The upcoming XO Tablet: A parent’s perspective

Original by sverma on Tue, 07/09/2013 – 18:56

Every afternoon, when I go to pick up my daughters from school, I ask them “What did you do in school today?” Several years into the ritual, it has become a habitual question now, and I get varying degrees of responses from them, depending on their mood, and what they feel like sharing. To me, it’s of paramount importance to hear it from them. At least until they stop sharing with me smiley 7800 miles away, the parents of Anshu in Bhagmalpur, India would like to know as well. They are curious about what Anshu does on his OLPC XO laptop all day. In Jamaica, where I now have three projects, parents of John also want to know how he spends his time on his OLPC laptop. The teachers are curious about time spent on different activities (apps in OLPC/Sugar parlance). The principal wants to know if the sudden leap in math scores has anything to do with the children playing with Tuxmath every chance they get! Feedback is important. In fact, there is now an entire field of “Learning Analytics” that is growing rapidly. If you’ve used a “dashboard” in SalesForce or Drupal, then you know where this is going.

Anshu checking his Wi-Fi signal in Bhagmalpur, India

OLPC laptops use Sugar as their learning environment. Sugar uses the metaphor of a journal to store the work of a child. The Journal allows for personal reflection on what the child does, and pick up where she left off and continue to build. Think of the Journal as a mini dashboard for the child. The concept of a file is gone. How nice! The only reason we call them “files” is because we have grown up in a world of filing cabinets (I have one in my office), with folders holding files and documents. That’s our world of metaphors. What does a child in the Amazon know of filing cabinets?!

A Sugar Journal

While the Journal is detailed enough to give the child a view of her world, as a parent, I would like to know about aggregates. How often does my daughter read a book, as opposed to looking up Wikipedia? How often does she play the Maze, Memorize, and her other favorite activities (apps)? Frequency counts are interesting in giving me a heads-up on how she spends her time. When does she read? A pattern of use across the time of day is useful too. To that end, we now have the Analyze Journal activity.  It provides a summary view of some of the items in the Journal. Think of this as yet another dashboard, but perhaps for a parent or a teacher. As a parent, I can certainly relate to this.

The Analyze Journal activity

The upcoming XO Tablet, is a significantly different product. It is also a significantly different Androidtablet. I saw an early preview back in January, but haven’t seen the finished product yet, so some of this writing is based on the video. Here are a few things I know. It does not run on Sugar, but it does have some interesting features. The Android tablet allows the parent to create accounts for the children. Each account then can have some degree of parental guidance and protection. For instance, I am not a fan of letting my daughters get on to the Internet without supervision. Heck, I don’t even let them watch Disney, without supervision! So, the fact that you can turn Internet access on or off in a profile is very useful. So is the feature of knowing what your child has been doing on the tablet.

Settings per child (screen shot from video)

The XO Tablet implements some features of the concept of a journal. Looks like it is called the Parent Dashboard. One can keep up with some of the progress of one’s child by category. I’d be curious to explore more of this feature.

Parent Dashboard (screen shot from video)

The XO Tablet also allows for switching out of this “Dreams” interface to a full-fledged Android tablet, and includes access to the Google Play store (as the video indicates. See below).

Switching from Dreams interface to full Android (screen shot from video)

