Government of Uruguay to Distribute One Laptop Per Child Designed XO Tablets to Pre-School Children

First Country to Adopt OLPC Laptops at Full 1:1 Saturation Will Be First Country to Receive XO Tablets

XO Tablets Will Feature Local Books and Be Customized for Uruguayan School System

MIAMI— One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) will provide the government of Uruguay with 8,000 of its newly released XO Tablets for distribution to pre-school and first grade children in the country. The OLPC/Uruguay pilot program (Plan Ceibal) is the world’s first government program designed to get educational technology into the hands of children ages six and under.

“Plan Ceibal has been one of the early adopters of the OLPC laptop, and Uruguay is the first country to have deployed and reached one-to-one laptop student and teacher saturation. We are very aware of the importance of integrating pedagogy and technology to enrich the educational experience of our children,” said Uruguayan government official, Miguel Brechner. “The engaging and intuitive nature of touch-screen technology, as well as the way OLPC has presented the contents of the tablet, will enable us to connect students and broaden their cognitive opportunities at an even younger age.”

The XO Tablet, designed and developed by OLPC, features OLPC’s XO Learning System and provides children with access to state-of-the-art educational content that has been curated and selected for age-appropriateness and learning value by OLPC. In addition to the XO Learning System content available on every XO Tablet, the 8000 XO Tablets distributed to children in Uruguay will be customized for the region and will be preloaded with local content to meet the requirement of the Uruguayan school system.

“There is early evidence, both empirical and anecdotal, to support the efficacy of tablets and touchscreen technology as learning devices for children as young as ages two to five,” said Rodrigo Arboleda, OLPC Chairman and CEO. “As such, adding a fully functional and educationally focused tablet is a natural extension of the OLPC mission and an excellent complement to our existing and continuing laptop program.”

The XO Tablet, and its XO Learning interface, run on the Android’s latest OS. To ensure compatibility and interoperability with the nearly 2.5 million laptops OLPC has distributed since 2005, OLPC is converting the Sugar software currently used in XO laptops to the Android system. Once the conversion is complete, Sugar will be made available via download free of charge. The porting of Sugar into Android will give XO Tablet users access to OLPC’s previously developed educational content.

The XO Tablet, which is manufactured and distributed by OLPC strategic partner, Vivitar, is currently available for purchase in the U.S. at Amazon.com, Target.com, Walmart.com and Walmart stores. These strategic retail partners have in common a commitment and history of empowering children to learn, and in 2008, Amazon was instrumental in the execution of OLPC’s “Give 1 Get 1” program to sponsor laptops for children in developing countries. OLPC’s proceeds from sales of the XO Tablet will further the organization’s global mission by enabling further development of the XO Learning System, updating existing apps and software to facilitate interoperability between XO Tablets and Laptop and by subsidizing distribution of the tablets to children throughout the world.

About XO Tablet, XO Learning and One Laptop per Child

The XO Tablet has been fully designed and developed by OLPC to harness the power of a connected touchscreen device to create new ways for children to learn-how-to-learn. Its launch also marks the global debut of the XO Learning System, designed as a child-centric interface to empower kids to build, learn and dream as part of OLPC’s mission. OLPC was launched in 2005 at the MIT Media Lab as a project to provide a modern education to every child around the world through access to laptops and connected devices. The organization has since distributed 2.5 million of its specially designed XO laptops to children in 60 countries, and the XO Tablet extends that experience into a modern tablet form factor. All within the philosophy of Learning-by-doing advocated by the Media Lab throughout the years.

About Vivitar

Vivitar is a leading provider of photographic, audio and optic devices and related accessories with a rich 75-year heritage of technology innovation and affordability dating back to 1938. Building off the success of its legendary Series-1 lenses and flashes, the company has steadily expanded its product portfolio to include cameras, camcorders, accessories and now tablets tailored to the needs of today’s families. Vivitar is headquartered in Edison, New Jersey, with additional offices across the United Kingdom, Latin America, Canada and Hong Kong, and global retail distribution spanning more than 100,000 locations in both mass market and specialty channels. For more information, visit www.vivitar.com.

