I saw the benefits on their children’s achievement.

Nicaragua is one of the most impoverished in the western hemisphere. One in three Nicaraguan children are chronically malnourished. OLPC has delivered hundreds of XO laptops to classrooms.

I observed a number of classrooms in Nicaragua and saw a variety of cooperative classroom lessons in schools who had used XOs computers for a few months: Sixth graders working in base teams learning how to mind-map different types of calendars (Mayan, Greco, Julian). Third graders were paired with partners and identifying bird species. First graders learning how to use the XO drawing program and discovering beginning programming skills with their “learning buddies.” Fourth graders who were mentoring younger students who needed “catching up” on computer skills. “We help each other,” one boy explained.

I also saw the same collaborative spirit in OLPC classrooms in Liberty City, Miami. I watched a young girl having trouble navigating between programs. She turned to a classmate for help, and within seconds the boy was by her side teaching her basic computer skills. That same cooperative spirit happened in Managua as kids sat beneath mango trees with XOs in their laps helping their classmates learn new computer skills.

Classrooms with computers can come alive as children worked, shared and created together on their laptops. Each click of the mouse was helping them become more connected to the world and to a brighter future. Computers can support collaborative learning practices and increase-not reduce-student interaction.

“We teach each other!” a young Nicaraguan boy told me, but I was already convinced.
LESSON 4: Technology can inspire kids and teachers

In my visits I’ve seen the impact XO laptops has on children’s education, but I’ve also witnessed how those computers enhance a powerful concept called, “Teacher pride.” In every classroom and in every country I saw educators excited about teaching.

A teacher at Holmes Elementary, a Title 1 school in Liberty City, Miami, had tears in her eyes as she described how the laptops affected her teaching: “I can’t wait to come to school now. My students are so exciting about learning! You can’t believe what a difference those laptops have made on my children’s lives.”

I can also validate the impact. Holmes was in danger of closing due to dismal test scores. Within two years, their “D” school rating is now at a “B” level-and rising. Inspired teachers, a powerful principal, and the right curriculum can make all the difference on children’s lives.

Gloria, a sixth grade teacher in Managua, was exuberant about the OLPC project. “I’ve taught for twenty years,” she said, “but I’ve never seen anything that has helped my students or my own teaching better than these laptops. In just one week, the children learned not only how to use them, but how to teach themselves. I can’t keep up!”

A teacher in Nicaragua admitted that her initial hesitancy about computers. “I didn’t know how to use them,” she said. “But my students told me not to worry. They taught me!” Then she smiled and said, “The laptops have changed my teaching!”

One of the students was listening in at the door. “So is it true?” I asked. “Did you all help your teacher learn to use the computer?”

The boy looked up with a huge grin and nodded sheepishly. “Yep, she likes the computers now just like us,” he said.

It can’t get much better than that!
LESSON 5: Parents are grateful when their children are given the opportunity for a future

My last day in my African visit had been in a most memorable school. There was no running water, toilets were primitive makeshift outhouses, school supplies were scarce, play equipment consisted of tattered jump ropes and maybe a few cans or balls to kick. The village was poor, but the place was buzzing with excitement. This was the day OLPC would deploy 300 XO laptops to their students. The whole community-parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, storeowners, clergy, and even mayor-had walked miles to the school to witness the momentous occasion. Drums were beating, students were dancing, teachers were ecstatic, and parents were literally beaming. I saw what was clearly “joy and hope” on the faces of these moms and dads. They knew their children would shortly be receiving an extraordinary gift: the chance for an education.

The students lined up to receive their green and white XO computers, and were literally shaking from excitement. I can’t begin to describe how thrilling it felt to give kids those laptops. Each child waited for what must have seemed like an eternity, and when their turn finally came would take the computer oh so carefully, utter words of thanks, and then this look of absolute elation would emerge. Pride? Hope? Wonder? Awe? I’m not quite sure, but it was priceless. I’ve never experienced anything so riveting.

I watched one boy staring at his computer with a look of almost disbelief. “This is really mine?” he seemed to be thinking. Then he turned, walked back to me and pointed to a small pin that I was wearing that bore the initials, “XO.” He then tapped the same letters engraved on the top of his computer.

“Yes,” I said as if to let him know that the XO laptop and I were somehow connected.

The child grasped his new laptop closely to his chest, and then suddenly tears started to flow down his face. That did it-it was impossible to contain my emotions, and the tears started. We sat down on the grass with his laptop between us, hugging and crying. Believe me, we made quite a sight. Somehow-despite our differences-we understood the enormous significance of that day. The moment reminded me that best lessons often come from a child’s “silent” words.
Making the Easiest Decision of My Life

That was the day I became convinced that the answer to providing education and hope to children in third world countries is the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project. I told the OLPC members who were with me I would do anything I could to support their mission. So when the One Laptop Per Child project asked if I’d serve as their Goodwill Ambassador, it was the quickest decision I’ve ever made: a resounding “yes!” My next stop for OLPC is delivering laptops to children in Armenia who are not even recognized by the United Nations.

