eduJAM! starts in Uruguay

The eduJAM! convocation is going strong, with 2-3 days of Sugar camp and discussion among developers and teachers from across the world. Keep an eye on the ceibalJAM site in the coming days for videos and notes from the event.

You can browse some of the presentations on the edujam2011 slideshare account.

eduJAM!-invitacion

eduJAM! invitacion

OLPC Rwanda reaches rural schools in Muhanga

Caritas Kanizio of Rwanda’s Education Ministry distributed 500 XOs to students and teachers in Ruli Primary school in Muhanga this week.  This is part of an expansion of Rwanda’s OLPC project to rural schools, which has taken some time to develop but has been in ways the most rewarding part.  It has helped bridge the connectivity and technology divide within the country.

Rwanda has positioned itself as a tech-savvy hub in East Africa for some time, but rural towns have had very limited access to computers.  Parents generally hope to learn about computers through their children, and the program is seen as heralding better Internet connectivity for the communities as well.

 

Little green legs

Two weeks back, the Financial Times posted an essay by Gillian Tett about OLPC, titled “Billions of children could be transformed by cheap computers” (and later, “Why logging on should be child’s play”). The article eventually concludes that children’s lives could be transformed, and that being able to ‘log on’ to the Internet should probably be child’s play for all children — but was much more ambivalent than the titles suggest.

They ran a long reader response to the article the following week, which is worth sharing:

As a fellow anthropologist in the financial sector, I am surprised by Gillian Tett asking “Could the idea fly? Should it?” regarding the distribution of $200 connected green laptops to children in the developing world. I similarly question her implication that this is a local Latin American initiative by One Laptop Per Child, as part of a grand “intellectual vision” recently developed by neuroscientists.

In the 21st century, we cannot separate computer literacy from the traditional “3Rs”. The luxury of computer literacy is the competitive edge of the developed world’s affluent children…

One Laptop Per Child’s mission statement has no neuroscientific technobabble: to supply cheap, green, durable, connected laptops for “collaborative, joyful, and self-empowered learning … [and] a brighter future”. Currently, 2.1m XO computers have been deployed to children and teachers worldwide in Latin America, Africa and Asia.

For Ms Tett to ask “if” or “should” this happen is like asking if the horse Goldikova should race. The little green laptop has legs – and it’s a winner.

Havergal Institute girls work with Molweni orphanage in South Africa

A team of high-school students at the Institute at Havergal is helping to implement an XO program this August at the NOAH’s Ark orphanage (Nurturing Orphans of AIDS for Humanity) in Molweni, South Africa, near Durban.  A group of students taking part in the Havergal South Africa Global Experience Program will take XOs with them, which they are currently learning how to introduce to students.

Using these laptops, they will continue conversations with the NOAH youth all year long.  They have a standing relationship with the orphanage and are being mentored by Mark Battley and a team in Ntugi.

African Union and OLPC commit to educational transformation work throughout Africa

The African Union [AU] and One Laptop per Child today signed a Memorandum of Understanding in which they commit to provide laptops to primary school students throughout Africa.  Matthew Keller, OLPC’s Vice President of Global Advocacy, and Lidet Tilahun, Vice President of International Outreach, were present for the signing at AU’s Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The AU has committed itself to work with OLPC in developing large-scale laptop projects, and to work with OLPC on seeking funding from prospective donors as well as recipient countries for these projects. OLPC and the AU will work together to leverage the advantages of the XO laptop and its award-winning Sugar operating system in transforming primary school education, and to promote strategies for better access to laptops and connectivity.

“OLPC’s partnership with the African Union represents another significant step toward a world in which every child has access to a world-class education, to the world’s body of knowledge, and to each other,” said Keller. “The African Union is dedicating itself not simply to One Laptop per Child, but to a world in which the children become agents of change – making things, teaching each other and their families and affecting the social development of their community.”

Commissioner Jean-Pierre Ezin, the AU Commissioner for Science and Technology, said, “Getting connected laptops filled with dynamic educational content into the hands of children throughout Africa will change the way this generation of children thinks and learns. The AU is eager to realize what could be a profound development as a result of advanced technology in the way learning happens both in and out of school, the way that books are read, and the way that education happens inside a classroom. This is a very ambitious project for which we will have to partner with various people and institutions to mobilize and find the resources required to meet the objective of educational transformation.”

