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.

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.

New XO-3 image gallery online

A new batch of photos of the XO-3 in use is up on the posted on the OLPC wiki, along with images of the alpha test boards and schematics.

Nothing like a little transparency to start the week off right…  This is still not the final ID, there are still changes being made to the ports and cover, but we’re getting verrry close.

OLPC and Marvell announce the XO-3 tablet

Also: The first Marvell ARMADA-powered XO 1.75 laptop will begin shipping in March to school children in Uruguay and Nicaragua

SANTA CLARA, Calif. / LAS VEGAS (Jan. 9, 2012) – Marvell Semiconductor (Nasdaq: MRVL), a worldwide leader in integrated silicon solutions, and One Laptop per Child, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping every child in the world gain access to a modern education, demonstrated a version of the much-anticipated XO 3.0 – a low-cost, low-power, rugged tablet computer designed for classrooms around the globe – at the 2012 International Consumer Electronics Show.

“We’re proud to introduce the XO 3.0 tablet, showcasing the design, durability and performance features that make it a natural successor for our current laptops, which have been distributed to more than 2.4 million children in 42 countries and in 25 languages,” said Ed McNierney, Chief Technology Officer of One Laptop per Child. “The XO 3.0 builds on many of the technology breakthroughs we made with the XO 1.75, including the use of the Marvell® ARMADA® PXA618 processor, resulting in a significant decrease in power consumption-a critical issue for students in the developing world.”

“Marvell is committed to improving education–and the human condition-around the world through innovative technology for Smartphones, tablets and a myriad of new cloud-delivered services. Partnering with One Laptop Per Child is one way we can deliver a revolution where it matters most-to benefit children in some of the poorest places on the planet,” said Tom Hayes, Vice President of Corporate Marketing at Marvell, and a member of the OLPC advisory board. “Marvell has been with One Laptop per Child from the start, and we’re doing whatever it takes to help the organization realize its mission of providing meaningful educational opportunities to the 500 million school-aged children around the world.”

Marvell and One Laptop per Child also announced today that the XO -1.75 laptop will begin shipping to customers in March 2012. Over 75,000 units of the XO 1.75 have already been ordered by OLPC projects in Uruguay and Nicaragua. Both models use the Marvell ARMADA PXA618 SOC processor, which doubles the performance of the earlier XO 1 while using only half the power. The XO 1.75 features a sunlight-readable screen, and all other features and design characteristics of the two previous versions of the XO laptop.

The XO 3.0 tablet will also feature the Avastar Wi-Fi system-on-chip.
It is also the only tablet that can be charged directly by solar panels, hand cranks and other alternative power sources

Other features include:

• Updated Pixel Qi sunlight-readable display
• Choice of Android or Linux operating systems
• Unique charging circuitry to support alternate power sources
• Choice of laptop covers, including one with built-in solar panel

Colombia’s President Santos on quadrupling Internet access nationwide, and on rural OLPC success

Last November, President Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia gave the annual speech presenting the country’s National Competitiveness Report (pdf) – presented by the national Private Council for Competitiveness.

In his speech, he spends some time discussing his national plans for education, and recalls one of the great OLPC stories — the first OLPC program in Colombia in 2008, involving delivery by helicopter, no less, when Santos was Minister of National Defense. This took place in the town of Vista Hermosa, which at the time had recently been captured by government forces from the FARC.

Vista Hermosa students receive XOs in Dec. 2008

Here is the story in his own words. It is worth watching the original video; Santos is a good speaker. (The whole talk is fascinating; education starts at 26:25, the Vista Hermosa story is at 28:55.)

Excerpts after the jump. Continue reading

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!

Miguel Brechner on technology and teachers

Miguel Brechner, the compelling head of Plan Ceibal, gives a talk about the impact of the Uruguayan program, which has now reached almost 500,000 children and teachers in the country. He discusses impacts on the lives of children, plans for the future, and empowering teachers. (He also seems to be experiencing a revelation of epic proportions in the opening sequence of this video.)

Presentation, Part 1 | Part 2

From his talk:

There is no magic here. Ceibal will not solve Uruguay’s problems, but it is a technology that can help us solve them.

En Uruguay hay dos banderas: la primera la selección uruguaya de fútbol, y la segunda el Plan Ceibal.

