Mobile libraries: a Victorian idea helping OLPC users share books

David Bainbridge and Ian Witten of the University of Waikato in New Zealand published a paper last year about using the Greenstone digital library toolkit to help offline XO users share libraries of books. From their abstract:

The idea draws upon mobile libraries (bookmobiles) for its inspiration, which first appeared in Victorian times. The implemented technique works by building on the mesh network that is instrumental to the XO-laptop approach. To use the technique, on each portable XO-laptop a version of Greenstone is installed, allowing the owner to develop and manage their own set of books. The version of Greenstone has been adapted to support a form of interoperability we have called Digital Library Talkback. On the mesh, when two XO-laptops “see” each other, the two users can search and browse the other user’s digital library; when they see a book they like, they can have it transferred to their library with a single click using the Digital Library Talkback mechanism.

Alas, you need to be an ACM member or pay $15 to read the full paper.

Christoph interviews OLPC Australia’s Rangan Srikhanta

Christoph Derndorfer recently interviewed Rangan Srikhanta, CEO of OLPC Australia, about their plans for the coming year. An excerpt:

You recently launched a new initiative called “One Education” and received $11.7 Million in government funding… Can you tell us more about these developments?

We pitched to the Australian government to kick-off a pilot for 50,000 XOs… a $20m project that would including funding from schools, corporations as well as from government. The program will also provide at least 15 hours of teacher professional development (via moodle) to over 2,500 teachers [to] kick-start a movement to make OLPC the program of choice for primary school children.

What are the biggest challenges that you need to address before you can turn OLPC Australia’s vision into a reality?

Scaling our operations to meet the demand (2 months ago we were a 2,500 XO an year organisation, now we are proposing to do 50,000 in one year) that will be coming through our very small offices in the next 12-18 months. In Australia there are high expectations for service delivery/support.

Read the whole interview.

Australian brilliance: AU government provides $11.7M for OLPC pilot

via Rangan Srikhanta

It gives me tremendous pleasure to inform you that the Australian Federal Government has committed to fund One Laptop per Child in Australia for $11.7M this year, to launch a pilot project to reach 50,000 children in indigenous communities.   Additional funds will come from the schools participating in the program and from corporate/public donors.

From the Schooling section of the annual budget:

The Australian Government is providing over $11 million to support the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) Program which will deliver over 50,000 custom built laptops to primary students in regional and remote Australia as part of a 12 month pilot program. The OLPC Australia Organisation (OLPC Australia) aims to support the learning opportunities of indigenous children, particularly those in remote Australia, by providing primary school aged children with a connected XO laptop as part of a sustainable training and support program. Participating schools will also receive information and communications technology (ICT) coordinator professional development, local repair kits, and access to helpdesk and online support.



From the
full budget breakdown, It seems that some of the funds for this was redirected from a project pool for the “Digital Education Revolution”.   The government is also extending OLPC Australia’s tax-deductibility for another three years, as part of this continuing commitment.

This is fantastic news.  Kudos to Rangan, Sridhar, Tracy, Rita, Sasha, Ning, and the whole team. A formal press release will be out in the coming days.  There is much more to come from Australia — stay tuned!

Niue sustains their OLPC project, plans future efforts

There was a bit of concern a few months back when it was reported that Niue’s government was considering dropping support for OLPC.  We reached out to them to find out what the reason was, as they had reported a successful and well-received pilot.  Now it seems that their education ministry remains interested in OLPC.  Thanks to the Niue Education Ministry and to Michael Hutak for the update.

Carnegie Mellon team wins Hult Global Case Challenge

The Hult Global Case Challenge concluded over the weekend, recognizing winners in the three categories of education, housing, and energy – with challenges related to the work of OLPC, Habitat for Humanity, and SolarAid.

The education prize went to the team from Carnegie Mellon’s Heinz College: Reggie Cox, Elizabeth Cullinan, Ketaki Desai, and Tim Kelly.   They took the prize for their “innovative approach to ensure streamlined laptop deployment and to create a global brand for [OLPC]’s open-source software.”  This continues a tradition of CMU support for OLPC – their ETC lab held a game jam in 2007, and other CMU campuses helped organize a 10-day OLPC Rwanda workshop in Kigali in 2010.

