On Kindles and the importance of fixable machines

Kyle Wiens of the Fixers project is tracking how electronics and other gear is used and fixed across Africa — and which things are destined to be landfill. He writes in the Atlantic this month about the challenges of maintaining computers in rural schools.

He looks at a popular Kindle-as-bookreader program, noting how predictable their high levels of breakage were, and how useful it would have been to be able to repair them in the field.

He cites OLPC’s design, public repair guides, and comprehensive list of parts as models for others to follow. And he kindly offers to help projects like Worldreader and others write a good repair manual if they would only do so and ship it with their devices. Take him up on that — he writes well!

Carnegie Mellon team wins Hult Global Case Challenge

The Hult Global Case Challenge concluded over the weekend, recognizing winners in the three categories of education, housing, and energy – with challenges related to the work of OLPC, Habitat for Humanity, and SolarAid.

The education prize went to the team from Carnegie Mellon’s Heinz College: Reggie Cox, Elizabeth Cullinan, Ketaki Desai, and Tim Kelly.   They took the prize for their “innovative approach to ensure streamlined laptop deployment and to create a global brand for [OLPC]’s open-source software.”  This continues a tradition of CMU support for OLPC – their ETC lab held a game jam in 2007, and other CMU campuses helped organize a 10-day OLPC Rwanda workshop in Kigali in 2010.

The team wrote about their experiences with the case challenge last month, in the Huffington Post.

Team submissions were judged by a panel of judges including: the CEOs of the three organizations whose case challenges were being considered, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Muhammad Yunus, former NY Governor Mario Cuomo, Unilever Chairman Michael Treschow, and social entreperneur Darrell Hammond.  All of the final submissions were excellent.

The challenge has given us many good ideas for how to improve and streamline our mission; just the judging process has been wonderful. The winning teams will share $1M to pursue their ideas; more updates to come as we see how this unfolds.

You can find a press release about the results here.

Bank of South Pacific donates 1000 laptops to Pacific children

The Bank of the South Pacific (BSP) this week became OLPC Oceania’s lead private sector partner in the region.

OLPC Oceana and BSP are announcing a strategic partnership to advance South Pacific education. As its first act in its role of Lead Private Sector Partner for OLPC Oceania, BSP is donating 1000 XOs to children in three OLPC project schools in the Solomon Islands and Fiji. In coming months, BSP plans to provide more support for children in Papua New Guinea as it spearheads private sector support for OLPC.

Surfing the Net in the Solomons

OLPC’s Regional Director for Oceania, Mr. Michael Hutak, thanked BSP for its generosity and welcomed the partnership as a breakthrough for Pacific education. “With BSP’s strong corporate leadership in the Pacific, its regional branch network and its strong commitment to community participation, we look forward to a long and effective partnership, not just to our mutual benefit but to the advancement of Pacific education.”

BSP Group Chief Executive Officer Mr. Ian B. Clyne said the new partnership was a perfect fit with the Bank’s corporate social responsibility goals and would broaden the reach and impact of the BSP Children’s Foundation, complementing programs such as BSP’s widely-praised BSP School Kriket program. The partnership continues BSP’s commitment to Pacific development and follows a recent Fiji$100,000 donation to emergency relief efforts following the devastating floods in Fiji.

As Lead Private Sector Partner, BSP will join the regional initiative OLPC Oceania, which is a coalition of national governments, educators, donor agencies, academia, the private sector, civil society and community organizers, all working to assist Pacific Island countries to establish the OLPC concept in schools. Mr Hutak said BSP will bring much-needed private sector expertise and know-how to the Pacific initiative.

Currently there are OLPC projects running in 10 Pacific countries, with approximately 10,000 laptops being used by children in 50 schools. Across the globe, OLPC has distributed over 2.4 million laptops to poor children in 40 countries.

Some 200 laptops donated by BSP’s Children’s Foundation will be deployed by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community in the Solomon Islands in remote Marovo Lagoon, the site of the first Pacific OLPC project in 2008. The remaining 800 laptops with be distributed in two demonstration schools in Suva, Fiji, in partnership with Government of Fiji and the University of the South Pacific. The schools will be where Fiji’s teacher and technical training will occur. BSP plans to promote the establishment of similar demonstration schools in Port Moresby and will work with the PNG Govt, the World Bank and other partners to scale up OLPC in PNG.