Visit OLPC at www.one.laptop.org

For FAQ’s, where to buy and more information on the XO Tablet, visit www.xotablet.com.

OLPC OS 13.2.0 New Software Release

OLPC OS 13.2.0 is a new software release focusing on cleaning up a few edges from our previous release, and finishing off support for the new XO-4 laptop. As usual, we maintain support and consistency for older laptops models, with XO-1.75, XO-1.5 and XO-1 also included in the release.

Features

XO-4 power management

This is our core power saving technique where we suspend the processor after a few seconds of system inactivity (“idle suspend”), but we leave the screen and wireless interfaces running to provide the illusion that the system is still running as usual.

XO-4 bluetooth support

The new XO-4 laptop comes with bluetooth support as a purchase option. While such Bluetooth support is not immediately available in the user interface, we have enabled this functionality in the underlying system, ready for developers and deployers to use in their custom applications.

Enhanced touch support

In the Clock activity, you can now use the touchscreen to drag the clock hands to another time, a useful exercise for learning about time. Drop-down lists are sub-optimal for touch, they have been replaced by more intuitive and touch-friendly UI elements in Record. The pinch-to-zoom touch gestures in Image Viewer behave much better than before. FotoToon has been improved to interact with the touchscreen on-screen keyboard.

Music Keyboard activity

A new activity has been added, presenting a piano-style musical keyboard to the user. The piano can then be played using the XO’s physical keyboard, or with the XO-4 touchscreen by directly placing your fingertips on the notes you wish to play. You can even play multiple notes at the same time by using more than one finger, thanks to the XO-4′s multitouch capabilities.

Journal Share activity

We are exploring methods to improve common classroom situations of teachers handing out assignments, and teachers collecting in the students work. While this functionality should ideally be part of the core Sugar desktop, for now we are prototyping a solution in the form of an activity called Journal Share, which is new to 13.2.0. To hand out an assignment to the students, the teacher starts the Journal Share activity, shares it, and adds the assignment to the session. Students join the shared activity, and with a single click, the assignment appears in their Journal. When the teacher wants to collect in the student’s work, the teacher starts the Journal Share activity and shares it. Students join the shared activity, and add their completed work from their Journal. The submitted work is automatically transferred into the teacher’s journal for later assessment and evaluation.

Sugar updates

Several activities (such as Read, Write and Paint) are now usable when the screen is rotated. Scratch has been updated to a new version, bringing in the latest functionality and extending the library content. The Help activity content has been updated.

How to install? (Installation is distinct from update. If you have user data on the laptop that you wish to preserve, you may want to follow the Update instructions.)

“Visualizing Learning with Turtle Art”

By: Walter Bender

There are certainly cases where applying objective measures badly is worse than not applying them at all, and education may well be one of those. –Nate Silver

Not to be deterred by Nate Silver’s words of warning, Claudia Urrea and I continue to work on mechanisms for visualizing learning Sugar. Along with the Pacita Pena and other members of the Learning Team, we have been designing rubrics that capture the level of fluency with the technology as well as the creative use of the individual Sugar tools by children. The rubrics are captured automatically in some Sugar activities, e.g., Turtle Art and a modified version of Write.  We are aiming for evaluations that look more broadly than those data that are captured by standardized tests. We just submitted a paper, “Visualizing Learning with Turtle Art”, in which we present some measurements calculated from 45 Turtle Art projects created by children working with Quirós Tanzi Foundation.

We claim that the rubric serves as a partial evaluation tool for open-ended projects. Partial, because it is only a measure of how the children used Turtle Art to express themselves, but not what they made or why they made it. But the rubric does have the potential to give some assistance to the teacher who is working within the context of accountability, without adding an additional burden of analysis above and beyond looking at the work itself.

We want children not just to learn about the computer, but also to learn with the computer. Providing activities such as Turtle Art that engage them in computational thinking in the context of personal expression is necessary, but not sufficient. Giving them tools for reflection enhance the learning experience. Giving their teachers simple-to-use mechanisms for assessment increase the odds that activities like Turtle Art will find more mainstream acceptance. Making it easier to assess open-ended projects lowers one of the barriers that are preventing more use of the arts in school.