The XO Tablet runs on Android, so the Sugar learning environment that we are used to on the OLPC XO laptop isn’t compatible with it. I don’t think we’ll see any of the “View Source” functionalities that we see in Sugar. Android is Open Source (Apache license), while Sugar is Free Software (GPL). The development models and motivations around those kinds of licenses are significantly different. Sugar is developed by Sugarlabs, which sees contributions by OLPC employees and Sugar developers. The “Dreams” interface on the XO Tablet is being built by MorphOSS LTD., a company in New Zealand, and as far as I can tell, the software is neither Free nor Open Source. The tablet also lacks a tactile keyboard, so a fair bit of “production” is ruled out. Imagine writing a letter to a friend on a touch keyboard. I have, and it sucks. That’s a peeve I have against tablets, so it’s not specific to the XO Tablet. Of course, one could argue that in this new age of machines, who needs to write? Simply hit record and communicate! Captain Picard’s “Tea, Earl Grey, Hot” is around the corner! However, with the advent of HTML 5 applications for Sugar, and other interesting developments stemming from Android as a base (including Firefox PhoneUbuntu Touch and others where one can run non-Android systems on an Android-derived Linux base (a different Linux distribution in chroot), I’m hopeful that there will be some degree of convergence. I realize that the XO Tablet is geared for the “first world” markets, but there are plenty of good ideas on it, and while the under-developed world will still need (note: need is different from want) water resistant, dust resistant, robust low-powered laptops – and we have the XO-4 for that – this XO Tablet should be interesting to use in the so-called developed world. It sounds like it will be available via retail outlets soon. I wish the XO-4 was available retail as well, but that’s another blog – in logistics, supply chain management and VAR channels smiley Here’s the marketing video:

You can also hear about it from Giulia D’Amico at OLPC Association:

Response to Inaccurate Information Recently Posted about OLPC

One Laptop Per Child Association Inc. (“OLPC”) wishes to respond to a recent post in OLPC News that contained several assertions that are contextually inaccurate and may lead to conclusions that are incorrect.

With the recent development of the XO-4 Touch laptop,the XOTablet and its educational “Dreams” User Interface, necessary adjustments in the composition of the OLPC team were required. First, several of the engineers and programmers who specialized in hardware design departed OLPC as their services were no longer required. John Watlington our CTO, remains in charge of finalizing the XO‐4‐Touch laptop. He is also preparing the ground for the next hardware launch. The OLPC Technical team continues to focus on software development, incorporating Sugar into the Android OS, and developing unique apps for the tablet and laptop environment. This team, under the leadership of Andrew McMillan, includes Samuel Greenfeld and a team of developers at Morphoss Ltd., including Heather Buchanan, Chris Noldus, Alexander Nikitin, Samantha Qiao and Tim Evetts.

The OLPC Learning team is under the direction of Doctor Antonio Battro, a colleague of both Jean Piaget and Seymour Papert. Dr. Battro is in charge of leading the philosophical direction of the learning team. He is a distinguished member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, an emblematic institution with more than 40 Nobel Prize recipients in its roster of 90 scientists around the globe. Claudia Urrea remains involved with specific OLPC projects. Moises Salinas Fleitman has joined the Learning group. Bob Hacker also remains committed to OLPC and its mission. Donna Mackenzie has joined OLPC as CFO.Her extensive experience in social media, crowd sourcing, finance, and M&A is of great importance to OLPC at this moment. OLPC is also blessed with the support and contributions of Michele Borba, Educator, TV commentator and consultant to many institutions in the field.

In addition, the XOTablet will be launched on July 16 exclusively at Walmart and soon afterwards at many of the top retailers in the USA, Europe, and in North and South America. With the continued development of new products and content, OLPC maintains its commitment to providing children with an innovative educational experience. OLPC is at its core a social equality movement and a transformer of the existing educational systems. The recent transitions at OLPC permit it to adapt and grow with the demands of the market while adhering to its basic principles.

OLPC is very excited about its current projects in the USA and abroad. OLPC is delivering the first batch of XO-4 Touch machines to Uruguay, in addition to a large order of XOTablets.OLPC has also begun the production of a large order for the government of Rwanda. The feedback from focus groups and educational institutions with respect to OLPC’s new devices, the XO-4 Touch and the XO Tablet, has been extremely positive.

OLPC is aware of certain animosity from top commercial entities and from some individual bloggers that see OLPC as a threat to their existence. In reality, this is something to feel proud about. It is a testament to the strength of OLPC and its mission that it is somehow seen as a threat to bigger entities around the world.OLPC believes that it is the educational equivalent to the World Food Program in its mission to feed the poor. OLPC continues to search for disruptive and creative ways to challenge old beliefs and clichés. OLPC continues to lead the way in innovation and education around the globe. On behalf of OLPC, I thank you for your continued support of our mission.

Rodrigo Arboleda

Chairman and CEO
One Laptop Per Child Association, Inc.

