IDB’s Eugenio Severin on learning from Peru’s OLPC experience

The lead author of the detailed IDB study from Peru, released earlier this year, has published a good summary of their work and its implications. He highlights the tremendous efforts of Peru’s government for supporting the research and data-gathering, which will help not only Peru’s education work but that of other countries following in their footsteps.  And he groups the outcome into four key results:

  1. major change in access to knowledge, and reduction of the digital divide,
  2. improvement of cognitive skills, across many different tests
  3. no change in standardized tests for math and reading
  4. no change in school enrollment and attendance.

You can read the essay on the IDB blog.  An excerpt:

It is very important to commend the efforts of the Peruvian government for doing a serious evaluation of this program, and for sharing their results so transparently. It is a fact that there are few impact evaluations on the use of technology in education. Therefore, any contribution of knowledge helps support the efforts of many countries in the region and the world that are working to improve educational conditions for children that technologies can provide.

These are our results. First, the program has drastically reduced the digital divide, allowing many students and teachers, even in remote areas, to have access to laptops and educational content. Second, positive results were found in cognitive skills tests. The applied tests sought to measure reasoning abilities, verbal fluency, and processing speed in children. The very results are important, as they have been shown to be predictors of academic and work performance. The results indicate that children who received a laptop got ahead by 5 months of what the natural progression would have been in the development of these skills when compared to children who did not receive a laptop. Third, after 15 months of implementation, we found no statistically significant differences between children in beneficiary schools and children in control schools on learning outcomes measured by standardized tests of mathematics and language. No differences were found in relation to school enrollment and attendance.

OLPC NYC meeting this weekend

This Saturday, Bergen Community  College is hosting a free and open-source education event, HFOSS@BCC, with discussions and presentations about OLPC and Engineers Without Borders.

This event will bring together students, members of OLPC groups in NYC and Princeton, and Computer Science teachers in the CSTA across the US and NJ.  The OLPC project at Princeton will discuss their recent OLPC library in Ghana, and math teacher John Sincak will talk about his work with XOs.  Lunch is included.

For those taking the train: a few people are travelling together from Secaucus Station (just W of Penn Station) and meeting promptly at 7:30 AM on Saturday, most taking the 7:14 Northeast Corridor train (#7821) from Penn Station.

For those driving: the event is at 400 Paramus Road, Paramus NJ 07652, in the Technology Education Center – Room 128

Nancie Severs and her trip to Vung Vieng Village

Imagine you are sitting on your comfy couch watching TV. You decide to tune in to 60 Minutes. They are talking about a nonprofit organization that is bringing a low-cost laptop to children in developing countries. You think that is a great idea and decide to learn more.

Fast forward two years, and you are in the middle of a floating fishing village in Ha Long Bay in Northeast Vietnam. You have started a project to bring a number of these laptops to the only school in the village. While there you are tackling a variety of speed bumps that arise. These range from easy to extremely challenging. As the days pass, you can see the joy in the children and adults of the village. You realize that you have made a difference and changed their lives. You have changed their world for the better.

This is the story Nancie Severs of New Hampshire relayed when she presented at OLPC’s Cambridge headquarters.  Hearing Nancie speak is inspiring. She has heart and energy. Last year she visited the Vung Vieng Floating Fishing Village with her husband Mark. She thought of OLPC and realized  she could bring the XO to this village with a plan. She says if the XO laptops work out here “in the middle of the sea” where learning resources are limited, books are destroyed by the salty air, and newspapers blow away or get wet, then she will be convinced that it can work almost anywhere.

Continue reading Nancie Severs and her trip to Vung Vieng Village