OLPC Uganda: connecting schools in Pokot

John Valent with the E4N Foundation has been working with children and families in Cheminy, and is expanding to two more schools in Pokot as the new school term begins. They use a collection of materials for both school and farming, and encourage children to learn with their families, and help their families learn, outside of school.

Kudos to their team for sharing their work, and tracking their open tasks and reports online.

Happy new year

Happy new year to the OLPC community around the world!  Thank you for your part in everything we have accomplished in 2010 – from our new initiatives in Gaza, Argentina, and Nicaragua to expansion of work in Peru, Uruguay, Rwanda, Mexico, Afghanistan, and Haiti.

Special thanks to everyone who has worked on the newest iterations of Sugar, and those who put on the grassroots events over the past year in the Virgin Islands, San Francisco, and Uruguay — all of which has helped connect some of our smaller projects and realize some of their educational dreams in new activities.  We’ve launched our new website for the year, highlighting the stories from these and other deployments; this blog may merge into that site as well (and you can see blog posts appearing in its News section).

Put your Favorite School Ever on the Map!

The greatest project you’ve ever built. The most explosively dynamic volunteer you’ve ever met. The greatest school system you’ve ever heard of. Even your own mom’s Haiti school dream?

How should each appear on our community’s global map of 21st century EduTech innovators? How can you help them visually catalyze OLPC’s informal but global deployment community, from Kigali to Kathmandu?

Put YOUR Learning on the Map!

Put YOUR Learning on the Map!

If you cannot attend Boston’s olpcMAPmaking Sprint Dec 27-31 in person, and Audubon Dougherty’s premier Peru film presentation (preview), we invite you instead to inject your inspiration today — and watch your ideas grow — as our volunteer community sets itself to work, night and day showcasing OLPC/Sugar’s deployment doers’ greatest accomplishments worldwide.

So who’s on the front line of our planet’s DIY Foreign Aid Revolution today? Hint: http://olpcMAP.net was built entirely by volunteers, in the last 2 months, its community stories sparked but barely begun. Now they need your help bringing silent heroes’ creative outpourings to light — in and around rising 21st century schools everywhere, no matter how rich or poor — that you personally know are fighting to make a difference!

Whether you join these educational volunteers worldwide, seeding learning community networks one country at time, co-designing our Open Geospatial Infrastructure — or only have time to follow our grassroots pioneers’ mailing list, or just adding your your local insights into our suggestion box — we thank you profusely for your holiday generosity to our still-new-century’s kids emerging!

OLPC-SF roundup and thanks!

Last weekend ran on into Monday for many attendees, due to late flights and the enormous hospitality of the Kleiders – June, Alex, Tanya, Isabella and Mike Gehl. Tremendous thanks are due to them and to everyone who made this such a joyous event!

Thanks also to the tireless design work and organization of Mike Lee and Elizabeth Barndollar, program coordination of Sameer Verma, Adam Holt and Hilary Naylor, social media and web support/registration fronts by Elizabeth Krumbach and Grant Bowman, and the local networking and support of Carol Ruth Silver and the SFSU student volunteer team of Alexander Mock, Abhi Pendyal, Brittany Dea, Charles Fang, Christian Pascual, Dan Sanchez, Gerard Enriquez, Hue La, Jay Cai, Lana Seto, Navi Thach , Neeraj Chand, Nina Makalinaw, Paul Mak, Russell Lee, and Simon Pan.

Live documentation of the event was possible thanks to tireless video work, moderation and transcription of Ben Sheldon, Nina Stawski, and others; and gifts and travel were supported by dozens of individuals, attendees (through their registration fees — thank you!) and by OLPC.

And finally, behind the scenes thank you to Yuliana Diestel and Richard Ho at the SFSU Downtown Center for managing logistics and Dean Nancy Hayes of the College of Business at SFSU for hosting us, and to Peter Brantley at the Internet Archive for allowing ten of us to join the excellent Books in Browsers event.