PDF version here.

Teachers’ Trainings in Armenia

Originaly posted in Nurarmenia Newsletter

Dear Friends,You can see below some pictures from our teachers´ trainings 2012.

Their success can be measured by the great work their students did during the past months, which we shared through these newsletters.

We are proud of their performance and are currently preparing a more challenging training for this year.

NUR team


Captura de pantalla 2013-07-03 a las 19.39.26



The Ministry of Education of the Republic of Gabon organized a five day One Laptop Per Child training on June 17 to 21, 2013. The training was conducted by One Laptop Per Child Association Inc. representatives from its regional office in Kigali.

The training was designed to give a comprehensive introduction to OLPC. The training explained the tremendous milestones achieved to date in providing educational opportunities to children around the world.


The OLPCA representatives introduced the XO, its preloaded content and the Sugar learning platform to the Ministry’s officials, educators from the Institue Superiere Pedagique, Foramateurs du project E-education, and Engineers who will be involved in the teacher trainings and the deployment in Gabon.


The training discussed what has been learned in Rwanda during the past four years.

The OLPC team from Rwanda shared its experiences, achievements, challenges and perspectives in its ongoing effort to integrate OLPC technology into the Rwandan education system.

The Ministry of Education of Gabon invited friends, associates and colleagues, who will be instrumental in furthering the OLPC cause in Gabon, to attend the training. Invitees included individuals from the Centre Numerique de Libreville, Centre techniques Basil Ondimba and other thought leaders from various organizations. Approximately 22 to 25 individuals attended the training each day.

Training Overview

The first day of the training provided a general introduction to OLPC’s background,its mission, and learning philosophy. The team presented OLPC achievements to date. OLPC representatives shared an overview of different OLPC projects worldwide. The OLPC team also discussed the Rwandan experience and the lessons learned over the past four years of the project in Rwanda. The team shared galleries of children’s work from various schools in Rwanda. OLPC representatives examined the impact on  learning, classroom dynamics, changes in school attendance, and the overall changes brought by XO into the families and communities in Rwanda. This busy day ended with all attendees exploring preloaded content on XO. Attendees were able to experience the uniqueness of the Sugar learning platform, which allows learners to create, share and collaborate with their peers.


On the second day, the training introduced the Sugar learning environment to the representatives of different organizations in attendance. It is anticipated that these organizations will be involved in preparation and implementation of next year’s large teacher trainings and deployments. Participants created different lesson plans integrating curriculum topics. During this process, participants became familiar with the Sugar user interface and the Write, Record, Scratch, Etoys, Social Calc and Portfolio activities.

During the third day, OLPC representatives shared the different approaches used in Rwanda to support schools with respect to the learning side of the project. For example, the OLPC team in Rwanda has organized XO users clubs, after school and holiday camps, and XO weekly challenges. The team has also worked with teachers on developing lesson plans that integrate use of the XO laptop. These are ways that teachers in Gabon can further support use of the XO laptops.

The final two days of the training were focused on the technical aspects of the XO laptops.


Participants were introduced to the XO’s hardware and software, the school servers’ technology and troubleshooting tips. The attendees also assembled and dissembled laptops of the ENSB school in Libreville. The training was concluded with an overview of the OLPC deployment guide and the project as implemented in Rwanda. The long discussions and debates conducted by the Ministry’s expert Kacandre Bourdelais and OLPC representatives, Desire Rwagaju & Jimmy Intwali, highlighted potential opportunities and threats to a successful implementation of the One Laptop Per Gabonese Child program.


OLPC welcomes new members

OLPC is pleased to welcome Donna Mackenzie as its new CFO. Donna has extensive experience as a senior level finance executive. Prior to her position with OLPC, Donna served as CFO of IZEA, a social media marketing organization. Donna’s experience and expertise will serve OLPC well as it launches important new machines, software and services.

