Digital citizenship and hacking: Sugar Camp Lima, Nov 18-19

Somos Azucar, Activity Central, and escuelab are organizing Sugar Camp Lima on November 18-19, to build a new Sugar image for Peru: complete with Aymara and Quechua localizations, and activities focused on engagement online and “digital citizenship”.  An invitation to the event can be found here, and Sugar enthusiast Yannick Warnier explains why he finds this so exciting in a call for others to join him.

The event has international support, including the Municipality of Lima, Ciudadano Inteligente, and the World Bank.  The XO image developed will be proposed to the national team as a basis for the next update implemented across the country.

If you have an activity you’re hoping to polish up and get into the next Peru image — or are interested in localization, testing, or general Sugar development, this promises to be a great event.  I hope the camp attendees will review and add to the Feedback Actividades page that Claudia recently set up, a place to gather requests and suggestions from students and teachers in the field.


To RSVP, or for more information, contact escuelab:


Rwanda plans international conference on technology in education

OLPC Rwanda has been named to the scientific subcommittee of the International Conference on Technology in Education, organized by the Rwandan Education Ministry and Education Board. The conference will take place in early 2012. Great to hear; let us know when the call for papers is out!

Kenyan teachers on strike, XOs and volunteers take over

In rural Eshibinga, Kenya, teacher Peter Omunga has at the Eshibinga Primary School, Kenya, been doing an amazing job sharing his experiences with Sugar and OLPC over the summer. Peter maintains the Eshibinga Digital Village blog, documenting the introduction of IT and electricity in their community. They recently received 2 XO laptops, which he has used to interest his primary students in reading, writing, math, and making videos. He has had help from Fred Juma at the nearby Bungoma pilot school and from global volunteer Sandra Thaxter.

Eshibinga is a rural part of the country that is starting to benefit from solar power centers, but that has very limited access to water, electricity, and healthcare.

The school had been keeping laptops in the principal’s office at night at first, but over the past weeks as a national teacher’s strike has emerged, the students were given the laptops to take care of, and received another two laptops from donors.

Sydney from the school’s IT Club has been writing about what it’s like to study on their own when the teachers are away:

Robert arrived carrying our usual [XO] laptops. They are normally stored at the school office. The principal had sent Robert to pick them from his office. He also had left a note for us. We opened it and read it out aloud. “Make good use of these xo laptops and take good care of them. They may be the only teachers you may see in this school until the government ends the ongoing teachers strike”

Students have been meeting at school on their own with their XOs to study computers and practice writing and videotaping their own stories (and considering what it means to share a personal journal with others). And one of their teachers has been maintaining a blog about their work this summer, and is with them at school, helping them learn despite the strike.

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:

Axel Escudero
(5411) 5295-5270

Miami & Colombia                    Argentina & Chile
Marimar Rivé                        Vanina Rodríguez
(305) 938-4910                      (5411) 5295-5272 

Erick Zermeño                       Guillermo Reyna
(5255) 5080-1729                    (5255) 5080-1766


Computers as reading prostheses

by Antonio M. Battro, Chief Education Officer, OLPC

Children can learn a new common and universal language that we may call “digitalese”. Even before speaking, infants can perform with the computer many interesting actions by pressing a key. This elementary action, the “click option” – to click or not to click- is the consequence of a conscious choice made at the cortical level of the brain. The remarkable ability of our brain to make simple choices and make predictions about the outcomes of an action is the basis of the acquisition of a universal “second language” by any kid in the world with access to a computer, the so-called “digital natives”. In a sense we are witnessing the unfolding of a new “digital intelligence” (Battro & Denham, 2007).

Children learn to speak any language without the help of a grammar, just by hearing how others speak in their community, and they also learn to communicate with a computer -and via the computer with other people- when they share the same digital environment just by peer-to-peer interaction. This is why “saturation” is a central principle of the OLPC program. It is a matter of scale. We need a large numbers of participants in different cultures to enhance the diversity of strategies for teaching and learning.

It may take some time to find the best spontaneous strategies to learn how to read and write with the help of a computer but we already have some hints about successful prosthetic devices in education. For instance, nobody will deny that the cochlear implants have changed the life of a deaf person. Today the implanted deaf person can hear not only environmental sounds but understand language as well and early implants in deaf infants is increasing the formidable success of those neuro-prostheses. We can expect similar neurocognitive breakthroughs in reading and writing soon thanks to the “prosthetic” use of a computer at a very large scale.

As a matter of fact, many children using the OLPC platform since early ages (another basic OLPC principle) learn to type before they learn to write with paper and pen! In a sense we are witnessing something that educators didn’t predict. In most schools the explicit or implicit rule is to learn handwriting before typing and children start with the difficult analog skills needed to draw a letter, a word or a sentence (by a continuous and precise hand movement) before they are allowed to use a keyboard, a much simpler digital skill (a simple discrete action). The alternative is to start with the digital skills before “going analog” but for many educators and parents this strategy is considered a “forbidden experiment”. However it happens that nowadays in many places children enjoy the right to use a laptop not only at school but at home, and the once forbidden experiment is happily and spontaneously performed. In the “expanded school” of a digital environment children don’t need a pen and paper to write.

In this sense, we should also experiment with spontaneous reading using a computer. OLPC will start now to deliver XO laptops with special software to remote communities with no schools where children and adults are lacking reading, writing or number skills. An inspiration was the famous “hole in the wall” experiment done in India with illiterate children who spontaneously started to read while sharing an unsupervised computer, what Sugata Mitra calls “minimally invasive education”.
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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.