April 22, 2017

Sridhar Dhanapalan

Interview with Australian Council for Computers in Education Learning Network

Adam Holt and I were interviewed last night by the Australian Council for Computers in Education Learning Network about our not-for-profit work to improve educational opportunities for children in the developing world.

We talked about One Laptop per Child, OLPC Australia and Sugar Labs. We discussed the challenges of providing education in the developing world, and how that compares with the developed world.

Australia poses some of its own challenges. As a country that is 90% urbanised, the remaining 10% are scattered across vast distances. The circumstances of these communities often share both developed and developing world characteristics. We developed the One Education programme to accommodate this.

These lessons have been developed further into Unleash Kids, an initiative that we are currently working on to support the community of volunteers worldwide and take to the movement to the next level.

by Sridhar Dhanapalan at April 22, 2017 12:14 PM

Published in Engineers Without Borders Magazine

Engineers Without Borders asked me to write something for their Humanitarian Engineering magazine about One Laptop per Child. Here is what I wrote.

The school bell rings, and the children filter into the classroom. Each is holding an XO – their own personal learning device.

Students from Doomadgee often use their XOs for outdoors education. The sunlight-readable screen
combined with the built-in camera allow for hands-on exploration of their environment.

This is no ordinary classroom. As if by magic, the green and white XOs automatically see each other as soon as they are started up, allowing children to easily share information and collaborate on activities together. The kids converse on how they can achieve the tasks at hand. One girl is writing a story on her XO, and simultaneously on the same screen she can see the same story being changed by a boy across the room. Another group of children are competing in a game that involves maths questions.

Children in Kiwirrkurra, WA, collaborate on an activity with help from teachers.

Through the XO, the learning in this classroom has taken on a peer-to-peer character. By making learning more fun and engaging, children are better equipped to discover and pursue their interests. Through collaboration and connectivity, they can exchange knowledge with their peers and with the world. In the 21st century, textbooks should be digital and interactive. They should be up-to-date and locally relevant. They should be accessible and portable.

Of course, the teacher’s role remains vital, and her role has evolved into that of a facilitator in this knowledge network. She is better placed to provide more individual pathways for learning. Indeed the teacher is a learner as well, as the children quickly adapt to the new technology and learn skills that they can teach back.

A teacher in Jigalong, WA, guides a workgroup of children in their class.

Helping to keep the classroom session smoothly humming along are children who have proven themselves to be proficient with assisting their classmates and fixing problems (including repairing hardware). These kids have taken part in training programmes that award them for their skills around the XO. In the process, they are learning important life skills around problem solving and teamwork.

Dozens of students in Doomadgee State School are proficient in fixing XO hardware.

This is all part of the One Education experience, an initiative from One Laptop per Child (OLPC) Australia. This educational programme provides a holistic educational scaffolding around the XO, the laptop developed by the One Laptop per Child Association that has its roots in the internationally-acclaimed MIT Media Lab in the USA.

The XO was born from a desire to empower each and every child in the world with their own personal learning device. Purpose-built for young children and using solid open source software, the XO provides an ideal platform for classroom learning. Designed for outdoors, with a rugged design and a high-resolution sunlight-readable screen, education is no longer confined to a classroom or even to the school grounds. Learning time needn’t stop with the school bell – many children are taking their XOs home. Also important is the affordability and full repairability of the devices, making it cost-effective versus non-durable and ephemeral items such as stationery, textbooks and other printed materials. There are over 3 million XOs in distribution, and in some countries (such as Uruguay) every child owns one.

A One Education classroom in Kenya.

One Education’s mission is to provide educational opportunities to every child, no matter how remote or disadvantaged. The digital divide is a learning divide. This can be conquered through a combination of modern technology, training and support, provided in a manner that empowers local schools and communities. The story told above is already happening in many classrooms around the country and the world.

A One Education classroom in northern Thailand.

With teacher training often being the Achilles’ heel of technology programmes in the field of education, One Education focuses only on teachers who have proven their interest and aptitude through the completion of a training course. Only then are they eligible to receive XOs (with an allocation of spare parts) into their classroom. Certified teachers are eligible for ongoing support from OLPC Australia, and can acquire more hardware and parts as required.

As a not-for-profit, OLPC Australia works with sponsors to heavily subsidise the costs of the One Education programme for low socio-economic status schools. In this manner, the already impressive total cost of ownership can be brought down even further.

High levels of teacher turnover are commonplace in remote Australian schools. By providing courses online, training can be scalable and cost-effective. Local teachers can even undergo further training to gain official trainer status themselves. Some schools have turned this into a business – sending their teacher-trainers out to train teachers in other schools.

Students in Geeveston in Tasmania celebrate their attainment of XO-champion status, recognising
their proficiency in using the XO and their helpfulness in the classroom.

With backing from the United Nations Development Programme, OLPC are tackling the Millennium Development Goals by focusing on Goal 2 (Achieve Universal Primary Education). The intertwined nature of the goals means that progress made towards this goal in turn assists the others. For example, education on health can lead to better hygiene and lower infant mortality. A better educated population is better empowered to help themselves, rather than being dependent on hand-outs. For people who cannot attend a classroom (perhaps because of remoteness, ethnicity or gender), the XO provides an alternative. OLPC’s focus on young children means that children are becoming engaged in their most formative years. The XO has been built with a minimal environmental footprint, and can be run off-grid using alternate power sources such as solar panels.

One Education is a young initiative, formed based on experiences learnt from technology deployments in Australia and other countries. Nevertheless, results in some schools have been staggering. Within one year of XOs arriving in Doomadgee State School in northern Queensland, the percentage of Year 3 pupils meeting national literacy standards leapt from 31% to 95%.

A girl at Doomadgee State School very carefully removes the screen from an XO.

2013 will see a rapid expansion of the programme. With $11.7m in federal government funding, 50,000 XOs will be distributed as part of One Education. These schools will be receiving the new XO Duo (AKA XO-4 Touch), a new XO model developed jointly with the OLPC Association. This version adds a touch-screen user experience while maintaining the successful laptop form factor. The screen can swivel and fold backwards over the keyboard, converting the laptop into a tablet. This design was chosen in response to feedback from educators that a hardware keyboard is preferred to a touch-screen for entering large amounts of information. As before, the screen is fully sunlight-readable. Performance and battery life have improved significantly, and it is fully repairable as before.

As One Education expands, there are growing demands on OLPC Australia to improve the offering. Being a holistic project, there are plenty of ways in which we could use help, including in education, technology and logistics. We welcome you to join us in our quest to provide educational opportunities to the world’s children.

by Sridhar Dhanapalan at April 22, 2017 12:14 PM

A Complete Literacy Experience For Young Children

From the “I should have posted this months ago” vault…

When I led technology development at One Laptop per Child Australia, I maintained two golden rules:

  1. everything that we release must ‘just work’ from the perspective of the user (usually a child or teacher), and
  2. no special technical expertise should ever be required to set-up, use or maintain the technology.

In large part, I believe that we were successful.

Once the more obvious challenges have been identified and cleared, some more fundamental problems become evident. Our goal was to improve educational opportunities for children as young as possible, but proficiently using computers to input information can require a degree of literacy.

Sugar Labs have done stellar work in questioning the relevance of the desktop metaphor for education, and in coming up with a more suitable alternative. This proved to be a remarkable platform for developing a touch-screen laptop, in the form of the XO-4 Touch: the icons-based user interface meant that we could add touch capabilities with relatively few user-visible tweaks. The screen can be swivelled and closed over the keyboard as with previous models, meaning that this new version can be easily converted into a pure tablet at will.

Revisiting Our Assumptions

Still, a fundamental assumption has long gone unchallenged on all computers: the default typeface and keyboard. It doesn’t at all represent how young children learn the English alphabet or literacy. Moreover, at OLPC Australia we were often dealing with children who were behind on learning outcomes, and who were attending school with almost no exposure to English (since they speak other languages at home). How are they supposed to learn the curriculum when they can barely communicate in the classroom?

Looking at a standard PC keyboard, you’ll see that the keys are printed with upper-case letters. And yet, that is not how letters are taught in Australian schools. Imagine that you’re a child who still hasn’t grasped his/her ABCs. You see a keyboard full of unfamiliar symbols. You press one, and on the screen pops up a completely different looking letter! The keyboard may be in upper-case, but by default you’ll get the lower-case variants on the screen.

A standard PC keyboard
A standard PC keyboard

Unfortunately, the most prevalent touch-screen keyboard on the marke isn’t any better. Given the large education market for its parent company, I’m astounded that this has not been a priority.

The Apple iOS keyboard
The Apple iOS keyboard

Better alternatives exist on other platforms, but I still was not satisfied.

A Re-Think

The solution required an examination of how children learn, and the challenges that they often face when doing so. The end result is simple, yet effective.

