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Open Library designs an online XO bookreader

Their new Open Library OLPC bookreader is lovely, and has been tweaked to recognize the XO's gamepad keys for navigation, and to display in both normal and rotated screen modes.  Many thanks to Anand and Aaron Swartz for making this work.  Web whiz Rebecca Malamud worked up a lovely portal for children, customized to display well on the XO, and Aaron helped make sure the first demo library bundle of OpenLibrary books is available fRead the rest of this entry

Worldfocus.org's OLPC Rwanda Video

Worldfocus.org has produced a video report that describes OLPC Rwanda’s plans to provide computer access to the country’s 2.3 million schoolchildren:
via worldfocus.org
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OLPC Malaysia Radio updates

Sarawak, Borneo Radio station BFM 89.9 Malaysia speaks to Tan Yii Ying of Danawa Resources talks about how the OLPC movement has fared in Sarawak thus far. You can listen to the interview here. Read the rest of this entry

Sugar goes mainstream... on a stick

A recent publicity push and a number of public demonstrations of Sugar on a Stick (which recently released its Strawberry edition) have attracted many interested new developers and a lot of intrigued parents and teachers.  I've seen it mentioned on digitial library lists and public education channels, in contexts that wouldn't normally be discussing laptops or computers. Sean Daly writes about a recent round of feedback from a local community Read the rest of this entry

Telephony in Ethiopia

When Matt Keller was in Ethiopia recently while travelling through East Africa, he met a young student who was making phone calls between a pair of XOs.  Here he is preparing one of the laptops: This is both simpler and more homegrown than the work StRead the rest of this entry

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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OLPC and the Ethiopian Sports Federation in Chicago

This is the second year that OLPC has had a booth at the annual soccer tournament hosted by the Ethiopian Sports Federation in North America (ESFNA).  This is one of the big events of the region's Ethiopian diaspora each year, and we have been working together  to bring laptops to children in Ethiopia as we strive to focus attention on children's education.

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Making Books Transparent

Sayamindu and I have been contributing over the course of the year to a Bookserver initiative to define how digital texts are indexed, discovered, and distributed.  The Open Content Alliance organized a conference yesterday and today in San Francisco to help us move forward with Bookserver development, improve the draft specification.  It was an inspiring event, with a lot of good working code and interfaces to share with one another.  Brewster throws a mean party, and when he announced he was hosting one last night to celebrate the launch of the Bookserver project and the Archive's move into a beautiful new space in the Presidio, some 500 people turned up.  I was pleased to run into Mary Lou, with four laptops sporting new Pixel Qi screens - low power, and yet so very hot. I spoke about what OLPC is doing with this new specification - Sayamindu's modified "Get Internet Archive Books" activity was the first client application to use the developing spec and beta book servers - and we spent some time brainstorming ways to improve OPDS.  It's an open group and process - all input is welcome.Read the rest of this entry

East African Community OLPC launch

Here's a short video from last month's meeting of the East African Legislative Assembly, shortly before the EAC announced a regional OLPC initiative: Read the rest of this entry