Developing Sugar Activities Using HTML5

Using HTML in a Sugar Activity is not new. The Wikipedia Activity has been embedding HTML contents for years. It does this by integrating into the Activity two things: the Sugar browser to render HTML and an HTTP server to react to user clicks by calling Python code.

To learn more on how to Develop Sugar Activities Using HTML5 read the new chapter on the How to Develop your Sugar Activities Manual.

New 13.1.0 software release pairing up with the new XO-4 Touch laptop

We’re pleased to announce the next release candidate of our new 13.1.0 software release.

OLPC OS 13.1.0 is a new software release focusing on providing support for the new XO-4 laptop and its optional touchscreen. As usual, we maintain support and consistency for older laptops models, with XO-1.75, XO-1.5 and XO-1 also included in the release.

Information and installation instructions can be found here.

Quick links for those who know which files need to be grabbed and save to USB disks:
http://download.laptop.org/xo-4/os/candidate/13.1.0-21/
http://download.laptop.org/xo-1.75/os/candidate/13.1.0-21/
http://download.laptop.org/xo-1.5/os/candidate/13.1.0-21/
http://download.laptop.org/xo-1/os/candidate/13.1.0-21/

This release adds SiS and DisplayLink USB-VGA support for the XO-1.75 and XO-4, on par with the support offered for XO-1 and XO-1.5.

We’ve moved the underlying system from Fedora 17 to Fedora 18 in this release, which was a necessary measure for touch support, and helps us keep up-to-date with the open source technologies that we rely upon. A minor update to GNOME to version 3.6 is included here.

Sugar-0.98 and touch

The most notable feature in the latest version of Sugar is the addition of touchscreen support, pairing up with the new XO-4 Touch laptop. While a touchscreen can be seen as somewhat equivalent to a mouse, there are a number of subtle differences, such as the fact that it is not possible to hover without also triggering a “click”, which called for a number of user interface modifications to make Sugar suitable for touchscreen input. We’ve tackled these challenges by making small adaptions to the UI where necessary. In some places where hovering was previously required, a click or touch will now show an informational palette (with menu) rather than immediately performing an action. In other places, a touch-and-hold operation will do the equivalent of what hovering or right-clicking does with the mouse. We’ve also made some small interface elements finger-sized, such as the activity icons on the home screen.

We’ve also sprinked some gestures throughout the interface. A quick vertical swipe from the top region of the screen downwards will cause the frame to open, and the same gesture can be used to close it. When working in the Image Viewer, you can use pinch-type gestures to zoom in and zoom out. Swiping your finger over any scrollable area will cause scrolling to happen, so you don’t have to worry about trying to manipulate small scroll bars with your fingers.

Tablet mode (where the laptop screen is rotated around and folded down, physically obscuring the keyboard and mouse) is very usable with a touchscreen – especially with the work we’ve put in. When in tablet mode, if you select a text input area, an on-screen keyboard will pop up: touch the keys to type away as normal. We’ve also taken some initial steps to make sure that the region of the screen where you are typing is made visible if it would otherwise be obscured by the on-screen keyboard.

Under the hood, this release also includes a huge amount of effort in our use of the underlying GTK platform: we have migrated Sugar itself, and many more activities, to GTK+ version 3. This invisible but invasive work, which we started for 12.1.0, is essential for the ongoing development and maintenance of Sugar, and was a solid requirement for the touchscreen work described above.

More information about Sugar-0.98 is available in the Sugar release notes

Four new Sugar Activities

Letter Match is an activity for introducing the Spanish vowels. While far from contructionist, this activity does provide a mechanism for learning the alphabet. It displays letters and images and associated sound files, such as ‘A as in ave’. There are two modes:

  1. see a letter, then click on the corresponding picture

 

 

2. see a picture, then click on the corresponding letter

 

 

 

AEIOU is an activity for introducing the Spanish vowels. It displays letters and images and associated sound files, such as ‘A as in ave’. It would, of course, be fun to let the learner add their own pictures and sound recordings. There are four modes:

