Tuvaluans on Wikieducator

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Leigh Blackall

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Nov 26, 2008, 8:26:35 PM11/26/08
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Hello everyone.

Recently a group of Tuvaluans created user pages and are slowly developing confidence with using the Wiki. If you have time, it would be great to see messages from the wider community on the workshop page's discussion area: http://www.wikieducator.org/Tuvalu/L4C_Workshop

Regards
Leigh

--
--
Leigh Blackall
+64(0)21736539
skype - leigh_blackall
SL - Leroy Goalpost
http://learnonline.wordpress.com
http://www.wikieducator.org/User:Leighblackall

Wayne

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Nov 26, 2008, 9:29:20 PM11/26/08
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Hi Leigh

A very warm welcome to all the Tuvaluans who have joined the WE family.  Our friends in Tuvalu are very lucky to have a passionate educator like yourself supporting skills development in using wiki technology.  I suspect that this may well be the first time for publishing to the Internet for many of the participants --- that's an empowering achievement. You're helping to promote an international voice for the small island states.

Thanks for all your work and support in bringing this amazing technology to Tuvaluan educators. I'm off to post welcome messages on the individual talk pages!

Cheers
Wayne

NELLIE DEUTSCH

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Nov 27, 2008, 1:42:02 AM11/27/08
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Hi Leigh,
That's great! Thank you for sharing.
Warm wishes,
Nellie Deutsch
Doctoral Student
Educational Leadership
Curriculum and Instruction
http://www.wikieducator.org/EL4C15
http://www.wikieducator.org/User:Nelliemuller
skype:nelliedeutschmuller

valerie

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Nov 27, 2008, 5:41:32 PM11/27/08
to WikiEducator
Hi Leigh

Thanks for sharing.

I have been looking into something similar for a group of Turkish
women. The personal stories and learning interests are very similar to
those of the Tuvaluans. We will follow your work with considerable
interest.

Warmest regards
..Valerie

Nadia

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Nov 28, 2008, 10:39:16 AM11/28/08
to WikiEducator
Sorry to change the subject but can anyone help me advise a lady who
wants to get a computer for her 14 year old daughter in Kandy, Sri
Lanka.
I saw some 100 dollar ones a wikimania but don't know how and where
they are available.
Sincerely,
Nadia

Peter

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Nov 28, 2008, 11:19:07 AM11/28/08
to WikiEducator
Leigh, amazing work, nice photos! time to get a hair cut <big huge
smile>

Peter

On Nov 26, 5:26 pm, "Leigh Blackall" <leighblack...@gmail.com> wrote:

Leigh Blackall

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Nov 28, 2008, 8:20:53 PM11/28/08
to wikied...@googlegroups.com
Yes, haircut needed badly! :)

Regarding laptops..

We have been using the OLPCs ($100 laptops) and I think they are not good.

The next choice I would go for is the Asus Eee PC - selling for US$300-400

NELLIE DEUTSCH

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Nov 29, 2008, 1:09:30 AM11/29/08
to wikied...@googlegroups.com
Leigh,
I went into your user page to check and see why you need a haircut and found the attached as your new page: http://www.wikieducator.org/User:Leighblackall


Warm wishes,
Nellie Deutsch
Doctoral Student
Educational Leadership
Curriculum and Instruction
http://www.wikieducator.org/EL4C15
http://www.wikieducator.org/User:Nelliemuller
skype:nelliedeutschmuller


Leigh-new-page.gif

valerie

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Nov 29, 2008, 10:40:37 AM11/29/08
to WikiEducator
Hi Leigh

What problems are you having with OLPC? How were you using them?

I really want to love them, but I know they are not appropriate for
many situations. It would be helpful if there was better information
about where they are very beneficial, and where they aren't.

Big ads on US TV promoting the current Give One, Get One program that
is being offered through Amazon. After last year's G1G1 program, there
were lots of XOs available on ebay fetching +$300 US - I know, that's
how I got one. I'm afraid that the OLPCs are mis-represented. This
will ultimately hurt the program which does have great benefits in the
right circumstances.

Based on your experience, what are the questions that should be asked
to determine if the OLPC would be appropriate for a particular
situation?

Leigh Blackall

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Nov 30, 2008, 8:22:57 PM11/30/08
to wikied...@googlegroups.com
Hi Valerie,

Glad you asked, as I'm in the process of posting to my blog a text that basically outlines my over all disappointment with them. I was guilty of being charmed by their innovations, but that has always been from the perspective of what the OLPC could offer computing generally, particularly in wealthy economies. Clearly the OLPC sparked such things as the Asus Eee PC and a new awareness of free software, but the innovations in the OLPC will damage their effectiveness in poorer economies. Here's my text that I'm about to post to the blog (links not in yet):

My experience with OLPC in Tuvalu.

 

In Tuvalu I experienced my first OLPC reality test. I've touched them before, drooled over them at an expensive conference in Wellington while I stuffed my face with atlantic salmon and caviar orderves one morning... but up until now, I had never had the opportunity to see or use them in the context they were designed for. What follows are my notes on such an opportunity, using brand new OLPCs in a wiki training workshop for teachers in Tuvalu.

 

The setting:

 

The workshops I've been running here are for the Tuvalu Ministry of Education. They have me here for a Wikieducator initiative called Learning for Content (L4C). Many primary and secondary teachers from around the Islands of Tuvalu are here, as well as people from non government organisations and service areas in Tuvalu. The organisers and I thought it would be a good idea to run the session on the new OLPCs, and expose the teachers to what was coming to their students.

 

We are working in a large room on the second floor of the Government building, over looking the Funafuti atol. It is very hot in that room all day, and I try to keep prime position in front of the only fan. There is a wireless network set up froma main satellite connection and distributed through a Linxis wireless router situated in the room with us. The OLPCs were fresh out of the box and the IT person had only had the afternoon before to familiarise herself with them.

 

The OLPC experience:

 

The first thing I noticed (but already knew about) was the radically different operating system interface is. It doesn't look anything like any Linux distribution I have used before and it certainly looks nothing like any Windows or Mac OS. This operating system is out on its own again, a 4th operating system if you will, and while I at first was mighty impressed by it back in Wellington while eating caviar, I have serious reservations about it here in Tuvalu...

 

The next thing I noticed was the browser. At first glance it looks a little like Google's Chrome, but less than 3 clicks around you soon realise that its not of course. I couldn't for the life of me work out how to get new browser tabs happening, and I suspect that tabbed browsing is not possible! The apparent absence of such an important browser feature had me seeing doubts about the approaching workshop. If I couldn't even work out the browser, let alone the operating system, how the hell was I going to run a workshop for 40 odd people through it over the next 6 days?

 

Its funny, it only takes one perculiarity of a thing – compared to what we're used to of course, and we start to look out for more and see only the faults. I started to notice the differences a lot more from this point on, not in terms of innovation – though on reflection I can see many aspects of the software that could be seen as innovative, but more in terms of usability and limitations to what we needed to be doing.

