TechCamp Montevideo takes off

Tech Camp, an effort by the US State Department to support civil society initiatives across the globe (to develop a world of “Civil Society 2.0″), organizes camps around the world for the local civil society groups. The program explores the use and development of mobile and online ICT in education, and supports open source toolchains and communities.

Tech Camp Montevideo was organized last weekend at LATU headquarters, with participation from and a focus on the community of OLPC students and teachers there. It drew a solid crowd of presenters from around Latin America. The tech camp agenda focused strongly on children’s learning and engagement — not surprising considering the wave of capable Gen-XO students in Uruguay. But this is the most child-centered Tech Camp I’ve seen so far.

Right now they only have the list of speakers, but that wiki should soon have updates from the sessions and the problem definition they started with.

Winning video selected in OLPC Stories contest

OLPC and Nickelodeon have selected the winner of the OLPC Stories contest: fourth-grader Giuliana Violetta Pozzoli Daiub, age 10, from the class of Liliana Ortega in Paraguay.

You can see the winning submission, a Scratch animation, featuring a narrator, SpongeBob, neon lights, and an XO on a dance floor.

As the contest winner, Giuliana will be attending the 2011 Halo Awards organized by MTV and Nickelodeon in LA next month. Congratulations to her and to the other four finalists on their work. Asked what message she would send to other children, she thanked her parents and teacher for supporting her, and said ‘always remember that with your XO and imagination you can be who you want to be and realize your dreams!’ (recordar siempre que con tu Xo e imaginación puedes ser quien quieras ser y lograr todo lo que sueñas!)

Nickelodeon contest update: Voting open for the best art projects by XO students

Mundonick is hosting a public vote for the best projects submitted in the OLPC – Nickelodeon contest across Latin America. Check out the finalists in the contest and vote for your favorite; the winners will be flown in to attend the HALO Awards ceremony this season.

Unfortunately, at the moment these videos can only be viewed from certain IP ranges – including most of Latin America.

Sugar Day Argentina: Sept 25-26, in Junín

Reposting an invitation from SugarLabs Argentina to their first Sugar Day, in Junin, to be held September 25-26.

SugarLabs Argentina quiere hacer publico el próximo encuentro de desarrolladores de la plataforma de aprendizaje Sugar. Este evento sera realizado entre los días 25 – 26 de Septiembre del 2011 en la ciudad de Junín, provincia de Buenos Aires, Argentina.

El objetivo del encuentro es de juntarnos en una sesión de trabajo de programadores – code sprint – con la intención de escribir código, enseñar, aprender, colaborar e incentivar el desarrollo de software libre sobre Sugar en las distintas comunidades de programadores. ¡ Y por supuesto reforzar y generar nuevos lazos de amistad en esta comunidad !

La propuesta del encuentro se basa en el dictado de un taller inicial de programación en Python sobre Sugar y en el code sprint ya mencionado. Compartimos el cronograma preliminar:

— —
<Domingo 25>
11:00 – 13:00 Apertura – Discusión, pendientes y prioridades a programar en el code sprint.
13:20 – 15:00 Almuerzo.
15:30 – 20:00 Se dispondrá de un espacio para quienes quieran iniciar el code sprint.
</Domingo 25>
<Lunes 26> /*dos track en paralelo*/
Track 1
09:00 – 11:30/12:00 Taller inicial de programación en Python sobre Sugar.
Track 2
09:00 – 13:00 Code sprint.
13:20 – 14:30 Almuerzo.
15:00 – (a definir) Retomamos Code sprint.
Despedida.
</Lunes 26>
— —
El taller se realiza con el apoyo de la empresa Actvity Central.