Children–all of our children-deserve an education, and a chance for hope. Extraordinary kids living in remote, impoverished areas of the globe taught me that hope is possible.

Now it’s up to the adults to listen to the children.

Encuentro de OLPC en Cambridge

Representantes de 7 países se reunieron en Cambridge la última semana de Julio para trabajar con miembros de equipo de Aprendizaje de OLPC y Sugar Labs, para intercambiar experiencias y avances de los programas de OLPC en sus países, y para participar en la Conferencia de Scratch en MIT. Entre los momentos mas destacados de la semana están las sesiones de Tortugarte con Cynthia Solomon, Walter Bender, y Claudia Urrea, el intercambio con los ingenieros de OLPC, y la visita con el profesor Fernando Reimers del departamento de Educación de Harvard.

La conferencia anual de Scratch, que organiza el grupo de investigación Lifelong Kindergarten del Media Lab de MIT reunio a mas de 400 educadores, investigadores y desarrolladores de software de 31 países llegaron al Media Lab durante 4 días para compartir historias, planes y su visión de Scratch (http://blog.media.mit.edu/2012/08/learning-through-connecting.html). El tema de este año para la conferencia fue sobre el uso de Scratch para motivar y apoyar muchos tipos de conexiones: con ideas, con intereses, con el mundo físico y con las personas. El grupo de OLPC hizo una contribución importante, especialmente en dos de estas áreas: 1) en conexión con el mundo físico, José Miguel Garcia de Uruguay participo en la sesión de demos con varios proyectos de robótica elaborado por los estudiantes del plan Ceibal en su país. Ellos utilizaron varios de los sets de robótica que han sido distribuidos en el país y que ahora usan los chicos del plan Ceibal junto con sus XOs; 2) en conexiones con las personas, Carolina García, Aura Mora, Martín Peréz, Julia Reynolds y Pedro Cuellar participaron en un panel titulado “El uso de Scratch y su impacto en las comunidades de aprendizaje de OLPC”, el cual organizó Claudia Urrea. Ellos presentaron experiencias y lecciones aprendidas de Costa Rica, Colombia, Uruguay, y Ruanda, respectivamente.

Todos los participantes trabajaron de forma paralela temas de importancia para OLPC y los diferentes programas. Ellos conformaron grupos y establecieron líneas de trabajo en diferentes temas, entre ellos: programación y el uso de Torturarte, innovación en la valoración del aprendizaje y el uso de Portafolio, desarrollo profesional de maestros, y la plataforma de colaboración para la comundad de OLPC.

One Laptop per Child in Gabon: Further Expansion in French Speaking Africa

We just launched a new program in Gabon. From the press release:

MIAMI–(BUSINESS WIRE)–One Laptop per Child (OLPC), a nonprofit organization with a mission to provide every child in the world access to new channels of learning, sharing and self-expression, announced today that it has launched the project with the Government of the Republic of Gabon to initiate a 1:1 educational computing project for the children in the country.

“We welcome the initiative and leadership of HE First Lady of Gabon, to launch the OLPC project in Gabon and look forward to her continuing support to reach national saturation for primary school children”

The initial phase of the project represents approximately ten percent of the children in Gabon and a total saturation of all primary school children is planned to be completed by 2014.

The OLPC project was initiated by HE First Lady of Gabon, Madame Sylvia Bongo Ondimba. OLPC will provide full technological, educational and community development training to the Ministry of Education staff responsible for the project’s launch and will provide quarterly ongoing support in the country. The Gabon project will also include the involvement of the Office of the President in planning for countrywide deployment of the OLPC laptops.

“Individual empowerment is the key to the future development of all of Africa and I am very proud that Gabon will demonstrate that educating children through OLPC is the foundation of empowerment,” said HE First Lady of Gabon, Madame Sylvia Bongo Ondimba.

“We welcome the initiative and leadership of HE First Lady of Gabon, to launch the OLPC project in Gabon and look forward to her continuing support to reach national saturation for primary school children,” said Rodrigo Arboleda, CEO of OLPC Association.

A hat tip to the franXOphonie community, including Kaçandre, Bastien, and OLPC France; thanks to them we have the Guide XO Gabon (from an OLPCorps project back in 2009-10) and a French version of the 2011 deployment guide.