 

I couldn't work out how to save and recover files from a USB. Admittedly I was by now very short on time and didn't look long or hard for it, but I was continuously thrown off by new icons I hadn't seen before, trying to work out what signified what and where, and how long a thing took to initiate, how to quit a thing, or how to swap windows. As with most things that require patience, I had to walk away from this one and get the classroom ready for a workshop I was now dreading.

 

Soon we had somewhere near 20 people in the room for day 1. The nice little charm of the OLPCs turning on started filling the room.. great, everyone found the on button. The IT lady was running around connecting everyone to the wireless network, but each computer was taking a dreadfully long time to connect, often hanging once the access key was entered, or just dropping the connection soon after it found it. I needed a projector to demonstrate things in the workshop, but couldn't plug an OLPC into the projector. The only other device on hand was a standard 17 inch laptop with Windows Vista on it :(

 

I filled some time raving about the OLPCs and how much I was stoked to be in a room full of them, and how they were the thing that inspired Asus and others to start putting out great little things like the Asus Eee PC. Eventually we had enough OLPCs connected to proceed, and we packed up the 3 or 4 that just didn't connect or misteriously turned themselves off after a few seconds.

 

After I had giving a little show and tell on the projector it was now a job of going around and showing each person how to find and start the OLPC browser and bring up the wikieducator website.

 

I'd say about 1/3 of the group had used computers before, and all of those people would have used a Windows operating system. While their intuition seemed to get them at least as far as I had before the workshop, that intuition wasn't any use beyond that point. We were into a case of the blind leading the blind. No one worked out how to get tabbed browsing going, one guy managed to get a Logitec wireless mouse working (highly recommended btw!), and no one worked out how to save and recover files from a USB. Those who had not used comuters much before were not at much of a disadvantage to the rest of us. We were all using computers for the first time it seemed, and so I couldn't rely on anyone to help others.

 

And here is my point. It would seem that the designers behind the OLPCs have been so carried away with their design innovation that they lost sight of something critical. That the people o the ground who are going to hand out and help administer these things are likely people who have at least some experience with computers. And like it or not, that experience will have been based on a Windows or Linux operating system, and probably only in as much as the graphic user interfaces would offer. While I can appreciate innovation and have a high tollerance threshold for new ideas, the differences between the OLPC and any other interface re so great that it simply left me and anyone else who might have been able to assist feeling useless and unable to help, and that will be the OLPCs undoing when they hit the ground they were designed to be used on.

 

To be honest, I would sooner hand out $400 Asus Eees, just because they don't need an instruction manual like the OLPCs do. EeePCs run on a distribution of Linux too, but what the developers of their operating system got right was that they understood how much they could rely on user intuition, in fact i would say that this was a primary element in their design brief. If you've never used a computer before, you'll be able to work out the Asus EeePC. If you have used Windows, Mac or and Linux, you'll know how to work out an Asus EeePC. What's more! If your first computer is an Asus EeePC you will develop computing intuition useful for using Windows, Mac or Linux (which you will inevitably use if your job involves computing in some way, or you start inheriting second hand computers via the electronic waste management centre.

 

The workshop still worked out OK. People got by on the OLPCs and tollerated the frustrations of dropped connection, no right click options, difficult touch pads, overly small scroll bars, and annoying uninformative browser address bars. We got by, but not without a few complaints. We put up with the limitations, and odd perculiarities that I certainly wouldn't call innovations and were able to use the OLPCs for accessing and editing pages on Wikieducator.

 

I am still mightily impressed with the obvious innovations in the OLPCs. Things like keeping most of the hardware in the screen and so elevating the main vulnerability out of splash zones of spilt drink. (A fan, cranking full tilt around the room WILL sooner or later spill a half empty plastic cup of water across the desk or floor). And I do actually like the keyboard configuration, even without a forward delete key.

 

But I think it was a terrible mistake to go too far into new territory with the operating system. There are clear advantages to leveraging from experienced people's computing intuition, but the OLPCs have decided to go way outside that relm and force everyone to learn a whole new metaphore, essentually plonking a 4th operating system on the table. Yes there are innovations in some of that software and interface design (for techno and edu geeks), OLPC has shot themselves in the foot. The softare innovation would have been better deployed on some other laptop project that wasn't so reliant on mass take up, or wasn't concerned with things like relavence and transferability of skills. The similarities between Windows, Linux and Apple are close enough for an intuitive person to migrate between the 3. But the OLPC is out on its own and too soon, so I think this is a terrible mistake... I wonder if they'll work OK with Ubuntu or Asus Xandros on them?

 

Oh, and by the end of day 2, the heat and humidity seemed to have gotten the better of at least one of the OLPCs.. its touch pad was lifting and seemed to have freed itself from its adhesive. I can't imagine how they'll be a few months from now, with the salty, humid air all around us... perhaps OLPCs are designed to withstand that too?

 

Conclusion:

 

Dispite all that I've said here, I still love the OLPC - the ideas in it at least. Like I said originally, back in 2005 – OLPCs have more to offer people in the wealthy economies than they do in poorer ones. They have forced computer designers to rethink their comodities and release cheap, strong, portable and better designed computers at more accessible price ranges. They have lead us to consider the savings possible through the use of free software (at last). And they have indicated to us that it could be possible to develop very cheap computers and so conceivable that everyone have one (if we still think that to be advantagious). But from my experience in Tuvalu, the OLPCs got the software wrong for their mission. The Asus EeePC (arguably a result of the OLPC initiative) got it right, but ironicly don't share the OLPC mission.

 

To the Tuvaluans I would suggest selling the OLPCs on eBay and fetch the $300 you could get from collectors in the United States and Kingdom, then use that money to buy Asus EeePC or similar. That is if you can't get another operating system working on the OLPCs.

 

List of things wrong with OLPCs Operating System:

 

  1. The connectivity metaphore on start up is inappropriate for people in areas where connectivity is a long way away. The OLPC is more useful to people in Tuvalu as a device for games, media and typing before it is for connecting to the Internet, so the connectivity interface should not be the main focus at start up.

 

  1. That said, we were using wireless connectivity in the Government building, but the OLPCs holding that connection was flakey. We had no trouble keeping a connection to the network on the Windows machines, but the OLPCs kept dropping. Placing a Wireless modem in the room with us seemed to help the situation. Another problem relating to connectivity was the amount of time some of the OLPCs took to connect. Some didn't at all. All of them need clearer indication of progress in connecting.

 

  1. The pop up menu for the operating system is very frustrating and seems to be affected by processing. Sometimes it is slow to initiate and even slower to dissapear. I think its better to use the key on the keyboard instead, and turn off the mouse over feature.

 

  1. Need better preloaders for the software. When we clicked an icon the software takes a while to load. Sometimes the loader dialog that says "starting" would take too long to appear. The icon does appear in the pie chart indicating active applications, perhaps something in that graphic could more effectively illustrate it as loading.

