Learning to read with One Tablet per Child

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”

Australia’s toughest Linux deployment: a plan for 300,000 XOs

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.


Updates from OLPC Greece: multimedia, programming, and plans

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

Students and teachers work on a stencil in Sminthi



New OLPC Rwanda site

OLPC Rwanda has recently spruced up their website, including a list of documents they use for running classes with XOs, and links to their active local blogs.   They’ve also started their own twitter stream – where you can follow Rodrigo’s current visit with Kagame and the national team.   You can sign up to volunteer from afar, and can leave them feedback via twitter, or on Julia’s or Rwagaju’s blogs.


April olpcMAP updates

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.

Meanwhile, mapping maven Nick Doiron shares the view from his seat in Montevideo, where he is a resident hacker this month with Plan Ceibal.

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).