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.

Costeau Collective auctions off their creative advice to benefit OLPC

The 10-person creative team @ the Costeau Collective is auctioning two days of marathon designwork for any project at all; proceeds to benefit OLPC.   A cool idea.

Update: The auction raised over $9,000 — enough to support an entire classroom! A hearty thanks to the Collective for their creative support. (So who was the lucky winning bidder?)

Greta van Sustern on providing XO opportunities in Haiti

Greta Van Susteren of Fox News has worked in the past to support with the Reverend Franklin Graham and Samaritans Purse. Yesterday she wrote about their recent efforts to build a school and orphanage for roughly 100 children, and their purchase of 100 XOs to send to them thanks to a generous donor.

From her post on gretawire:

Just recently, a contribution was made to Samaritans Purse so that Samaritans Purse could purchase 100 computers for the orphan children. This will open doors for those kids – giving them a chance that they would not otherwise have. I don’t need to tell you how important learning is or what opportunities can be realized with a computer.

What kind of computers? The XO. It is a very, very special computer – and very durable since kids are not known to be that careful with things. Here are some pics of my assistant with the XO computer…

Thanks to everyone involved, and I hope you connect with the other great thinsg that OLPC Haiti are doing!

OLPC Kenya: working towards an education alliance

Sandra Thaxter, who has been working with some of the grassroots programs in Kenya, recently joined with others in the OLPC Kenya volunteer community, for a meeting with the the Kenyan Institute for Education on their digital learning initiatives.

Assistant Minister of Education Calist Mwatela set up a meeting between these groups, and they are planning a series of Skype meetings over the next few weeks. Sandra wrote more about this and her dream of an OLPC Kenya Alliance, as a guest post on the Eshibinga blog.

Keep up the good work!

South Africa: Building grassroots support for access to a modern education

As noted last week, Jackie Lustig has compiled a report from our South African projects. It draws on background data from the country, and highlights work done there over the past four years.

Starting with a gift of 100 laptops from donors on Boston, and expanding through the interest of a number of OLPCorps projects in 2008, South Africa has expanded its OLPC community to almost 1500 students and teachers today.


OLPC South Africa case study, 2008-2012

(This is an 8MB pdf, so may take a moment to load)

Kevin Brooks challenges Mark Warschauer and Morgan Ames to reflect

Kevin was recently fired up by likes Sridhar’s recent summary of Australian OLPC projects and how they are building a national education programme. He challenges Warschauer and Ames to take a look at their work. (They are known in the olpc-verse primarily for their paper framing the idea of a computer for every child as a “technocentric” “utopian vision”.)

Given the depth of information out today about the diversity of olpc programs, there is much more research to be done – not about whether to give learning tools to children (of course you should), but about how to use them as the basis for transforming and enriching a community. To paraphrase a famous educator, the diversity in OLPC implementations around the world will help us discover the most effective approaches.

A tip of the hat to OLPC Australia, which continues its truly remarkable work.

DC Learning Club repeats solar-only experiment

The OLPC Learning Club DC repeated the experiment of running an XO-1.75 on a solar panel, with no battery involved.  They tried this on a cloudy late afternoon, rather than a sunny early afternoon, and had to switch to a larger panel, but were able to make it work for some 20 minutes.

I look forward to further creative power tests and batteryless setups!   And to any additional power-saving tweaks.  (these tests have been run with suspend off. another interesting stat would be howl ong it takes to charge the battery while actively using the XO with suspend on.)

Whoa! Go: check out this year’s Win One Give One site

General Mills has rolled out their new gorgeous WinOneGiveOne campaign for their ongoing partnership with OLPC, this year supporting programs in Rwanda and Nicaragua.  They’ve designed some fine art for participating food packages, and their ad firm Saatchi & Saatchi put together great commercials and PR interviews for the program.

 

Protecting Internet freedom

Thousands of web sites across the Internet are shutting down today to protest proposed U.S. laws (SOPA and PIPA) that would make it difficult for websites to host community-generated content on the Internet.

Please take a moment to learn more about the bills and why they would be harmful to the open Web, to open education, and to present and future collaborative projects.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation and other non-profit organizations dedicated to preserving freedom on the Web have ways that you can make your voice heard in the national and international debate about these proposed laws.

Betty Crocker helps kids give back through OLPC

General Mills is reprising their “Win and Give” program from last year to help kids win an XO laptop and give one to a child in an African deployment. Last year this resulted in almost 1000 donated laptops.

From now through May, specially-marked packages of Betty Crocker fruit snacks will feature a “Win & Give” campaign, giving people a chance to win laptops themselves and donate laptops to children in Africa.