 

  1. The browser must have tabbed browsing! If I missed where it was, then it is too hard to find. There was no right click option on any of the OLPC we were using, and I don't know if there is meant to be. If the tabbed browsing relies on a right click then we were thwarted. Also, I think the browser needs work on its layout and features. The address bar takes up too much room and for some unkown reason wants to display the page name instead of the URL. The URL is for more useful in terms of information, and having to click into the address bar just to check the URL is just silly. The scroll bars are too small, and especially noticable when managing a website with a scrolling window inside it, like the edit view of a wiki. We didn't try any ajax, java or flash – but I hope they are good to go!

 

  1. I couldn't work out how to manage files. I could download PDFs ok, but it was a bit of a fumble to display them, and I have no idea how to save them. I tried plugging in a USB but as far as I could tell, no new icon appeared offering me access, and nowhere in the browser of the PDF display could I find how to save the file to the USB.

 

  1. I wonder about the touch pad. I am used to using them and use the one on this Asus all the time, but seeing as the OLPCs are so ready to think outside the square, lets rethink the touch pad. If you didn't have the touch pad, you could have so much more room for keys! Apart from supplying a small mouse (which is infinately more easy to use) I wonder if the game controllers in the screen could substitute a mouse, as could smart use of the tab key. That little blue dial that IBM used in the middle of their keyboard had potential I thought.

 

  1. I reckon the operting systemm and software should completely change, and I'd suggest something like what Asus has done. I can certainly appreciate the innovations that I've found so far, but the extreme difference between the OLPC and other OS is too great, and will affect the usefulness of the laptops... think of it like Vista.. you are causing stress and lock in by being so different. The OLPC is not the place to experiment if your primary objective is to offer people in poorer econimies to access and exploit opportunities. Of course there is the new opportunity of servicing and adminstering the OLPCs themselves, but that's hardly sustainable and I hope it wasn't planned for!

Leigh Blackall

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Nov 30, 2008, 8:53:56 PM11/30/08
to wikied...@googlegroups.com

Leigh Blackall

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Nov 30, 2008, 8:57:18 PM11/30/08
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Yes, that's right thanks Nellie. I am using my User page to demonstrate a few things. All will be normal there once I am out of the tropics!

Wong Leo

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Nov 30, 2008, 8:58:15 PM11/30/08
to wikied...@googlegroups.com
again Leigh , I am doing what I can do ,

I am going to translate your post into Chinese and put it in  yeeyan website agian ,

if you don't mind , would you please post here the whole article coz I canot get access to your blog here in China
many thanks and you are always my inspirtation !!!

2008/12/1 Leigh Blackall <leighb...@gmail.com>
On Sun, Nov 30, 2008 at 5:22 PM, Leigh Blackall <leighb...@gmail.com> wrote:
Hi Valerie,

Glad you asked, as I'm in the process of posting to my blog a text that basically outlines my over all disappointment with them. I was guilty of being charmed by their innovations, but that has always been from the perspective of what the OLPC could offer computing generally, particularly in wealthy economies. Clearly the OLPC sparked such things as the Asus Eee PC and a new awareness of free software, but the innovations in the OLPC will damage their effectiveness in poorer economies. Here's my text that I'm about to post to the blog (links not in yet):

My experience with OLPC in Tuvalu.

 

In Tuvalu I experienced my first OLPC reality test. I've touched them before, drooled over them at an expensive conference in Wellington while I stuffed my face with atlantic salmon and caviar orderves one morning... but up until now, I had never had the opportunity to see or use them in the context they were designed for. What follows are my notes on such an opportunity, using brand new OLPCs in a wiki training workshop for teachers in Tuvalu.

 

The setting:

 

The workshops I've been running here are for the Tuvalu Ministry of Education. They have me here for a Wikieducator initiative called Learning for Content (L4C). Many primary and secondary teachers from around the Islands of Tuvalu are here, as well as people from non government organisations and service areas in Tuvalu. The organisers and I thought it would be a good idea to run the session on the new OLPCs, and expose the teachers to what was coming to their students.

 

We are working in a large room on the second floor of the Government building, over looking the Funafuti atol. It is very hot in that room all day, and I try to keep prime position in front of the only fan. There is a wireless network set up froma main satellite connection and distributed through a Linxis wireless router situated in the room with us. The OLPCs were fresh out of the box and the IT person had only had the afternoon before to familiarise herself with them.

 

The OLPC experience:

 

The first thing I noticed (but already knew about) was the radically different operating system interface is. It doesn't look anything like any Linux distribution I have used before and it certainly looks nothing like any Windows or Mac OS. This operating system is out on its own again, a 4th operating system if you will, and while I at first was mighty impressed by it back in Wellington while eating caviar, I have serious reservations about it here in Tuvalu...

 

The next thing I noticed was the browser. At first glance it looks a little like Google's Chrome, but less than 3 clicks around you soon realise that its not of course. I couldn't for the life of me work out how to get new browser tabs happening, and I suspect that tabbed browsing is not possible! The apparent absence of such an important browser feature had me seeing doubts about the approaching workshop. If I couldn't even work out the browser, let alone the operating system, how the hell was I going to run a workshop for 40 odd people through it over the next 6 days?

 

Its funny, it only takes one perculiarity of a thing - compared to what we're used to of course, and we start to look out for more and see only the faults. I started to notice the differences a lot more from this point on, not in terms of innovation - though on reflection I can see many aspects of the software that could be seen as innovative, but more in terms of usability and limitations to what we needed to be doing.

 

I couldn't work out how to save and recover files from a USB. Admittedly I was by now very short on time and didn't look long or hard for it, but I was continuously thrown off by new icons I hadn't seen before, trying to work out what signified what and where, and how long a thing took to initiate, how to quit a thing, or how to swap windows. As with most things that require patience, I had to walk away from this one and get the classroom ready for a workshop I was now dreading.

 

Soon we had somewhere near 20 people in the room for day 1. The nice little charm of the OLPCs turning on started filling the room.. great, everyone found the on button. The IT lady was running around connecting everyone to the wireless network, but each computer was taking a dreadfully long time to connect, often hanging once the access key was entered, or just dropping the connection soon after it found it. I needed a projector to demonstrate things in the workshop, but couldn't plug an OLPC into the projector. The only other device on hand was a standard 17 inch laptop with Windows Vista on it :(

 

I filled some time raving about the OLPCs and how much I was stoked to be in a room full of them, and how they were the thing that inspired Asus and others to start putting out great little things like the Asus Eee PC. Eventually we had enough OLPCs connected to proceed, and we packed up the 3 or 4 that just didn't connect or misteriously turned themselves off after a few seconds.

 

After I had giving a little show and tell on the projector it was now a job of going around and showing each person how to find and start the OLPC browser and bring up the wikieducator website.