OLPC’s latest version of the XO laptop, the XO- 4 Touch, is currently on its way to Uruguay and Australia. The Government of Rwanda recently placed an order for an additional 42,500 XO laptops. In the U.S., the XO Tablet is completed and OLPC is expecting its official launch at Walmart in the upcoming weeks through our strategic partnership with Vivitar, a Sakar company. The XO Tablet also will be available at other major retailer locations in the United States and Canada. Uruguay has already purchased 8,000 XO Tablets.

OLPC is also proud to announce that it has been working with Morphoss Ltd, a software development organization headed by Andrew McMillan in New Zealand. Morphoss will be working to port  Sugar into the XO Tablet through the Android based “Dreams” User Interface. This will provide children using the tablet with increased educational opportunities.

OLPC maintains an experienced team of educators and programmers who continue to support its pedagogical philosophy. Heading the learning team at OLPC as Chief Learning Officer is Dr. Antonio Battro, a neurologist and colleague of Jean Piaget and Seymour Papert. Dr. Battro is also a distinguished member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences in Rome. The learning team also includes Walter Bender, former head of the MIT Media Lab and creator of the Sugar educational software, and Dr. Michele Borba, Goodwill Ambassador to OLPC. Additional learning team members will be announced shortly.

In addition, OLPC has recently signed several agreements with major partners, including UNESCO, Oxford University Press, Common Sense Media, TED and Discovery. Applications and content from these partners will be available on the XO Tablet as part of the pre-loaded content and applications.

OLPC continues to be dedicated to its mission of providing every child around the world with connected, educational devices.

Rodrigo Arboleda

Chairman and CEO

One Laptop per Child Association.

Turbana partners with OLPC to provide computers to underprivileged areas

Nothing empowers communities like education. That is why Turbana has partnered with One Laptop per Child to donate 1,800 new XO laptops to underpriviledged children in Uraba, Colombia.

vidturbOne Laptop per Child is a foundation whose mission is to empower the world’s poorest children through education. They manufacture rugged, low cost laptops that connect children with the world and facilitate active learning, sharing and creating, thus providing an education needed for a prosperous future.

original post

Zamora Teran Foundation collaborating with the project in Honduras

IMG_2044The Zamora Teran Foundation is collaborating with the 1:1 project in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. They recently received a message from a representative of the M. of Education in Honduras:

…Extend our appreciation to the Zamora Terán Family, who have spared no effort and willingness to contribute to the education of our children, their expressions of solidarity really invite other entrepreneurs to share with a cheerful heart.

We pray to our Creator blessings multiply and widen your heart every day but to share with the less fortunate.


Definitely an example to be followed by others…


OLPC Trains Local Librarians in Charlotte’s Project L.I.F.T. Zone

Monique F. Pollock, OLPC Facilitator at Ashley Park K-8

On May 29, 2013 several Charlotte Mecklenburg librarians received a first hand experience with the XO laptop. Due to an emerging partnership with Project L.I.F.T and the West Charlotte branch locations, the librarians are eager to assist elementary XO learners who live in this zone. These library locations include the West Boulevard, Beatties Ford Road and the ImaginOn branches, which are frequented by the students.


Programs are being developed to support learning with technology at these locations.


During the training, the librarians got the full experience of an XO learner in a one to one classroom. From opening the innovative laptop to creating work samples, exploration filled the fun packed hour. The librarians even got a chance to chat with each other with the laptops’ ad hoc networks. Using the Sugar platform exclusive to the XO laptop, communicating and sharing work is an available option to all XO learners.

The staff was also impressed with accessibility options on the laptop including the free applications, multiple languages and the speak function, allowing students to hear words as they type passages. The session also included an introduction to coding, importing and creating media and downloading books to the XO laptop. The librarians are excited to welcome XO learners in the 2013-2014 school year. Plans are underway for workshops and XO dedicated spaces in the select West Charlotte library locations.

BELL and OLPC Partner to Digitize the Summer Learning Experience in Charlotte

Students and teachers at Allenbrook Elementary to utilize laptops to reinforce mathematics skills and engage in robotics discovery

CHARLOTTE, NC – May 20, 2013 – BELL and One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) are partnering this summer to enhance student learning and foster creativity and collaboration.  At the Allenbrook Elementary School, the two nonprofits will integrate OLPC’s laptops and technology curriculum into the BELL Summer learning program.  The collaboration will impact 140 students – called “scholars” in BELL programs – by boosting their academic skills, self-confidence, and engagement in learning.