The standard OLPC XO mechanical keyboard (above) versus the OLPC Australia Literacy keyboard (below)
The standard OLPC XO mechanical keyboard (above) versus the OLPC Australia Literacy keyboard (below)

This image contrasts the standard OLPC mechanical keyboard with the OLPC Australia Literacy keyboard that we developed. Getting there required several considerations:

  1. a new typeface, optimised for literacy
  2. a cleaner design, omitting characters that are not common in English (they can still be entered with the AltGr key)
  3. an emphasis on lower-case
  4. upper-case letters printed on the same keys, with the Shift arrow angled to indicate the relationship
  5. better use of symbols to aid instruction

One interesting user story with the old keyboard that I came across was in a remote Australian school, where Aboriginal children were trying to play the Maze activity by pressing the opposite arrows that they were supposed to. Apparently they thought that the arrows represented birds’ feet! You’ll see that we changed the arrow heads on the literacy keyboard as a result.

We explicitly chose not to change the QWERTY layout. That’s a different debate for another time.

The Typeface

The abc123 typeface is largely the result of work I did with John Greatorex. It is freely downloadable (in TrueType and FontForge formats) and open source.

After much research and discussions with educators, I was unimpressed with the other literacy-oriented fonts available online. Characters like ‘a’ and ‘9’ (just to mention a couple) are not rendered in the way that children are taught to write them. Young children are also susceptible to confusion over letters that look similar, including mirror-images of letters. We worked to differentiate, for instance, the lower-case L from the upper-case i, and the lower-case p from the lower-case q.

Typography is a wonderfully complex intersection of art and science, and it would have been foolhardy for us to have started from scratch. We used as our base the high-quality DejaVu Sans typeface. This gave us a foundation that worked well on screen and in print. Importantly for us, it maintained legibility at small point sizes on the 200dpi XO display.

On the Screen

abc123 is a suitable substitute for DejaVu Sans. I have been using it as the default user interface font in Ubuntu for over a year.

It looks great in Sugar as well. The letters are crisp and easy to differentiate, even at small point sizes. We made abc123 the default font for both the user interface and in activities (applications).

The abc123 font in Sugar's Write activity, on an XO laptop screen
The abc123 font in Sugar’s Write activity, on an XO laptop screen

Likewise, the touch-screen keyboard is clear and simple to use.

The abc123 font on the XO touch-screen keyboard, on an XO laptop screen
The abc123 font on the XO touch-screen keyboard, on an XO laptop screen

The end result is a more consistent literacy experience across the whole device. What you press on the hardware or touch-screen keyboard will be reproduced exactly on the screen. What you see on the user interface is also what you see on the keyboards.

by Sridhar Dhanapalan at April 22, 2017 07:36 AM

April 20, 2017

One Laptop per Child

A Magnificent History to Share. Open Learning Exchange (OLE) Nepal “Finding Calmness in the Center of Devastation”


Tundikhel, an only vast open space in between the city, is now filled with families who lost their homes in the recent earthquake. As we drive, walk or ride pass through the lanes alongside Tundikhel, we can see numerous tents – some donated by China and some made locally by the sufferers. When OLE Nepal team visited the ‘refugee camp like place’ it was heart wrenching to see people in need of necessities required for survival. Many organizations from various backgrounds provided immediate relief effort, such as food, water, shelter, sanitation, etc.

Amidst all the chaos, OLE Nepal are particularly concerned about the welfare of thousands of children who have been affected in more ways than one – distressed, displaced and completely traumatized by the scenes of devastations all around them. As we try to rehabilitate communities, it is utterly important to pay special attention to the emotional and physical well-being of these children. Along with their physical safety, their psychological security needed to be duly addressed as well.

With so many schools destroyed, and communities displaced, many children are deprived of education and will be for months, if not years. In this critical time, it is important to give children the space where they can enjoy their time in quality learning and exploring.

In Kirtipur, Khokana and Bungamati, OLE Nepal is now providing relief to the children at Tundikhel. Following are the photos taken during the first day of our relief effort.

Children singing their hearts out.

Learning through a new tool.

Focused and deligent

Enjoying the moment.

by Diriana Teran at April 20, 2017 03:45 PM

April 17, 2017

ICT4D Views from the Field

100 SolarSPELLs Built in One Day!

On Saturday April 8th 2017, a dedicated and motivated group of 30+ volunteers came together at ASU’s Polytechnic campus and built 100 SolarSPELL digital libraries. This is the largest build in the history of the project! These libraries will go out with Peace Corps volunteers across the Pacific Islands of Vanuatu, Samoa, the Federated States of Micronesia in the next few months.

The day began with a presentation by Prof. Laura Hosman, giving a background of the SolarSPELL project and an overview of appropriate technology for resource-constrained locations. During this presentation, the SolarSPELL university student team was busy getting the build area ready for the larger group.


The group then arrived in the build area and received a step-by-step walk-through of each stage of the building process, led by the SolarSPELL Hardware team lead and Build-Master of the day, Miles Mabey. Then everyone chose their station and jumped right in.

Some folks switched around to get a feel for another Build area, or if they finished with their aspect of the Build. There were many opportunities for hands-on activities, like wire-stripping, soldering, gluing, cutting, velcroing, heat-shrinking, and laminating.

The engineering students took advantage of the Build Day’s looming demands to learn about process engineering and then to create brand new building aids—jigs—for this build, that increased both speed and efficiency.

The SolarSPELL team was so pleased to welcome a team of students from ASU Prep high school. These STEM students were top-notch workers who stayed committed to the task throughout the day—we couldn’t have done it without them!

We also had significant representation from across ASU’s colleges, schools, and campuses, with volunteers coming from ASU Library, the College of Nursing and Health Innovation, the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, The Polytechnic School, the School for Earth and Space Exploration, and the School for the Future of Innovation in Society. ASU Alumni also came and rolled up their sleeves to help in the effort!

Stay tuned for updates from Vanuatu and Samoa as the SolarSPELL team travels there next month (May) for two extremely exciting implementation trips!

Photos were taken by Brooks McAllister, Bruce Baikie, and Laura Hosman

by ljhosman at April 17, 2017 04:19 PM

April 11, 2017

One Laptop per Child

Manuelita Foundation

fundacion manuelita 2017

The Manuelita Foundation is a Colombian organization
founded in 2014 with an emphasis on teaching
technology, English and leadership skills to students.
Its emphasis is to educate on a one to one basis,
with a comprehensive model that leads teachers
to enrich the learning environment using modern
methodologies and technology, with the ultimate
goal of developing life skills for students. The program
works to create motivated and happy learners.
The Foundation has delivered 240 XO Laptops to
students in kindergarten through third grade and
other equipment to students fourth grade and above,
including teachers. The program has reached more
than 670 students and 430 families. The program
has a social component specifically designed for the
whole family.
The program “Educating One to One” is implemented
in the city of Palmira Valle del Cauca and benefits
the surrounding neighborhoods, including four
educational institutions of Antonio Lizarazo. The pilot
program began in Rosa Zárate de Peña.

by Diriana Teran at April 11, 2017 05:23 PM

April 09, 2017

OLE Nepal

An interview with our teaching resident — Shikha Dhakal

Supporting Program Schools in Baitadi About the program Three months ago, OLE Nepal launched it’s first ever Teaching with Technology Residency Program to support 15 primary schools that have started using digital learning materials in their classrooms. This year-long program engages 2 qualified and motivated young graduates to assist teachers to maximize the benefits from the wide range of digital resources made available at the schools. The Residents spent an entire month training at OLE…

by admin at April 09, 2017 01:05 PM

April 03, 2017

Juan Chacon Free Software & Education | El Salvador

Migrating from VirtualBox to KVM/Qemu

I've been using VirtualBox for years on my Ubuntu systems to test and use other operating systems on the host machine.  Since I am working with five of my students this year to help them prepare for the RHCSA exam, I've been learning to use KVM for virtualization instead. KVM with virt-manager has proven to be easier to use than VirtualBox, since I don't have to install any add-on video drivers to get screen resolutions changed, and it seems to run faster and with less resource overhead than VirtualBox.

First thing I did was install:
$ sudo apt install qemu-kvm libvirt-bin bridge-utils
$ sudo ap install virt-manager
Then I added myself to the libvirtd group, so that I would have access:
$ sudo adduser [user] libvirtd
I converted my VirtualBox hard drive images to KVM images with:
$ qemu-img convert -f vdi oldImage.vdi -O qcow2 newImage.qcow
Here is a screenshot of Debian Jessie running on Ubuntu Yakety:


by jelkner (noreply@blogger.com) at April 03, 2017 01:24 PM

March 22, 2017

Hands of Charity XO Project | Kenya

Gabon Maze

Small Solutions Big Ideas Connect Kids February vacation program was introducing simple games to our students.  Mazes are early games that children play, and also a favorite in the Sugar XO Activities that our students in Kenya have been using for the last 6 years.

