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:



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

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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.