Can tablets make a difference to a child learning to read for the first time, without a teacher or traditional classroom structure? That’s the question we are exploring with our reading project, currently underway in Ethiopia.
A few dozen children in two rural villages have been given tablets which they are using for a few months. They are interested in learning to read English, and understand this is something they can learn with the tablets; which also come with hundreds of children’s apps.
They are equipped with software that logs all interactions, building up a clear picture of how each tablet is being used. Data from the tablets is gathered each week and sent back to the research team, which also rolls out new updates to the tablets week by week.
Richard is in Ethiopia this week, to get better first-hand knowledge of how the tablets and other infrastructure are holding up, and a visual sense of how they are being used.
“if a child can learn to read, they can read to learn”
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.
Since 2009, OLPC Greece has provided one laptop per child in 35 classes and groups around the country. 580 XOs in all, with the inolvement of many teachers. They have kept us updated via our wiki and regular emails, and shared some interesting work from their students.
My favorite post is from the 3rd graders at the Sminthi School — they made large tiles of stencil art, rearranged it on a school wall, and turned it into stop-motion animations with Scratch (video). Their professors Psychogios, Rigas, and Aspioti, brought this work into with their math, informatics, and art classes.
Recently the OLPC Greece team published a short summary of their work from the first two years, and their goals for the coming year. They note the need for local hardware labs, software updates, and technical support. You can follow their work, in Greek, on the public mailing list for the pilot. (An excellent practice!)
Students and teachers work on a stencil in Sminthi
We’re hosting an olpcMAP discussion session at our Cambridge HQ on Wednesday night, with students (and future collaborators!) from Tufts. If you can’t be there, catch up on recent additions and developments to the project with this month’s olpcMAP update.
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).
We are working on ways to better link the site, wiki, and blog together, and to aggregate and point to every site in the OLPC community. For now, you can add information about your own projects and websites, and links to them. We will be working on other visualizations of this data, and connecting our map of major deployments with the growing olpcmap network, over the coming month. Comments and suggestions are welcome.
A network of South Asian OLPC deployments (including India, Sri Lanka and Nepal) are working together to share knowledge and outreach. Support gang member Shirish Goyal has put together a gorgeous portal covering work in that part of the world, at olpcsouthasia.org
OLPC South Asia homepage
I felt a momentary pang of jealousy, looking at that design. But I satisfied myself with the knowledge that we will have a vibrant new look of our own soon, with the blog integrated into our main site. Here’s another sneak peek:
Tech Crunch TV interviewed Maureen Orth recently on the introduction of OLPC in rural Colombia on their tl:dw videocast.
This was a timely reminder that Colombia has been building a network of supporting pilots and foundations in the years since this first urban school began implementing OLPC. The largest projects are in Medellín (perlas), in Caldas, in Altos de Cazucá, and in Itagüí (1, 2). Some of these are much more rural, and required helicopter drops to get them underway.
Names can be confusing at times. Take “One Laptop per Child“: should the per be capitalized? This was debated long after logos and t-shirts had been designed. OLPC has included two separate non-profits since its inception:
A 501c4 association, originally set up to execute the mission of the project (Formally: ONE LAPTOP PER CHILD ASSOCIATION, INC – no acronym, capitalization question avoided via ALL CAPS registration)
A 501c3 foundation, originally set up to receive tax-deductible donations to support the mission (Formally: OLPC Foundation or OLPCF – acronym, just to make things complicated)
At first, most OLPC work was associated with the Association (ha!) and the Foundation dealt only with fundraisers and the like. Last year, we started dividing effort between the two bodies. Our projects focused on the poorest countries, remote access, and rebuilding after disasters and conflicts, moved to the Foundation. Rodrigo Arboleda Halaby, a supporter of OLPC since its inception, was invited to lead the Association, which took more explicit responsibility for long-term support for stable deployments and work in Latin America. They set up headquarters in Miami, originally with a staff of two. Now they have a solid team, a new Board, and the first OLPC baby…
This week the Association hosted a coming out party in the South Floriday community, with a debut breakfast for supporters, featuring Samuel Dusengiyumva from the OLPC Rwanda team, who spoke about Rwanda’s plans for the future.