 

I'd say about 1/3 of the group had used computers before, and all of those people would have used a Windows operating system. While their intuition seemed to get them at least as far as I had before the workshop, that intuition wasn't any use beyond that point. We were into a case of the blind leading the blind. No one worked out how to get tabbed browsing going, one guy managed to get a Logitec wireless mouse working (highly recommended btw!), and no one worked out how to save and recover files from a USB. Those who had not used comuters much before were not at much of a disadvantage to the rest of us. We were all using computers for the first time it seemed, and so I couldn't rely on anyone to help others.

 

And here is my point. It would seem that the designers behind the OLPCs have been so carried away with their design innovation that they lost sight of something critical. That the people o the ground who are going to hand out and help administer these things are likely people who have at least some experience with computers. And like it or not, that experience will have been based on a Windows or Linux operating system, and probably only in as much as the graphic user interfaces would offer. While I can appreciate innovation and have a high tollerance threshold for new ideas, the differences between the OLPC and any other interface re so great that it simply left me and anyone else who might have been able to assist feeling useless and unable to help, and that will be the OLPCs undoing when they hit the ground they were designed to be used on.

 

To be honest, I would sooner hand out $400 Asus Eees, just because they don't need an instruction manual like the OLPCs do. EeePCs run on a distribution of Linux too, but what the developers of their operating system got right was that they understood how much they could rely on user intuition, in fact i would say that this was a primary element in their design brief. If you've never used a computer before, you'll be able to work out the Asus EeePC. If you have used Windows, Mac or and Linux, you'll know how to work out an Asus EeePC. What's more! If your first computer is an Asus EeePC you will develop computing intuition useful for using Windows, Mac or Linux (which you will inevitably use if your job involves computing in some way, or you start inheriting second hand computers via the electronic waste management centre.

 

The workshop still worked out OK. People got by on the OLPCs and tollerated the frustrations of dropped connection, no right click options, difficult touch pads, overly small scroll bars, and annoying uninformative browser address bars. We got by, but not without a few complaints. We put up with the limitations, and odd perculiarities that I certainly wouldn't call innovations and were able to use the OLPCs for accessing and editing pages on Wikieducator.

 

I am still mightily impressed with the obvious innovations in the OLPCs. Things like keeping most of the hardware in the screen and so elevating the main vulnerability out of splash zones of spilt drink. (A fan, cranking full tilt around the room WILL sooner or later spill a half empty plastic cup of water across the desk or floor). And I do actually like the keyboard configuration, even without a forward delete key.

 

But I think it was a terrible mistake to go too far into new territory with the operating system. There are clear advantages to leveraging from experienced people's computing intuition, but the OLPCs have decided to go way outside that relm and force everyone to learn a whole new metaphore, essentually plonking a 4th operating system on the table. Yes there are innovations in some of that software and interface design (for techno and edu geeks), OLPC has shot themselves in the foot. The softare innovation would have been better deployed on some other laptop project that wasn't so reliant on mass take up, or wasn't concerned with things like relavence and transferability of skills. The similarities between Windows, Linux and Apple are close enough for an intuitive person to migrate between the 3. But the OLPC is out on its own and too soon, so I think this is a terrible mistake... I wonder if they'll work OK with Ubuntu or Asus Xandros on them?

 

Oh, and by the end of day 2, the heat and humidity seemed to have gotten the better of at least one of the OLPCs.. its touch pad was lifting and seemed to have freed itself from its adhesive. I can't imagine how they'll be a few months from now, with the salty, humid air all around us... perhaps OLPCs are designed to withstand that too?

 

Conclusion:

 

Dispite all that I've said here, I still love the OLPC - the ideas in it at least. Like I said originally, back in 2005 - OLPCs have more to offer people in the wealthy economies than they do in poorer ones. They have forced computer designers to rethink their comodities and release cheap, strong, portable and better designed computers at more accessible price ranges. They have lead us to consider the savings possible through the use of free software (at last). And they have indicated to us that it could be possible to develop very cheap computers and so conceivable that everyone have one (if we still think that to be advantagious). But from my experience in Tuvalu, the OLPCs got the software wrong for their mission. The Asus EeePC (arguably a result of the OLPC initiative) got it right, but ironicly don't share the OLPC mission.

 

To the Tuvaluans I would suggest selling the OLPCs on eBay and fetch the $300 you could get from collectors in the United States and Kingdom, then use that money to buy Asus EeePC or similar. That is if you can't get another operating system working on the OLPCs.

 

List of things wrong with OLPCs Operating System:

 

  1. The connectivity metaphore on start up is inappropriate for people in areas where connectivity is a long way away. The OLPC is more useful to people in Tuvalu as a device for games, media and typing before it is for connecting to the Internet, so the connectivity interface should not be the main focus at start up.

 

  1. That said, we were using wireless connectivity in the Government building, but the OLPCs holding that connection was flakey. We had no trouble keeping a connection to the network on the Windows machines, but the OLPCs kept dropping. Placing a Wireless modem in the room with us seemed to help the situation. Another problem relating to connectivity was the amount of time some of the OLPCs took to connect. Some didn't at all. All of them need clearer indication of progress in connecting.

 

  1. The pop up menu for the operating system is very frustrating and seems to be affected by processing. Sometimes it is slow to initiate and even slower to dissapear. I think its better to use the key on the keyboard instead, and turn off the mouse over feature.

 

  1. Need better preloaders for the software. When we clicked an icon the software takes a while to load. Sometimes the loader dialog that says "starting" would take too long to appear. The icon does appear in the pie chart indicating active applications, perhaps something in that graphic could more effectively illustrate it as loading.

 

  1. The browser must have tabbed browsing! If I missed where it was, then it is too hard to find. There was no right click option on any of the OLPC we were using, and I don't know if there is meant to be. If the tabbed browsing relies on a right click then we were thwarted. Also, I think the browser needs work on its layout and features. The address bar takes up too much room and for some unkown reason wants to display the page name instead of the URL. The URL is for more useful in terms of information, and having to click into the address bar just to check the URL is just silly. The scroll bars are too small, and especially noticable when managing a website with a scrolling window inside it, like the edit view of a wiki. We didn't try any ajax, java or flash - but I hope they are good to go!



--
Leo Wong
http://wikieducator.org/user:leolaoshi

Jim Tittsler

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Nov 30, 2008, 11:59:26 PM11/30/08
to wikied...@googlegroups.com
On Mon, Dec 1, 2008 at 14:22, Leigh Blackall <leighb...@gmail.com> wrote:
> The next thing I noticed was the browser. At first glance it looks a little
> like Google's Chrome, but less than 3 clicks around you soon realise that
> its not of course. I couldn't for the life of me work out how to get new
> browser tabs happening, and I suspect that tabbed browsing is not possible!

Although since it *is* Linux, you can install Firefox or Opera if you must.

I use the bookmark tray on mine as an alternative to tabs... but it
admittedly is not as fast.