“This is a story about mobilizing community resources to strengthen and expand learning opportunities for students,” explains Sherrinne Reece, BELL’s Director of Field Operations.  “Scholars have embraced the XO laptops and loved OLPC’s robotics club in our after school program.  By working together in the summer, BELL and can produce even more value and impact to our efforts in the L.I.F.T. zone.”

The BELL Summer program is a full-day learning and enrichment experience.  In the morning, teachers will integrate XO laptops into instructional curricula to create a blended learning environment.  Scholars will be able to express their learning and mastery of core concepts by working collaboratively to create reports, presentations, concept maps, collages, and a myriad of other digital forms.  In the afternoon, scholars will engage in a robotics club.  They will learn how to use Scratch, an open source software developed for the XO, to program their robots to perform various functions.  Scholars will also be able to take the XO home with them to continue their digital engagement after the bell has rung.

“One Laptop per Child is excited to form a partnership with BELL here in Charlotte’s Project L.I.F.T. Zone,” explains David Jessup, OLPC Project Manager.  “Our combined efforts will ensure that participating scholars are provided with a truly innovative summer learning experience. Infusion of the XO laptops into BELL’s existing program structure will only serve to enhance teaching, learning and exploration!”

BELL and OLPC have been working together to extend the use of the XO laptops into BELL’s after school program.  OLPC had planned on collecting, taking inventory, cleaning, and updating the XOs at each elementary school at the end of the school year.  But Torie, the OLPC Facilitator at Allenbrook, and Kim Smith, Math Facilitator at Allenbrook and BELL Program Manager, recognized a great opportunity to learn how XOs could enrich summer learning.

BELL is serving a total of 900 scholars across five elementary and middle schools in the West Corridor this year.  In addition to bringing technology into the classroom through its collaboration with OLPC, BELL will also utilize computer adaptive assessments to measure scholar achievement.  These efforts are designed to help Project L.I.F.T. achieve its goals in West Charlotte that 90% of students are on grade level, 90% achieve more than one year’s academic growth in one year’s time, and 90% graduate on time from West Charlotte High. Project L.I.F.T. is set to achieve 90-90-90 in five years using the pillars time (continuous learning opportunities), talent (the best teachers, administrators and staff), technology, and community/parent engagement.

“We hope that this summer’s pilot partnership will grow into a broader collaboration to further digitize summer learning experiences throughout the L.I.F.T. zone,” explains Reece.

About Project L.I.F.T.

Project L.I.F.T. is an innovative, community initiative working to improve outcomes and eliminate education disparities for minority and low-income students.  Visit for more information.


Neonode(R) Powers One Laptop Per Child’s Newly Launched Laptop XO-4 Touch

Neonode’s Robust and Efficient Multisensing(R) Solution For Laptop Convertibles Debuts on Acclaimed OLPC Laptop Device

Neonode Inc., NEON +0.76% , the optical touch technology company, today announces that its robust, cost efficient and sustainably low-powered MultiSensing Technology is integrated into One Laptop Per Child’s (OLPC) new XO-4 Touch.

The XO-4 Touch, which is now shipping globally, is the evolution of OLPC’s successful XO-1 laptop series, and now leverages Neonode’s Multisensing Technology to augment usability, and user experience.

In light of its target market, this laptop convertible is developed to be virtually childproof, with strict requirements for safety, durability, cost, and power-efficiency. These demanding specifications are also valid for the touch requirements, and are implemented via Neonode’s MultiSensing(R) solutions, which excel in each of the above-mentioned areas.

