For four years, OLPC has had fruitful collaboration with the indefatigableSameerVerma and others at SFSU, on hardware, Sugar activity design, and community building. Now at last we have a formal MOU between the University and OLPC[A]. This may be just the first of many MOUs with universities in the US, as we develop a network of supporting organizations working with OLPC on international projects.
Sameer and his students and colleagues have already worked with grassroots OLPC projects in Tuva, India, Armenia, Jamaica, and North Africa. Thanks to you all for your support and great ideas so far; we look forward to working more actively together, and perhaps drawing in new departments as well 😉
There’s a lovely and unflinching personal recollection by Sameer of the development of his XO addiction, on SFSU’s opensource blog. A few highlights:
OLPC came into my professional [and personal] life in July 2007 when I signed up for the Developers Program and got an OLPC XO-1 B2 machine. How excited was I? I slept with it under my pillow. Seriously.
The hype and novelty factor diminished in six months and the question arose: “Why bother spending a Saturday for this?” Then came the answer in the form of actual projects… work, not just advocacy. We started with four projects and now have a list of fourteen.
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!
Separate from the national program being rolled out in Eastern Ghana, Princeton University has a student-run Ghana School Library Initiative which is building a physical library in Ghana stocked with books and OLPCs. This program started in 2008, and is one of three projects coordinated by the Princeton University chapter of Engineers Without Borders. They shared an update with East Coast OLPCers this Spring, and have been writing about their new milestones this summer, as the library nears completion.
After some work earlier this year to repair and update some donated XOs, children have started working with their own laptops at the EP Basic school in Ashaiman, Ghana, where the team is working. They recently completed a week of physical construction and two classes a day with the students. The classes included working on educational activities with the children in Sugar, “to whet their appetites” to use the XOs more on their own.
Earlier this year, Shelia Cotten and coauthors Hale, Moroney, O’Neal & Borch published an overview of their data from surveying 27 schools during the first year of the city-wide OLPC project in Birmingham, AL. In the 2008-2009 school year, 1st – 5th Grade students and teachers, in every public primary school in the city, received XO laptops via this program. — amounting to over 15,000 students and teachers. and every public primary school in the city.
The paper, “Using Affordable Technology to Decrease Digital Inequality“, appeared in Information, Communication & Society Volume 14, Issue 4. From the summary:
[F]ourth and fifth grade students at 27 Birmingham City schools were surveyed just prior to receiving the XOs and then again about 4.5 months later. A total of 1,202 students were matched between the two surveys… students who used a computer to do homework before receiving the XO, tended to make greater use of the XO and felt it helped them in their education. Teachers’ use of the XO was also an important factor. Students who reported their teachers made greater use of the XOs in the classroom tended to use the XO more and felt that the XO had a positive impact on their education.
These findings highlight the importance of training teachers to make effective use of new technology and the need to develop curriculum to integrate computers into the classroom. Dr. Cotten is currently leading a National Science Foundation funded project that helps… teachers receive training which builds technology-teaching capabilities so that students develop the attitudes and the skills necessary to succeed in a technologically advanced society.
Their research has continued since then, and they will also publish about longer-term results.
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).