Web: The Film

What happens when children, isolated in the Peruvian Amazon, experience the Internet for the first time? Web explores the possibilities that emerge when the disconnected get online, and what it means for our future.

Director, Michael Kleiman, is on his way back to Peru to visit the villages featured in the film and share the finished product with them. Stay tuned over the next few weeks for pictures and videos from his journey. You can check out the film’s trailer below and/or here.

Teaser 2

 

Miguel Brechner sobre el impacto del Plan Ceibal

La República recently published an article on the history of Plan Ceibal and how it is seen and referenced by programs in other countries:

Nuestro país es consultado constantemente por otros estados interesados en aplicar el programa de “una computadora por niño”…

Uruguay tiene presencia mundial no solo por el fútbol. El Plan Ceibal hace que nuestro país tenga una presencia importante en grandes eventos. “Hace algunas semanas, fui a un congreso con veinte mil personas en Estados Unidos, y el primer día no dejaron de hablar de Uruguay”, explicó Miguel Brechner.

Read the whole piece (in Spanish).

On OLPC and the diversity educational environments

A reply to S. Varghese

One of the Millennium Development Goals of the United Nations is to offer a sound elementary education to all children of the world by the year 2015 and to increase their access to information and communication technologies. One Laptop Per Child has worked since 2006 on this urgent educational mission in collaboration with public and private organizations in some forty nations, mostly in developing countries.

The great diversity of educational environments – or the lack of them – is the principal challenge here, and needs careful programming based on local conditions and human resources. OLPC is founded on five principles: ownership, early ages, saturation, connectivity and free and open source collaboration. This is the result of decades of research and development in advanced centers of study, and the XO laptop and the Sugar platform are two remarkable products of this international collaborative work. Other products will come soon as OLPC evolves to give answers to the increasing demands of education.

The central question is how to scale up the OLPC program from a town to a province to a country, in order to satisfy the educational requirements of different student populations. The agenda is getting more complex with the expansion of the geographic area involved. The local authorities must establish a detailed agenda in several steps, to provide a sound educational program to different cohorts of students, continuous training of teachers, and distribution of laptops to all children and teachers. Also the implementation of servers and internet connectivity in schools and public places, the logistics of repair or substitution of the laptops, etc. This whole process is part of a dynamic “cultural evolution” that produces a great variety of results, some unpredictable and innovative.

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“The digital gap is shrinking in Peru” [German review]

a translation of Julio Segador’s report for ARD Buenos Aires

Four years ago, we launched OLPC in Peru – now the largest primary-school initiative of its kind in the world – to distribute laptops to 810 000 children. The first results of the project are emerging: The laptop does not automatically lead to better test scores for the children, but may still be useful.

Barely four years ago in Peru, one could hear on every street corner a happy children’s song that came from a promotional film on the Internet. In the video, girls and boys had small green and white laptops in their hands, tapping on them and laughing. 810,000 of them, specially adapted to the needs of children, have since been distributed, primarily to students from economically-disadvantaged families. “One Laptop Per Child” (OLPC) is the international project behind it, from creative director Nicholas Negroponte of MIT in Cambridge.

Now interim results of the project in Peru have been published. An expert team from the Inter-American Development Bank put rural primary schools under the microscope for 15 months.
The results are mostly positive, says Eugenio Severin, one of the researchers: “The students who have gotten the laptops had cognitive abilities develop a good five months faster during the 15-month study period.”

Hear the German-language audio of author Julio Segador, or read on for the rest.
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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.

IADB studies OLPC in Peru

The Inter American Development Bank recently published the results of a study of the Peruvian schools that received OLPCs in rural primary schools in Peru, over the first 15 months of the program.

The methodology of the study was quite good, with a randomized study of over 300 schools.  But the measurements and focus were not aligned with the goals of Peru’s program, and there is no clear way to compare these results with the other detailed results available from Plan Ceibal’s program in Uruguay.  The after-analysis of their work has tended to focus on short-term math and reading results, whereas the goals of the program were access to knowledge, improvements in pedagogy, and access to computing – which might be expected to show up in the short term only in the abstract cognitive results.

The measured improvement in abstract thinking – roughly 5 additional months of cognitive development, over a 15-month period – is tremendous. It is interesting to note how this result is downplayed in parts of the world where schools live by less abstract standardized testing.

Some recent comments from OLPC staff and implementers, paraphrased for brevity:

Claudia Urrea:

‘The OLPC program in Peru, or any other place, has to be evaluated according to its initial goal. “math, language, and cognitive test results” showed outputs, but have no clear connection to Peru’s 2007 stated objectives, which targeted pedagogical training and application.’

Oscar Becerra, who oversaw OLPC in Peru’s government:

‘We succeeded in giving access to technology to 100% (220,000) of children and teachers at one-teacher schools, who otherwise would have had no opportunity to use ICT.  Most had the option to take laptops home with them.’

Oscar has published other comments that are a good representation of the OLPC perspective.

