The non-profit Ghana Together has been repairing and deploying donated XOs in Axim, Ghana for years – now providing over 50 XOs in their Children’s Home. They and work with local techs and a student repair center at the Arts and Technology High School in Marysville, WA. They recently wrote about helping a nearby school that suddenly received XOs.
“What about Those One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) Computers?”
In 2011 the Methodist School was suddenly given 30 OLPCs from the government of Ghana.. .They thought they looked liked toys, not realizing that they are actually very sophisticated “learning machines” for primary school children. The headmistress found out that I was coming to Axim, and asked me to come and do an impromptu two-hour workshop.
Consequently, two teachers worked with me to test and update laptops. I engaged Peter Asuah, one of the original WHH scholars, to help test all the OLPCs, chargers, etc. I left a very complete manual… These guys are computer sophisticated, and I’m sure they will do a good job orienting the children.
Since the machines are designed to be “self-exploratory”, it’s been my experience that once children understand the basic way the computer functions, they do very well on their own. In fact, this hands-on, exploration approach is perfect for these children, because they have been so immersed in rote learning from blackboard and exercise books. The science teachers told me they are trying to get away from that kind of teaching, but up to now, they didn’t have materials to work with… now they have materials and machines.
Later in my visit, when the science teachers came up for the brainstorming session, I spent the first hour on another impromptu workshop, introducing them to the basic workings of the OLPC. They were fascinated…
Meanwhile, if anyone reading this has an OLPC you’d like to donate, we’d like to have it, in working condition or not. The Marysville Club is very skilled — they repair them, or if need be cannibalize them.
Read the full post on the Ghana Together blog.
Separate from the national program being rolled out in Eastern Ghana, Princeton University has a student-run Ghana School Library Initiative which is building a physical library in Ghana stocked with books and OLPCs. This program started in 2008, and is one of three projects coordinated by the Princeton University chapter of Engineers Without Borders. They shared an update with East Coast OLPCers this Spring, and have been writing about their new milestones this summer, as the library nears completion.
After some work earlier this year to repair and update some donated XOs, children have started working with their own laptops at the EP Basic school in Ashaiman, Ghana, where the team is working. They recently completed a week of physical construction and two classes a day with the students. The classes included working on educational activities with the children in Sugar, “to whet their appetites” to use the XOs more on their own.
As weeping and cheering for today’s World Cup results spread across the globe, at OLPC we are hoping to recover enough to try sOccket’s power-generating soccer ball at our next weekly scrimmage. Since Ghana and Uruguay are XO countries we are exhausted from rooting for both sides.
Yesterday, Jessica Lin from sOccket visited us at OLPC and promised to trade a sOccket ball for an XO, in hopes that someday a XO can be powered by the energy of play. Learning in play was strong thread of discussion this week at OLPC. We talked to Jessica about 60+ soccer programs around the world (like the Kabul Girls Soccer Club) that help children learn about teamwork, strategy, physics, and statistics as they participate in their favorite sport. Right to Play was another kindred program we met at the UNRWA education conference, which sparked a brainstorming session about how computer games could be incorporated into RTP programs.
So, start up your XOs! Track stats of the World Cup games, Measure the amplitude of cheering when a goal is scored, or Record a set of videos of your friend’s elaborate soccer footwork!
We all have the right to learn & play…