The campaign shows moms and kids that even the smallest act can make a big difference, and that giving to others can be fun. “Research shows that providing children with opportunities and experiences to feel the joy and impact of giving to others helps them grow into kind, empathetic and respectful adults,” said Dr. Michele Borba*. “The ‘Win & Give’ campaign truly makes a difference and it’s so easy for kids in the U.S. to get involved.”

Having a giving heart is important, as 93 percent of moms would exude more pride if their children grew into giving adults than if they were wealthy, according to the Kids’ Altruism Indicator**. But, between work, school and after-school activities, it can be hard for families to find the time to give back. Dr. Borba recommends five ways families can incorporate giving into their everyday lives: Tap into kids’ passions. For instance, an animal lover may get excited about helping at a local animal shelter. Encourage children to become involved in causes they care about. Let them lead the charge and follow-up with support. When watching the news, take the time to explain hot button issues and how people have been affected by local disasters, like hurricanes or tornados.

Kids are compassionate and may proactively want to help by donating clothes or writing letters to those affected. Especially when they know they can make a difference. Take that moment to mobilize compassion – “What can we do?” is a great question that empowers children to lead the way. Be on the lookout for local opportunities to help.

Each package contains a code that can be entered at WinOneGiveOne.com to see if they’ve won an XO laptop; for every laptop one, another is donated to a child in Africa.  The website allows parents and kids to see the impact laptops have on kids in Rwanda with videos from the students and teachers who received the laptops, and includes tips and comments from Dr. Borba.


* Michele Borba is an educator, author, and parenting expert working with General Mills.
** The Kids Altruism Indicator survey was conducted by Kelton Research in December 2010, among children ages 7-12.

Stories from Eshibinga II: My father, and the private face of computers

Reposted with permission from the Eshibinga blog:

Last week we got the good news. Our class is soon going to get two more computers. That is great news because we are a class of 40 kids and and increasing… [they] have helped us learn most of the computer basics, writing, recording, games, music, etc etc. Recording activity was my favorite. When I grow up I want to be a photo journalist.

Our dream as a class is to have each kid own his or her own laptop. I think a computer has a private face. As much as computers do lots of public work, but I think and I stand to be corrected, that a computer is also personal. The reason I am saying this is because I have some personal matters in my life which I have typd and recorded on one of the laptop. It is no secret here in Eshibinga that my dad has been living with HIV AIDS. He does not have long to live. Every word he tells me is important. Every smile he gives me is precious, every prayer he makes for me and my three other siblings is memorable. After learning about the recording activity on the xo laptop, I asked Mr. Amunga to give it to me to go with it home. I sat my dad under his favourite tree. And I recorded his voice, his smile his face.

Later I realized that what I had recorded was so important. I don’t want it erased. It may be the only chance for my three sisters and I to hear and see our dad in future.
The advice dad was gave was very personal and very private. I don’t want my classmates to read watch or see the recording I made on the xo laptop. Neither do I want it erased. What do I do? Yesterday teacher announced that will get two more laptops. I want to talk to him to give me this particular one for keeps. It has the face of my dad, my history, my roots. I need to keep this recordings. They are too personal, too private, too precious. A computer has two faces the private and the public.

Update from OLPC Jamaica in August Town

Reposting a recent update by Jamaica’s Craig Perue

I have very good news. Just in time for the one year celebration of the launch of our XO deployments at August Town Primary and Providence Methodist Basic School, six members of the global OLPC community will be visiting us. They will be taking lots of pictures, doing interviews, workshop sessions, meeting the parents, teachers and students – all during the week of January 29 to February 5. One of the goals while they are here is to collect lots of content – National Geographic quality pictures and amazing stories that will be published later in the year along with those of five other small OLPC deployments worldwide.

This is an initiative to publicize to a worldwide audience the great OLPC work being done in Jamaica, Madagascar (Nosy Komba), Philippines, Kenya, Haiti, and Vietnam.

The team visiting Jamaica includes:

– documentary film maker, Bill Stelzer, who works with the OLPC deployments in the US Virgin Islands
– OLPC’s community support manager since 2007, Adam Holt, who splits his time between Boston and Haiti
– executive director of Ntugi Group, Mark Battley, who support OLPC implementations in Northern Kenya
– Quentin Peries Joly and Laura de Reynal, University students from OLPC France who have done extensive work with the OLPC project in Nosy Komba, Madagascar
– Nancie Severs, who envisioned and started the first OLPC deployment in a floating village, Vietnam.