 

1 in 20 Latin American children use an OLPC laptop

There are roughly 58 million primary school students in Latin America, according to UNESCO’s latest data from their Education For All initiative.   5% of children in that age range are not in school.  And 5% of them use XOs: 1.5 million children have their own, and Peru’s urban initiative is giving another 1.5 million students in urban schools access to XOs through a program where groups of 3-5 students share a laptop.

 

Today 4/5 of these students are in Uruguay, Peru, Argentina, and Mexico.   But new programs are growing rapidly, in NicaraguaCosta RicaColombia, and elsewhere.

That’s a lot of budding Pythonistas, Scratcheros, and Linux users!
Now if only my own home country would start providing computers and connectivity to its students as a matter of course…

Warehouse fire in Peru destroys $100M of Quechua & Ashaninka books, XOs, and solar panels

Update: OLPC and Quanta have offered support to Peru to help them get new materials shipped to schools quickly. UNICEF Peru has asked national organizations to offer what help they can to allow schools to start on schedule.  National newspaper El Comercio has offered to reprint the books on newsprint, quickly and at no cost, as a temporary measure — and is asking for donations of local-language educational materials to print.



A tremendous fire Thursday night in the Breña district of Lima destroyed a major warehouse of Peru’s Education Ministry, which contained $100M in materials being prepared for deployment to eastern Peru. This included a half-million books, 40,000 XOs, 21,000 other laptops for teachers, and 6,000 solar panels. The books lost included one of the country’s largest caches of early-literacy texts in indigenous languages such as Quechua and Asháninka, aimed at children from 3 to 5 years old.

The XOs were the latest part of the roughly 1 million laptops Peru has purchased for their national XO program, the world’s largest. They have been focusing on their rural and indigenous schools, such as the communities that were scheduled to receive these materials.


Salas speaking, and the fire from a distance Thursday night


The disaster mainly affects the schools in east Peru, many with limited electricity, which are starting their fall semester. Peru’s Minister of Education Patricia Salas (above) talked to reporters about the loss, and President Humala said his government will make sure they deliver materials to those schools despite the fire.

“Quiero señalar que esto no va a interferir la política del Estado de cumplir un cronograma de metas, de proveer de material didáctico para los escolares … Tenemos un lote de contingencia para ir cumpliendo el cronograma.”

The fire raged for over 10 hours before being put out Friday morning, and led to two days of air-pollution alerts in the surrounding area.

This is terrible news, and our thoughts are with our friends and colleagues in Peru. Thankfully, it seems that noone was hurt.


The former warehouse, unrecognizable the morning after


Digital citizenship and hacking: Sugar Camp Lima, Nov 18-19

Somos Azucar, Activity Central, and escuelab are organizing Sugar Camp Lima on November 18-19, to build a new Sugar image for Peru: complete with Aymara and Quechua localizations, and activities focused on engagement online and “digital citizenship”.  An invitation to the event can be found here, and Sugar enthusiast Yannick Warnier explains why he finds this so exciting in a call for others to join him.

The event has international support, including the Municipality of Lima, Ciudadano Inteligente, and the World Bank.  The XO image developed will be proposed to the national team as a basis for the next update implemented across the country.

If you have an activity you’re hoping to polish up and get into the next Peru image — or are interested in localization, testing, or general Sugar development, this promises to be a great event.  I hope the camp attendees will review and add to the Feedback Actividades page that Claudia recently set up, a place to gather requests and suggestions from students and teachers in the field.

 

To RSVP, or for more information, contact escuelab: contacto@escuelab.org

 

Life in a Day film publishes XO clip from Peru

Life in a Day is a film capturing a single day through the lives of people across the planet — filmed by thousands of people and edited into a feature-length documentary. They have been showing the film across the country for the past month, after a preview at Sundance at the start of the year. It’s pretty wonderful – something I wish we would do as a society every year, perhaps with different editorial groups.

The film team recently posted the clip of the young Peruvian student Abel going about his day with his XO, on YouTube, talking about life working on the street with his father, and pleased as punch with everything he can read about on Wikipedia. Abel was one of a handful of young people in Peru who were asked to submit film from their day to the crew.

This is one time when I am glad to see creative groups making full use of Facebook. The film’s facebook page is the best source of new information about he film, and while we have been a casual fan of the film for some time, it was one of their updates there that pointed us to the new clip. Kudos as well for making so many of the individual stories from the film available on YouTube — please continue to do the same for the parts that didn’t make it into the movie!

National education improvement, Peruvian style

Peru’s extraordinary Una Laptop por Niño program continues to lead the way for deployments around the world. Most recently, they expanded their program to 100% of Peru’s public primary schools (roughly 20,000 in all), the largest OLPC project  in the world.  On Friday Oscar Becerra, head of ULPN in Peru, reported:

Today at noon President Alan García formally inaugurated the new Ministry of Education building in Lima. The building features a monument sign at the front, crowned by an XO computer in its original green and white colors. We hope it will be a lasting memory of the outstanding contribution of OLPC to Peruvian education improvement.