On the day the workshop began,  I heard a news report about the poaching of forest elephants in the African country of Gabon.  Gabon is in West Africa.  We looked up the country on Google Earth and found out that forest covered almost two thirds of the land.  The forest is thick, and so dense that no one had tracked down the elephants in the forest for many years.  The country decided to do an inventory.

The results of the inventory were shocking.  The number of forest elephants surviving since the last inventory was about 20%. The forest was full of poachers and they had even established an active gold mine deep in the forest.

We read more about the elephants, and decided to design our Scratch Maze game as the Gabon Forest. The sprites were small tribes of elephants, and poachers.

First we created our forest on paper with the trails of the elephants as the maze, and then the students imagined different danger spots, where lions might attack, or near the gold mine where poachers were living.  They also created some safe areas for the elephants.  We practiced making mazes.  Then we used our Scratch program.  Sprites are like the players in the game.  So we created tribes of elephants as sprites, and wild randomly flying dark glasses as the poachers. The create the maze we used the background and painted our forests and the elephant trails.

We programmed the elephants to move with the keyboard arrow keys.  The poachers had a random fast moving pattern, so that the elephants had to be careful to avoid them.  We put in our lakes as safe places, the gold mine, cliffs or rocks as danger places.  There was more work to do, but it was fun.  Below are photos of students using MakeyMakey, and then creating a maze on the floor.

We will post the Mazes to our studio  http://scratch.mit.edu/studios/2935407/.  If you go to the scratch website, anyone with our without a scratch account can see our projects.

Come and Join our Classes   Starting in April 2017.  On Thursday, March 30th, you can come at 4 PM to the Unitarian Church in Newburyport to see what we are doing, and whether you’d like to sign up.  More information on our website too on the Connect Kids page.


by smallsolutionsbigideas at March 22, 2017 10:51 PM

March 21, 2017

One Laptop per Child

The Columbus School for Girls One Laptop Per Child Service Learning Project engages high school girls in computer science through service. What began as a service trip has expanded to many different student-driven projects that use computer science as a vehicle to improve the world.



What began as a year-long independent study course intended to prepare students for a service trip to deliver OLPC’s XO laptops  (http://laptop.org/)  along with lessons to elementary school students in St. John has grown to a multi-year student-led independent study experience using computer science as a vehicle for service.  This experience is “Service Learning” where learning is combined with service. The true spirit of Service Learning is that the learning cannot happen without the service, and the service can’t happen without the learning.
Some say that the most effective engagement takes place at the intersection of social engagement, political engagement, and economic engagement. This course provides CSG students with an opportunity for civic engagement while learning about technology, culture, lifestyle, and other aspects of life at the recipient school. The service aspect of this course engages girls with technology in a deeply meaningful way. The service becomes the objective rather than the computer programming or the hardware and software troubleshooting.
A secondary gain, but a primary goal, is that students are being introduced to Computer Science in a way that is attractive, engaging, and meaningful. The numbers of women in computer science have plummeted in the past decade, and remain low, so recruiting and retaining women into CS is an urgent need. This project helps to address the initial recruiting aspect of the “pipeline problem” by embedding the computer science into the goal of teaching and service. The science becomes something students learn along the way. 

First Year Course Overview:
The premise of the first year’s course is based on acquiring donated XO laptops, and delivering them, along with training, during a service trip. T
his is not simply a charitable purchase and delivery. Students learn about the XO laptop, the open source software available for it, how to network the computers with one another and with the Internet, and hardware and software repairs including troubleshooting. They develop a curriculum, research existing curricula and activities, and plan and prepare lessons for the delivery period. (They will have to deeply understand these concepts since they will be expected to teach them to both students and teachers during the delivery phase of the class.)

After the First Year:
Many students choose to take the course a second and even a third year. Some students choose to travel once, sometimes twice. Others choose not to travel and perform their service in other ways. All projects are student-driven, and evolve from the individual’s interests, preferences, and perception of what’s needed. Please see our Related Projects page, and visit our Etoys website for more information. And feel free to use any of our work and share it with others. We would love our work to be widely used. If you have ideas or needs, please use the email form to contact us.

This course meets approximately once per week. The general outline is as follows:
First Semester:

Learn the Sugar operating system

  • Learn to add and delete activities, how to use the journal, and basic Sugar features
  • Develop ways to teach Sugar
  • Learn Etoys
  • Learn Scratch
  • For each lesson, come up with teaching strategies and ideas for a companion “game” to go along with the lesson
  • Learn how to take apart (and put back together) an XO laptop
  • For those interested, troubleshoot some of the broken computers to see if they can be repaired

Second Semester:

  • As a class, select a subject for which we would like to develop a ten-lesson teaching “unit” 
  • Break the subject into an appropriate number of lessons, and have each student work on a single lesson for use by global  communities. Sometimes, CSG Lower School teachers are used as subject matter experts. Sometimes CSG students are our beta testers. 
  • Review Sugar, Scratch, Etoys and Etoys teaching strategies
  • Teach CSG’s 4th graders to practice “in front of a room”
  • Prepare for the trip

The trip:

  • Work with the school to teach 3rd-8th grade students Sugar, Scratch, and Etoys.
  • Develop curricula to be used by students in developing nations. 

Thanks for your interest! Please check back periodically to view our progress.

by Diriana Teran at March 21, 2017 05:12 PM

March 20, 2017

One Laptop per Child

Lennox Island students learn digital animation

Pilot project provides laptops, training

Eric McCarthy newsroom@journalpioneer.com
Published on March 7, 2017

John J. Sark Memorial School students give a demonstration of the digital animation skills they acquired using laptops donated to them by Princes Charities Canada and One Laptop Per Child Canada.


LENNOX ISLAND – Carson Thomas thinks he will be better equipped going forward in doing Internet searches for school projects.


Thomas and his fellow Grade 5 and 6 students at John J Sark Memorial School on Lennox Island spent two hours after school each day last week receiving computer animation and programming training.

Prince’s Charities Canada, the charitable office for His Royal Highness, The Prince of Wales, partnered with One Laptop Per Child Canada to provide computers and training to indigenous youth. Lennox Island was one of seven First Nations across Canada to benefit from the pilot project this winter.

Thomas said he learned how to change colors on computer projects and how to make his name animated and dance.

Matthew Rowe, Director of Operations, Prince’s Charities Canada, said the participating schools and their students get to keep the computers.

Rowe said the students in the Lennox Island project created digital animation projects, talking mostly in Mi’Kmaq, about the traditions of their community. “The idea was to build digital skills while getting them to create projects that were giving them a chance to use the language and to learn it,” he said.

While digital animation is a new approach for the students, Rowe said the Grade 5 and 6 students was a good age range to work with. “They actually soak it up like sponges,” he said of the simplified coding language.

Grade 5/6 teacher, Nicole Gorrill, said the students already possessed basic computer skills but the shared project taught them new skills. “What happened, for most of the students, it really piqued more of their interest for technology,” she observed. “They’ve been learning these new computer skills, but they are also now able to kind of take what they’re learning in their cultural class here at the school and they have a new way of displaying that so that they can teach their friends or other family members,” she suggested.

“It’s been really, really good to boost their self confidence.”

Grade 6 student, Kavon Bernard is excited about the potential. He’d like to “make animations, set them up to the internet and get famous on animation.”

The students, working in teams of two, prepared one to two minute animation projects which they shared with other students, family members and elders. Lieutenant Governor Frank Lewis and former premier Robert Ghiz, a member of the Prince’s Charities Advisory Council were in attendance for the presentations.

“Lots of big, big smiles today,” Gorrill said in describing her students’ sense of accomplishment.

Rowe said schools involved in the pilot project also receive a year of ongoing support.


by Diriana Teran at March 20, 2017 08:24 PM

March 09, 2017


Ethiopia: A New Project

OLPC San Francisco will be hosting our monthly meeting Saturday, March 11th, from 10:30AM - 1PM at the downtown SFSU campus, 835 Market Street, 6th floor, room 609.

Please RSVP:


This month, the **new** OLPC XO-NL3 Laptop is going to Ethiopia. Come and see the new device at work. We'll have a discussion with the project lead Andreas Gros of Facebook and project computer expert Sameer Verma of SFSU. Discussion will be moderated by Alex Kleider.

We will have Ethiopian coffee and light snacks.

- Meet and greet
- Ethiopia and the new OLPC XO-NL3 Laptop
- Project updates
- Project working time

Our meetings are held on the second Saturday of every month. Everyone is welcome to join us for our monthly meeting! We'll be discussing the latest in OLPC events and give updates on our local (and global) projects. There will be plenty of XO laptops with the latest builds to play around with, too.

by sverma at March 09, 2017 04:03 AM

March 08, 2017

One Laptop per Child

Innovation Center – Zamora Terán Foundation- Nicaragua.


