OLPC volunteer program – University of Miami

The University of Miami’s Butler Center for Service and Leadership held an event this past week called “Canes for a Change”, the event is a week held annually in September where students are introduced to the ideas of volunteerism and leadership.

This year, several OLPC Miami volunteers:
Adriana Gonzalez; Yizhou Mao; and Lindsay Acton, took the initiative to set up a table on behalf of OLPC to inform local students about the work OLPC is doing in the community and to get UM students interested and involved in volunteering with OLPC.

The volunteers hosting the OLPC stand were surprised to learn many students already knew about OLPC and were very excited to receive such a positive response from UM’s student body. Over 40 students visited the table and signed up to be a part of OLPC volunteer program in Miami.

Comments on Jeffrey James’s olpc critique

By Antonio M. Battro, OLPC’s Chief Education Officer

Jeffrey James wrote a critique of OLPC last year, proposing a balanced pattern of “sharing computers” among children (say 5 children per computer, in the US or the UK) instead of the olpc “one to one” model – one laptop per child (and per teacher). As an alternative to olpc, James proposes that “the number of students per laptop stands in roughly the same ratio as the difference in per capita incomes between the rich and the poor country” (p. 385). In his view, the OLPC idea to persuade the developing countries to exceed the standards of shared computers of developed countries seems “utterly perverse” (p. 386).

It seems that his reasoning will fail if we substitute mobile phones for laptops. We don’t frequently share mobile phones, and in many poor countries their number exceeds James’s predictions about ratios of income and information and communication technologies in the hands of people. It seems difficult to accept the universality of his model about “sharing”, because laptops, tablets and mobile phones are rapidly converging in new hybrids.

On the other side, his ideas for successful low-cost technology sharing are not clear. One of his options, for instance, is “to purchase Intel’s Classmate computer at a similarly low price and let [them] be shared by as many students as is thought desirable” (p.389). In Argentina, where the Classmate has been most widely adopted, the national government is deploying some 3 million Classmates to cover the whole population of students and teachers of the secondary public schools in the country, on a one to one basis – an idea first proposed by OLPC some 5 years ago. It would be interesting to know the current state of affairs of other options he references (Simputer, NComputing, sharing multiple mice). However the quoted references are from 2006 and 2008, and 3-5 years is a long time in the digital era.

From the point of view of psychology and education, some comments about “teaching” need careful revision. First, in his paper James never speaks of the need to give laptops to the teachers, despite the significant mass of teachers in the world. On the contrary, OLPC programs start in every country by giving a laptop per teacher and providing corresponding teacher training. We know that a) “digital skills” develop in stages from the very early ages, as a second language (Battro & Denham, 2007) and b) most teachers didn’t have the opportunity to early access to this new global environment in the poor and developing countries.

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Tablets and the future of knowledge-sharing

From a recent letter to the editor at Education Week:

Tablet PC learning can provide basic knowledge needed by everyone—English, math, basic physics, and science, hygiene, “How Stuff Works,” and “Rules of Considerate Conduct.” A memory stick instead of a textbook for each K-12 subject would provide continuity. It also would allow students to learn any time in any place on any path at any pace. A memory stick can hold an entire K-12 course, including embedded and practical test questions.

The One Laptop Per Child project has provided more than 1 million laptop computers worldwide. Soon the project will make a tablet PC available… Tablet PCs are already available… this approach to learning is not new. This is the future of schooling.

Illinois Institute updates charger design for Haiti schools

The Illinois Institute of Technology is updating its design for solar chargers being used by OLPC schools in Haiti. Laura Hosman‘s students, working with Bruce Baikie of Green Wifi, are improving designs for charging setups for the off-grid primary schools in Haiti using XOs. Their work was featured recently in the Chicago Tribune.

They have been working on this project with Guy Serge Pompilus, the Haiti national project coordinator, since 2009 — and the focus on robust solar charging has increased greatly since the 2010 earthquakes.

A time to learn

In early May, Save the Children‘s State of the World’s Mothers 2010 report ranked Afghanistan last among the 160 countries surveyed, in terms of how easy it was to raise children.

