XOs in Colombia: Caldas, Itagüí, and wonderful tools

Tech Crunch TV interviewed Maureen Orth recently on the introduction of OLPC in rural Colombia on their tl:dw videocast.

This was a timely reminder that Colombia has been building a network of supporting pilots and foundations in the years since this first urban school began implementing OLPC.  The largest projects are in Medellín (perlas), in Caldas, in Altos de Cazucá, and in Itagüí (1, 2).  Some of these are much more rural, and required helicopter drops to get them underway.

Caldas also produced this great video.

Children relaxing outside of class at the Marina Orth school
Children relaxing outside of class at the Marina Orth school

The Maureen Orth  Foundation‘s Medellin pilot is not very large, but she talks about connected laptops as “the most wonderful tool they could possible have”.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DSXraxq43mU&feature=player_embedded

OLPC Afghanistan recap

Part of an ongoing series on OLPC in Afghanistan.

Since 2008, we have worked with the Afghan Ministry of Education to build capacity for OLPC in Afghanistan. The initial pilots over the past year have been with 4th-6th grade students, in MOE schools and community-based education groups.

OLPC has committed  5,000 laptops to pilots throughout the country, starting with Esteqlal High School in Nangarhar Province’s Jalalabad city.   There the program engaged all fourth, fifth and sixth grade students, with a ‘3 phase implementation model’ (below) used by the ministry.

The next project involved five schools in Kabul city. Initial feedback has unfortunately only been measured in terms of standardized test results (in math and literacy), but initial results showed a 20% increase on those tests.

In the coming months, national team plans to include schools in other provinces.  They also aim to recruit and train more technical people to help with planning and preparing teachers and connectivity teams for schools across the country.

Parts of this post were drawn from the recent report “Briefing Note – One Laptop Per Child in Afghanistan,” by Lima Ahmad (AIMS), Kenneth Adams (AIMS), Mike Dawson (PAIWASTOON), and Carol Ruth Silver (MTSA)

OLPC in El Salvador

Teachers and assistants at the Universidad Evangélica de El Salvador
Teachers and assistants at the Universidad Evangélica de El Salvador

El Salvador, which began a 400 XO pilot last year, has been in the news again this week.  Their vice-minister of education Erlinda Handal gave an interview about their program “Cerrando la Brecha del Conocimiento” (Closing the Knowledge Gap), and mentioned hoping to expand their olpc project to cover all primary students in the country over the next four years.

“Children being able to take the ‘laptop’ home is something new, expected to amplify the process of learning, and this opens greater opportunities, better prospects for success.”

I hope to see more news from El Salvador, or at least more videos like these, in the future.

Pennsylvania’s Charter School success

The Chester Community Charter School in Chester, Pennsylvania, with roughly 2500 students, is the largest pilots of XOs in a charter school, and one of the largest single-school pilots in the US. They began in 2008 with 1400 students in 6th through 8th grades, and have since added over 600 more students in 3rd through 5th grades.

They planned their infrastructure and teacher preparation carefully — adding a high-bandwidth network connections within their school to handle the dramatic increase in Internet usage they expected, and running regular workshops with the head teachers from their 3 initial grades to develop new materials to make use of laptops in and out of the class.  And they have engaged city and state policymakers and other potential supporters in their area from the beginning.

I helped them with the initial deployment and a school-wide demonstration we gave to the students — and I still remember the joy with which they glommed onto the new machines; the teachers full of ideas after some brainstorming, and the students pepped by our demonstration of a competitive two-player Maze session.  They recently asked to test out the 1.5 and future tablet models, and seem to be growing their student body steadily at over 10% a year.  I hope to visit with their teachers again soon to see how this has changed their views of teaching.

Kasiisi Project: Notes from a technical lead

“I like to use the computers for English and to know about them” says Daphine of Kasiisi Primary School in rural western Uganda.

The Kasiisi Project helps to promote conservation through education around Kibale National Park, Uganda by building classrooms, hiring extra teachers, supporting healthy environments, providing support for 90 students to attend Secondary School, and working with other school support organizations.  Over the past 15 years, Kasiisi has grown from a small, one-building school to a massive compound with a kitchen, library, teacher housing, and now computer classes. Much of the early success of Kasiisi can be associated with a strong Head Mistress and support from the Kasiisi Project.

My name is Jeff Bittner, and I have been working for the Kasiisi Project since October 2008 helping to support Kasiisi and the 4 other schools in the Project.
I have been involved with a variety of activities since my arrival, including the introduction and implementation of roughly 150 XOs (see our Kasiisi blog for more background). As a person working in the schools before, during, and after the introduction of the XO Laptops, I have seen the way that these computers can excite and engage the students, as well as the complications that come with them.

Continue reading Kasiisi Project: Notes from a technical lead

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