Por ultimo, queremos difundir que durante el Viernes 23 y Sábado 24 en la misma ciudad -Junin-, el grupo de usuarios de Python Argentina -PyAr- llevara adelante la conferencia del lenguaje Python 2011. Motivo por el cual decidimos realizar nuestro evento en continuación a la PyConAr-2011

Acercarnos tus propuestas e interés en participar, para que juntos, ajustemos todos los detalles necesarios para llevar adelante y compartir entre todos este evento.

http://ar.sugarlabs.org  |   sugarday2011@ar.sugarlabs.org

Life in a Day film publishes XO clip from Peru

Life in a Day is a film capturing a single day through the lives of people across the planet — filmed by thousands of people and edited into a feature-length documentary. They have been showing the film across the country for the past month, after a preview at Sundance at the start of the year. It’s pretty wonderful – something I wish we would do as a society every year, perhaps with different editorial groups.

The film team recently posted the clip of the young Peruvian student Abel going about his day with his XO, on YouTube, talking about life working on the street with his father, and pleased as punch with everything he can read about on Wikipedia. Abel was one of a handful of young people in Peru who were asked to submit film from their day to the crew.

This is one time when I am glad to see creative groups making full use of Facebook. The film’s facebook page is the best source of new information about he film, and while we have been a casual fan of the film for some time, it was one of their updates there that pointed us to the new clip. Kudos as well for making so many of the individual stories from the film available on YouTube — please continue to do the same for the parts that didn’t make it into the movie!

Nickelodeon / OLPCStories contest : only one week left to participate!

A month into our olpcstories contest with Nickelodeon Latin America, we have received some friendly media coverage in Latin America (in La Crónica in Mexico, and CanalAr in Argentina) and have gotten many contest submissions.

As Christoph noted earlier this week, this is the last week to submit your entries to the contest.

Dr. Sugata Mitra in Montevideo, Uruguay

This essay is reposted by Carlos Rabassa of Uruguay, from a lecture he gave in June.

Dr. Mitra gave an excellent lecture on June 2, 2011 at Universidad ORT in Montevideo, Uruguay on “The Future of Education”.

His first major experiment was the hole in the wall computer, which was later replicated in many locations. They look like the ATM, Automatic Teller Machines, the banks use. They are computers connected to internet, located behind walls. The users have access, from the other side of the wall to the screen, a video camera and a touchpad.

These computers are accessible from streets in neighborhoods where kids had never used a computer. The children are not given any instructions. Researchers collect data for their studies on how the computers are being used.

Dr. Mitra started working in India his birthplace, then in England where he is now based, Newcastle University. He has been traveling and testing his findings all around the world. During the days preceding the lecture he had been working in Uruguayan schools.

He showed us studies made in India and in England. In India, they have problems getting teachers to work far away from the important population centers. In England teachers prefer not to work in areas where there is a large concentration of government subsidized housing.

In both places, it is hard to get teachers to work with the children they need them the most. That is the origin of his interest in researching how far can children go, by teaching themselves. The results of the computer in the hole in the wall, led Dr. Mitra to further his research in that direction.

In a question of hours, children with no knowledge of English and no computer experience surf internet. They ended up learning English at an amazing high level except for a horrible pronunciation. This was until they found out the dictionary offers sound recordings with the pronunciation for each word. And until they found dictation or voice recognition programs that work well only as long as the pronunciation is good.

Dr. Mitra stressed his background is not as an educator. His method in the many experiments he related to us, in different countries and languages, has always been the same:

- Let the children use computers connected to internet.
- Encourage them to work in groups of four.
- Let them talk among themselves.
- Let them move freely to another group if they feel more comfortable.
- Let them visit another group to pick up some ideas and then return to their own group.
- Challenge them with questions.
- Answer all requests for help from him by saying “I don´t know; I have to go”.

He found that when children are interested in learning, they learn.

They are not intimidated by difficult questions corresponding to age groups much older than their’s. They are not afraid of trying. They might fail in getting the final difficult answer requested but they keep trying and learning many other advanced subjects on the way.

In certain experiments, he found the students were able to make great progress towards these challenges usually given to much older children. After reaching a certain level, their learning would slow down. This was in England. He recruited volunteer grandmothers who would follow the work of the children and encourage them the way grandmothers do with their grandchildren, congratulating them at each step, and showing interest in their work. The result was another big progress in the level of achievement.