BSP has also agreed to facilitate the collection of public donations to OLPC Oceania projects, both online and through its branch network.

Nancie Severs on the recent OLPC Help Sprint!

Nancie wrote up her week visiting Boston to work on the updated Help activity, in her travel blog:

Last October at the San Francisco [OLPC] Volunteer Summit, plans for the Refresh-Help project evolved. This week in Boston, here we are! The details can be found on the wiki. Adam Holt (OLPC & Haiti), and volunteers Christoph Derndorfer (Vienna), George Hunt (engineering & School Server expert) Mark Battley (Toronto/Kenya), Craig Perue, (Jamaica), Laura de Reynal France/NosyKomba, Harriet V (India). Sandra Thaxter (MA/Kenya) Ed C (Indiana), Sameer (OLPC-SF & Jamaica), and locals Bernie, Dogie, SJ and others worked and played together at the Cambridge OLPC offices to try and get this project done! Chief organizer Caryl Bigenho was busy helping remotely most of the time. There were other folks around the globe furiously writing and editing too.

Thanks for all who helped out! We still need people to help finish packaging the result into a new Help.xo activity, and translate the result into Spanish.

eduJAM! 2012 Call for Papers

We invite the submission of papers to be presented at the eduJAM! 2012 summit. It will take place Friday-Saturday, May 11th-12th.

A summary of the main contributions from all the papers and the mention of the authors will be published on the event’s website and in the media after the summit. See more details in the document linked here and on our website.

Llamados a Ponencias – eduJAM! 2012

Invitamos a la presentación de ponencias que integrarán el Encuentro de Desarrolladores Uruguay: eduJAM! 2012 a desarrollarse el 11 y 12 de mayo. Un resumen de los principales aportes del conjunto de las ponencias y la mención a sus autores será publicado en la pagina del evento y en los medios de comunicación posteriormente al encuentro.
Mas detalles en el archivo aqui o en nuestra web.

2012 Doc Sprint Begins

Many incredible volunteers are still on their way to Boston, sacrificing their Passover/Easter holiday weekend, for our April 6-10′s Doc Sprint. Officially starting Friday at OLPC HQ in Cambridge, Massachusetts!

The 5-day task is Huge. So was the marathon preparation. Our goal here, and now: to engage thousands more active users worldwide, of all ages, to understand the POWER of the XO laptop and its Sugar learning system — 4.5 full years after this global XO kids learning movement truly hit the road.

U R What U Eat!

It’s time. And our community tools are all rapidly coming together to make this all happen — so our community’s priorities boil down to documenting:

  1. XO Hardware
  2. Core OS, Sugar & Gnome
  3. Sugar Activities
  4. Learning Tactics, School Server, Volunteer Community

Our driving goal?  Refreshing our touchstone manual that first appeared way back in early autumn 2008.  No, NOT another deployment guide or deployment gossip. But something succinct+snappy, dare we say approachable+fun? With dramatic changes in store…

In the end? The most cool Sugar Activities on every continent will make our best Chapters visible, just 1 click away, for Years To Come.

The amazing reality?  Key documents (and videos) are already being slapped into shape, and interlinked in far more meaningful ways, and far beyond core manuals.  Consider Walter Bender’s newly concise summaries of his 25 favorite Activities, real world server-in-field tricks emerging into the light — with new kinds of project-sparking videos imminent from implementation experts like Kenya’s Ntugi Group.

Don’t forget.  You too CAN contribute, even from a distance, even just joining our team mailing list library@lists.laptop.org!

R We Alearning Yet?

Thanks to all running this race for the ages!  Especially Christoph Derndorfer, Caryl Bigenho, Seth Woodworth and Laura de Reynal for their most priceless prep :)

OLPC Jamaica evolves: an inspiring story

This guest post is from Sameer Verma, professor at San Francisco State and founder of the OLPC-SF regional group.