OLPC Uruguay Q&As: Miguel Brechner on Plan Ceibal

Christoph D just posted a lovely interview with Miguel Brechner about OLPC in Uruguay and Plan Ceibal.

And a few months ago Karen Cator, Educational Technology Director at the US Department of Education, replied to a question from Miguel at a learning technology conference. She shares a few views from her Department, from Secterary Arne Duncan‘s interest in Uruguay’s leadership in empowering children, to issues of how long it takes to transition to such a program in our world of independent, federated states. Some states are saying that ‘by 2014 they want to be like Uruguay in terms of… laptop access‘.

OLPC photobook available online: via the community summit

OLPC-SF has posted their beautiful photobook with images from grassroots deployments around the world, along with a link to a print-on-demand service where you can order your own. I have one of these on my desk; it is beautiful! As Sameer says, “many thousands of words” in one smooth package.

A visit to Wonchi: OLPC’s Ethiopian Literacy Project

Evan Szablowski was in Addis Ababa, spending a week meeting Ethiopian entrepreneurs. Michael, one of the tech leads for our literacy project in Ethiopia, was one of the people he met with. He was captivated by the literacy project, and on hearing that Michael was heading to Wonchi (one of the two villages taking part in it), he and his teammates decided to tag along.

While he was there he met some of the students eager to show off how they liked to use the tablets (they are using Motorola Xoom tablets with mainly off-the-shelf Android literacy apps, with a few custom apps and tweaks by OLPC). At some point, one of the children (below) stood up to quiz the others on what they were learning.

Evan wrote up the experience in a beautiful essay on his new blog, illustrated with photos from the day.



While this is just one anecdote from the project, the photo series is priceless, and puts the whole effort in context: the geography of the town, the social setup of the small farming community, and the economic circles of the village and the technicians supporting them.

An overwhelming sense of excitement and optimism overtook us, and we couldn’t stop smiling as we watched. We left with such a feeling of inspiration and optimism, amazed at witnessing two completely different worlds [fuse] with one another… Zach said this was the best thing he has done in a long time, and I agreed.

I hope they realize it someday. I hope that someday one of those kids will say, ‘When I was only 4 years old, the laptop project from MIT came to my village, and it forever changed my future.’ What an amazing perspective that person will have.

This was not foreign aid, or handouts… This was education, and just the first step in enabling them. Enabling the young minds of Africa for brighter futures. For a brighter nation, and a brighter continent.

@Evan: Thank you for sharing the day with us!

XO + touchscreen = XO Touch

The next iteration of the XO will finally have a fully armed and operational tablet mode, thanks to an optical touchscreen from Neonode.

This week we signed a licensing agreement with them to embed their optical touchscreens into future ‘XO Touch’ laptops. The XO Touch will be a true laptop + tablet, with the same 7.5” sunlight-readable display, and Neonode’s fast-scanning multitouch. There are a lot of applications I have in mind for those prototypes…

Neonode are energy-conscious, thanks to their history of work with mobile devices, and have features such as gesture-activated wakeup that will help the XO remain the lowest-power laptop around. Neonode is also proud of their screen’s low-latency pen or brush sensors, and ability to sense proximity, pressure, and depth and measure object-size.

Leaders of both projects commented on the partnership:

Thomas Eriksson, Neonode CEO:

We are honored to be collaborating with OLPC to produce the XO Touch, a truly pioneering and sustainable device that shows the broad versatility of our technology. This market entry confirms that our MultiSensing technology makes it possible to create a top class product that is both affordable and extremely energy saving and still has a user interface that is radical enough to satisfy the uncompromising demands of knowledge- and entertainment-thirsty children. Our company philosophy is to contribute to a better and happier world, and we have the opportunity to do so by supporting OLPC’s mission.

Rodrigo Arboleda, OLPCA CEO:

OLPC is proud to partner with an organization that shares its appreciation for innovative and transformative technology. Neonode’s expertise in engineering and design will turn the XO Touch, which combines the best features of laptop and tablet, into a next-level innovative machine.

XO cameo in Oliver Stone’s Savages

The green machine makes an appearance in a future-looking scene, towards the end of Oliver Stone’s new film Savages. The production team asked for a set of laptops back when they were wrapping filming, as a vision of what the world will look like when every child has a laptop to study with. It’s good to see the scene ended up in the final picture.

Those three XOs will be a nice collector’s item one day…

OLPC job opening: support techs in Charlotte, NC

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools in North Carolina are seeking 4 support technicians to support the 3000+ students taking part in the OLPC program as part of Project L.I.F.T. This job will involve day-to-day IT support, maintenance and installations at the school site: including XOs, servers, and networking equipment.

A longer job description follows:
Continue reading