Grandmothers volunteer to talk over internet with far away children. There is no formal teaching, just reading fairy tales and talking in English. The result is improved English and specifically improved pronunciation.

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CMU’s iSTEP program makes English literacy apps for the XO

Carnegie Mellon University’s iSTEP internship program is working with Plan Ceibal in Uruguay to develop and deploy English literacy activities and web apps that work well on XOs, for children of all ages. They are also creating tools to help teachers customize these apps. The interns have been living and working in Montevideo while doing this work.

This is just the latest in a series of projects by CMU students to support OLPC initiatives around the world.

Nickelodeon partners with OLPC on multimedia contest

From the Very Exciting dept. : Nickelodeon Latin America (part of MTV Latin America) is partnering with OLPC to run an international contest to design multimedia about improving the environment.

Elementary school children in OLPC schools will be challenged to develop multimedia content in an international contest focused on creating a better environment. The winner will be awarded with a trip to the Teen Nick Halo Awards, a show where celebrities give awards to amazing, accomplished and inspiring kids who work hard to make the world a better place. From our joint press release:

This initiative is in line with OLPC’s desire to enable a generation of children to think critically, connect to each other and the world’s body of knowledge, and to create conditions for real and substantial economic and social development. Nickelodeon and OLPC will work together to leverage the advantages of the XO laptop in elementary school education and promote strategies for increased access to laptops and connectivity in Latin America.

“We are delighted to partner with One Laptop per Child for this important initiative,” commented Mario Cader-Frech, Vice President of Public affairs and Corporate Social Responsibility for MTV Networks Latin America and Tr3s: MTV, Música y Mas. “OLPC has done an outstanding job of bringing technology and computer-assisted learning to kids around the world. This contest not only inspires children in the region to make a difference in their communities but also helps them to develop new skills that will prepare them to become productive members of tomorrow’s workforce.”

“OLPC is constantly looking to engage with private sector companies to achieve mutual objectives for children and education,” said Rodrigo Arboleda, CEO of OLPC – “Nickelodeon joins a distinguished group of OLPC partners that includes General Mills, Marvell, Procter & Gamble and BHP Billiton, all devoted to bringing quality education worldwide”.

Children will be welcome to participate across Latin America.  We can’t wait to see the first submissions come in — and to seeing similar storytelling projects start in other parts of the world.


Press contacts at MTV Networks Latin America:

International
Axel Escudero
(5411) 5295-5270
axel.escudero@mtvstaff.com

Miami & Colombia                    Argentina & Chile
Marimar Rivé                        Vanina Rodríguez
(305) 938-4910                      (5411) 5295-5272
marimar.rive@mtvstaff.com           vanina.rodriguez@mtvstaff.com

Mexico
Erick Zermeño                       Guillermo Reyna
(5255) 5080-1729                    (5255) 5080-1766
Erick.zermeno@mtvstaff.com          guillermo.reyna@mtvstaff.com

 

Introducing children to programming

A recent CSM article about getting young people involved in programming and hacking (noting both OLPC and Raspberry Pi) quotes Rodrigo on students’ accomplishments in Uruguay:

Debugging a program is the most perfect way of learning… We have already 12-year-old children in Uruguay that are proficient programmers. You cannot imagine the stuff we are beginning to see in these young kids.

 

National education improvement, Peruvian style

Peru’s extraordinary Una Laptop por Niño program continues to lead the way for deployments around the world. Most recently, they expanded their program to 100% of Peru’s public primary schools (roughly 20,000 in all), the largest OLPC project  in the world.  On Friday Oscar Becerra, head of ULPN in Peru, reported:

Today at noon President Alan García formally inaugurated the new Ministry of Education building in Lima. The building features a monument sign at the front, crowned by an XO computer in its original green and white colors. We hope it will be a lasting memory of the outstanding contribution of OLPC to Peruvian education improvement.

Three cheers for that, and for expansion to a new building! And congratulations to Oscar and President García for leading the way in supporting education at all ages with technology and creativity, under a wide variety of conditions.  I can only hope for similar education reform to reach my own country one day soon.