Three cheers for that, and for expansion to a new building! And congratulations to Oscar and President García for leading the way in supporting education at all ages with technology and creativity, under a wide variety of conditions.  I can only hope for similar education reform to reach my own country one day soon.

eduJAM! starts in Uruguay

The eduJAM! convocation is going strong, with 2-3 days of Sugar camp and discussion among developers and teachers from across the world. Keep an eye on the ceibalJAM site in the coming days for videos and notes from the event.

You can browse some of the presentations on the edujam2011 slideshare account.

eduJAM!-invitacion

eduJAM! invitacion

OLPCistas in Uruguay this week and next

Over 20 OLPC and Sugar collaborators are in Uruguay this week, visiting schools, meeting with the Uruguayan communities (ceibalJAM, RAP Ceibal, and the eduJAM event team), and preparing for the eduJAM! summit for Sugar developers and educators across Latin America.

The attendees are using a separate OLPC Uruguay 2011 blog for the week to track their various travels and projects in Uruguay. If you can’t be there yourself, you can follow along (and share your own questions for the group) here.

Peru’s new XO assembly lines

Peru has a large and complex XO project, certainly the most varied anywhere, with its mix of rural and urban, powered and off-grid. Now they are adding local assembly of future laptops, something many countries have considered but few have carried out.

As noted recently, local assembly offers shorter startup times for production, and gives the deploying country more of a stake in the ongoing project.
Peru is being supported directly by Quanta, our factory in China, in this. Similar arrangements will be a bit easier now that the first one is underway, but this sort of arrangement is hard to work out unless the deployment team is planning for a steady flow of hardware delivered over years.

Nevertheless, this is a great step for olpc sustainability. Between Peru’s interest in assembly, Uruguay’s recent interest in design for new audiences, and Paraguay’s interest in developing better software and OS builds, Latin American deployments are taking up shared ownership of most aspects of the project.

From their official announcement:
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Peru to deploy XO-1.75s this year, passing 1M laptops in all

Peru’s president Alan Garcia today committed to expanding their national program, the largest in the world, including developing national facilities for manufacturing / assembling laptops in-country. They will distribute their 1 millionth XO by the end of the year, reaching students in 100% of the country’s public primary schools, and 15 percent of all registered public school students. Some of these schools will get XO-1.75s, and 20,000 schools will get additional LEGO WeDo kits for use in class robotics programs. The XO-1.75 will use a Marvell Armada 600 ARM chip, lowering power consumption to make it the most energy efficient laptop around.

Rodrigo Arboleda said of the latest announcement: “Being the largest deployment worldwide, Peru is an outstanding example of OLPC. We hope to see other countries establish manufacturing facilities of the scale and magnitude of Peru’s. Local manufacturing of XO laptops will enable Peru both to transform education and to make important investments in its economy.”

Peru is continuing its efforts to build software, content, and ideas for constructionist class work. Through their ongoing partnership with LEGO Education, they will finish distributing 92,000 LEGO WeDo kits to OLPC classrooms in Peru, and will develop related robotics and programming curriculum for younger students.
 
And the Peru Ministry of Education continues to invest in developing new Sugar applications and learning games for their own schools and others, assisted by OLPC’s global volunteer community (eg. Somos Azúcar) finishing translations of Sugar into Aymara and Quechua, and translating a teacher’s curriculum guide — most recently into French for schools in Madagascar.

I hope to get an update from some of these devs at the upcoming eduJAM! summit in Uruguay.

Hope and Josh and Peru

Hope and Josh, two interns who worked in Peru last year, shared an imaginative and colorful blog of their experiences over the fall, full of photographs of the people and the environment, and short vignettes about teaching. (Sugarcane and Squares, the Repaso).  Their blog is terse, and worth reading all the way through.


LEGO WeDo and OLPC Peru: national collaboration

The Government of Peru and LEGO’s Education group have been testing the WeDo toolkit in classrooms with XOs since it was released in 2008. This year they have launched a national program to distribute WeDo kits to roughly 20,000 schools.

LEGO’s Lars Nyengaard writes:

“I am happy to announce that the first major deployment of WeDo for XO will happen in Peru, starting this year. An amazing 20.000 schools will be populated with WeDo. 80.000 teachers will be taught in WeDo and the constructionist approach. More than 1,5 million children will experience WeDo across Peru.

We visited Brazil and Peru to understand the challenges for education in some of the underserved areas. Personally, I will never forget my visits to Brazil, the people I met and the children trying out our WeDo prototypes… we have pursued the original idea of bringing robotics constructonism and WeDo to countries, where the OLPC XO is deployed. I am happy, joyful and invigorated by the decision of the Peruvian government to deploy 92.000 WeDo sets with programming software, activities and teacher training.”

OLPC has been testing many different types of sensors and electronics kits, since the earliest work on Turtle Art with Sensors. The XO has also become a fine dedicated Scratch machine, and WeDo kits are easily enabled from within Scratch (with some handy video tutorials). If you can get your hands on an XO and a WeDo kit, try this with your friends, children, and students.