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.

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

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, and should register now if you want to attend. Last year was pretty packed!

Promoting the Knowledge Economy in the Arab World

A recent research paper by Michael Lightfoot, published recently  in SAGEopen, reviews the impact of technology-related education reforms, including improved access to computing and the Internet, on education in three middle-eastern countries: Bahrain, UAE, and Jordan. Detailed comments are welcome on our wiki research page.

(SAGEopen is the new open access journal by SAGE, and covers “the full spectrum of the social and behavioral sciences and the humanities.”)

Rasha Hussein shares her journey with OLPC in Ramallah

Rasha Hussein writes on the TEDx Ramallah blog about her journey with OLPC and PaleXO over the past year in Ramallah, and how she was welcomed to the group by Noura Salhi and found friends and collaborators, and inspiration to join a new startup (Bazinga) with others from that group.

I learned the true meaning of voluntary work, and I felt awesome about what I do. It’s been a year now, and it was the best year of my life!

Kudos to her for sharing this experience.  For more about the Bazinga technology hub, you can also follow them on twitter.

If you have been involved with an olpc project in your community, let us know what it was like —  we would love to hear from you.


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.

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: 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!

Learning Informally with XOs in the West Bank!

Over a month ago UN teachers and the entire staff of United Nations Reliefs and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees went on strike leaving over 56,000 children without an opportunity to continue schooling in the West Bank. Just a week before schools were closed in October, children in grades 1-3 in the Amari Refugee Camp were given their very own XO laptops in an exciting multi-school launch festival. Now lacking the opportunity for formal education and armed with their new XOs, these Palestinian children were placed in a unique circumstance to learn at home and in their neighborhoods through technology, while eagerly awaiting the opportunity to return back to their classrooms.

Faced with an unprecedented research opportunity to understand how children learn in this difficult context, I traveled to the West Bank with the hopes of interviewing children about the use of laptops for informal learning and organizing a small workshop to keep kids engaged and help them explore new learning opportunities with their XOs.

With the help of PaleXO, a group of amazing and dedicated university volunteers, and the Amari Refugee Camp Children’s Center, we were able to host an open kids’ workshop where kids could come with their XOs to hang out with friends and play together as a group while learning something new. Around 40-50 children showed up (right before the Eid holiday!) and we spent the first half-hour having small group discussions about what the kids do when they are out of school and trying to pass the time. All of the kids present exclaimed that they use their XOs many times a week and several parents were present to affirm how happy the kids were using their XOs at home. Parents explained that kids even arranged group play-dates around their XOs where they come together in their homes or the streets of the refugee camp in order to teach each other new things they’ve discovered on their XOs. It was remarkable to see how much both the boys and girls had taught themselves since their first experience with laptops during my visit over the summer! A quick peak into their journals revealed they all loved using a diverse array of their activities.

Following our learning discussion, the members of the PaleXO team led a mini Scratch workshop to introduce the kids to some of the most basic elements of computer programming. The kids loved it! Scratch was one of the few programs they found difficult to master on their own and they had now discovered enough about the laptops to grasp the concept of the program explore together during the workshop.

The workshop ran for over four hours and by the end the kids were pleading for us to hold even more workshops; we all had tons of fun! The administrators of the children’s center were also thrilled that we were able to put on some fun learning programming for the children and pledged to help in any way possible for workshops to continue weekly with PaleXO until kids return to school again, and perhaps even after. We’re looking to set up wireless internet in the center so kids are free to stop by whenever they would like in order to explore using the internet. It was so exciting to see how having laptops could bring these kids together to learn informally even when they aren’t able to get to school!

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.

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!

OLPC Arabic Forum!

As a way to learn from our recent deployments in the Middle East, a new Arabic forum is being launched to foster discussion and share experiences in the field with our many partners and supporters! Like our many resources in English, Spanish, and other languages, the forum hopes to link interested players with regards to XOs and childhood education in the Arab-speaking world. On the forum please find XO manuals and guides in Arabic, links to regional XO groups, and opportunities to post questions and comments, as well as a chat forum!

We hope to expand our forums to include Hebrew resources as our project in the region continues to grow.

We invite all interested members of the XO community to join and contribute!

250 Palestinian Refugee Children receive laptops in the Amari Boys School!

Today marks the end of the first-ever XO Summer Camp in the Amari Boys School in the West Bank city of Ramallah. Following the teacher training last week, children came school this week to get familiarized with XOs well before the start of their new school year. The schoolteachers did an amazing job relaying their new skills with the XO to the kids along with help from our amazing volunteers at PaleXO!

