“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.

OLPC in Goa

Monsoon Grey posts an update on the school pilot in Goa, about a lesson in Turtle Art, with a photoset by intern Bindi Dharia. Harriet Vidyasagar, who helped get the first school projects in India underway, continues to support the project.

The team writes about the new activities they have installed for all of the students this year, including “I Know India”, and the workshop they organized for new teachers for the coming year.

Turtle Art Chat

From the latest Sugar digest:

Before getting on the overnight bus back to Chiclayo, Jorge gave me a file with images of Peruvian Soles, so I was able write a Soles plug in for Turtle Art on the overnight bus ride. (Again, I could not sleep due to the movie playing inches from my face.) Raul, who was sitting a few rows back from me, joined a shared Turtle Art session and we stumbled upon a new use for a well-worn activity: chat. By sharing text with the Show block (and as of TurtleBlocks-144, text-to-speech with the Speak block), you can engage in an interactive chat or forum, which includes sharing of pictures and graphics. What fun. (Walter)

XOrduino & XO Stick designs

via the ananialog

I banged out two open hardware designs this week, designed for use with the OLPC XO laptops.

The XOrduino is a stripped down low-cost Arduino-compatible board that plugs right into the XO’s USB ports. But wait, there’s more: it’s also compatible with the Scratch Sensor Board, so you can use this device to control Scratch (and Turtle Art?). It should be compatible with the Arduino IDE and all Arduino Leonardo-compatible shields.

There are only 20 components needed for basic Arduino functionality, costing $5 from digikey (in quantities of 100 or more). Local labor or even older kids could assemble this by hand.

The XO Stick is for when $5 per student is too much money.  Based on the AVR Stick and the ATtiny85 processor, it costs only $1/student. It’s not as user-friendly as the Arduino-compatible board, but can be used to teach simple lessons in embedded electronics.

Eagle design files on github:

I expect to have a small number of each board in a few weeks; let me know if you’d like one in exchange for help with hardware and software bring-up. Schematic and layout review would also be appreciated (I did the PCB routing late at night under time pressure leaning heavily on autoroute, it’s certainly not the prettiest). And feedback from Arduino and Arduino shield hackers would also be welcome.

For more details or to request boards, please see the original blog post, and Alessandro Paganelli’s review in Linux Support magazine.

Turtle Art and Scratch at Vacation Camp (in Miami)

Walter and Melissa Henriquez  ran Turtle Art and Scratch workshops las tweek, during a “vacation camp” for 3rd and 4th graders from Holmes Elementary School.  It sounds like a it was a great success, with the children using Portfolio to make presentations of their work at the end of the week.   Read more about it in the weekly Sugar Digest.

 

Nickelodeon / OLPCStories contest : only one week left to participate!

A month into our olpcstories contest with Nickelodeon Latin America, we have received some friendly media coverage in Latin America (in La Crónica in Mexico, and CanalAr in Argentina) and have gotten many contest submissions.

As Christoph noted earlier this week, this is the last week to submit your entries to the contest.

Concurso de Nickelodeon y OLPC: reglas publicadas!

The contest rules are out for the OLPC/Nickelodeon storytelling contest.   OLPC and Nick will be judging the submissions together.  All XO users in Latin America are eligible to compete by submitting a story, anination, or other multimedia clip of up to 3 minutes.  Contest ends August 29.

 

OLPC Association y Nickelodeon organizan y juzgan el concurso en conjunto (anuncio, reglas completas):

Hat tip to Claudia, Christoph, and Giulia.

butiábot: XO Linerider robot in action

Team BUTIÁ from Uruguay has been working on an XO robotics project for over a year. They showed off their line-following XO-robot, butiabot, in Montevideo this weekend. An XO running TurtleArt code hooked up to a mobile robotic platform followed a dark line along the ground.
XO on top of a flat wheeled robot, showing the TurtleArt program controlling it

They have posted some details of their prototypes online.
This reminds me of the XO hack to control a Roomba over the Net, but cooler, with Turtle Art and a realtime-hackable control program.

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.

OLPCorps in Rwandan schools, Part 3: EPAK and Kicukiro

This is final part of a 3-part series on the initial learning workshops in Kigali, Rwanda,  focusing on EPAK and Kicukiro schools.

EPAK:
EPAK is located in Kigali. The school has a total of 420 XO laptops, 350 were given by the government; another 70 laptops were given by international humanitarian organization, Right to Play. There are 680 students and 15 teachers. So that each student at the school has access, students in the morning  session will share their laptop with students in the afternoon session. Laptops were first dispersed during the OLPCorps training. 15 OLPCorps members and Paul Commons, Reuben Caron, and David Cavallo of OLPC led the distribution and training sessions.

On day one, the team prepped by discussing a variety of issues which were likely to emerge, such as language barriers, how to address concerns of integrating the laptops into the curriculum, etc.  Teams touched upon each issue individually and designed approaches based on this discussion.  For language, a majority of the translation was led by Kaçandre Bourdelais from Laval University.  However, during the individual training sessions, French speakers were assigned to a separate teacher to manage translation. The training provided mostly individual attention on programs that teachers wished to explore in more depth.  Teachers varied in the activities they explored, from Measure and Scratch to Turtle Art.  Later that afternoon, the same teachers were seen explaining what they had learned to their students and how they’ll have the same opportunity the following week.

Day two began by reflashing and NAND blasting several hundred laptops before distribution–only to find out halfway though that the image file was corrupt.  As a result, the majority of the morning was spent installing the latest build.  By lunch time, however, all EPAK’s classes had laptops.  One particular lesson Corps teams took from this experience was the variety of teaching styles carried out in the classroom.  Some teachers, like P1, preferred more strict, instructional techniques, a few teachers valued individual exploration, and others attempted group work.  Unfortunately, unexpected power issues at the school forced us to stop by late afternoon.

Kicukiro:
Kicukiro Primary School is located in Kigali. There are a total of 3242 students, 44 teachers and 780 laptops. These laptops will be distributed after July holidays, so that each child has access, the Headmaster has decided that each classroom will have 20 laptops per classroom. The headmaster Felix says that “kids left their old schools to come here because they heard we would have laptops.”

OLPCorps students working with teachers at Kicukiro Primary School (Photo courtesy Michael Stein)
OLPCorps students working with teachers at Kicukiro Primary School (Photo courtesy Michael Stein)

Language was the main hurdle here.  More photos and conclusions after the jump.

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