I was on sabbatical leave at the University of the West Indies (UWI) in Fall 2008. There, I helped start the Center of Excellence (CoE) at the Mona School of Business at UWI. Through the CoE, we started the OLPC Jamaica project on September 5, 2008. In Jamaica the team has been led by Craig Perue – who was two weeks ago appointed Advisor to the Minister of Education!

It has been three and a half years since that first effort, an uphill battle to get the project going to fulfill its goals of early childhood education, technology in remote and rural places and community outreach and impact, not to mention supporting IT infrastructure (server, wireless LAN, content filtering, traffic management) remotely over a VPN for 5 year olds :-)

Last year, we implemented 115 OLPC XO laptops in two schools, and the results have been amazing. I was on a data collection trip over the recent break, and what we are finding through the initial analyses is impressive:  An increase in numeracy by 12%. And the most sought-after program is TuxMath. Other results will be interesting as well, we hope.

 

Here is a brief on OLPC Jamaica and a video clip (12 minutes well spent) of what we have done so far.   These are *my* children :-)

SF State is mentioned in the credits at the end.  This is also an example of OLPC’s Contributor Program at work. We were fortunate enough to have been seeded with 10 OLPC XO-1′s in 2008.

 

Delaware student builds English-to-Creole translator in Scratch for XOs

Eric McGinnis, a senior at U. Delaware, took part in a visit to Haiti earlier this month coordinated by his school, UNC Charlotte,  Waveplace, and Mothering Across Continents.  After taking a course in game development, he built an English-to-Creole translator in Scratch which he distributed to students at the Waveplace school.

The UDaily covered the trip and his project.

A great new schoolsever blog

George Hunt has recently been experimenting with the XS schoolserver (currently XS 0.7) on various hardware setups.  And he is tracking his work on a blog dedicated to the purpose.  We are now including it in the OLPC Planet newsfeed.
http://schoolserver.wordpress.com/blog/

It’s a good read if you have been trying similar things at home or in your own school.  You can contact him with questions or comments through his blog.

 

Rodrigo discusses OLPC with Colombian paper El Tiempo

Natalia Bonnett of El Tiempo interviewed Rodrigo last week about OLPC and its work in Colombia. From the interview:

¿Cómo va el proceso aquí [en Colombia]?

En los próximos días, Itagüí será el primer municipio en toda Colombia que va a tener un computador para cada alumno de primaria. Es la primera vez que logramos romper el hielo. Ha sido muy difícil, probablemente no hay profeta en su tierra… También llegamos a La Macarena. Pero también hay casos de filántropos del sector privado o asociaciones como Asocaña, con quien próximamente llegaremos al Valle del Cauca. El Gobierno Nacional hizo un esfuerzo a través del Ministerio de Educación de proveer conectividad a las escuelas. Con una sola señal que llegue a la escuela, nosotros trabajamos por medio de wi-fi y lo único que hay que instalar son repetidoras internas dentro del plantel.”

In English:

How is the process going here [in Colombia]?

In the coming days, Itagüí will be the first region in all of Colombia to have a laptop for every primary student. This is the first time that we broke the ice. It was very difficult, probably noone is a prophet in his own country… We are also heading to La Macarena. But there are also cases of private-sector philanthropists or associations such as Asocaña, with whom we will soon come to Valle del Cauca. The national government made an effort through the Ministry of Education to provide connectivity to the schools. With a single signal to the school, we can work via wi-fi and the only thing that needs to be installed are internal repeaters within the school.”

How to buy XOs in quantity

We recently posted a wiki page summarizing XO prices (roughly $185-$205 by quantity), and how to get XOs for your own deployment: Buying XOs. The minimum order is 1,000, with occasional exceptions made for orders as small as 100.

In addition to our national partnerships, OLPC regularly sells XOs to groups all over the world who are running pilot programs in their district or community. While we do not often sell in quantities of less than a thousand laptops, exceptions are made for programs that have planned for a successful deployment. (And we feature some of the best-planned grassroots programs here on our blog!)

For groups working in war-torn or post-conflict regions, we may also be in discussions with aid groups who could help support a program. Feel free to get in touch with us if you are planning a sizeable project in these regions. For more information or to place an order, email us at countries@laptop.org.