4 years of Plan Ceibal: Much more than a computer

Last year, Uruguay published Plan Ceibal, the Book (with Prentice-Hall), describing the world’s first national-scale implementation of one laptop for every child.   This month they released an amazing video looking back on the first four years of the project:  “Much more than a computer“.

The 15-minute video ranges from what students work on in school, outside, and at home, and how the teaching community thinks about the classroom now.  It is shot mainly outside, emphasizing working with nature and laptops as a part of everyday life.   There is a lot of student work with multimedia in the background.  And they share the view of this work from Ceibal as institution – what the program means for supporting schools across the country, and what it means for the influence of schools in their communities.

“transformamos un privilegio en un derecho” —Plan Ceibal

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Nick Doiron returns from heav^B^B^BUruguay, learns from great philosophers

Nick’s last post from Uruguay waxes poetic about the always-active Ceibal headquarters, recalls his first day in the country, and quotes from some of the great thinkers of our age.  Worth a read.   He may have less time for OLPC in the coming 18 months, but olpcmap is only getting better.

 

Turbana and Fundauniban support OLPC in Colombia

Fundauniban, the social foundation of Turbana Corporation, recently launched an OLPC project for 8 rural schools in Uraba, Colombia. The program was launched at the Uniban Institute library with 800 XOs.

CEO Juan David Alarcon said in announcing the program, “education and personal growth [are] the key for the development of the region, and there is no better place to start than empowering children to take an active role in their education and future.”

Non-flash version here.

 

Severin and Capota analyze 1-to-1 laptop programs in Latin America

Last month, Eugenio Severin and Christine Capota recently published a report for the IDB, analyze 1-to-1 laptop programs across Latin America and the Caribbean. They considered models for success and cost of ownership over the duration of a program, and looked at both OLPC and other 1-to-1 programs. They share a few broad recommendations for such programs:

Focus on the student and learning results. Consider One-to-One as the relationship between a child and learning, mediated by technology among other factors

Consider infrastructure, digital content, teacher training/support, community involvement, and policy

Consider both initial investment and long-term sustainability

Emphasize the role of monitoring and rigorous evaluations

OLPC has focused largely on supporting the first three points, with the fourth often left in the hands of our national partners (though we offer advice when asked). Over the past year, we have put more energy into supporting evaluations, compiling a list of OLPC research papers and publishing an overview of recent evaluations.

It’s natural for organizations like IDB that carry out and rely on monitoring to encourage and emphasize this. I find it a pity that few of the evaluations included in our overview published their raw data, or were carried out in a way that allowed their work to be directly compared to or combined with similar work in other regions.

To these researchers and others: I would love to see a nuanced discussion about what sorts of things can and should be monitored, what rigor and consistency mean across geography and time, and how data can be shared across [research] projects. Please help make this investment in monitoring improve our understanding of education and societal change, and not simply produce a (gameable) point-evaluation of the success of a policy decision.

I also hope to see a similar analysis for programs across the Mideast and Africa. The OLPC Rwanda program is being studied at the moment, but OLPC projects in http://wiki.laptop.org/images/2/24/OLPCF_M%26E_Publication.pdfEthiopia and Gaza are two of my favorite deployments worldwide — both have great insight to offer in organizing a successful locally-supported and sustainable project.

How to use a stylus with your XO

A team sponsored by Uruguay’s Universidad de la Republica has developed a simple electronics kit that can be used to modify an XO-1 to let you draw on its screen with a wireless stylus and a thin acrylic sheet, turning it into a touchscreen.  Christoph has written more about this and their related robotics work.

The methodology described in their project poster is brief and tantalizing – it looks like a most promising idea. The invention can in theory work with any screen or computer, but here they are showing how it works with an XO. Here is a closeup of a Lapix set in action:

Lapix hooked up to an XO, being used with inkscape

Lapix in action

 

Check out the photo and transcription of the project poster after the jump.
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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