Our vision olpc 1

What is the Innovation Center?

It is a space for ideas and creativity. With volunteers and partners commited to improving the learning process, we have developed innovative and sustainable projects to increase the quality of education in an effort to transform communities.

How was it created?

In order to support the incredible potential of Nicaragua and Central America, the Extremeña Agency of International Cooperation for Development (AEXCID) through the Foundation for Development of Science and Technology (FUNDECYT-PCTEX) providded funding and supported the creation of the Experimentation and Free Software Development Center in 2015.

Our Philosophy

We believe the transformation of the educational community depends on the development of educators. This is why our projects focus on strengthening human talent through simple and low cost solutions to complex situations.

“Innovative Learning”

As our world evolves, we must adapt through the use of innovative learning methodologies.


Humanizing Robotics

Given the significant contribution of robotics to education and human development, we work to “humanize robotics” as robotics serves to strengthen 21st Century skills in children, teachers and families.

* Robots are built using free hardware, which allows the incorporation of recycled parts.

* Teachers use the XO Laptop to teach robotics, math, physics, natural sciences and community projects.

We utilize the methodologies and functions of four types of robotics platforms: Arduino, Icaro, PicoBoard and PiBot:

  • An electronic and open source platform, Arduino is easy to understand and use. We use it to teach electronics and to demonstrate the functions of all of the components in the breadboard.
  • Is a free hardware platform that can be programmed using the XO Laptop and TurtleArt activity.
  • With light and sound sensors, this robotic board can be programmed using the Scratch activity. It is used by children in participating schools to play music and other programming activities contained in the XO Laptop.
  • Is a Rasberry Pi robotics kit with ultrasonic sensors. It can be controlled using Wi-Fi.

14480711_1261142853936110_93835016129170463_oFotos FZT. fb

by Diriana Teran at March 08, 2017 04:47 PM

March 07, 2017

One Laptop per Child

OLPC and the Foundation Zamora Teran, participated in a photo exhibit hosted by the United Nations as part of the 55th Commission on Social Development.

OLPC and the Foundation Zamora Teran, participated in a photo exhibit hosted by the United Nations as part of the 55th Commission on Social Development. The exhibition was held at the UN headquarters in NYC during February of 2017. The exhibit focused on efforts around the world to implement strategies for eradicating poverty to achieve sustainable development for all. OLPC and FZT were featured due to their work to eradicate poverty through education. Please click here to see the photos:


Photo-ExhibitionSalomón de la Selva (2) Gemelas

by Diriana Teran at March 07, 2017 06:48 PM

Fundación Gente Unida: A People United

In 1992, Father Jorge Villalobos Ortega, a Mexican priest, arrived in the city of Medellin, Antioquia, and beyond the beauty of his mountains he could see the belts of misery that surrounded the Valley of Aburrá.

He asked a group of young people to whom he lectured on human value: Why are we indifferent to the situation of poverty and violence in Medellin?

In response, the group began to visit the surrounding community in order to experience its reality. The group visited with the families of the Moravia neighborhood, the Morro sector, the old dump of Medellín, in order to better understand the community’s needs. Local residents had an opportunity to share their dreams and ideals with the group.

In 1993, the group opened an educational room and 33 children came to receive an education. It became clear to Father Villalobos and his group that the community needed education and training in order to become the creators of a better future.

A People United and Youth for Peace Foundation

These experiences led to the creation of a People United and Youth For Peace Foundation, a non-governmental organization dedicated to providing education, training and protection to vulnerable children and young people, in order to meet their educational and training needs. The Foundation provides resources, continuous training and social responsibility exercises in order to improve the quality of life in the community.

The Foundation provides  protection and education to the most vulnerable population of Medellín and its metropolitan area. Currently, there are five  Educational Centers located in the most vulnerable areas of the city, including the Moravia, Santo Domingo (La Esperanza), Manrique (La Honda), Belén (Villa Café) and Robledo (Pajarito) neighborhoods. The Foundation feeds more than 3,200 children, young people and adults. It provides educational opportunities from Early Childhood, Pre-school, Basic Primary, Basic Secondary to Adult Education. It houses  170 children and young people in the Bohio de María Home who have suffered domestic violence, abuse or neglect. These children and young adults receive counseling, education and training and range from 3 months of age to university graduates.

At present, 1399 XO Laptops are being used in the educational centers. The educational component is supported by the Marina Orth Foundation.

http://www.genteunida.org.co/fundacion-gente-unida-5Fundacion Gente Unida Bloggente-unida-12

by Diriana Teran at March 07, 2017 06:20 PM

March 04, 2017

ICT4D Views from the Field

SolarSPELL goes to the Capitol! (in Phoenix)

img_7734The ASU alumni association played host to ASU Day at the Capitol on February 21, 2017, and SolarSPELL had the opportunity to spread the word about our solar digital library to lawmakers, interested citizens, and ASU alums.


It’s always exciting when Sparky shows up!


The SolarSPELL team had the opportunity to demonstrate how the SolarSPELL works to Christine Wilkinson, President and CEO of the ASU Alumni Association (she is also the Senior Vice President and Secretary of the University).




With the Arizona State Capitol serving as a beautiful backdrop, the SolarSPELL team explained the purpose, goals, progress, and mission of the digital library project on camera. We greatly anticipate the published interview!


All photos courtesy of Marissa Huth, School for the Future of Innovation in Society, Arizona State University. Thanks, Marissa!


by ljhosman at March 04, 2017 07:09 PM

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February 14, 2017

Sridhar Dhanapalan

Creating an Education Programme

OLPC Australia had a strong presence at linux.conf.au 2012 in Ballarat, two weeks ago.

I gave a talk in the main keynote room about our educational programme, in which I explained our mission and how we intend to achieve it.

Even if you saw my talk at OSDC 2011, I recommend that you watch this one. It is much improved and contains new and updated material. The YouTube version is above, but a higher quality version is available for download from Linux Australia.

The references for this talk are on our development wiki.

Here’s a better version of the video I played near the beginning of my talk:

I should start by pointing out that OLPC is by no means a niche or minor project. XO laptops are in the hands of 8000 children in Australia, across 130 remote communities. Around the world, over 2.5 million children, across nearly 50 countries, have an XO.

Investment in our Children’s Future

The key point of my talk is that OLPC Australia have a comprehensive education programme that highly values teacher empowerment and community engagement.

The investment to provide a connected learning device to every one of the 300 000 children in remote Australia is less than 0.1% of the annual education and connectivity budgets.

For low socio-economic status schools, the cost is only $80 AUD per child. Sponsorships, primarily from corporates, allow us to subsidise most of the expense (you too can donate to make a difference). Also keep in mind that this is a total cost of ownership, covering the essentials like teacher training, support and spare parts, as well as the XO and charging rack.

While our principal focus is on remote, low socio-economic status schools, our programme is available to any school in Australia. Yes, that means schools in the cities as well. The investment for non-subsidised schools to join the same programme is only $380 AUD per child.

Comprehensive Education Programme

We have a responsibility to invest in our children’s education — it is not just another market. As a not-for-profit, we have the freedom and the desire to make this happen. We have no interest in vendor lock-in; building sustainability is an essential part of our mission. We have no incentive to build a dependency on us, and every incentive to ensure that schools and communities can help themselves and each other.

We only provide XOs to teachers who have been sufficiently enabled. Their training prepares them to constructively use XOs in their lessons, and is formally recognised as part of their professional development. Beyond the minimum 15-hour XO-certified course, a teacher may choose to undergo a further 5-10 hours to earn XO-expert status. This prepares them to be able to train other teachers, using OLPC Australia resources. Again, we are reducing dependency on us.

OLPC Australia certifications

Training is conducted online, after the teacher signs up to our programme and they receive their XO. This scales well to let us effectively train many teachers spread across the country. Participants in our programme are encouraged to participate in our online community to share resources and assist one another.

OLPC Australia online training process
Online training process

We also want to recognise and encourage children who have shown enthusiasm and aptitude, with our XO-champion and XO-mechanic certifications. Not only does this promote sustainability in the school and give invaluable skills to the child, it reinforces our core principle of Child Ownership. Teacher aides, parents, elders and other non-teacher adults have the XO-basics (formerly known as XO-local) course designed for them. We want the child’s learning experience to extend to the home environment and beyond, and not be constrained by the walls of the classroom.