> I couldn't work out how to save and recover files from a USB. Admittedly I
> was by now very short on time and didn't look long or hard for it, but I was
> continuously thrown off by new icons I hadn't seen before, trying to work
> out what signified what and where, and how long a thing took to initiate,
> how to quit a thing, or how to swap windows. As with most things that
> require patience, I had to walk away from this one and get the classroom
> ready for a workshop I was now dreading.

I presume you have noticed by now that the added devices (including
memory cards inserted in the slot in the XO) appear in the tray at the
bottom of the Journal activity. You can copy things by drag-and-drop
from the Journal's list display onto the icon for the device.

> Soon we had somewhere near 20 people in the room for day 1. The nice little
> charm of the OLPCs turning on started filling the room.. great, everyone
> found the on button. The IT lady was running around connecting everyone to
> the wireless network, but each computer was taking a dreadfully long time to
> connect, often hanging once the access key was entered, or just dropping the
> connection soon after it found it.

If you haven't updated the software on your XO, I highly recommend it.
The networking is considerably more robust now than it was on initial
release about a year ago.

> I needed a projector to demonstrate
> things in the workshop, but couldn't plug an OLPC into the projector. The
> only other device on hand was a standard 17 inch laptop with Windows Vista
> on it :(

Actually... one of the coolest things about the XO Browse activity
(and most other activities for that matter) is how you can "share" the
experience with other users in your "neighborhood."

> To be honest, I would sooner hand out $400 Asus Eees, just because they
> don't need an instruction manual like the OLPCs do. EeePCs run on a
> distribution of Linux too, but what the developers of their operating system
> got right was that they understood how much they could rely on user
> intuition, in fact i would say that this was a primary element in their
> design brief.

The OLPC project and Sugar developers seem to have some documentation
that the interface appears intuitive for their target demographic.
But user interfaces tend to be a matter of choice. I doubt you'd
recognize my choice of Window manager on my desktop as "Linux" either.
:-)

I've played a bit with the EeePC, and prefer the OLPC hardware...
especially since the screen is so much better (especially in its
reflective mode).

I think some of your complaints can be summed up as "this user
interface doesn't match my intuition and I was trying to explore and
learn it on a very short deadline."

NELLIE DEUTSCH

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Dec 1, 2008, 8:12:49 AM12/1/08
to wikied...@googlegroups.com
Thanks for the update, Leigh. You had me worried there for a while.
Warm wishes,
Nellie Deutsch
Doctoral Student
Educational Leadership
Curriculum and Instruction
http://www.wikieducator.org/EL4C15
http://www.wikieducator.org/User:Nelliemuller
skype:nelliedeutschmuller


valerie

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Dec 1, 2008, 9:56:03 AM12/1/08
to WikiEducator
When I first started looking into OLPCs, there was a one page guide
for people who had used other computers. It addressed lots of these
issues and explained work arounds or alternatives. It had a list of
"fun" activities that would help orient an experienced computer user
to XO behaviors.

By the time I got an XO, the page was gone - someone decided that this
was inappropriate. Apparently there were some mistakes or
misunderstandings that were contained in the document. If you had an
XO you should stumble around and learn to love it.

Too bad. I think the OLPC folks would get more support by helping PC
users be successful and understand what trade offs have been made and
why as well as translating PC into XO. There are lots of us who would
like to be more positive, but the learning curve is just too steep
without some assistance. With all our PC baggage, it is hard to get to
a starting point to explore the real power and innovations. There are
so many great things the little green machine can do.

A mouse and a USB memory stick are invaluable for us differently-abled
computer users. I had to install Opera to get around the
authentication certificate issue to access Moodle on one of the
school's servers. I loved the bright, clear screen. It was a huge hit
going through security in airports. And it certainly made a fashion
statement, especially if there were little kids around.

If anyone has a copy of the OLPC guide for PC users, that would be a
great place to start. Making that correct and current would help
enormously.

..Valerie


On Nov 30, 8:59 pm, "Jim Tittsler" <jtitts...@gmail.com> wrote:
> On Mon, Dec 1, 2008 at 14:22, Leigh Blackall <leighblack...@gmail.com> wrote:
> > The next thing I noticed was the browser. At first glance it looks a little
> > like Google's Chrome, but less than 3 clicks around you soon realise that
...

Leigh Blackall

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Dec 2, 2008, 1:01:44 AM12/2/08
to wikied...@googlegroups.com
Thanks for the pointers Jim.

Actually, I never did work it out... nor did 40 others!

I'm fending off attacks on my blog... I knew I'd hit a nerve with my post. I can see how many people will dismiss my post as "couldn't get past my own preferences", but that ignores the experience of the 40 others I spoke for, 10 of whom had never used a computer before. I watched a few people look at my Asus and could see their intuition working on it better than on the OLPCs.

Leo, you got the text in this email thread right?

David Leeming

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Dec 2, 2008, 2:05:53 AM12/2/08
to wikied...@googlegroups.com, Ian Thomson

Hi all,

 

We have to understand that the XO is not an office computer and to compare it with an EEE PC is comparing chalk and cheese.

 

The XO is a learning tool for very young children, and a teaching tool for their teachers. The mesh networking, with almost every activity on the laptops designed to collaborate, alone is something that puts it quite apart from the EEE PC.  However, I believe the OLPC is not about merely the XO but is about a highly scale-able approach to applying ICT to improve basic education – about starting as many children off on a good start to a life of learning. The activities (and even the sharing function) might at some stage be portable to another device like the EEE PC (but it would be a very poor performer). OLPC wouldn’t mind, as long as it works. That’s not the point. In ten years if we are all still here, we will see this differently – a low-cost specially designed ICT learning tool for all children will be just something we take for granted.

 

It would be absurd to imagine giving windows (or standard Linux distros with office software) laptops to 100  eight-year olds and their teachers, as we did in PNG in June, and then coming back after 5 months and finding the results that I did a couple of weeks ago (copied below). I found teachers actively using the laptops , the children obviously highly motivated and engaged with learning both in and out of class. Some pictures at http://wiki.laptop.org/go/OLPC_Oceania (see the PNG page, and also the Solomon Islands page which has some Youtube videos including of a teacher using the laptop in a grade 1 lesson).

 

I believe it was a mistake to believe that you could have got any value from an unguided introduction to the OLPC for the Tuvalu teachers, indeed it seems to have been a misguided approach as the principles of OLPC and the mode of operation were clearly not understood. I am the one who will be implementing OLPC trials in Tuvalu early next year but I am confident I can steer this in the right direction.

 

I have also been conducting Wikieducator L4C workshops in the Pacific and it seems to me that the OLPC principles are highly in tune with the world of open educational resources, and the need to create new ways to empower Pacific educators to pool together regionally relevant content and methods.

