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.

Colombus School for Girls returns to St. John

The Columbus School for Girls, led by Christine Murakami, is preparing for its 2012 trip to St. John. You can follow their awesome trip blog this week. From Christine’s latest:

We are having our 2nd, 3rd, and 4th graders all work at different paces due to the differences in age and experience. It feels completely appropriate, and what’s great is that the girls are intuitively pacing their classes according to what’s going on in the class. With the shorter periods, there is less stress about “covering the material” than there was in the past, and as a result, the students are learning the material well.

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!

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.

 

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.

 

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.

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)

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.

San Francisco State University signs an MOU with OLPC

For four years, OLPC has had fruitful collaboration with the indefatigable Sameer Verma and others at SFSU, on hardware, Sugar activity design, and community building. Now at last we have a formal MOU between the University and OLPC[A]. This may be just the first of many MOUs with universities in the US, as we develop a network of supporting organizations working with OLPC on international projects.

Sameer and his students and colleagues have already worked with grassroots OLPC projects in Tuva, India, Armenia, Jamaica, and North Africa. Thanks to you all for your support and great ideas so far; we look forward to working more actively together, and perhaps drawing in new departments as well ;-)

There’s a lovely and unflinching personal recollection by Sameer of the development of his XO addiction, on SFSU’s opensource blog. A few highlights:

OLPC came into my professional [and personal] life in July 2007 when I signed up for the Developers Program and got an OLPC XO-1 B2 machine. How excited was I? I slept with it under my pillow. Seriously.

The hype and novelty factor diminished in six months and the question arose: “Why bother spending a Saturday for this?” Then came the answer in the form of actual projects… work, not just advocacy. We started with four projects and now have a list of fourteen.

You can read the text of the MOU as well.

Happy New Year! Reflections on OLPC in 2011

As we prepare for 2012, here is a quick look back at the past year of OLPC. We distributed our two millionth laptop (now 2.5M), and our largest programs in Latin America (Peru) and Africa (Rwanda) grew steadily. Austria’s Julieta Rudich and Journeyman Pictures produced a fine documentary about Plan Ceibal in Uruguay (the world’s first complete olpc program), and Peru provided XOs and compatible robotics kits to all of their urban schools.

In East Africa, we expanded our work with African nations and donors to improve education for children across the continent. We were invited by both the African Union and the UN to open an OLPC office in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Addis is a major hub for African diplomacy, and the support there for our mission has been stunning. We have become a full partner of the East African Community in Tanzania, and our recent country report on Rwanda has driven further interest in the region.


A Rwandan student workshop in Kigali

In the Middle East, we continued working with the Palestinian Authority, Israel and the UN to provide thousands of Palestinian children with XO laptops, integrating them into schools. It took ten months to work the laptops through customs in Gaza. But at a forum in Ramallah in June, teachers from Bethlehem and Gaza showed how OLPC was helping to end isolation and to excite learning for their children. Third grade girls in refugee camps are teaching others and writing computer programs. The testimony of these women to the power of persistence was extraordinary.

In Afghanistan, we founded a regional OLPC Afghanistan office, and briefed General Petraeus on the project. We believe that one laptop per child and connectivity, across the country, will transform this generation and their communities. Today we are working with the Education Ministry to support four thousand children in 10 schools, and are looking into expanding in Herat Province.

On the technical side, we focused on driving down laptop power needs by switching over to ARM chips in the XO-1.75 and upcoming XO-3 tablet. The tablet should be chargable by a solar panel that could serve as its carrying-case. We are studying new ways to help children learn to read, including where there are no schools at all.

In society, the idea that every child should have access to their own computer and to the Web – as a basic part of learning, whatever their family income – continued to spread. In addition to ongoing national programs in Argentina, Portugal, and Venezuela (for secondary students), two full-saturation laptop programs for older students are developing in India – an inexpensive tablet is being distributed to university students, and in Tamil Nadu dual-boot laptops from six different manufacturers are being provided to secondary students.

Reaching the least-developed countries in the world remains our goal and our most difficult challenge. While our largest deployments are funded directly by implementing governments, rural successes may be driven by foundations, NGOs, and individual donations. OLPC Rwanda, today one of the largest educational technology projects in Africa and part of a ten-year government plan, was seeded with ten thousand laptops given by Give One, Get One donors.

So to our supporters: thank you for your development, contributions, and collaboration, your feedback from the field, and your encouragement! This is all possible thanks to you.

Happy New Year to all — may 2012 bring you inspiration and discovery. We have some excellent surprises planned for the new year. And we would love to hear your reflections as well — please share stories from your own school projects in 2011.

A successful Contributors Program project: Rehnuma School in Karachi

If you haven’t seen this blog and this YouTube video from the OLPC Contributors Program project run by Talat Kahn and Carol Ruth Silver in Pakistan, you need to check it out! Watch the video and explore some of the creative ways the teachers and students are using XOs in their school.

This began as a 10 XO Contributors Program project and I was privileged to be their mentor. (Since then they found funding for over 100 XOs and are looking to grow.) And their class experiences and blog have been an inspiration to other teachers around the world. I did give them some help getting started and a couple of “lessons” via Skype, but after that, they ran with it! Notice the enthusiastic local community involvement that has helped make this project the success that it is.

P.S. Carol and Talat are members of the OLPC San Francisco Community. They are also the ones that introduced many of us (myself included) to the Khan Academy videos. We all learn from each other!

Pakistan’s Open Source Resource Centers celebrate their students

Pakistan has a government initiative to support and promote the use of open source tools — an “Open Source Resource Center” program, supported by the Pakistan Software Expert Board.   13 of their students recently became Red Hat-certified technicians and engineers, and they have helped work on Sugar and related localizations.

They are running a small PR campaign to celebrate their work — representing Pakistan’s open source community at international events, and training over 8000 people who have come to a center for help or study.    Kudos to the OSRC teams – I expect we will hear more from them soon!

Dance Dance Revolution: Madagascar edition

If you haven’t seen it already, take 5 minutes to watch this ridiculously joyful clip from the pilot project in Nosy Komba, Madagascar, supported by OLPC France.

If you have, it’s worth watching again and sharing :-) The lyrics are a popular Malagasy dancing song, carried out with XOs and other props.