Kevin Brooks challenges Mark Warschauer and Morgan Ames to reflect

Kevin was recently fired up by likes Sridhar’s recent summary of Australian OLPC projects and how they are building a national education programme. He challenges Warschauer and Ames to take a look at their work. (They are known in the olpc-verse primarily for their paper framing the idea of a computer for every child as a “technocentric” “utopian vision”.)

Given the depth of information out today about the diversity of olpc programs, there is much more research to be done – not about whether to give learning tools to children (of course you should), but about how to use them as the basis for transforming and enriching a community. To paraphrase a famous educator, the diversity in OLPC implementations around the world will help us discover the most effective approaches.

A tip of the hat to OLPC Australia, which continues its truly remarkable work.

In Australian outback, OLPC school triples numeracy ability in 1 year

The rural OLPC school in Doomadgee, Queensland more than tripled the number of 3rd grade students demonstrating proficiency in numeracy — from 31% to 95% — from 2010 to 2011. This coincided with a renewed focus on the school, including providing every student with an XO.

As Michael Hutak reports, Australian MP Rob Oakeshott highlighted this in a statement to Australia’s Parliament, calling for national support for OLPC and similar initiatives to improve access and partiipation and close the education gap across Australia.

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.

 

Documentary “More 4 Me” explores what we can’t live without

“More 4 Me” is a documentary about having and having not by filmmaker Lincoln Fenner released last spring.  It features (and donates 75% of its proceeds to) a few global charities, including OLPC.  It was recently nominated for Best Documentary at the NYC Int’l Film Festival in October.  Details to come; here’s the press release from the producer:

 

AUSSIE FILM TO LIGHT UP TIMES SQUARE

More 4 Me nominated for Best Documentary Feature at the New York City
International Film Festival

Creation Box Films is proud to announce that its debut feature-length documentary
More 4 Me has been selected for the New York City International Film Festival (NYCIFF)
next month, with three of its five screenings to be held in front of thousands in Times
Square.

Continue reading

OLPC Australia’s XO-AU USB toolkit

OLPC Australia has released an update to their USB ‘toolkit’ for XOs, a collection of software on a USB thumb drive designed to assist in recovery, repair, and support scenarios. The new version is ready for testing, and Sridhar expects only documentation changes between now and its final release.

The XO-AU USB is OLPC Australia’s official means of delivering updates and troubleshooting tools to schools.

OLPC comes to Doomadgee in rural Queensland

OLPC Australia is in the middle of providing 300 children and teachers with XOs in Doomadgee, Queensland. This continues their work in Aboriginal regions across the continent (see their amazing school-by-school map).  I always look forward to the updates of that particular map – which colors every school deployment by whether it is completed or not.

Australian model Samantha Harris on supporting OLPC

Samantha Harris

Samantha Harris is a rising star in the Australian modeling world, recently on the cover of Vogue Australia, and proud of her Aboriginal heritage.  She supports OLPC Australia’s work, which is primarily focused on Aboriginal communities on the mainland and on surrounding islands. Here is a recent interview she gave to Napoleon Perdis.

A great video from Yirkalla

Yirkalla is being well-covered by Australian media. TEN Digital devoted part of a weekend episode to the deployment, including this video from the classroom during the first day of the deployment. They catch a priceless expression on this child’s face 1:10 in, as he either learns to play Maze (as the shot suggests) or discovers Rick Astley for the first time.

Sridhar reports from Yirkalla, Northern Territory

The screen's so bright, they've gotta wear shades

The screen's so bright, they've gotta wear shades

From OLPC Australia, Sridhar Dhanapalan reports on the latest deployment in Yirkalla — a follow-up to earlier work done [two months ago] in 3 comunities in East Arnhem Land.  This is the first proper deployment of 1.XO-5’s anywhere in the world!

Sridhar’s report is worth a read – though I’m looking forward to hearing more about how the 1.5’s are being used in class.  (Sridhar: I’d love to have a guest post from you with more about how the laptops are being used, and how the initial handout went) Over the weekend, there was a nice short writeup of the progress in the deployment there by the Daily Telegraph.  They took some gorgeous photographs while they were visiting the schools.  And here’s a lovely video from the same part of the country.

And I just saw the updated map of all of the major and minor deployments in Australia — aside from the icon selection, this map is fantastic.

A google map of OLPC schools in Australia

A google map of OLPC schools in Australia

New first-time XO users in Rwanda

While Intel may be convinced that netbooks aren’t for first-time computer buyers, a new wave of first-time XO users are paying for part of their own XOs in Rwanda, under their scheme to allow private school students to take part in the government project.  Moses Gahigi interviewed Richard Niyonkuru about the Rwandan national program, and their shift towards a more learner-centered model.

Elsewhere, near Australia, new blogger Air Sok writes about being introduced to Sugar, hosting a guest presenter who had recently been using the XO in East Timor, and using the Physics activity in class.  A lovely post; please stop by and leave a comment on the new blog!

Emerald laptops in Oz

Children in remote communities in Western Australia and the Northern Territory are being introduced to the digital world with their own XOs as part of an international program aimed at boosting attendance.  They have been localized to include the local language of Yolgnu Matha.  From an announcement last month as the project was being rolled out:

Mr Lacey was hopeful the laptops would increase the current attendance rate of about 360 students regularly attending out of 500.

“We want to use it as an incentive, come to school….” At Rawa Community School, near the Great Sandy Desert 600km southeast of Port Hedland in Western Australia, the laptops will mean learning can be better adapted to each student.

It will be interesting to see how this fits into the plans of Geoff Anson and the crew at OLPC Australia.   Meanwhile, Pia Waugh of OLPC Friends has joined the Government 2.0 movement in the Australian government and can offer a perspective from both sides of that fence.