OLPC’s rigorous requirements include:

— Exceptional power efficiency, that supports hand-crank charging

— A touch-based user interface that works without adding cover-glass, thereby maximizing glare-free readability in sunlight

— Integration of low-cost parts that are durable, yet easily replaced and repaired

— Enabling high-performance touch functionality in less-than-ideal environments that may include dust, dirt, and moisture

“We are proud to deliver our technology to a forward-thinking partner such as One Laptop Per Child,” says Thomas Eriksson, CEO at Neonode. “To see the X0-4 Touch come to market is truly a milestone for us, and a testament to the all-round quality, stability, and versatility of our technology. While the OLPC laptop is a very basic device, its touch performance and cost requirements are similar to those of regular convertibles. We are also appreciative for the close and inspiring working relationship with OLPC, whose vision to push education, entertainment and knowledge, to children around the globe, continues to inspire us every day. Thus we are happy to contribute with a creativity-inducing touch experience to the very same children. Moreover, we are grateful for OLPC’s rigorous design-in experience, which will likely serve us well, as we imminently enter mainstream laptop PC markets,” he concludes.

Read more about the cooperation here.

OLPC has strategic partnerships with world-class educational content developers, including Sesame Street Workshop, UNESCO and Little Pim, to provide content for the XO laptops and tablets. OLPC, created by faculty members from the MIT Media Lab, sells the laptops in large quantities to governments and private institutions around the world, that in turn issue them to children or schools on a basis of one laptop per child

About Neonode

Neonode Inc. NEON +0.76% develops and licenses the next generation of MultiSensing touch technologies, allowing companies to differentiate themselves by making high performing touch solutions at a competitive cost. Neonode is at the forefront of providing unparalleled user experiences that offer significant advantages for OEM’s. This includes state-of-the-art technology features such as low latency pen or brush sensing, remarkably high speed scanning, proximity-, pressure-, and depth sensing capabilities and object-size measuring.

Neonode’s patented MultiSensing technology is developed for a wide range of devices like mobile phones, tablets and e-readers, toys and gaming consoles, printers and office equipment, automotive or inflight infotainment systems. NEONODE, the NEONODE Logo, MULTISENSING, and zFORCE are trademarks of Neonode Inc. registered in the United States and other countries. LIQUID SENSING, IT MAKES SENSE and ALWAYSON are trademarks of Neonode Inc. For more information please visit

Could Computers Be the Answer to Peace? Ask Kids from Karabakh!

Posted: May 6th, 2013 by Michele Borba

How the One Laptop per Child project, NUR and children in a land far away called Karabakh may teach us the secret to positive social change for developing countries and even peaceful coexistence

I’ve been a teacher, writer and researcher for over thirty years and like many, I’m haunted knowing that millions of children in our world will never receive an education or even walk into a classroom. I’ve pondered again and again how we can give poverty-stricken kids-especially those living in the remotest of areas where teachers, textbooks, classrooms or even running water don’t exist-a chance for a more hopeful future. I found the answer, and ironically, it came from children in a country half way around the world in a place called Karabakh. The visit changed my life.

The One Laptop per Child Project (OLPC)

I made the 22 hour trip (and then six hour convoy ride) to meet Karabakh‘s Prime Minister, tour the schools and visit with these wonderful children and their teachers. I was invited by  NUR (New Educational Strategy (Nor Usumnakan Rasmavariutum), an amazing project within the Fruitfull Foundation, an Armenian NGO created by the Argentinean-Armenian businessman, Eduardo Eurnekian. Mr. Sebastian Duval, director of the project asked me if I’d like to see their educational efforts in Karabakh. There wasn’t much hesitation on part.

I accepted in my role as the Goodwill Ambassador for the One Laptop per Child (OLPC) project,  a nonprofit organization that oversees the creation of affordable educational devices (or laptops) for kids’ use in the developing world. The OLPC goal is to transform education by providing every child with access to a connected laptop computer.

The XO laptop is made from durable plastic so it can withstand tough weather conditions (think “Sahara Desert”), is childproof, and has instant connectivity.

The XO also comes equipped with curriculum in a child’s native language–29 languages and counting–and was specially designed for the children of Karabakh with a keyboard equipped in both Armenian and Latin alphabet.

The XO was created by some of the world’s most brilliant minds at the MIT Media Lab in Cambridge and supports how kids learn best. It retails for about $185 and is given by OLPC to each child to bring home and keep.