Laptops in Saskatchewan go home!

In Canada, the national OLPC project continues to expand into the homes of students and teachers; this week including Saskatchewan.

It is a pleasure to spend the week with Kakisiwew School of Ochapowace First Nation – home of OLPC Canada Technical Coordinator, Justin Bear. Justin founded and runs the community cyber cafe/youth zone, provides tech support to the elementary school, teaches classes with the XO and is the central contact for technically based OLPC Canada inquiries from our sites across the nation.

More details about the students and their work with the dance activity Swift Feet on the Canada blog.

Ghana Together: building networks of teachers

The non-profit Ghana Together has been repairing and deploying donated XOs in Axim, Ghana for years – now providing over 50 XOs in their Children’s Home. They and work with local techs and a student repair center at the Arts and Technology High School in Marysville, WA. They recently wrote about helping a nearby school that suddenly received XOs.

What about Those One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) Computers?

In 2011 the Methodist School was suddenly given 30 OLPCs from the government of Ghana.. .They thought they looked liked toys, not realizing that they are actually very sophisticated “learning machines” for primary school children. The headmistress found out that I was coming to Axim, and asked me to come and do an impromptu two-hour workshop.

Consequently, two teachers worked with me to test and update laptops. I engaged Peter Asuah, one of the original WHH scholars, to help test all the OLPCs, chargers, etc. I left a very complete manual… These guys are computer sophisticated, and I’m sure they will do a good job orienting the children.



Since the machines are designed to be “self-exploratory”, it’s been my experience that once children understand the basic way the computer functions, they do very well on their own. In fact, this hands-on, exploration approach is perfect for these children, because they have been so immersed in rote learning from blackboard and exercise books. The science teachers told me they are trying to get away from that kind of teaching, but up to now, they didn’t have materials to work with… now they have materials and machines.

Later in my visit, when the science teachers came up for the brainstorming session, I spent the first hour on another impromptu workshop, introducing them to the basic workings of the OLPC. They were fascinated…

Meanwhile, if anyone reading this has an OLPC you’d like to donate, we’d like to have it, in working condition or not. The Marysville Club is very skilled — they repair them, or if need be cannibalize them.

Read the full post on the Ghana Together blog.

Nicaragua: Fundación Zamora Terán expands to the legendary island of Ometepe

Fundación Zamora Terán recently expanded the work of OLPC Nicaragua to include the community on the beautiful and legendary Ometepe, an island formed by the two volcanoes rising out of Lake Nicaragua.



Teachers play a key role in the use of the XO laptop, incorporating it into daily planning and classroom activities. Maria Josefina Terán Zamora, its founder, said of their new island initiative:

During the past two years, we’ve been working hard to ensure that our OLPC project is one of the best in the world and delivers the maximum benefit to our children. Today we are very happy to include the children of Ometepe and connect them to the rest of Nicaragua and to the world.

The Fundación coordinates and executes XO purchase logistics and installation and provides a high level of technical support. A pedagogical training plan has been developed with the support of a qualified educational team that facilitates the integration of the XO into the existing Ministry of Elementary School Education Curriculum. Schools participating in the OLPC project must meet specific selection criteria.

The Ometepe initiative has been supported particularly by contribution from the LAFISE-BANCENTRO Bank, and brings to 25,000 the number of XOs distributed to children in schools across the country.

You can read the official press release.


Sri Lanka completes first stage of national OLPC plan

Sri Lanka is a good example of collaboration between government, ngo’s, and international bodies.
They began an OLPC pilot in 2009, with support from World Vision Lanka, to see what a national laptop initiative might look like. This month they have finished deploying XOs to the last of their 13 pilot schools, chosen from each region of the country.

The program has been supported by the faculty at Colombo University, with educators working on a digital curriculum, texts that are included on every XO, and over 80 software programs (in Sinhala and Tamil) for students in grades 1-5.

Education Minister Bandula Gunawardena, overseeing the program, sees the XOs as “an ideal solution for the underprivileged schools which do not have electricity supply”. Now the ministry is considering how to expand this to the nation’s other primary schools.