Posts Tagged ‘olpc’

Innovative ideas for improving education in developing countries

25/08/2014 Leave a comment

I’ve been a long time supporter of One Laptop Per Child and Sugarlabs, but there are some other quite interesting innovations that I thought some of our readers may be interested in hearing about. I’ve just picked a couple to write about.


This idea is based on reusing old computers and giving each child a USB drive with their own computing environment whilst sharing a computer.

It’s an Android based Operating System which allows the student to get the best apps from the marketplace for their education or other uses.

Read the BBC article about Keepod in Nairobi.

Raspberry Pi

The idea behind Raspberry Pi is that you reuse a computer monitor or TV and a keyboard and a mouse to plug into a credit card sized computer (the Raspberry Pi) so that students can explore computing and learn how to program in (quite accessible, easy to learn) languages like Scratch and Python.

The Raspberry Pi is also quite a capable computing device, whether students want to use it for web browsing, writing, or watching videos. You can connect peripherals to make things even more exciting.

The Raspberry Pi website is well set out to make it easy for students to learn how to program their Raspberry Pi and for parents and teachers to support learners.

Aakash tablet and the government of India

Datawind invented the Aakash tablet (also known as UbiSlate) in response to an Indian initiative to develop a low cost computing device, similar to OLPC, intended for college students. The tablet was sold to the Ministry of Human Resource Development in India.

School in the cloud

Sugata Mitra, renowned for his “hole in the wall” experiment, wanted to build a school in the cloud that utilised what he learned in his granny cloud (students are encouraged by a “grandmother” which enables them to learn what they need and motivates them to find what interests them) and SOLE (self organised learning environments) projects (students work in groups, and use the internet to access educational support). His first cloud school opened this year in India.

Do you know of an initiative that our readers might like to hear about? Please feel free to add in the comments.


09/04/2014 Leave a comment

After years of volunteering for One Laptop Per Child and Sugarlabs (I started mid 2008), it is very exciting to share with you that there are now New Zealand schools using the “One Laptop Per Child” XO laptops in both English and Maori. There are more than two million XO laptops distributed around the world, with over five thousand in the Pacific, and over seven thousand in Australia

A not-for-profit charitable trust, OLPC New Zealand has now been established in New Zealand to “to empower educators to lead and inspire children to learn through innovative use of affordable technology”. 

XO Laptop New Zealand Empowering Kids Learning

The first school to get them is Te Wharekura o Manaia. You can read all about it in the Hauraki Herald.  Based in the Coromandel, this is a bilingual school making the most of the opportunity to have laptops in Te Reo. When I visited this school I met some of the fabulous teachers and students who are using the XO laptops and saw just how much they had discovered in their first weeks.  

With over one hundred laptops now in the hands of kiwi kids, it is a good time for you to step forward if you want to be involved. There are lots of ways you can help, so contact the OLPC New Zealand trust to find out how. 


Manaiakalani meeting

29/03/2011 Leave a comment

Warning: It’s late, parts of this post might not make sense.

We had a great Manaiakalani meeting tonight. We did our usual update on where we are at with issues and current development objectives, but then we revisited our design principles. This was a very useful exercise as there have been changes since the design principles were written. These changes were made because of indepth honest discussions that we have had over the last six months at our meetings – rowdy, passionate discussions where lots of points of view were brought to light and thrashed about.

We had lots of guests at our meeting and we were given feedback which was very useful. Helen Barrett in particular as she gave us her feedback in terms of a change process as well as suggesting we invite teachers to come to the meeting. Also really useful feedback came from Erin Barrett who said something along the lines of: everyone in this room has got it (the process, the risks etc), we need to educate the stakeholders (connect them to what we are doing). There were others who gave feedback so it was a really rich opportunity.