 

The below is some feedback copied from a report – yet to be posted on the OLPC Oceania wiki. Sorry if this makes it quite a long posting. If anyone wishes, I am happy to provide some more information, for instance on how we see the educational impacts, challenges and potential for Wikieducator linkage (in fact, we have already been using the IMS content export facility to download HTML content for the school servers  that are also installed in the host schools).  We have started OLPC projects in several countries, including Solomon Islands where I am based. But the below refers to PNG as I have just returned from there.

 

FEEDBACK FROM THE TRIALS PROJECTS IN PNG

This feedback is in no way a substitute for a proper evaluation. SPC has plans for these, wishing to work with appropriate agencies and institutions. Part of the strategy for the trials is to work with Departments of Education to develop objective frameworks which can be measured. In PNG, trials were started in June at Gaire and Dreikikir. Only grade 3 was involved in each school owing to availability of laptops at that time. However, both sites have been assessed and arrangements made to complete both schools so that all teachers and students will receive laptops, by the end of the year. The implementation will involve full training for teachers and introduction of support and monitoring arrangements. However, there are some observations that can be made following the five months since the trials were started in June 2008. The SPC advisor David Leeming visited both schools in November 2008 accompanied by representatives from the Department.  Teachers were asked to give feedback (reported below more or less in their own words).

 

FEEDBACK ON DREIKIKIR (http://wiki.laptop.org/go/OLPC_Papua_New_Guinea and http://www.olpc.org.pg)

Feedback from teachers

•             Enormous enthusiasm. They really see the value of the programme and the head teacher is requesting the additional XOs immediately.

•             Motivation of grade 3s has soared, teachers too. Demand for transfers in to Dreikikir are increasing, and two teachers who have been promoted and have to transfer out were almost in tears as the prospect of leaving

•             They have been amazed by the self learning capacity, with learning continuing out of class, and obvious skills and knowledge of the grade 3s. The kids gave a demo and they were bursting with confidence, quite unlike their shy former selves during training in June.

•             They have been using the XOs in lessons on a regular basis. Both guided and unguided. Examples, regular use of Record in science to investigate natural objects, calculate, write, speak.

•             The teachers say that they totally accept and endorse the “agent of change” characteristic of OLPC, in terms of teaching practices. It is extremely timely as the same intended changes (active learning etc) are part of the current reform process. The XOs fit with that perfectly.

•             The teachers report that the grade 3s are noticeably improved in terms of engagement in learning and motivated in and out of class. All children are now more included with fewer children being left out.

•             Head Teacher Peter Kantipil did a test with his grade 3 class, giving them a grade 4 task. When evaluated they came out better than the grade 4s. They think this is directly due to their improved learning since June. (Note, a DWU researcher is interested in doing a 2-year study on IQ of students using XOs)

•             On the other hand, the other grades are demoralised by not having XOs. This is a real negative impact, and adds urgency to saturate the full school.

•             The teachers used the laptops to take photos to add to their attainment certificates in colour (each child has one end of year)

•             Community also very positive. During the demo, the kids showed me how they have filmed music DVDs so they can play them on their XOs at home, also one showed me an official letter that his Dad had written using the XO, so its useful at home. But the self learning is well noted by the parents

•             Hardware: only 1 laptop u/s (but they will try to reflash it). One has no audio. Others all look pretty well looked after.

•             The main issue – power – is solved.  They have a robust work around solution, and we can make a more elegant one later.

FEEDBACK FROM GAIRE

•             The children love the laptops, and have become experts in the eyes of the teachers

•             The teachers are extremely positive and don’t feel any way imposed upon

•             The main observation is the power of the laptops in helping the children to learn and discover things, beyond the school. They have become experts

•             One example, they have already discovered creating games with “Memorise”

•             The children have become very busy in the classroom – i.e. very engaged in what they are doing

•             They are very impressed with the creativity of some of the students, for instance the standard of drawings using Paint is quite out of the league of the adults!

•             The G3 teachers use the laptops quite a lot in class, both guided and unguided. They can allow the students quite a lot of freedom to use activities to tackle various tasks.

•             One teacher listed some guided uses:

o             Write

o             Calculate

o             Tamtam

o             Paint

o             Chat (they found it is quite useful in class)

•             They did a school survey that involved creating music with the laptops

•             The deputy head teacher has a G3 child, and he has made a lot of positive observations. He could also speak as a parent. He gave his child a question on science, and the child researched the answer on the Internet! This is a grade 3, 8 year old.

•             Teachers have been using/borrowing laptops to research material for their lessons, as well as downloading materials and sending emails.

•             The children line up outside the RICS and use the Internet quite often

•             This is evidence of the added value of the RICS

•             As with Dreikikir, the ones without laptops have been a bit demoralised. One teacher very eloquently explained that until the whole school was saturated, judgement on the laptops is unbalanced.

•             Teachers were very aware and supportive of the need to monitor and evaluate, and to involve the Province in this task

•             Two laptops of the 53 had problems, one has half the screen distorted (horizontal lines) and one has the dead battery syndrome. We managed to get the battery charging again although it is only very slowly taking up charge.

•             They could not think of any negative impacts. 

 

We have also been seeing how the project can impact on children with disabilities: in a recent post to PICISOC list I wrote this:

 

I need to explain that, to scale up an OLPC programme in most of the countries in the region, governments will require partnerships with a variety of NGOs and champions. In PNG this is happening. One of the major partners is Divine Word University, and they now have already a trained team to work on training and implementation, and their St. Benedict's campus in Wewak have even introduced an OLPC component, with certification, into their teacher training programme, thanks to the vision of the Dean, Dr Alfred Tivinarlik.

 

When DWU conducted teacher training for 87 teachers from schools in the area at St. Benedicts in October, they invited people from Callan Services, an international NGO that has centres around PNG helping people including children overcome disabilities. Our "man from OLPC", Professor Barry Vercoe has also visited them previously. Some teachers from Callan Services in Wewak attended the DWU training and immediately saw the potential. I have video taken by Alfred, showing them using the laptops to create visual resources for teaching sign language - on the spot! So they are definitely championing that aspect of the wide potential of OLPC. They also have a centre in Kiunga, where I visited schools that Lawrence Stephens of PNG Sustainable Development plans to start OLPC projects in their areas of interest, and we briefed them - possibly they can become part of a hub for Western Province. PNGSDP plans to give them a class of laptops to develop those ideas.

 

We also visited the Mt Hagen area, as they hope to start a project "exhibition school" at Kisap near Banz, and visited Sister Rose at the nearby Shalom Centre (Banz), a centre for people diagnosed with HIV. We discussed how we might link that in some way to the street children Lawrence had pointed out to me at the market. I remembered that in the early days, we were primarily thinking of the children who did not attend school, but the focus has now become centred around schools - probably as it is easier to manage. But those children do not attend school - a visible side of the 50% who are not at school in the 6-17 age group. We discussed ways in which the residents at the centre might somehow use the laptops to share their stories, in some way working to involve children not at school. Not sure how that will develop but it shows the range of possibilities. I am increasingly seeing OLPC as a sort of transformational technology - not a phrase to use lightly - due to it's potential widespread impacts. First Secretary Seri Hegame rightly described the OLPC as a human development programme, not just education”.