Paving the road to connectivity

Alice Rawsthorn follows up on her earlier pieces on OLPC with an short, sweet article in yesterday’s New York Times. “A Few Stumbles on the Road to Connectivity” offers a summary of OLPC’s work and development over the past three years. She touches on many of the changing expectations about the project, by supporters and detractors, over the years, noting that initial detractors worried we would distort the commercial market, or impede other humanitarian projects. But both commercial and other humanitarian projects in education and technology have grown, even in countries where OLPC has reached every school and is a significant part of the annual education or technology budget.

The larger story, often lost in the drama of competing yet similar programs, is the global change wrought by universal connectivity projects. UCPN, Ceibal, Canaima, Connectar Igualdad, Magelhan, Aakash — all are variations on the essential theme. That will soon have transformed education in most of the world. The question is, which regions will still be left out?

Visualizing universal connectivity in Argentina

Argentina’s Conectar Igualdad program, which will provide 3M laptops to secondary students across the country by the end of next year, has devoted much time to their web presence.  (The secondary students receive Classmates; 60K primary students in the north have also recieved XOs.) The national education ministry has a history of excellent web sites, including educ.ar, which has gathered learning materials and information for teachers for years.

Conectar Igualdad has, among other things, a lovely real-time summary of the program’s progress, noting the current targets or the deployment and how it has progressed during the current phase in each district.

They are also open about the experimental nature of their work.  They have asked students and communities to come up with great ideas and local initiatives using the laptops and other information technology, running a variety of contests to select the best of them.  The aim of these contests is to highlight the dynamic of “one laptop per child” and universal connectivity, connect with web 2.0 services, and to collaborate with others in a creative way.

Continue reading

OLPC Niue: reports of demise premature

Following last week’s announcement that the education department is “phasing out” support for OLPC in the South Pacific island nation of Niue, OLPCA is reaching out to the community there, looking at options of how to manage the ongoing communal ownership of the laptops for the benefit of everyone on “The Rock“.  OLPC is working with its Pacific partners to conduct a needs assessment to ascertain the status of the program there, and how they could move forward. We will work with all partners in Niue to ensure the XO contributes to its ongoing educational progress.

We understand the XOs, and all essential associated network infrastructure on Niue, remain in robust working order — and firmly in the hands of the island’s children. It was there that we learned that the OLPC principle of child ownership needed tweaking in the Pacific, where traditional cultures often value the group over the individual. In Oceania children are usually  “custodians” of their laptop, with a responsibility to safeguard it on behalf of the community, and further to share it with that community. These lessons come directly from our first experiences in Niue.

The Niue Department of Education and its partners had put in place a comprehensive and technically competent deployment. Eucators have said the OLPC program “went well” for two years and the XOs produced real educational benefits among students. We are keen to ensure that we document and build on this success, both in Niue and elsewhere in the Pacific. And no matter what direction the program takes we want to ensure it aligns with OLPC Oceania’s Community Participation Guidelines, especially the need for environmentally responsible solutions.

Both OLPCA and the Pacific countries that today are introducing the XO are incorporating lessons from our first Pacific pilots.  We are comparing it to the progress we see elsewhere in remote Australia and in Micronesia in the North Pacific, where the largest donor (the United States) is now working with countries on OLPC.  The fact that a funding shortfall was key to the Niue decision has spurred a broader debate in the region on aid to Small Island States like Niue, and has allowed us to raise the issue with other stakeholders in the region.

 

A day with my XO

La Rioja, Argentina
I am writing from the Airport of La Rioja, with my blue XO, waiting for my delayed plane to Buenos Aires. I spent this morning with the Minister of Education, professor Walter Flores and his team, visiting two elementary public schools. Today the whole province is celebrating a significant event, every child and teacher is showing their work on their XO, more than 50,000 have been already distributed. Un día con mi XO, is the title of this very peculiar Journey. A very impressive experience indeed, a massive celebration, the first ever, I think, in the OLPC world. An incredible feat for this Argentine province, the first in Argentina to have saturated the whole educational system, in elementary and special schools with the XO laptops, private and public, and also the secondary and technological schools with the Intel netbooks. A detail, the XO were bought by the province and the netbooks by the nation. A perfect solution.