  1. click on the letter to hear its name
  2. click on the picture to hear the name of the first letter in the word represented by the picture
  3. hear a letter name, then click on the corresponding letter
  4. hear a letter name, then click on the corresponding picture

 

 

 

I Know My ABCs is an activity for introducing the Spanish alphabet. It displays letters and images and associated sound files, such as ‘A as in ave’. There are four modes:

  1. click on the letter to hear its name
  2. click on the picture to hear the name of the first letter in the word represented by the picture
  3. hear a letter name, then click on the corresponding letter
  4. hear a letter name, then click on the corresponding picture

Finally, a cool app which uses the accelerometer in XO- 4, written by a Google Code-In student:

Level Tool is an activity to check the inclination of a surface with respect to ground.

 

 

 

Lanedo enriches One Laptop per Child’s multitouch experience

Open source experts from Hamburg improve the devices’ software platform. Code will be available under free license to the worldwide community.

Lanedo, Hamburg-based Open Source firm, is proud to announce their contribution to OLPC’s newest device, named XO-4 touch. The 7.5“ convertible notebook, expected in 2013, focuses on multitouch technology as one of its main features.

Lanedo was involved from the very beginning to extend the OLPC sofware platform called Sugar, enhancing the user interface with touch functionality and therefore laying the foundation for future developments. The team not only improved the X.org graphical subsystem with numerous multitouch-related bug fixes, but also extended the respective functionality of the GTK+ toolkit, used for drawing windows, icons and other UI widgets.

Sugar has been a significant diferentiating factor in the worldwide user community for the XO laptop. We appreciate the support of Lanedo to continue the development and enrichment of the Sugar platform, says Rodrigo Arboleda, CEO of OLPC.

One of the most exciting features is the new intuitive text selector, that allows on-screen selection using handles for exact positioning. Furthermore, several commonly known gestures like zoom, rotate and swipe have been added to the Sugar environment, available throughout the system. Lanedo has also contributed to XO-4′s word processor, based on AbiWord, which not only had the same text selector implemented in native code, but also saw improvements in scrolling and other multitouch functions. Likewise, many other bundled applications have been enhanced.

Martyn Russell, one of Lanedo’s founders and managing director, is excited about the work done: Lanedo is proud to have had the opportunity to engage in such a noble project as One Laptop Per Child. It has been a great experience and we are thrilled at the prospect of contributing to the Open Source based platform in the future.

Following the principles of free sofware, developers can take advantage of those new features in their own projects, as all code writen will be made available freely to the benefit of the worldwide community – the GTK+ enhancements have already been incorporated in the 3.6 releases.

 

Sugar 0.98 with touch support in the UI is the new version of the Sugar learning platform

The release of Sugar 0.98 also incorportates many improvements to the GTK3 port. The Sugar Developer Team deserves a resounding celebatory cheer of thanks for their effort.

OLPC has been incorporating Sugar 0.98 in the 13.1 series of builds, available for download to run on the XO.

What is new for users?

Alphabetical ordering in the Home View

The icons in the Home View are now ordered alphabetically. This change has been applied to the favourites view and the activities list view.

What’s new for developers?

Activity Authors guidelines

The most important change is that the GTK+ 2 based sugar-toolkit has been deprecated since Sugar 0.96. Newly written activities should use sugar-toolkit-gtk3, which is based on GTK+ 3 and Pygobject3, now. There will be only bug fixes being available in the future for the old toolkit no new features will be made available for it and it will probably go away at one point completely. Detailed guidelines for porting existing activities can be found at Features/GTK3/Porting.

Tutorials

There is a brand new step-by-step guide for developing Activities under Fedora 17.

For more details click here.

OLPC trains the teaching team in Honduras

The OLPC team conducted a training program with the Educatrachos teachers team from November 12 to 15, 2012 in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. The training focused on integrating the Sugar Activities into the existing curriculum with an emphasis on Spanish and Mathematics. Teachers were instructed on the various teaching resources contained within the XO laptops.

The OLPC program in Honduras will benefit 54,000 students in grades 3 to 6 in 545 schools throughout the country. These students will all have access to XO laptops and digital educational programs.
This program is funded by the Inter-American Development Bank in coordination with the Government of Honduras.

