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).