I want to come back to the inviting teachers feedback. Dorothy and I spoke about this later in the evening and she reminded me that it is voluntary to attend. When she said that I saw that it is the same problem as we experience with the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) community. There are lots of developers in the olpc community but not anywhere near as many teachers. No matter how much OLPC emphasise “it’s an education project” not a laptop project, many people still perceive OLPC to be about laptops and perceive that you can only contribute if you know how to write code. The reality is very far from the truth. There are lots of other ways to contribute, whether that be translation, distribution, funding, education, promotion, research, the list goes on. I am not a developer and I am contributing to Manaiakalani and OLPC. In both Manaiakalani and OLPC the voices that need to be heard and need to lead the decision making are the voices of learners and teachers, and I think the role of the developers is to facilitate the changes, so technology is developed to be appropriate to the pedagogy desired.

An absolute highlight of the meeting was having three students with us. They were invited to participate as equals to us, to raise questions and put forward ideas, but I think they were quite shy. We had some time at the end of the meeting which we used to talk with the students and we ended up talking about their career aspirations and fields of study in science. I look forward to seeing their blog posts about their experience attending “the Manaiakalani Hackers meeting”.

olpc Summit preparation

21/10/2010 Leave a comment

The preparations for olpc Community Summit are obviously well under way with the final details meeting yesterday. We packed folders for attendees with maps and info, we talked through the logistics and were shown the rooms we will be using.

From San Francisco 2010

The venue is fantastic, with one of the most extensive food courts I have ever seen as well as plenty of restaurants for feeding the masses. We enjoyed a vietnamese lunch to confirm the quality 😉

From San Francisco 2010
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olpc Community Summit

15/10/2010 Leave a comment

I think it is time for an update on the San Francisco trip. olpc Community Summit t-shirt

I fly out on Monday evening 18 October and will meet with Pablo Flores at the airport. That is pretty exciting as Pablo is from Uruguay, has been working with Plan Ceibal, and is a researcher. Lots to talk about with Pablo.

Alex Kleider is picking us up from the airport and hosting us – thanks Alex!

I will try to find time each day to blog about what I did and share photos 🙂

You can read about the olpc Community Summit by visiting

olpc Community Summit – San Francisco

29/09/2010 1 comment

A massive thank you to Internet NZ for funding me to go to the olpc Community Summit that will be held in San Francisco from 22-24 October 2010. Information about this event can be found here:

I am particularly looking forward to meeting some of the people I have spoken to so regularly online and getting to hear face to face about some of the great work that people are doing for olpc. The sharing of ideas and planning for the future will be fantastic.

You can see the Summit topics taking shape on the wiki. The same week there is also Books in Browsers with the Internet Archive so it is a pretty exciting time to be in San Francisco.

Broken into while preparing for Pecha Kucha night

23/09/2010 Leave a comment

Yesterday afternoon while working on Pecha Kucha slides with Fabiana my car got broken into. I had made the mistake of leaving the GPS on its stand attached to the windscreen and some nasty person passing by decided to smash the window and grab the GPS. Pecha Kucha is on Tuesday 28 September at Juice Bar, 144 Parnell Road. Entry is $9 and it starts at 8:15pm. We are talking on one laptop per child. Read about it here or here.

From Drop Box

Anyway, back to the point of my blog post. The theft happened in Parnell between 4pm and 6pm. I have a car alarm but we didn’t hear it from the apartment. The thief did not look for anything else in the car so luckily they didn’t take my wallet (it was not in plain sight but in the centre console).

We had an olpc XO with us but we had taken that into the apartment (again, XOs don’t get left in plain sight, if it is left in the car it is in the boot and hidden by the parcel tray).

The whole event freaked out my ten year old niece who was hanging out with us.

broken window
From Drop Box

It is also quite annoying to have the job of cleaning up after a break-in and all that time lost when you have other things to do with your time. The car insurance company said the replacement of the glass is covered by my insurance with no charges but you then have to take time out of work to get the glass replaced (thanks Elaine for lending us a car for a couple of days). If we want to claim insurance on the GPS then we have to pay the insurance excess, which is not much less than what the GPS is worth so doesn’t seem worth the headache with the insurance company. Our alternative navigation method is already being discussed and we are likely to just use the Android phone instead of getting another GPS.

Lesson learned – don’t leave the GPS in plain sight, even in the day time, no matter where you park.

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