The main goal of the Elementary Education and Technology Integration Program is to improve the learning of students in the poorest elementary schools in Honduras. The program will involve training activities and will provide ongoing support to the teachers. In addition, the program is working to provide textbooks and other educational materials to these schools. The project has a special focus on the incorporation of new technologies in education.

Melissa Henriquez (OLPC educational coordinator) and Patricia Rivera (Gerente Pedagógico Unidad Coordinadora de Programas y Proyectos UCP-BID)

OLPC looking for students to participate in the Sugar Labs Google Code-In event

Sugar Labs has been selected as one of ten projects to participate in Google Code In. We join, among others, our colleagues at Fedora et al., in soliciting the participation of high-school (and in our case, middle-school) students to work on projects during a six-week sprint beginning on November 26. This is a great chance for the youth who have been so instrumental in our growth over the past year to show off their talents to the world (and two of them will hopefully win a trip to visit Google). Please help Chris Leonard and Walter Bender finalize the project and mentor lists over the next few days. We are offering coding projects, documentation and training projects, outreach, quality assurance, and user interface, so even if you are not a developer, you likely have some skills to devote to the Code In.

NOTE TO MENTORS: Please create an account and fill out the Request to be a Mentor form.

NOTE TO COMMUNITY: Please add to our task lists and please recruit participants.

Why we are participating

Sugar is written and maintained by volunteers, who range from seasoned professionals to children as young as 12-years of age. Children who have grown up with Sugar have transitioned from Sugar users to Sugar App developers to Sugar maintainers. They hang out on IRC with the global Sugar developer community and are full-fledged members of the Sugar development team. It is this latter group of children we hope will participate in and benefit from Google Code-in. Specifically we want to re-enforce the message that Sugar belongs to its users and that they have both ownership and the responsibility that ownership implies. Just as learning is not something done to you, but something you do, learning with Sugar ultimately means participating in the Sugar development process. At Sugar Labs, we are trying to bring the culture of Free Software into the culture of school. So the Code-in is not just an opportunity for us to get some tasks accomplished, it is quintessential to our overall mission

If you are interested visit wiki.sugarlabs to read the details.

OLPC Shines at Project L.I.F.T. Annual Meeting

By: Torie Leslie, OLPC facilitator at Allenbrook Elementary School

On October 26th, 2012 the nine CMS Project L.I.F.T. zone schools and community
partners joined forces to host the L.I.F.T annual community meeting. This event
included breakout sessions centered around L.I.F.T’s commitment to appropriate
technology for all students. The “OLPC Lounge” stood out as a shining star during
this time as students, their families and community members enjoyed quality time
with XO laptops and OLPC support staff members. All visitors to the session had the
opportunity to ask questions and explore Activities on the Sugar Learning Platform.

One of my favorite memories from this event was when a 4th grade student was
sitting with his sister who is in Kindergarten and he explained how to open the
Speak Activity so she could type in her name and hear the robot speak her name. He
said to her, “You can use my XO for now but you’ll be getting your own soon!”

Check out this video from the evening created by my colleague, Monique Pollock,
facilitator at Ashley Park Pre-K-8.


 

Sugar Status – Google Code-in, Young developers, 8M downloads, SF summit and migration

By Walter Bender

Sugar Labs is applying to Google Code-in (GCI), “a contest for
pre-university students (e.g., high school and secondary school
students) with the goal of encouraging young people to participate in
open source.”

Why we are applying? Sugar is written and maintained by volunteers,
who range from seasoned professionals to children as young as 12-years
of age. Children who have grown up with Sugar have transitioned from
Sugar users to Sugar App developers to Sugar maintainers. They hang
out on IRC with the global Sugar developer community and are
full-fledged members of the Sugar development team. It is this latter
group of children we hope will participate in and benefit from Google
Code-in. Specifically we want to re-enforce the message that Sugar
belongs to its users and that they have both ownership and the
responsibility that ownership implies. Just as learning is not
something done to you, but something you do, learning with Sugar
ultimately means participating in the Sugar development process. At
Sugar Labs, we are trying to bring the culture of Free Software into
the culture of school. So the Code-in is not just an opportunity for
us to get some tasks accomplished, it is quintessential to our overall
mission.