While medical care is often limited, and being an infant in Afghanistan poses many risks, it is also a tough place to grow up. Only 52% of primary aged school children are enrolled in school, where classes are often made up of more than fifty students. Despite the extraordinary restoration of public schools and teachers over the past decade, there is still a lack of teachers and school buildings, and children receive an average of 2.5 hours of school a day. That is half of what children in developed nations (OECD) receive.

These numbers reflect a vast improvement from when the Taliban controlled the country – over the past three years, school enrollment has grown from 800,000 students to 4.5 million. But youthful curiosity is not bounded by time spent in school.  We are working to make sure that, district by district, these children have tools and projects to explore and to experiment with, so they can have time to learn even when school does not have time for them.

A class of Afghan girls at work on their XOs. Photographed by Elissa Bogos

Note: Some information comes from the latest OLPC Afghanistan Briefing Note.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Afghanistan

More Than Distribution in Afghanistan

For Afghan kids who receive XOs, their educational time is split between self-study with the laptop at home and sharing their learning experience with teachers and fellow students in the classroom. This blended learning model gives kids sufficient learning time and the support to achieve curriculum.

OLPC Afghanistan laptops are installed with an assortment of materials, including the Ministry of Education’s standard national curriculum of books, health information, and complete localization of all core activities in Dari and Pashto.

And the laptops aren’t just for students. By providing information for parents about economic opportunities, they give parents and kids the chance to learn together.

2010 OLPCorps opportunities available

We’re incredibly excited to announce the 2010 OLPCorps program.  This year, university students and young adults will have opportunities to support OLPC deployments in one of five regions: Haiti, Mali, CamerounAfghanistan, and the Palestinian Occupied Territories.

Installing solar panels

Installing solar panels in Kenya with OLPCorps

We saw the passion and skills of university students in our 2009 Corps program, and restructured it to extend the program and focus on a smaller number of countries.  This will allow applicants to make a bigger contribution to our mission of creating educational opportunities for the world’s poorest children.

OLPCorps applicants must now commit to a full year, and applications are open to college students and young adults over the age of 18. We’re looking for passionate people who can work independently in challenging environments. Participants will engage in capacity building projects ranging from technical infrastructure support and local software design to advocacy, classroom assistance, administration, and strategy design.  Successful applicants will receive a stipend.   You can apply for the Corps online now.

For students looking for opportunities in established OLPC deployments or for shorter periods of time, applications for this year’s Internship Program are also available.

2010 Internships open in Rwanda, Paraguay, Peru, Nicaragua

The OLPC Association is pleased to announce new internship opportunities for the coming year.  Country support interns will support an established deployment for 3 to 12 months, in one of four countries: Rwanda, Paraguay, Peru, or Nicaragua.


Learning outside in Peru

Learning outside with an intern teaching assistant in 2009


Support interns serve a vital role in building local capacity of partnering countries and organizations.  Innovators in business, engineering, social sciences, computer science, and public relations will be paired with experts in local knowledge and community building.  Teams will work alongside local school children, teachers, community members, and government officials to accelerate each country toward their long-term goals for education development.   Projects range from technical infrastructure support and local software design to advocacy and classroom assistance.  Internships are open to students over the age of 18.

There are also internship opportunities in grant writing and foundation outreach.  These interns will work remotely, conducting research and working with country deployments to formulate and submit grant proposals.  These are unpaid internships, with possible opportunities to travel to partnering countries.

Apply for an internship online, or find out more about the program.

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OLPCorps Roundup

As the Corps move forward, we’ve asked each team to post blogs on a variety of key themes revolved around the deployment process.  In the coming weeks we will highlight a few teams who will cover basic issues and statistics ranging from demographics, health, and education infrastructure to the local culture’s perspective on OLPC’s 5 principles and what the children do when they take the XO home.

Today’s post focuses on the diversity of Corps communities and learning environments teams are working in.  The Corps deployments range from urban to rural, 1:1 to 1:3, 6 years old to 12 years old, and high to low student-to-teacher ratio.  We share updates from Uganda, Senegal, and South Africa.

First day of XO Camp at Driehoek, South Africa (from Youtube):

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