 

Over the top? Well I have been through a learning process and I as some one who works in these schools and communities to make these things work, I am not keen to promote something that won’t. I hoipe I have a healthy sceptisism but I am see some remarkable results in a short time. It needs to be properaly evaluated, of course.

 

 

 

David Leeming

OLPC Coordinator, SPC and Technical Advisor, People First Network

Honiara, Solomon Islands

David Leeming

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Dec 2, 2008, 2:07:10 AM12/2/08
to wikied...@googlegroups.com
Hi Valerie, try http://laptop.org/manual

I am happy to reply to this thread as much as people wish!

David Leeming
OLPC Coordinator, SPC and Technical Advisor, People First Network
Honiara, Solomon Islands


-----Original Message-----
From: wikied...@googlegroups.com [mailto:wikied...@googlegroups.com]
On Behalf Of valerie
Sent: Tuesday, 2 December 2008 1:56 a.m.
To: WikiEducator
Subject: [WikiEducator] Re: One Laptop Per Child OLPC


valerie

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Dec 2, 2008, 10:52:02 AM12/2/08
to WikiEducator
Thanks David

http://laptop.org/manual - very nice. I hadn't seen that before

Did you ever see the page for interested personal computer users who
had access to an XO? I keep hoping to find a copy. I don't remember
enough to find it in waybackmachine.

I thought it was a great idea because it addressed so many of the
differences in a positive light and really helped bridge the
understanding and expectations gap.

..Valerie


On Dec 1, 11:07 pm, "David Leeming" <leem...@pipolfastaem.gov.sb>
wrote:
> Hi Valerie, tryhttp://laptop.org/manual 

Maria Droujkova

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Dec 2, 2008, 11:08:24 AM12/2/08
to wikied...@googlegroups.com
The issue that bothered me in your letter, Leigh, was: "he never ran through a totally new hardware and software system before conducting a 40-person workshop abroad." It takes significant resources just to organize a workshop of that sort, counting time of everybody involved, travel, space and so on. With 20/20 hindsight, it would seem kinda important to give yourself "more" (to be determined how much, exactly) time to learn hardware and software people will be using, before running a workshop of that scope. I stepped into similar traps before, so by no means do I want to sound "righteous" about it. Still, this is something that bothered me in your letter: at least part of your frustration was self-inflicted through that planning issue. If you looked at the system these people will actually be using, ahead of time, maybe a few weeks earlier, you would have time to have some of your questions answered. It may not have been a possibility, though...

Thinking way back to the hard time I had with figuring out the difference between the web address line and the web search line,
MariaD
naturalmath.com

Leigh Blackall

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Dec 2, 2008, 8:28:44 PM12/2/08
to wikied...@googlegroups.com
Yes, I see that point but think it totally unreasonable. For one, I have no access to an OLPC because I'm within a wealthy nation. As I said in my post, I have read about them, even seen them in use, even had a little test run a few times, but it wasn't until actually in location did reality hit. 40 people, 2/3rds of whom had computing experience,  4 of whom at least as much as me, 2 more so than me. Yet no one appreciated the OLPCs as far as I could tell.

Seems to me that the OLPC should ship with a highly paid technician and teacher trainer - just to make sure people agree with western teaching ideals and know how to use eWaste properly.

Maria Droujkova

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Dec 3, 2008, 3:23:30 PM12/3/08
to wikied...@googlegroups.com, lee...@pipolfastaem.gov.sb
I have two questions for David Leeming, based on this conversation. Thank you for offering to answer, David.

1. From Leigh's experience, it looks like OLPC laptops take an onsite specialist (or specific detailed instructions) to "get", even (or especially?) for people with computer background. One can't just start using them, given previous computer experiences. Is it so?

2. In your opinion, are these laptops appropriate tools for wiki work, as exemplified by that 40-person workshop, in the light of the fact "they aren't really computers"?

--
Cheers,
MariaD

Make math your own, to make your own math.

naturalmath.com: a sketch of a social math site
groups.google.com/group/naturalmath: a mailing list about math maker activities
groups.google.com/group/multiplicationstudy the family multiplication study

David Leeming

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Dec 3, 2008, 7:47:10 PM12/3/08
to Maria Droujkova, wikied...@googlegroups.com

Maria,

 

The real experts to reply to your question are the teachers and children already using the laptops. SPC has a current programme with currently over 1000 6-8 year olds and 100 primary school teachers mostly with absolutely no prior computing experience using the OLPC laptops and finding them excellent for teaching and learning in remote community schools. Several thousand more shortly to be deployed under the SPC trials programme.

 

It’s designed for young ages, 6 years upwards, and for teachers to introduce more child-centres approaches such as more active, discovery learning and “learning by doing”. The focus of the teacher training is on the curriculum integration, i.e. teaching ideas. Teachers with no experience normally start creating lesson resources, worksheets, local language readers, etc within 2-3 days of starting. Children become experts by themselves, as we discovered in PNG after 5 months. It does not need technology experts to use or introduce!

 

In PNG there are several educational institutions (i.e. DWU – St Benedicts and Don Bosco Tech Institute) already having introduced OLPC into their teacher training programmes.

 

Some other comments:

 

I believe the way it was introduced in the workshop was in good faith, and I am perhaps guilty of not providing some guidance on how the exercise should be done.

 

I am a teacher myself – I worked as a VSO volunteer in two very remote Solomons schools for 3 years in the 90s. One of them had no resources, no books, no equipment. I taught science using empty tin cans and stones from the beach. The laptop would have transformed how I could teach and the early lives of those children. One example alone – the laptop comes with content already installed, including a slice of the wikipedia providing an entire reference encyclopaedia on Chemistry – a marvellous resource for any science teacher and mark my words, the children too!. Add the school server and you could pack it with the entire Wikipedia, the entire school curriculum resources, community continuing education materials, information on any subject. The scale of the program would mean that all those excellent highly motivated teachers that I have known, in those remote schools, could become empowered to collaborate in content development – of relevant, Pacific-centred resources.

 

Think of the OLPC as wide approach to transforming basic education, not just a laptop.  If you want a browser with tabs, it’s all open for you to start a project and develop one, and furthermore, you can even localise it to your local language . It’s all possible with an open development approach. Firefox 3 can be installed if you need that, etc, etc. By the way, the software is not a fixed set – there are hundreds of “activities” that can be downloaded and installed. The OS version is also more advanced now with version 8.2 – not what you found on the Tuvalu batch which are yet to be updated.

 

The principles of OLPC are about one-to-one computing (child ownership – but interpreted from Pacific view point), and connectivity – everything you do on the laptop can be shared. These are not lab computers where children won’t get a look in and if they do, only teach them office skills – which can certainly come later.