Learn more about GCI and the Sugar Labs GCI effort.

Agustin Zubiaga Sanchez noted that last week we passed the
threshold of more than eight million activities downloaded from the
Sugar Labs activity portal. I echo his sentiment that “I’m very
glad to be a sugarlabs developer. Congratulations to all the team :)”

In the community

Last weekend was the OLPC SF summit in San Francisco, which was
followed by a three-day Sugar Camp. Although I missed opening day, Day
Two was quite interesting in that there was a lot of good discussion
about how to sustain and grow the various volunteer-run OLPC/Sugar
deployments. At Sugar Camp, although not much code was written, there
was an opportunity to get tangible and actionable feedback from the
likes of Mark Bradley (we pushed hard on Turtle Art as a multimedia
toolkit). I also had the opportunity to catch up with Raul Gutierrez
Segales, Ivan Krstić, and others.

 Tech Talk

The little coding I did do in San Francisco was in support of
migrating more activities to touch. Specifically, I worked on
integrating the on-screen keyboard into several of my activities:
Portfolio and Turtle Blocks. The challenge was that I was using
key-press events directly, rather than accessing them through a GTK
widget such as a Entry or TextView. With help from Raul, I managed to
get things working pretty well: basically, I just drop a TextView
widget under the cursor where I expect keyboard input. The details are
outlined here. I’m generally pleased with the results, but there
is a bit of fine-tuning of the interaction, e.g, you need to defocus
the TextView in order to dismiss it: not such a burden, but at times,
somewhat awkward.

Ignacio Rodriguez has been on a tear, helping me to migrate
activities to GTK 3. Over the past week, we converted: Card Sort,
Cookie Search, Color Deducto, Deducto, Flip, Fraction Bounce, Loco
Sugar, Napier’s Bones, Nutrition, Paths, Pukllananpac, Recall,
Reflection, GNUChess, Sliderule, Story, Yupana, and XO Editor. I also
worked with Agustin Zubiaga on Portfolio, Flavio Denesse on Ruler, and
Daniel Francis on Turtle Blocks. Whew.

Sugar Activities

Our “app store” continues to grow, thanks in large part to contributions from Sugar users who have made the transition to Sugar developers. More than 10% of our apps were written by children who grew up with Sugar. Meanwhile, we are approaching eight-million downloads.
The next generation of hackers
Not only are Sugar users becoming Sugar activity developers, they are also beginning to work on Sugar itself. A large part of the effort to migrate Sugar activities to GTK-3 has been accomplished by youths; and these same young hackers are submitting patches to the Sugar toolkit as well. They are full-fledge members of our community.
Internationalization push
Chris Leonard has led an effort to recruit and assist translation teams so that Sugar has better coverage in the mother tongues and indigenous languages of our users. Over the past twelve months, we have seen substantive progress in the languages of:

  • Oceania: Māori, Samoan (Gagana Sāmoa), Niuean (Vagahau Niue)
  • Central and South America: Huastec (Tének), Xi’úi (Central Pame), Aymara (Aru), Quechua (Cusco-Collao)
These efforts have often included working with the local experts to establish glibc locales for their languages, which will facilitate further localization work on any Linux-based system.
Sugar in the USA
While the majority of Sugar users are in Latin America and Africa, we are starting to make in roads into the United States. Programs like the ones led by Gerald Ardito have demonstrated the efficacy of Sugar within the US educational market. Larger-scale efforts by OLPC in Miami and Charlotte are driving growth.
Teacher communities
Teachers are forming communities around Sugar to provide mutual support and to drive further pedagogical developments. They are using social media tools to form communities in which teachers and developers discuss problems and opportunities. Amazonas, Australia, et al. are leading the way.
Community outreach
Sugar Labs provided support for several developer gatherings, including Sugar Camps in Lima Peru, Cambridge Mass, San Francisco CA, Prague Czech Republic, and GUADEC.
2. Isabelle Duston has created a database of images (http://www.art4apps.org/) that is intended to reduce the cost of creating educational apps in particular for literacy. Feel free to use these images in your Sugar activities and to contribute to the database. She is also launching an App Challenge (See www.educationappsforall.org); Sugar activities qualify.3. Edgar Quispe has finished 100% of Aymara for Fructose, a major step in supporting local languages in Peru. Quechua is also making rapid progress.