In La Rioja both platforms coexist in great harmony, due in fact that the leaders of the XO team with their expertise are also in charge of the netbook implementation in the secondary schools. A good model to follow in other settings for a smooth transition when the children finishing primary school return their XO (to be recycled and given to the new cohort in first grade) and receive instead their new netbook for the secondary school. In fact in many families children and adolescents use both equipments in the «expanded school» at home and outside, in the public places with wifi. A new digital landscape is unfolding. I have seen a remarkable video of a show with hundreds of children walking on the streets of La Rioja by night with their XO shining like candles in the dark.

It was really moving to see today the schools transformed in an immense XO laboratory. Classrooms, yards, gardens, corridors were blooming with the green laptops and hundreds of children with their parents and teachers around. The media followed the visit of the Minister who gave several interviews. I also was interviewed working with the children who were fascinated with my blue machine and …my white hat. I was impressed with the immediate reaction of the students. Many wanted to have my blue XO and some told me that the blue keyboard was much better. I agree. One discovered that I had a new program to «play games with numbers». In fact we will test it in the next weeks in some schools of La Rioja. It is a remarkable software produced by a team at the University of Buenos Aires under the leadership of Mariano Sigman, a member of the scientific advisory board of OLPCA. If the result is satisfying we will distribute it to the whole OLPC community around the world.

A continuous flow of information came from remote parts of the province, all the 380 elementary schools were today performing a fantastic concert of digital ideas. A day to be remembered as the celebration of the program Joaquin V. Gonzalez, who started only one year ago and now has fully integrated the whole province, every child without exception, in the digital world. I hope La Rioja will become a leader in the Andean region and we discussed with Minister Flores the possibility of expanding the XO experience to the near province of Catamarca and even to Atacama in Chile.

At OLPC we are educators without borders.

Thanks for making the San Francisco summit great

I join the SF summit organizers in thanking everyone who helped make this year’s event possible, including the amazing attendees, Mayor Lee and SFSU graduate program director Aaron Anderson.  Special thanks to Sameer for pulling it all together, and to the attendees from all corners of the globe.  It is nice to see “One Laptop per Child Day” becoming a tradition in the city.

Please post your favorite photos or recollections of the summit and from your travels home; we hope to hear from you all soon.

 

Making the world a more intelligent and humane place to live

Rodrigo Arboleda is giving a keynote address today at the International Symposium on Convergence Technologies (ConTech 2011) in Seoul, Korea – a gathering focused on making the world a more intelligent and humane place to live.   His talk is “Children as a Mission, not a Market“, focusing on the challenges of making modern education available to children in developing parts of the world, and OLPC’s lessons learned to date.

OLPC retrospective in the latest Linux Journal

SFSU professor and OLPC-SF organizer Sameer Verma wrote a nice project summary in the latest Linux Journal titled OLPC: Are We There Yet?  In it he discusses the state of the project, and what remains to be done before every child has access to tools for their own education.

Sameer writes from the perspective of his own efforts to promote olpc around the world, and that of the Bay-area education hackers who help with everything from testing hardware, Sugar, and peripherals (leggo my WeDo!) to supporting schools in other countries.  It’s a well laid-out piece, with pointers to how local groups can make a difference.

 

 

Book Server 0.01: Pathagar + Sheeva Plug for offline reading

Sameer Verma of OLPC-SF, as he mentiond at last week’s amazing community summit, is putting together a book server for use in rural India, with 20,000 books and audio files on it for students and teachers to use locally. He is going to deploy it at a school pilot near his familial hometown.

This is a Pathagar server implementing the OPDS bookserver standard, running on a tiny Sheeva Plug device, accessible over a local network to XOs in the neighborhood.  The Sheeva Plug is low power and has USB and SD ports that make it easy to expand such an offline library.  Here it is plugged in and in use, drawing a total of 4 Watts:

Sayamindu Dasgupta, who contributed to the design of the OPDS specification, developed the Pathagar server to implement the spec; Manuel Quiñones created the version of the server used here.  Book and audio suggestions are welcome for this particular build, and a web-based form for linking to OPDS archives suitable for inclusion in the image will be up shortly.  If you have your own Sheeva Plug, you can torrent the original disk image of this installation.

The setup was load-tested last night, using a simple build: a stock Sheeva Plug and 16GB USB key (total cost: $100). Quick statistics:

  • Power draw: 4W
  • Simultaneous downolads: 500
  • Library size: 10,000 – 50,000 books

For details, images, and a mailing list for discussion, see the bookserver project page.