 

They do have browsers and can access the wiki certainly, and as the whole development approach is open I would expect to see teachers using them creatively for producing local content, not only on the wiki but with other open source tools – eXeLearning for instance, is a simple-to-use offline HTML content authoring tool that will run on the XO.

 

The main thing is that this is designed to scale – and that is where the transformational aspects will be seen.

 

David Leeming

OLPC Coordinator, SPC and Technical Advisor, People First Network

Honiara, Solomon Islands

 

Leigh Blackall

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Dec 4, 2008, 12:32:16 AM12/4/08
to wikied...@googlegroups.com
Hi David, thanks for all this information.. it is certainly helping me to reflect on my experience.

Perhaps the problem was our expectation and approach to the OLPC in Tuvalu. We were expecting to use the computers primarily to access and work on the Internet. I've since learned that the operating system on those particular OLPCs is old and the problems have been fixed. But I have also discovered some disconcerting background info on OLPC development (see Brian Lamb's comment in my blog:

Your critique reminded me of Ivan Krstić, who left the OLPC project in some frustration. We were asked not to blog (!) his very candid remarks at a recent speaking gig I saw him at recently, though many of his criticisms are here:

http://radian.org/notebook/sic-transit-gloria-laptopi

Though the potential is also represented in a post like this:

http://radian.org/notebook/astounded-in-arahuay

It is great to hear success stories from others. Perhaps the Tuvalu experience was the first full blown Internet test, all be it not with children 6 years of age (not sure the Internet is what kids that age should be doing, so great that the OLPCs come with offline versions of Wikipedia and stuff).

So my concerns mostly remain in:

  • Why the OLPC has to use such a redically different interface that offers very little transferability of skills, and limits the opportunities for support from established communities around Ubuntu and Edubuntu?

I think much of the value you describe could easily be achieved with an interface that helps to build computer intuition that will assist in the use of computers other than the OLPC - an army of 6 year old computer rebuilders perhaps, and would have strengthened existing projects.. much like Wikieducator duplicating other projects in the name of innovation despite scarce resources.

My additional concerns are now:

  • How long the OLPC will last against 80% humidity and salt air? and
  • what waste management strategies are in place for OLPC on Pacific Islands?

David Leeming

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Dec 4, 2008, 8:59:34 PM12/4/08
to wikied...@googlegroups.com, Ian Thomson

Hi Leigh,

 

Thanks for those references – I will check them out we can discuss this with my colleagues and learn from them, on a different list as it may be getting a bit off subject. I’ll get back to you.

 

However, just to complete this thread, let me reply once more:-

 

To reply to your questions, I think the concept is to bring the activity-focused approach to the front, hence the “radically different interface”. However, we are talking mainly of 6-12 year olds and as they use the laptop they do acquire all the keyboard and mouse skills, scrolling, concept of windows and menus. In my experience of training computing to complete beginners, that gives them a  great start to the more traditional interfaces including Ubuntu and Windows, whatever the policy that prevails. If the OLPC is linked to the SPC’s regional VSAT programme, the RICS systems come with a server and optionally some desktop computers for community access, and those are being supplied with Ubuntu, I have noticed. In the Solomons we have a growing network of Distance Learning Centres (www.schoolnet.net.sb) and those make ideal hubs for OLPC projects in nearby schools, and thus teachers and more experienced, older students will have access to more traditional computing technology.

 

However, there is quite a lot you can do with the XO. It does have a terminal (as an activity) and you can get in to the back end and customise it as you wish. There are communities around the world developing all kinds of applications (activities) for it (http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Activities - see the link to All Activities), as well as localisation projects. The content development side is lagging behind (although there is a new concept of collections category). That is where I thought there would be synergy with Wikieducator. I did not envisage the XOs themselves being used by the more expert educators specifically for content development in a setting like your workshop, rather I envisaged any available technology to be used to develop content for the XO school servers. Certainly, the laptops also will allow a much greater pool teachers in rural schools using the laptops to collaborate and contribute.

 

On robustness, a lot of thought has gone into it. This is where there is no comparison with the EEE PC. You can drop them onto carpeted concrete from 1.5m -  that is certified! We have tested that (from 2m onto uncarpeted concrete unintentionally!!!). In Brazil the BBC filmed someone using the laptop in the rain for 1 hour. The screen (which is very high resolution and size for the target price of USD 100) can have the backlight turned off and then it is readable outside in blazing sunshine, in black and white mode, something you cannot do on traditional laptops of any type. The version 8.2 now has aggressive power management so that if you turn the wireless off, one battery charge will last 8 hours, and it only needs less than 2 hours at 17W to re charge. My Asus EEE PC gets so hot I get worried leaving it on unsupervised. I am sure it uses heaps more power . Power supplies are a major challenge and so this is highly significant.

 

The XOs do have a touch pad problem with hot humid climates, you may have noticed. But all XOs shipped from November should be equipped with newer hardware with this fault corrected – you can always plug in a USB mouse as work around.

 

Waste management is definitely in SPC’s sights. Ian Thomson, my full time colleague and RICS coordinator has worked in NZ on recycling programs and is developing strategies to recommend to participating countries.

 

David Leeming

OLPC Coordinator, SPC and Technical Advisor, People First Network

Honiara, Solomon Islands

 

billKerr

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Dec 5, 2008, 10:01:34 AM12/5/08
to WikiEducator
On Dec 3, 11:28 am, "Leigh Blackall" <leighblack...@gmail.com> wrote:
> Yes, I see that point but think it totally unreasonable. For one, I have no
> access to an OLPC because I'm within a wealthy nation.

It is possible to test out the Sugar software from a wealthy nation,
Leigh

I have done it in Australia by booting Sugar off USB keys and also
making a jabber server to assist the collaboration

Not perfect, but certainly possible. Details here: http://xo-whs.wikispaces.com/

Leigh Blackall

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Dec 5, 2008, 2:41:50 PM12/5/08
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Thanks David, thanks Bill. The good thing about being controversial is that it brings people up to share links and information in a pretty energetic way. A terribly selfish point of view I know, and it wasn't my plan from the start but it has worked out that way. Luckily its all on open forums and blogs, so hopefully the information is useful to others in this context, and not all just repeatative posting for those close to the OLPC project.

Having read up on OLPCs casually over the years, I was aware of their superior hardware innovations and over all design (which is why I think OLPCs will have a marked impact on the consumer PC world) - starting with Asus but many more to come I'm sure. And as I said in the post, I had toyed with them at conferences and things and thought I understood what was going on. Thanks for the pointer for Sugar on a stick Bill.. I know I wouldn't have done it though, especially with less than 2 days notice about the plan to use OLPCs and because I'm just not that prepared.. motivated.. good.. committed.. in love.. worthy.. but perhaps I should get it on now and give it another burl seeing as my post would have upset the developers.. sometimes unfairly.

Dave, I reckon when running OLPC workshops with adults.. it might be a good idea to pack a few mice in a box just to make it flow easier in those with big hands in hot humid conditions.
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