In the community

4. There are plans to hold the next OLPC SF summit in San Francisco the weekend of October 19-21. We are holding a Sugar Camp following the summit (Oct 22-24). Please register here.

Tech Talk

5. Simon Schampijer announced the “I am a GTK+ 3 shell” release of Sugar and the Sugar toolkit.

6. Daniel Drake announced that a new 13.1.0 development build is available (This one comes with the first development release of the GTK-3 port of Sugar and it is intended for developers to play with it and find bugs to help us solve them before release.)

 

Teacher from Nicaragua shares her experience with the XO

My name is Reyna Flores. I teach a combination of multigrade grades third through sixth at the little school Miguel Larreynaga in Tipitapa.

I hope that, like me, other teachers could have the opportunity to have the XO valuable pedagogical tool for improving the education of our children.

When working with the XO I tell my students that this computer is our “green little friend.” It includes great applications we call activities. We use them in any subject, and something else… We already have Internet! which allows us to enter the world of information.

Now, I want to share the pedagogical aspect in class:

As I teach four grades, the XO has been very important to increase the ammount of information, documents and materials that reinforce learning. I used to have difficulties when I taught geometrical bodies to third graders because there are children who have no geometric kits, then the activity called Paint Activity allows them to draw them.

When learning language arts, we use information obtained from Wikipedia and the children of the upper grades elaborate didactic schemes with the Maze activity as an alternative to reading techniques.

In physical education a stopwatch is needed to record the time-distance speed according to each student’s age. The XO has one.

In cultural and artistic expression we have no access to a marimba or the sounds that the student must know so here we come to the TamTamMini activity.

In science class, using the Record activity, children make their community tours taking pictures of what they believe is part of the environment and even pollution issues.

I also believe that the XO supports students who have some learning difficulties. For example, a child in third grade had pronunciation problems with the consonants L and R, so I asked him to write a list of words using the Sara activity, this way, the student could improve his diction.

At the end of each period, children take their homework and they relax with activities and Games that help them increase skills and mental agility.

Courage, dear colleagues! Let work for the children in Nicaragua. Lets focus on endeavor, affection, good will and the mystique that has always characterized teachers.

I invite other teachers to participate in the column “Teachers speak” because we must all learn from others’ experiences.

* Teacher at Miguel Larreynaga school, Tipitapa.

OLPC OS 12.1.0 SW release focusing on improving the XO-1.75 user experience

OLPC OS 12.1.0 is a new software release focusing on improving the XO-1.75 user experience, and undertaking a much-needed technological shift for Sugar’s internals to GTK+ 3.x. Additionally, XO-1.5 and XO-1 continue to be supported in this release, and we include a variety of new features and fixes.

GTK3

During this development cycle, we have spearheaded efforts within the Sugar Labs community to make Sugar GTK3-ready. The changes you will see as a user are few. This work was limited to the back-end platform only. As we continue the transition in future, you’ll receive efficiency improvements, and activities will improve in quality from having more direct access to a wider range of system libraries.

Write to the journal anytime

Recent Sugar versions have shown a “naming screen” upon stopping a new instance of a Sugar activity. The idea was to encourage the learner to provide a good name for their work, and perform some self-reflection in the details field. However, some found this confusing (stopping an activity should be as simple as possible).

Sugar-0.96 changes this – the naming screen is no longer displayed. However, all activities now have a button in the toolbar that allows a description to be set. We hope that this will continue to encourage self-reflection while not being as intrusive as before.

Text to speech

A new icon in the Sugar frame allows for any currently-selected text to be dictated by the internal speech engine.

For more details on all the improvements visit the wiki here.