This past weekend, we had a country meeting in Cambridge – the sort of gathering of national project leads, and honest sharing of lessons and challenges, that I love best about OLPC. It ranged from the familiar to the unexpected. It is fascinating to observe the with Gaza and Afghanistan providing useful perspectives on what is easy and what is hard in very dense and very sparse regions, under economic and military pressure.
It left me with a lot to think about regarding how we scale passion, awareness, and the practicalities of deployment — we saw a few different successful models for scaling to hundreds of thousands of children and teachers, and discussed social and political pitfalls to avoid.
At the same time, Juliano wrote up a very personal reflection on the recent teacher training sessions he has helped organize in Rwanda. He comments that last week’s work felt more effective than any he had done so far, but that it made him think about the challenges of scaling training to an entire country.
Peru is planning to expand their OLPC program to reach every primary school in the country next year. Last week, during a meeting with regional leaders from the country’s 24 departments, Oscar Becerra commented on plans for the program to reach over 16,000 primary schools across the country – though not every child in each of those schools will have an XO at first.
Peru is working with the department leaders to help them organize regional programs to complete the saturation of their schools. They are also expanding their awareness and training programs for teachers, with an event last Friday for over 500 teachers. Walter and Rodrigo were both present for some of last week’s events (Walter has been visiting many of the South American OLPC deployments, as anyone following the Sugar digests will know), and the general vibe and feedback from both administrators and teachers was quite positive.
Christoph Derndorfer, widely known for his ministry to young XO pilots, fashion sense, and active speaking / writing /editing about OLPC, has recently kicked off a Latin American Tour. (Todd Kelsey, where are your tour-badge-printing skills when we need them?) He plans to visit all of our country partners in the region with significant deployments this summer, documenting his experience.
Christoph’s travel reports are enchanting. Take for instance the recent photoessay from Montevideo’s eXpO photo exhibit in Uruguay – composed entirely of photos taken with XOs by students in 4 primary schools. And with his iconic beard, long hair, and thousand-meter stare (seen below by the pool at the Fame Factory), Christoph is becoming as known for his xoly presence as for his love of good design and Sugarized icons.
ChristophD preaching the End Times (or at least the Shutdown Screen Icons)
To stalk with him across the southern slopes, deployment by deployment, you can follow his online writings, photos, and twext. He is looking for personal contacts along the way, especially people who have played a role in OLPC deployments, so please get in touch with him if you know someone he should meet.
Rwanda aims to complete deployment of their next 100,000 children by next summer. National project coordinator Nkubito Bakuramutsa was interviewed this week for an article in the Irish Times.
They discuss recent successes and policies at the Rwandan schools that have deployed the first batch of XOs in the country. Kagame and the teachers involved are both optimistic that they will transform their society into a leader in technology advances. Kagame aims to triple the nation’s economic output over the next 10 years.
Our design partners have been developing a new design for the OLPC website, one that draws in contributions from our partner and chapter sites around the world. I saw the latest designs this week, and loved them! We’ll have more updates about the site soon, once everyone’s back from the Realness Summit and we’ve heard from Mike Massey, our new photo maven.
The biggest change: we’re going to convert the homepage from a big logo to a series of full-screen images from deployments, with background details and links to more information. If you have any amazing photographs or stories you’d like to see featured on our homepage, please post a link to them.
Here is our first take on recent events at a glance, in a new, flexible format. This alpha edition covers milestones from our work this past year – what better time to reflect than now, as 2009 draws to a close? We are sending this out as an update to our past supporters as well.
If you want to share this, or read it on a mobile device, you may find it easier to view it on laptop.org. Enjoy these flashbacks, and have a Happy New Year!