The children spent three days learning and exploring activities on their XOs both at home and in the classroom, and took to mastering the programs even faster than their teachers! Kids loved connecting and sharing with each other through the Mesh Network and had a blast playing with the various activities, even learning how to type their names in Write was a joyful game. When showing children the Record activity, featuring a camera, kids were thrilled; unanimously across classrooms kids began to break out dancing in their seats for the camera!

They were so excited to begin; all the students began lining up outside their school as early as 7am each morning to start their day of fun and learning. This was a great opportunity to make learning fun and stimulate school attendance, even in the summer time! As a great finale to the summer children’s parents were invited to attend today’s session in order to maximize community participation in the OLPC project. Children were excited to show their parents what they had learned, and the principal hosted a brief orientation session in order to explain the importance of the project to the future of their children’s education.

Next week we begin our XO Summer Camp at the Amari Girls’ School!

More Pictures!

Teachers start learning with XOs in Palestine too!

Teacher training is successfully underway this week for three Palestinian UNRWA schools in the West Bank as one of OLPC’s Middle East projects, and it’s been an amazing adventure discovering creative ways of learning and teaching with the XO.

Jumping right into activities teachers explored the Memorize activity during the training and then took their XOs home to spend time developing their own Memorize games. Presenting their games the next morning sparked a great discussion on ways to enhance literacy, spelling, grammar and more through the XO. One teacher developed a Memorize game to assist her students with spelling, by splitting a word in half and asking students to match the pieces in order to form a complete word. Another teacher suggested Memorize as the perfect tool for teaching synonyms and antonyms, while another excitedly noted its merits for teaching English and Arabic.

While curriculum-based activities are always great, particularly when teachers are enthusiastically taking ownership, another teacher in the room noted its significance for social interactions and friendship building between students. For her assignment she went home and took pictures of all the children in her family and built a Memorize game that matched their pictures to their names, fun for everyone in involved! Overall a fun project for collaborating on ways of making relevant content for Palestinian kids on the XO.

What ideas do YOU have for building games with Memorize?

OLPC Afghanistan recap

Part of an ongoing series on OLPC in Afghanistan.

Since 2008, we have worked with the Afghan Ministry of Education to build capacity for OLPC in Afghanistan. The initial pilots over the past year have been with 4th-6th grade students, in MOE schools and community-based education groups.

OLPC has committed  5,000 laptops to pilots throughout the country, starting with Esteqlal High School in Nangarhar Province’s Jalalabad city.   There the program engaged all fourth, fifth and sixth grade students, with a ‘3 phase implementation model’ (below) used by the ministry.

The next project involved five schools in Kabul city. Initial feedback has unfortunately only been measured in terms of standardized test results (in math and literacy), but initial results showed a 20% increase on those tests.

In the coming months, national team plans to include schools in other provinces.  They also aim to recruit and train more technical people to help with planning and preparing teachers and connectivity teams for schools across the country.

Parts of this post were drawn from the recent report “Briefing Note – One Laptop Per Child in Afghanistan,” by Lima Ahmad (AIMS), Kenneth Adams (AIMS), Mike Dawson (PAIWASTOON), and Carol Ruth Silver (MTSA)

PaleXO + Opensource = PyXO!

PaleXO, a team of amazing and enthusiastic volunteers dedicated to working with the XO and supporting childhood education in Palestine, just hosted their first python workshop, cleverly titled PyXO!

One of their members, Mohammad Nawahda, decided to start the dynamic team “to make sure PaleXOers get the proper training about Python to ensure they have what it takes to start developing some great local activities and customizing others.” The workshop appeared to be a great success with tons of members from the community excited to get involved and gain basic python training in order to help develop new activities to help Palestinian children learn with their XOs!

Check out their full blog post here!

More Than Distribution in Afghanistan

For Afghan kids who receive XOs, their educational time is split between self-study with the laptop at home and sharing their learning experience with teachers and fellow students in the classroom. This blended learning model gives kids sufficient learning time and the support to achieve curriculum.

OLPC Afghanistan laptops are installed with an assortment of materials, including the Ministry of Education’s standard national curriculum of books, health information, and complete localization of all core activities in Dari and Pashto.

And the laptops aren’t just for students. By providing information for parents about economic opportunities, they give parents and kids the chance to learn together.