There’s a reason why I’m wearing a t-shirt that says “No, I won’t fix your computer.” We’re on a mission to develop a programme that is self-sustaining. We’ve set high goals for ourselves, and we are determined to meet them. We won’t get there overnight, but we’re well on our way. Sustainability is about respect. We are taking the time to show them the ropes, helping them to own it, and developing our technology to make it easy. We fundamentally disagree with the attitude that ordinary people are not capable enough to take control of their own futures. Vendor lock-in is completely contradictory to our mission. Our schools are not just consumers; they are producers too.

As explained by Jonathan Nalder (a highly recommended read!), there are two primary notions guiding our programme. The first is that the nominal $80 investment per child is just enough for a school to take the programme seriously and make them a stakeholder, greatly improving the chances for success. The second is that this is a schools-centric programme, driven from grassroots demand rather than being a regime imposed from above. Schools that participate genuinely want the programme to succeed.

OLPC Australia programme cycle
Programme cycle

Technology as an Enabler

Enabling this educational programme is the clever development and use of technology. That’s where I (as Engineering Manager at OLPC Australia) come in. For technology to be truly intrinsic to education, there must be no specialist expertise required. Teachers aren’t IT professionals, and nor should they be expected to be. In short, we are using computers to teach, not teaching computers.

The key principles of the Engineering Department are:

  • Technology is an integral and seamless part of the learning experience – the pen and paper of the 21st century.
  • To eliminate dependence on technical expertise, through the development and deployment of sustainable technologies.
  • Empowering children to be content producers and collaborators, not just content consumers.
  • Open platform to allow learning from mistakes… and easy recovery.

OLPC have done a marvellous job in their design of the XO laptop, giving us a fantastic platform to build upon. I think that our engineering projects in Australia have been quite innovative in helping to cover the ‘last mile’ to the school. One thing I’m especially proud of is our instance on openness. We turn traditional systems administration practice on its head to completely empower the end-user. Technology that is deployed in corporate or educational settings is typically locked down to make administration and support easier. This takes control completely away from the end-user. They are severely limited on what they can do, and if something doesn’t work as they expect then they are totally at the mercy of the admins to fix it.

In an educational setting this is disastrous — it severely limits what our children can learn. We learn most from our mistakes, so let’s provide an environment in which children are able to safely make mistakes and recover from them. The software is quite resistant to failure, both at the technical level (being based on Fedora Linux) and at the user interface level (Sugar). If all goes wrong, reinstalling the operating system and restoring a journal (Sugar user files) backup is a trivial endeavour. The XO hardware is also renowned for its ruggedness and repairability. Less well-known are the amazing diagnostics tools, providing quick and easy indication that a component should be repaired/replaced. We provide a completely unlocked environment, with full access to the root user and the firmware. Some may call that dangerous, but I call that empowerment. If a child starts hacking on an XO, we want to hire that kid 🙂


My talk features the case study of Doomadgee State School, in far-north Queensland. Doomadgee have very enthusiastically taken on board the OLPC Australia programme. Every one of the 350 children aged 4-14 have been issued with an XO, as part of a comprehensive professional development and support programme. Since commencing in late 2010, the percentage of Year 3 pupils at or above national minimum standards in numeracy has leapt from 31% in 2010 to 95% in 2011. Other scores have also increased. Think what you may about NAPLAN, but nevertheless that is a staggering improvement.

In federal parliament, Robert Oakeshott MP has been very supportive of our mission:

Most importantly of all, quite simply, One Laptop per Child Australia delivers results in learning from the 5,000 students already engaged, showing impressive improvements in closing the gap generally and lifting access and participation rates in particular.

We are also engaged in longitudinal research, working closely with respected researchers to have a comprehensive evaluation of our programme. We will release more information on this as the evaluation process matures.

Join our mission

Schools can register their interest in our programme on our Education site.

Our Prospectus provides a high-level overview.

For a detailed analysis, see our Policy Document.

If you would like to get involved in our technical development, visit our development site.


Many thanks to Tracy Richardson (Education Manager) for some of the information and graphics used in this article.

by Sridhar Dhanapalan at February 14, 2017 05:35 AM

February 13, 2017

ICT4D Views from the Field

SolarSPELL Featured on Cronkite News

The SolarSPELL digital library was featured on the Feb. 7 2017 edition of Cronkite News, the news division of Arizona PBS.

by ljhosman at February 13, 2017 04:40 AM

February 02, 2017

Jim Gettys

Home products that fix/mitigate bufferbloat…

My New Years resolution is to restart blogging.jigsawfish2

Bufferbloat is the most common underlying cause of most variable bad performance on the Internet; it is called “lag” by gamers.

Trying to steer anything the size of the Internet into a better direction is very slow and difficult at best. From the time changes in the upstream operating systems are complete to when consumers can buy new product is typically four years caused by the broken and insecure ecosystem in the embedded device market. Chip vendors, box vendors, I’m looking at you… So much of what is now finally appearing in the market is based on work that is often four years old. Market pull may do what push has not.

See What to do About Bufferbloat for general information. And the DSLReports Speedtest makes it easy to test for bufferbloat. But new commercial products are becoming increasingly available.  Here’s some of them.


The fq_codel & cake work going on in the bufferbloat project is called SQM – “smart queue management.” This SQM work is specifically targeted at mitigating the bufferbloat in the “last mile,” your cable/DSL/fiber connection, by careful queue management and an artificial bandwidth bottleneck added in your home router (since most modems do no perform flow control to the home router, unfortunately).

Modems require built in AQM algorithms, such as those just beginning to reach the market in DOCSIS 3.1. I just ordered one of these for my house to see if it functions better than the SQM mitigation (almost certainly not), but at least these should not require the manual tuning that SQM does.

To fix bufferbloat in WiFi requires serious changes in the WiFi driver in your home router (which typically runs Linux), and in your device (laptop/phone/tablet).  The device driver work was first released as part of the LEDE project, in January 2017 for initially just a couple of WiFi chip types.

Evenroute IQrouter

First up, I’d like call out the Evenroute IQrouter, which has a variant of SQM that deals with “sag”. DSL users have often suffered more than other broadband users, due to bad bloat in the modems compounded by minimal bandwidth, so the DSL version of the IQrouter is particularly welcome.   Often DSL ISP’s seem to have the tendency (seemingly more often than ISPs with other technologies) to under provision their back haul, causing “sag” at different times of day/week.  This makes the static configuration techniques we’ve used in LEDE/OpenWrt SQM ineffective, as you have to give away too much bandwidth if a fixed bandwidth is used.  I love the weasel words “up to” some speed used by many ISPs. It is one thing for your service to degrade for a short period of days or weeks while an ISP takes action to provision more bandwidth to an area; it is another for your bandwidth to routinely vary by large factors for weeks/months and years.

I sent a DSL Evenroute IQrouter to my brother in Pennsylvania recently and arranged for one for a co-worker, and they are working well, and Rich Brown has had similarly good experiences. Evenroute has been working hard to make the installation experience easy. Best yet, is that the IQrouter is autoconfiguring and figures out for you what to do in the face of “sag” in your Internet service, something that may be a “killer feature” if you suffer lots of “sag” from your ISP. The IQrouter is therefore the first “out of the box” device I can recommend to almost anyone, rather than just my geek friends.

The IQRouter does not yet have the very recent wonderful WiFi results of Toke and Dave (more about coming this in a separate post), but has the capability for over the air updates and one hopes debloated WiFi and ATF will come to it reasonably soon. The new WiFi stack is just going upstream into Linux and LEDE/OpenWRT as I write this post.  DSL users seldom have enough bandwidth for the WiFi hop to be the bottleneck; so the WiFi work is much more important for Cable and fiber users at higher bandwidth than for DSL users stuck at low bandwidth.

Ubiquiti Edgerouter

I’ve bought an Ubiquiti Edgerouter X on recommendation of Dave Taht but not yet put it into service. Router performance can be an issue on high end cable or fiber service. It is strictly an Ethernet router, lacking WiFi interfaces; but in my house, where the wiring is down in the basement, that’s what I need.  The Edgerouter starts at around $50; the POE version I bought around $75.

The Edgerouter story is pretty neat – Dave Taht did the backport 2? years back. Ubiquti’s user community jumped all over it and polished it up, adding support to their conf tools and GUI, and Ubiquiti recognized what they had and shipped it as part of their next release.

SQM is available in recent releases of Ubituiti’s Edgerouter firmware.  SQM itself is easy to configure. But the Edgerouter overall requires considerable configuration before it is useful in the home environment, however, and its firmware web interface is aimed at IT people rather than most home users. I intend this to replace my primary router TP-Link Archer C7v2 someday soon, as it is faster than the TP-Link since Comcast keeps increasing my bandwidth without asking me.  I wish the Ubiquiti had a “make me into a home router” wizard that would make it immediately usable for most people, as its price is low enough for some home users to be interested in it.   I believe one can install LEDE/OpenWrt on the Edgerouter, which I may do if I find its IT staff oriented web interface too unusable.