Rwanda on track to deploy 50,000 XOs to 150 schools this year

Nkubito Bakuramutsa, OLPC project coordinator at the Rwandan Education Ministry, talked to the Rwanda New Times this week about the first 10,000 students and teachers who had received laptops through the country’s OLPC program. Rwanda is on track to distribute XOs to 50,000 students by the end of the year, with another 50,000 following soon after.

Laptop preparation in Kigali

Laptop preparation in Kigali

The national deployment team recently finished setting up their software build, and is now flashing 2,000 XOs a day. This is a good milestone for the team — learning how to rebuild all parts of the system on their own is important, and as Zehra can attest the first time you get a NANDBlast production line up and running is memorable.

The schools are including materials from OLPC, Sugar Labs, India’s Azim Premji Foundation, the National Curriculum Development Centre, and the Rwanda Education Commons, with customization help from Microsoft and Rwanda’s Green Hills Academy network of schools.

OLPC SF Community Summit 2010, Oct 22-24

OLPC’s global community of contributors and volunteers is gathering for its largest ever meeting to date, on the weekend of October 22-24, in San Francisco! Thanks to the OLPC San Francisco Community led by Professor Sameer Verma, and our gracious host San Francisco State University.  If you want to take a stand for global education rights For All in this 21st century, now is your time — OLPC’s Global Community is a friendly and supportive network inviting you too to Stand & Deliver:

The OLPC SF Community Summit 2010 will be a community-run event bringing together educators, technologists, anthropologists, enthusiasts, champions and volunteers. We share stories, exchange ideas, solve problems, foster community and build collaboration around the One Laptop per Child project and its mission worldwide.

Now we’re taking the next step, bringing together the voices of OLPC experience, Sugar Labs, the Realness Alliance — and yourself. Check out our growing list of social entrepreneurs who’ve already signed up from Uruguay, Peru, Paraguay, Argentina, Nicaragua, Africa, Afghanistan, India, Philippines, France, UK, Italy, Belgium, Austria, Canada, Birmingham and beyond.  Then please consider joining us, adding your own contribution/testimonial and photo!

Advancing education in Rwanda: two views from Kagugu

East African freelancer Nick Wadhams and Czech journalist Tomas Lindner (from Respekt) both visited Kagugu Primary School in Kigali this month, while in the country covering the recent presidential elections.

Wadhams reported briefly on his visit to Kagugu for a short radio segment for NPR’s All Things Considered.  He gets soundbites from a student and the project coordinator,  and notes some of the worries teachers and parents have.  He finds a classroom dark and dirty, and asks somewhat glibly “do poor kids really need laptops?”

Meanwhile Lindner wrote a subtle review of Rwanda’s development as a technological nation, for the German magazine Tagesspiegel.  He visits Kagugu with this in mind, considering the place of technology in schools as part of Kagame’s national Vision 2020 plan.  He interviews school director Edward Nizeymana, and visits a biology class to see how they learn together with XOs.  They discuss the rapid growth of school attendance, changing motivations and long-term goals of the students, and the challenges teachers face adjusting to new technology and to English as a new language of instruction.  Nizeymana says, responding to questions about whether Rwanda should invest in this way in primary education:

“The critics say that the government should first invest in drinking water or electricity.  But that will not do.  The world is not waiting… we have to run, do many things simultaneously. We can not let modern technologies wait until everyone has clean water at home. “

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Sharing the flame of inspiration

This past weekend, we had a country meeting in Cambridge – the sort of gathering of national project leads, and honest sharing of lessons and challenges, that I love best about OLPC.  It ranged from the familiar to the unexpected.  It is fascinating to observe the  with Gaza and Afghanistan providing useful perspectives on what is easy and what is hard in very dense and very sparse regions, under economic and military pressure.

It left me with a lot to think about regarding how we scale passion, awareness, and the practicalities of deployment — we saw a few different successful models for scaling to hundreds of thousands of children and teachers, and discussed social and political pitfalls to avoid.

At the same time, Juliano wrote up a very personal reflection on the recent teacher training sessions he has helped organize in Rwanda.  He comments that last week’s work felt more effective than any he had done so far, but that it made him think about the challenges of scaling training to an entire country.

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