The team wrote about their experiences with the case challenge last month, in the Huffington Post.

Team submissions were judged by a panel of judges including: the CEOs of the three organizations whose case challenges were being considered, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Muhammad Yunus, former NY Governor Mario Cuomo, Unilever Chairman Michael Treschow, and social entreperneur Darrell Hammond.  All of the final submissions were excellent.

The challenge has given us many good ideas for how to improve and streamline our mission; just the judging process has been wonderful. The winning teams will share $1M to pursue their ideas; more updates to come as we see how this unfolds.

You can find a press release about the results here.

Bank of South Pacific donates 1000 laptops to Pacific children

The Bank of the South Pacific (BSP) this week became OLPC Oceania’s lead private sector partner in the region.

OLPC Oceana and BSP are announcing a strategic partnership to advance South Pacific education. As its first act in its role of Lead Private Sector Partner for OLPC Oceania, BSP is donating 1000 XOs to children in three OLPC project schools in the Solomon Islands and Fiji. In coming months, BSP plans to provide more support for children in Papua New Guinea as it spearheads private sector support for OLPC.

Surfing the Net in the Solomons

OLPC’s Regional Director for Oceania, Mr. Michael Hutak, thanked BSP for its generosity and welcomed the partnership as a breakthrough for Pacific education. “With BSP’s strong corporate leadership in the Pacific, its regional branch network and its strong commitment to community participation, we look forward to a long and effective partnership, not just to our mutual benefit but to the advancement of Pacific education.”

BSP Group Chief Executive Officer Mr. Ian B. Clyne said the new partnership was a perfect fit with the Bank’s corporate social responsibility goals and would broaden the reach and impact of the BSP Children’s Foundation, complementing programs such as BSP’s widely-praised BSP School Kriket program. The partnership continues BSP’s commitment to Pacific development and follows a recent Fiji$100,000 donation to emergency relief efforts following the devastating floods in Fiji.

As Lead Private Sector Partner, BSP will join the regional initiative OLPC Oceania, which is a coalition of national governments, educators, donor agencies, academia, the private sector, civil society and community organizers, all working to assist Pacific Island countries to establish the OLPC concept in schools. Mr Hutak said BSP will bring much-needed private sector expertise and know-how to the Pacific initiative.

Currently there are OLPC projects running in 10 Pacific countries, with approximately 10,000 laptops being used by children in 50 schools. Across the globe, OLPC has distributed over 2.4 million laptops to poor children in 40 countries.

Some 200 laptops donated by BSP’s Children’s Foundation will be deployed by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community in the Solomon Islands in remote Marovo Lagoon, the site of the first Pacific OLPC project in 2008. The remaining 800 laptops with be distributed in two demonstration schools in Suva, Fiji, in partnership with Government of Fiji and the University of the South Pacific. The schools will be where Fiji’s teacher and technical training will occur. BSP plans to promote the establishment of similar demonstration schools in Port Moresby and will work with the PNG Govt, the World Bank and other partners to scale up OLPC in PNG.

BSP has also agreed to facilitate the collection of public donations to OLPC Oceania projects, both online and through its branch network.

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.

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.

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.

 

Niue reviews phasing out olpc, citing Internet costs

Niue, a small island nation in the Pacific, became the first country to provide one laptop per child, over two years ago. At the time, OLPC Oceania was just taking shape; since then, another 8000 children and teachers have implemented programs across the Pacific.

Last week Niue’s acting Director of Education, Lisimoni Togahai, said that although the first two years went well, they were phasing out the program. “The school could not afford to pay for the high cost of maintaining the V-SAT that’s connected to the satellite for the internet access.

Niue supported child ownership, and children there take their laptops home and keep them when they graduate. About half of the 500 XOs deployed belong to students who are still in the school system. While schools may be phasing out their subsidized connectivity, the children can use their XOs elsewhere. The country has abundant free wifi – it was touted as the first “Wifi nation” in 2003 for the availability of wifi in all of its cities.