LEDE/OpenWrt and BSD for the Geeks

If you are adventurous enough to reflash firmware, anything runnable on OpenWrt/LEDE of the last few years has SQM available. You take the new LEDE release for a spin. If your router has an Ath9k WiFi chip (or a later version of the Ath10k WiFi chip), or you buy a new router with the right chips in them, you can play with the new WiFi goodness now in LEDE (noted above). There is a very wide variety of home routers that can benefit from reflashing. Its web UI is tolerably decent, better than many commercial vendors I have seen.

WiFi chip vendors should take careful note of the stupendous improvements available in the Linux mac802.11 framework for bufferbloat elimination and air time fairness. If you don’t update to the new interfaces and get your code into LEDE, you’re going to be at a great disadvantage to Atheros in the market.

dd-wrt, asuswrt, ipfire, all long ago added support for SQM. It will be interesting to see how long it takes them to pick up the stunning WiFi work.

The pcengines APU2 is a good “DIY” router for higher speeds. Dave has not yet tried LEDE on it yet, but will. He uses it presently on Ubuntu….

BSD users recently got fq_codel in opnsense, so the BSD crowd are making progress.

Other Out of the Box Devices

The Turris Omnia is particularly interesting for very fast broadband service and can run LEDE as well; but unfortunately,  it seems only available in Europe at this time.  We think the Netduma router has SQM support, though it is not entirely clear what they’ve done; it is a bit pricey for my taste, and I don’t happen to know anyone who has one.

Cable Modems

Cable users may find that upgrading to a new DOCSIS 3.1 modem is helpful (though that does not solve WiFi bufferbloat).  The new DOCSIS 3.1 standard requires AQM.  While I don’t believe PIE anywhere as good as fq_codel (lacking flow queuing), the DOCSIS 3.1 standard at least requires an AQM, and PIE should help and does not require manual upstream bandwidth tuning.  Maybe someday we’ll find some fq_codel (or fq_pie) based cable modems.  Here’s hoping…

Under the Covers, Hidden

Many home routers vendors make bold claims they have proprietary cool features, but these are usually smoke and mirrors. Wireless mesh devices without bufferbloat reduction are particularly suspect and most likely to require manual RF engineering beyond most users. They require very high signal strength and transfer rates to avoid the worst of bufferbloat. Adding lots more routers without debloating and not simultaneously attacking transmit power control is a route to WiFi hell for everyone. The LEDE release is the first to have the new WiFi bits needed to make wireless mesh more practical. No one we know of has been working on minimizing transmit power to reduce interference between mesh nodes. So we are very skeptical of these products.

There are now a rapidly increasing number of products out there with SQM goodness under the covers, sometimes implemented well, and sometimes not so well, and more as the months go by.

One major vendor put support for fq_codel/SQM under the covers of one product using a tradename, promptly won an award, but then started using that tradename on inferior products in their product line that did not have real queue management. I can’t therefore vouch for any product line tradename that does not acknowledge publicly how it works and that the tradename means that it really has SQM under the covers. Once burned, three times shy. That product therefore does not deserve a mention due to the behavior of the vendor. “Bait and switch” is not what anyone needs.

Coming Soon…

We have wind of a number of vendors’ plans who have not quite reached the market, but it is up to them to announce their products.

If you find new products or ISP’s that do really well, let us know, particularly if they actually say what they are doing. We need to start some web pages to keep track of commercial products.

by gettys at February 02, 2017 08:00 AM

January 30, 2017

Sayamindu Dasgupta

Supporting children in doing data science

As children use digital media to learn and socialize, others are collecting and analyzing data about these activities. In school and at play, these children find that they are the subjects of data science. As believers in the power of data analysis, we believe that this approach falls short of data science’s potential to promote innovation, learning, and power.

Motivated by this fact, we have been working over the last three years as part of a team at the MIT Media Lab and the University of Washington to design and build a system that attempts to support an alternative vision: children as data scientists. The system we have built is described in a new paper—Scratch Community Blocks: Supporting Children as Data Scientists—that will be published in the proceedings of CHI 2017.

Our system is built on top of Scratch, a visual, block-based programming language designed for children and youth. Scratch is also an online community with over 15 million registered members who share their Scratch projects, remix each others’ work, have conversations, provide feedback, bookmark or “love” projects they like, follow other users, and more. Over the last decade, researchers—including us—have used the Scratch online community’s database to study the youth using Scratch. With Scratch Community Blocks, we attempt to put the power to programmatically analyze these data into the hands of the users themselves.

To do so, our new system adds a set of new programming primitives (blocks) to Scratch so that users can access public data from the Scratch website from inside Scratch. Blocks in the new system gives users access to project and user metadata, information about social interaction, and data about what types of code are used in projects. The full palette of blocks to access different categories of data is shown below.

Project metadata User metadata Site-wide statistics

The new blocks allow users to programmatically access, filter, and analyze data about their own participation in the community. For example, with the simple script below, we can find whether we have followers in Scratch who report themselves to be from Spain, and what their usernames are.

In designing the system, we had two primary motivations. First, we wanted to support avenues through which children can engage in curiosity-driven, creative explorations of public Scratch data. Second, we wanted to foster self-reflection with data. As children looked back upon their own participation and coding activity in Scratch through the project they and their peers made, we wanted them to reflect on their own behavior and learning in ways that shaped their future behavior and promoted exploration.

After designing and building the system over 2014 and 2015, we invited a group of active Scratch users to beta test the system in early 2016. Over four months, 700 users created more than 1,600 projects. The diversity and depth of users creativity with the new blocks surprised us. Children created projects that gave the viewer of the project a personalized doughnut-chart visualization of their coding vocabulary on Scratch, rendered the viewer’s number of followers as scoops of ice-cream on a cone, attempted to find whether “love-its” for projects are more common on Scratch than “favorites”, and told users how “talkative” they were by counting the cumulative string-length of project titles and descriptions.

We found that children, rather than making canonical visualizations such as pie-charts or bar-graphs, frequently made information representations that spoke to their own identities and aesthetic sensibilities. A 13-year-old girl had made a virtual doll dress-up game where the player’s ability to buy virtual clothes and accessories for the doll was determined by the level of their activity in the Scratch community. When we asked about her motivation for making such a project, she said:

I was trying to think of something that somebody hadn’t done yet, and I didn’t see that. And also I really like to do art on Scratch and that was a good opportunity to use that and mix the two [art and data] together.

We also found at least some evidence that the system supported self-reflection with data. For example, after seeing a project that showed its viewers a visualization of their past coding vocabulary, a 15-year-old realized that he does not do much programming with the pen-related primitives in Scratch, and wrote in a comment, “epic! looks like we need to use more pen blocks. :D.”

Doughnut visualization Ice-cream visualization Data-driven doll dress up

Additionally, we noted that that as children made and interacted with projects made with Scratch Community Blocks, they started to critically think about the implications of data collection and analysis. These conversations are the subject of another paper (also being published in CHI 2017).

In a 1971 article called “Teaching Children to be Mathematicians vs. Teaching About Mathematics”, Seymour Papert argued for the need for children doing mathematics vs. learning about it. He showed how Logo, the programming language he was developing at that time with his colleagues, could offer children a space to use and engage with mathematical ideas in creative and personally motivated ways. This, he argued, enabled children to go beyond knowing about mathematics to “doing” mathematics, as a mathematician would.

Scratch Community Blocks has not yet been launched for all Scratch users and has several important limitations we discuss in the paper. That said, we feel that the projects created by children in our the beta test demonstrate the real potential for children to do data science, and not just know about it, provide data for it, and to have their behavior nudged and shaped by it.

This blog-post and the work that it describes is a collaborative project with Benjamin Mako Hill. We have also received support and feedback from members of the Scratch team at MIT (especially Mitch Resnick and Natalie Rusk), as well as from Hal Abelson from MIT CSAIL. Financial support came from the US National Science Foundation. We will be presenting this paper at CHI in May, and will be thrilled to talk more about our work and about future directions.

by Sayamindu Dasgupta at January 30, 2017 05:00 AM

January 27, 2017

Hands of Charity XO Project | Kenya

Children of the World are Our Most Precious Resource

Rethinking Learning & Seymour at MIT yesterday.  It was called ‘thinking about thinking about Seymour.

alanngloriaminskyYesterday Alan Papert, his family and myself participated in an event at MIT gathering the Seymour Papert people together to ‘rethink’ his message and what we might be doing about it now.

We heard from Nicholas Negroponte who said “Children of the World are our Most Precious Resource.  That teaching is empowering children to think for themselves, to build confidence in their thinking, and the way Seymour Papert kept this in the fore front of his work when he talked about ‘Powerful Ideas’

Here are some of the quotable messages:
Math is a language for understanding the world’.

Programming (Scratch)  is a language for learning and doing math thinking.