A core OLPC principle is that in order to achieve meaningful educational improvement, each child should own a laptop so no one is left out. (I couldn’t agree more-I’ve witnessed many children in remote areas teaching their parents how to use a computer! It’s always a stirring sight.)

As of 2012 there are over 3 million XO laptops delivered to children in developing regions of the world including Rwanda, Nicaragua, Uruguay, Peru, Afghanistan, India, Ethiopia and South Africa.

Laptops to Karabakh!

Laptop deployments to Karabakh began just over a year ago with Fruitfull Foundation overseeing the distribution as well as teacher training. The laptops were generously funded by Mr. Eduardo Eurnekian,who gave 5000 laptops to all schools in the Karabakh cities of Stepanakert, Shushi and Karin’tak. His goal is to improve these children’s learning experiences by introducing technology in the classrooms, their schools and to their families so that eventually have every child in the region is equipped with an XO. I love Mr. Eurnekian’s vision for children:

“The world community sees Nagorno Karabakh within the context of war and regional conflict. People fail to take note of the children who are born and live there. These children are entitled to the universal right of education and access to information.

Through NUR, I intend to bridge the gap and give the children of Nagorno Karabakh the opportunity to receive the best education the world has to offer.”

 ~ Eduardo Eurnekian

Karabakh’s Unique Technology Challenge

Each XO deployment is always remarkable and has special challenges, but the Karabakh experience has to be among the most unique. The region’s history, location, and present-day circumstances all make the laptop deployment fascinating.

The success-as well as  the amazing response of the children and teachers-provides important and often overlooked lessons about the power of technology that we can all learn from.

To help you understand these special children and why the OLPC project is so special, I ask you to step into the shoes of the kids of Karabakh.

Imagine you are a child living in a country with it’s own flag, President, Prime Minister, post office, passport stamp, and standing Army, but you are not recognized as a nation by most of the world. That unique region is called Republic of the Mountainous Nagorno Karabakh.

Because your country is not recognized by the United Nations, you or your classmates do not receive crucial international health and benefits-as do most other world children-from organizations such as the World Health Organization, UNICEF, USAID, IREX, FLEX

Next, imagine what it is like living as a child in that region where there is a constant threat of war.Every waking day for these children is a “fear factor.”  Military convoys are all around you, your community is war-torn with bullet holes which still cover walls of your homes, churches, hospitals, and neighborhood.

Though you are currently in a ceasefire with neighboring, Azerbaijan, you recognize that your area is still vulnerable to attack. The constant visual presence of your army in your streets reminds you that your world is not safe.

Also imagine terror from another realm: the HALO Foundation is on the scene to remove hundreds of active landmines that surround your home, school or town. Since 2000, HALO Nagorno Karabakh safely located and destroyed over 50,0oo landmines and cluster munitions. Hundreds of more explosives remain.

Imagine that you go to school each day and as you walk into your building the first images you see are walls lined with photos honoring those killed in the war. Many of those photos are of your classmates.

Technology-especially computers-are novel and even a bit frightening to you. Your parents (still cognizant of living under Soviet mentality) fear there are special chips inside the device that track your every move.

Your connectivity to other children around the world is minimal. In fact, 90 percent of you and your peers lack connectivity to the outside world via computer. You basically  live in “technological isolation.” Television stations and news are also monitored.

Peace for your country is your hope. Conflict talks still continue but top international agencies-Amnesty International, Council of Europe, European Union, OSCE-warn that your region may well be the next place for armed conflict in Eurasian space. Threat of war is your daily reality. Just imagine!

And also imagine if you continue to live in a small, isolated, no-peace region unrecognized by the world and unable to benefit from the international experience. Education would continue to be a rote memory system. Your source of information would be limited and filtered.

But you share one common cord with children everywhere in the world: You know that education will provide you with a brighter future. A better education would provide you with the tools you need to pave your life.

And now you are given a laptop that just might be the answer to your hopes and dreams.

To continue reading …Computers Can Offer A New Educational and World Mindset  click here.