Michael Hutak, coordinator for OLPC Oceania, has been in touch with them hoping for further background. He recently posted a summary of lessons learned so far from Pacific pilots. An excerpt:


* There is country-level demand and political and community support for OLPC in the Pacific;
* Small pilots provide an insufficient evidence base for policy makers;
* Monitoring & Evaluation should be integrated at the outset of an OLPC programme;
* Broad-based regional technical assistance is needed to aid country capacity building;
* Laptops and hardware peripherals should be centrally maintained in the region to efficiently support trials;
* There is suppressed demand for internet connectivity in rural and remote schools.

See also ChristophD’s take and Michael’s followup.

In Australian outback, OLPC school triples numeracy ability in 1 year

The rural OLPC school in Doomadgee, Queensland more than tripled the number of 3rd grade students demonstrating proficiency in numeracy — from 31% to 95% — from 2010 to 2011. This coincided with a renewed focus on the school, including providing every student with an XO.

As Michael Hutak reports, Australian MP Rob Oakeshott highlighted this in a statement to Australia’s Parliament, calling for national support for OLPC and similar initiatives to improve access and partiipation and close the education gap across Australia.

Australia’s toughest Linux deployment: a plan for 300,000 XOs

Sridhar Dhanapalan is giving a talk next week about OLPC Australia, pitching it as “Australia’s toughest Linux deployment“.  It certainly is that.  He notes their aim to reach each of the 300,000 children and teachers in remote parts of Australia, over the next three years.

From his abstract:

OLPC Aus­tralia aims to cre­ate a sus­tain­able and com­pre­hens­ive pro­gramme to enhance oppor­tun­it­ies for every child in remote Aus­tralia… by 2014.

[T]he most remote areas of the con­tin­ent are typ­ic­ally not eco­nom­ic­ally viable for a busi­ness to ser­vice, hence the need for a not-for-profit in the space. 

This talk will out­line how OLPC Aus­tralia has developed a solu­tion to suit Aus­tralian scen­arios. Com­par­is­ons and con­trasts will be made with other “com­puters in schools” pro­grammes, OLPC deploy­ments around the world and cor­por­ate IT projects.

By pro­mot­ing flex­ib­il­ity and ease of use, the pro­gramme can achieve sus­tain­ab­il­ity by enabling man­age­ment at the grass-roots level. The XO laptops them­selves are… repair­able in the field, with min­imal skill required. Train­ing is con­duc­ted online, and an online com­munity allows par­ti­cipants nation­wide to share resources.

Key to the ongo­ing suc­cess of the pro­gramme is act­ive engage­ment with all stake­hold­ers, and a recog­ni­tion of the total cost of own­er­ship over a five-year life cycle.

 

OLPC SF Community Summit: October 22-23

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.

You can see the schedule online at olpcsf.org, and should register now if you want to attend. Last year was pretty packed!

OLPC Oceania expands to Kosrae, with US support

Since our first partnership with the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, which began in 2008, OLPC has seen significant deployments in Niue (the first country in the world to realize one laptop for every child), Nauru, the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, and Papua New Guinea.

Last year we expanded our work in the region to start pilots in 12 other countries from the Pacific Island Forum.  One of the pilot projects developed was a well-received program in Kosrae, one of the four states of Micronesia.

As Michael Hutak reports on the OLPC Oceania blog, we are now working with Micronesia to build on the success of that pilot. Kosrae recently secured a $400K Supplemental Education Grant from the United States under the Compact of Free Association agreement between the US and Micronesia. Kosrae plans to implement a full-scale deployment of OLPC to all of their students from 1st to 8th grades.

 

 

In July, Kosrae deployed laptops to all 810 students and teachers in grades 5-8.  The first laptop was handed out at Utwe Elementary School, by Kosrae State Governor Lyndon Jackson (with Department of Education Director Lyndon Cornelius looking on).

ceremony was held at Tafunsak Elementary School to announce the program, attended by US Ambassador Prahar, who encouraged everyone involved to use their new tools well.  As Oceania expands its OLPC program, this looks like a model to follow, with collaboration from many sectors of the local and international community.

A photo from the handout at Wachung Elementary school, visited by Cornelius and former Senator John Martin.

The second half of the deployment, for the students and teachers in grades 1-4, will take place later this year.