Here is a link to more stories from the event:  https://www.media.mit.edu/videos/seymour-2017-01-26/


by smallsolutionsbigideas at January 27, 2017 03:58 PM

January 15, 2017

Juan Chacon Free Software & Education | El Salvador

Welcome to PIXEL!

A little over a week ago an old friend from the OLPC Learning Club DC, Kim Toufectis, dropped by our Thursday night Code for NOVA meetup and we took to chatting about what's going on in the world of the free software education community. A group of us at the Code for NOVA meetup have been exploring the Raspberry Pi. While admittedly a bit far removed from Code for America's civic hacking mission, the Raspberry Pi and the growing community around it are providing wonderful educational resources for learning to program in Python, and learning to use and manage GNU/Linux computer systems, both of which will be extremely useful for folks coming to our meetup wanting to acquire the skills they need to contribute to civic hacking projects.

From Raspbian to Debian + PIXEL

What Kim told me about that excited me the most was the recently released i386 port of the desktop used on the Raspberry Pi. I've been following the Raspberry Pi since I came home from Pycon 2013 with 4 of them. What makes this new port a potential game changer is that it would allow me to run the same desktop on both the computers in my classroom and on the Raspberry Pi's. This means that the Pi's amazing collection of educational resources could be used without change on my lab computers.

At present, i386 Debian + PIXEL is only available as a live image that boots from either DVD or USB.  I want to be able to install it on the hard drive of lab machines, and indeed I have an old Dell laptop that won't boot from USB which has only a CDROM drive, so neither of the available options would work on this machine. I also want to be able to run it in virtual machines using KVM on my Ubuntu hosts. With the help of two resourceful students, I developed the following first draft of a process by which to do this.

Installing the Debian + PIXEL Desktop on a KVM Virtual Machine

1. Start with a base Debian 8 (Jessie) i386 install

I used a netinstall iso image, which is both really small and which provides maximum flexibility, as long as you have an available network connection on the machine on which you are installing.

Since I don't know yet which of the general option offered by the installer provide which specific software, I decided to deselect everything and use the minimal installation offered.  I allocated 1 Gig of RAM, 1 processor, and 20 Gigs of virtual hard drive space to this machine.

2. Login to the completed virtual machine as root and run the following commands:
# apt install ssh sudo vim
# add user [username] sudo
# ifconfig
I got the IP address of the virtual machine from ifconfig, I used ssh to connect to it from a GNOME Terminal on the host machine, so that I could easily copy and paste the rest of the commands I wanted to run.  Here is a screenshot showing the virtual machine running in the Virtual Machine Manager and the GNOME Terminal session preparing to ssh into it:

3. Get the gpg key and setup the apt repositories. Run:
Arlington Career Center
$ wget http://archive.raspberrypi.org/debian/raspberrypi.gpg.key
$ sudo apt-key add raspberrypi.gpg.key
 Then set the contents of /etc/apt/sources.list to:
deb http://httpredir.debian.org/debian/ jessie main contrib non-free
deb-src http://httpredir.debian.org/debian/ jessie main contrib non-free
deb http://security.debian.org/ jessie/updates main contrib non-free
deb-src http://security.debian.org/ jessie/updates main contrib non-free
deb http://httpredir.debian.org/debian/ jessie-updates main contrib non-free
deb-src http://httpredir.debian.org/debian/ jessie-updates main contrib non-free
and set the contents of /etc/apt/sources.list.d/raspi.list to:
deb http://archive.raspberrypi.org/debian/ jessie main ui staging
# Uncomment line below then 'apt-get update' to enable 'apt-get source'
#deb-src http://archive.raspberrypi.org/debian/ jessie main ui
4. Install the PIXEL desktop. Run:
$ sudo apt update
$ sudo apt dist-upgrade
$ sudo apt install desktop-base pix-plym-splash
$ sudo apt install lxde dhcpcd-gtk
$ sudo apt install pi-greeter pi-package pimixer pipanel
$ sudo apt install raspberrypi-artwork raspberrypi-net-mods
$ sudo apt install raspberrypi-sys-mods raspberrypi-ui-mods
$ sudo apt install chromium
 After this, I exited from the ssh session and rebooted the virtual machine, again accessing it through the Virtual Machine Manager.  Here is what greeted me:
Logging in revealed:
After running LXRandR and tweeking the LXTerminal to my liking, I arrived at:

This is only a very rough process at this stage. The menus will require configuration to match what students see on both the Raspberry Pi and the Live image of Debian + PIXEL.

The next step for us at the Arlington Career Center will be to reach out to the Raspberry Pi community and see if we can begin contributing directly to the project. The OLPC Learning Club DC was the most exciting user group in which I've ever had the pleasure to participate.  It brought together an eclectic mix free software geeks, scientists, hobbyists, and parents with their young geniuses to be into the kind of gather that just leads to great things.  I'm hoping that the local Raspberry Pi community we are beginning to create can at least approach the magic of that experience.

by jelkner (noreply@blogger.com) at January 15, 2017 02:25 AM

January 14, 2017

Ghana Together

We Can Only Say Thank You

Yes, we are grateful!
The 2nd term of the school year is launched in Axim, Ghana, and we’re happy to report that thanks to YOU, we are able to keep 74 students in school. Support ranges from 100%, including tuition, room, board, books, uniform, underwear, etc. to just tuition with extended families picking up the other costs.

Here’s the breakdown of students

-One is in her senior year of nursing school
-Four are in academic senior high school
-Fourteen are in vocational senior high school
-One is apprenticing with an auto mechanic/garage association
-Two are in junior high
-Fifty-two are in primary school

Most, if not all, simply would not be in school without our help. They pretty much fall into what the Ghana Ministry of Women and Children calls “OVCs” (orphaned and vulnerable children).
In addition, there are 25 boxes of books somewhere on the Atlantic Ocean right now, thanks to a wonderful “chain” that starts with generous donations of high-quality children’s books and culminates with Ghanaian ex-pats who arrange shipping, get the boxes from the ship, and deliver them all the way to Axim Public Library.
They will arrive at the Port in Tema in February and after that to Axim. Thanks to all the hands in the chain!
We add our congratulations to the people of Ghana for holding a peaceful election, and orderly transfer of power on Jan 7, 2017 from President Mahama and the National Democratic Party to the new President, Nana Akufo-Addo, and the New Patriotic Party. The NPP also won a majority in Parliament.
This was their 7th election under their democracy, and with Mr. Addo, they have had 4 different men as President, under their present democratic system.
We really enjoyed President Addo’s inauguration outfit---a mix of traditional kente but with splashes of NOT so traditional hearts, flowers…not sure what it all meant...maybe honoring tradition but signaling love of country with the hearts and new innovative solutions with the flowers, or??--- but it was splendid by all accounts!


Email: info@ghanatogether.org  (or just respond to this email)

Mailing Address: 808 Addison Place, Mount Vernon, WA 98273
We are a US-registered 501c3, FED EIN 2182965

by Ghana Together (noreply@blogger.com) at January 14, 2017 06:29 PM

XOs in Honduras

News report on San Miguelito

The first XO program that I know about in Honduras was in San Miguelito.  This is a news report about the town in Spanish.   San Miguelito video  This part of Honduras still needs a lot of development to improve the lives of its citizens.

by Becky Young (noreply@blogger.com) at January 14, 2017 06:14 AM

January 12, 2017

OLPC Basecamp @ Malacca, Malaysia

dLEAP into 2017

It has been more then six months since my last blog entry. Alot has happen over this period. The dLEAP initiative in Malaysia is growing in support. Towards the end of 2016,  forty 50 XO4s were shipped by OLPC Asia to support the project. The local team collected the old and worn out XO1 and replaced them with this newer XO4 touch screen model. Each kid was given a bag and towel with a strong message that they were responsible to keep it clean and functioning.

A visit in Jan 10, 2017 confirmed that the children were indeed looking after their laptop.

In the next few months we hope more children will have access to their own XO, There are harder to reach children who lives deep in the jungle with their families. We hope this current group of children will become ambassadors to help their peers in different circumstances.

I have written an evaluation on the 3 years of dLEAP for documentations.

by T.K. Kang (noreply@blogger.com) at January 12, 2017 03:16 AM

January 02, 2017

Hands of Charity XO Project | Kenya

Vacation Camps at Bungoma Center & Wildlife Studies

For the last 5 years the Hands of Charity Team in the Bungoma County Bukokholo village have held Vacation or Term Break Camps open to any student who shows up at the door.  The schools have three breaks a year between the terms .During these breaks, children are idle and can get in trouble.  Our Bungoma Hands of Charity team has provided consistently  engaging Project Based Learning activities during these time periods.  These children continue to learn and apply their learning to real world problems.

