The OLPC Community Summit is back for a second year, hosted again by OLPC San Francisco. It promises to be the year’s best rundown of OLPC efforts around the world, large and small.
Tony Forster posted videos of recent work with OLPCs in East Timor. He has been travelling around the world helping smaller deployments for much of the past year; I last caught up with him at LinuxTag this spring, and was delighted by his stories. I hope to see more visual field reports like this from the most rural schools as well.
On June 4, the Electronics Corporation of the state of Tamil Nadu [ELCOT] floated an international tender for sourcing 912,000 laptops.Requirements include a 2.1GHz clock, 320G hard drive, 2G of RAM, 3 hour battery life, and an Intel chipset. Also required: Lin/Win dual-boot, a 36-month warranty, and managing regional repair centers across the country for 3+ years.
The Times of India reports that this is part of a long-term program to provide free laptops to 6.8M pre-college students across the state, and they are hoping for bids under $300 a unit. Unlike previous pronouncements about laptops for children, which were received much media attention with little result, this tender received comparatively little fanfare, and was focused on logistics. The tender closes in early July, and delivery is to start on September 1 of this year.
This free laptop program is a political promise made by the AIADMK party, which is currently in power. They worked through ALCOT to carry out a similar program in 2006, the Free Color Television Scheme, which provided color televisions to every family without one (4 million in all). In response to complaints that many of these televisions turned up on a grey market, they are mandating hardware and software marking of the machines to note they are from Tamil Nadu.
The AIADMK haven’t budgeted for the program yet, however: this week their Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa petitioned the central government in New Delhi for funds to support it.
OLPC is working in 9 schools and 5 cities in Afghanistan. Many of the schools have some limited Internet connectivity at home, but most families still don’t have Internet (though they may get GPRS coverage if they have access to a cell phone) in their neighborhoods or home compounds.
In Jalalabad, this is changing in part thanks to a mesh network run by FabLab Jalalabad. Through their FabFi network, many children with XOs and their families have access to the Internet (and Wikipedia) for the first time. Fast Company wrote up a good story on this, following the New York Times’s lead last Sunday (commentary).
Similar FabLabs with mesh networks have sprung up elsewhere, most notably in Kenya. I hope to see them spread more widely in Africa and Asia – it seems like a robust and scalable model for engaging communities in maintaining their own networks.
The OLPC Bhagmalpur project, which Sameer started in 2008 with support from the Digital Bridge Foundation, is finishing a renovation that will provide regular power from a generator at the local school, and close to giving the students there their own XOs. They visited with the students recently, one of whom is featured in our second Mission video, to show them how many people are following the school’s progress.
Abhishek Singh from OLE Nepal published his long and excellent XS wishlist, generating a long discussion on the server-devel mailing list (1, 2) and other discussion online. He discusses some specific use cases for current and requested-future features, including:
- Porting XS to new version of Fedora
- Support for more architectures
- Web content filtering
- Shared Journal Backup
- A platform for socializing
- Some specific packages needed for the above.
Khürgülek Ondar, with help from OLPC-SF, is heading back to Tuva with XOs in hand and some Sugary ideas to share. Sameer is helping maintain an OLPC Tuva project blog, and they are looking for help in localizing Sugar into Tuvan.
The excellent Kleider clan have been giving him some help… now I hope he finds someone from OLPC MN to meet with him there.
OLPC Australia has released an update to their USB ‘toolkit’ for XOs, a collection of software on a USB thumb drive designed to assist in recovery, repair, and support scenarios. The new version is ready for testing, and Sridhar expects only documentation changes between now and its final release.
The XO-AU USB is OLPC Australia’s official means of delivering updates and troubleshooting tools to schools.
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.
Late last year, Roger (Arnan) published a brief summary of his two-year analysis of seven schools in Thailand, reported in The Nation, which was spun negatively in the Bangkok Post. While I haven’t seen the data on which he bases his analysis, his research and recent paper (from ICLS 2010) do not look negative; though they note that urban schools whose students already have access to computers (and, presumably, to libraries) do not see short-term improvements in traditional test scores, despite seeing improvements in basic literacy.
This is not surprising — OLPC does not target wealthier urban schools except as part of national saturation deployments, such as in Uruguay, Peru, and Rwanda where the entire system is undergoing a change in how it approaches learning in and out of school. Continue reading
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).
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?
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!
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.
OLPC Mongolia’s national website has been steadily adding new information about their program, and their site looks beautiful. I need to get a proper translation of their blog, which often goes into extreme detail.
Australia, Oceania, Nepal and Canada are leading the way in terms of detailed maps of the schools involved in pilots; it would be great to see what artistic style Mongolia adds to that meme.
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!
OLPC Australia is in the middle of providing 300 children and teachers with XOs in Doomadgee, Queensland. This continues their work in Aboriginal regions across the continent (see their amazing school-by-school map). I always look forward to the updates of that particular map – which colors every school deployment by whether it is completed or not.