Training focused on the holistic development for students in Rwanda

By Desire Rwagaju, OLPC-Learning Development Officer

One Laptop Per Child Association in collaboration with Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village (ASYV) proposed, planned and is implementing a training that focused on the holistic development (cognitive & social) for its students in senior six and five. This Training aimed to strengthen the ASYV student’s knowledge on the use of OLPC laptop for deep learning, lesson planning and implementation of project based learning activities.

Brief history of ASYV:

After 1994 genocide in Rwanda, one of the biggest problems Rwanda faced was the vast number of orphans with no systemic solution to support their well-being and development. Anne Heyman and her husband Seth Merin (living in New-York City) were inspired by the similar challenge that Israel faced after the Second World War, when there was a large influx of orphans from the Holocaust. As solution to the problem Israel built residential living communities called youth villages. This is the model residential living communities brought to Rwanda by Anne Heyman, Agahozo-Shalom Founder. Called “The Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village (ASYV)” is a residential community in rural area in Rwanda. It is a home to youth who were orphaned during and after the genocide in 1994. Its mission is to enable orphaned and vulnerable youth to realize their maximum potential by providing them with a safe and secure living environment, healthcare, education and necessary life skills.

Education in ASYV and OLPC involvement:

ASYV aims on developing students both cognitively and socially. Village education focuses on both Formal Education (schooling) and Informal Education to expand each student’s talents, skills, and capacity to become not only functioning members of society, but leaders of their communities. This is where ASYV’s education aligns with OLPC’s learning philosophy and approach–using mobile technology to empower each student’s individual learning process in some of the most remote and difficult conditions. With connected laptops, learners are liberated to actively engage with others with similar interests in cultures of learning by doing without being limited by time or space. Children can learn by teaching, actively assisting other learners and freeing the teacher to focus her experience and expertise where most needed. It was seen as an opportunity for this village to benefit from this learning approach, which will enhance all the great initiatives already in place.

Trainees explore sugar learning environment, diagnosed and solved different hardware and software problems, as well as disassembling and assembling the XO.

 

At the end of the first phase of the training (August 10th) all trainees were going to vacation, they have been assigned to different schools received olpc laptop in previous deployment done by the government of Rwanda in 30 districts of the country. They will be helping the project with the upgrade of the anti-theft key, as they will be introducing kids and teachers at schools nearby their homes on the use of xo laptops. The Training will continue after they come back from vacation to reinforce trainee’s capacity of planning and conducting trainings for teachers.

 

Latest news on Sugar Activities

At the urging of Reuben Caron, who had been contacted by the OLPC deployment in Armenia, Walter Bender wrote a chess activity for Sugar. It is a Sugar front-end to the gnuchess program, which is a quite sophisticated chess engine for GNU/Linux. The actvitiy, Gnuchess, can be downloaded from the Sugar activity portal and is documented on the Activities/Gnuchess page in the wiki. A few fun features include:

(1)  you can play against the computer, another person on the same computer, or over the network

(2) you can use a generic set of pieces, load in some Sugar-colored ones, or those of your own design

(3) when you play against someone over the net, they will see your artwork and you’ll see their artwork

(4) the computer will offer very good hints to new users

(5) games are recorded and can be played back as an animation or saved in standard chess notation.

Walter also have been making a number of subtle but important changes to Turtle Blocks. Cynthia Solomon (of Logo fame) has been giving him feedback and as a result, Walter thinks the box and action naming is much more streamlined and consistent. Also, the new flow blocks are much easier (and more intuitive) to use.

Check out Version 154 and keep an eye out for Version 156, coming soon.

Also, Claudia, Melissa, Cynthia, and Walter hosted a learning workshop at the OLPC office in Cambridge at which Walter got some feedback on the Portfolio and Bulletin Board activities. He is in the midst of streamlining Portfolio and also enabling comments to be made over the web. (You can get a sneak preview of Version 27). With the learning team, we have been developing a classroom protocol. Once the Portfolio activity gets released, the Bulletin Board activity will follow.

Walter has also been withing with the Fundación Zamora Teran team on the Nutrition activity.
More region-specific foods have been added and a new game: match the food to its food group. A new release will be available soon; a preview is available here.