The first year they would drop into a village in the area to bring computers at what they called Friendly Corners.  In the next years they based their heavily attended programs locally and  took students into the community to examine the impact of plastic trash, study the conditions and treatment of jiggers.  They  learned mathematics, used Scratch programming tools, and most actively studied endangered elephants, rhinos and lions.

For several the Hands of Charity teachers requested funding to take the students and teachers to a Wildlife Park to see the animals they had learned to love and passionately depict in their art.  Their village is several hours from places where they can see these species in a park.  We are hoping that the funds we receive from the sale of the student art and donations will be sufficient for a trip in the near future.

A message from  George Newman of One Planet Education Network who been working with Hands of Charity to connect Bungoma kids to the world with the wildlife programs.
Bonnie (our leader) and his students have done exceptional work and continually work at learning more from our online education programs and real world based learning games.  They are a key part of our international network of students.
 …These Bungoma students will be a leading part of this international student effort ahead in winter spring 2017!  …It truly is vital, we totally believe at OPEN that nothing can replace seeing live animals in the semi-wild environments.   That is so important for students who are now isolated from major wildlife species and habitats due to overdevelopment and poaching (need for game reserves and parks), to see animals up close and personal and NOT in the generally awful confinement of a zoo.  
That way these students can actually empathize with the animals, relate their work better on what they will be doing in the semesters ahead.  And if these students get to go very soon to this park visit, they will be able to speak from experience, with great authority and enthusiasm when they next Skype with their international peers in DR Congo, Italy, Haiti, Brooklyn and Bronx Schools, North Carolina and, Amman, Jordan to name a few.  The impact will be contagious I guarantee, further motivating the others.
Sandra and I are formulating for advancing both our organizations good work.  All the Best for the New Year for you All, and thank you for considering my point of view on this opportunity.



Elvis and Friend







by smallsolutionsbigideas at January 02, 2017 02:32 AM

December 30, 2016

Hands of Charity XO Project | Kenya

December 20, 2016

ICT4D Views from the Field

Tonga Peace Corps embraces the SolarSPELL digital library


A team of students and faculty from Arizona State University (ASU) traveled to Tonga the second week of December 2016 to deliver their portable ruggedized solar-powered digital library for use in schools and communities across Tonga. The SPELL, or Solar Powered Educational Learning Library, is self- (solar) powered and generates an offline WiFi hotspot that delivers thousands of books, videos and educational content, much of which is specially curated for the Pacific Islands. The team delivered training to 16 US Peace Corps volunteers who teach in the local schools for two years, most as English-language teachers.



The day’s activities consisted of an overview of the history of the development and implementation of the SolarSPELL project; training on how to use the SolarSPELL’s hardware and software; a scavenger hunt to familiarize volunteers with the library’s content (with SolarSPELL t-shirts as prizes); a brainstorming session on how volunteers could use the SolarSPELL itself to collect stories from their communities and counterparts as well as to create new, localized educational content.



The team received email feedback from one volunteer the day after the training:


I just want to thank you for today. I know we were all really excited by the wonderful new technology and teaching possibilities, but I was really blown away by this project. You guys have really “thought of everything”. Working in a Developing country is challenging, but seeing your perseverance to deliver something you’re passionate about is inspiring in itself. I may be a “new” volunteer here, but I can’t wait to hit the ground running using this great new tool in my teacher tool box. I love the student involvement and the evolution of it all, and how simple you made it. This will be an amazing asset to me for my next 2 years– Thank you!



This implementation with the US Peace Corps in Tonga expands the SolarSPELL’s footprint to four Pacific Island nations, with prior deployments in Vanuatu, the Federated States of Micronesia, and Samoa. It is also the first SolarSPELL deployment that saw the team working in tandem with ASU’s library staff. Not only did ASU Assistant University Librarian Lorrie McAllister travel with the team and lead part of the Peace Corps training, the SPELL’s content rich website debuted a new, streamlined design that was developed in conjunction with a team of staff from ASU’s library, led by Deirdre Kermis.




by ljhosman at December 20, 2016 09:32 PM

December 16, 2016

XOs in Honduras

6th grade graduation

First, thank you for reading this.  Today was the 6th grade graduation in San Miguelito.  I felt so proud when I saw the pictures of the students I met in 2010 and 2011.  I have no way to tell at this time how the XOs have impacted the education of these students.  I hope to stay in touch with them and ask what they think when they meet other students in middle school who did not use computers.  The teacher made me the godmother of the graduating class, which was very touching.

I know that the students in the other two schools I worked in this summer have also finished the school year.  The second school in the area of San Miguelito received 14 computers in September.  One student called me about a month ago to ask why the teacher was collecting the XOs.  I explained that they needed to stay at the school for the students to use next year.

I also heard from the friend I made this summer who works with the government's national project.  She said they were receiving training on the XOs this week.  The implementation of this project has had some bumps, but hopefully it will move forward steadily.

by Becky Young (noreply@blogger.com) at December 16, 2016 07:34 AM

Un resumen en español

Escribi eso junto con la maestra de la escuela:

El 13 de Julio empezó el proyecto de los XOs en San Miguelito, F.M. en la escuela de el Zapote “Marco Aurelio Soto” . Había 20 maquinas- una para la maestra y 19 para los 29 alumnos. En los primeros días no había energía ni en la escuela ni en el pueblo. Entonces solo en la segunda semana usábamos los XOs.

Cuando por fin los niños tenían los XOs la enseñanza empezó con como encender la maquina, como abrir y cerrar una actividad, y la partes de maquina- antenas, micrófono, cámara, etc. También los niños aprendieron del sistema operativo Sugar y el vocabulario de la computadora, por ejemplo icono. Aprendieron del Diario y que se guarda automáticamente todo lo que ellos hacen. Practicaron como conectar una USB de memoria. Usaban las teclas de cambiar de vista principal hasta vecindad, de ver el marco, y de apagar actividades con Control + Q. Las primeros actividades que probaron eran Grabar, Hablar, y Maze (Laberinto). La maestra organizó una sesión de padres de familia y los niños mostraron a sus papas lo que han aprendido durante 2 días y tomaban fotos de los padres que llegaron.

Los niños se familiarizaron con otras actividades después- Pintar, Implode, Escribir. Ellos también usaban Rompecabeza, TamTamJam y Memorizar. A los niños les gustaban mucho las actividades con sonidos.

Un día los niños usaban Escribiendo a la Tortuga para practicar a teclar y familiarizarse con el teclado. Otro día la maestra presentó la actividad Tux Paint. Esa actividad tiene varias botones que tienen diferentes funciones. La escuela recibió 2 USBs de memoria con fichas, guías de maestro, y los libros de Lectura y de Español para los grados 1, y 3-6. Los niños abrieron los documentos en la actividad Leer. Practicaron como avanzar de pagina y como ampliarlas.

En la cuarta semana de usar los XOs las maestras enseñaban de Scratch. Esa actividad es muy avanzada y introduce a los niños a programación. Había 3 adultos ayudando a los niños a entender los menús y botones de Scratch.

En la quinto semana la clase paso un día usando TortugArte. El siguiente día la maestra noto que apareció un señal de Internet. Los niños se conectaron a la red y aun que no funcionó el Internet ellos podrían usar la actividad Charlar y unirse con otros para hacer otras actividades como Maze juntos.

La sexta semana los niños retroalimentaron la actividad Scratch, haciendo diferentes proyectos como una tarjeta de felicitaciones. También usaban la red para compartir la actividad Escribir. Los niños de primero y segundo practicaban con Tux Paint, Hablar, y los juegos de Scratch. Las maestras observaban que los niños usaban sus computadoras en maneras originales. Por ejemplo, unas niñas de primer grado usaban Hablar con sus libros de ciencia para entender las palabras que no sabían como leer. Otra niña encontró en Tux Paint dibujos de blanco y negro que uno puede colorear.

En conclusión podemos observar que los niños ya manejan las diferentes actividades de Sugar. Tienen suficiente conocimiento para seguir usando las computadores para aumentar su aprendizaje. Las maestras están contentas que el proyecto logró establecer sus metas propuestas. Los alumnos han progresado de ser principiantes en el uso de las computadores hasta tener un nivel intermedio. El día miércoles 25 de agosto, 2010, se hizo una despedida muy especial a la profesora Becky Young realizando un pequeño programa en donde en que le dieron palabras de agradecimiento de parte de la profesora Delia Suyapa Molina Funez y también participación de los alumnos y padres de familia.

by Becky Young (noreply@blogger.com) at December 16, 2016 07:34 AM


The school where I started the first XO project that I know of in Honduras just got renovated.  This school renovation is great for students and for the community.  I asked the teacher if any of the XOs from 6 years ago are working.  I think that very few if any of the 25+ XOs from 2010 and 2011 are working.  The 2015 school year was the first year since the start of the project that I did not visit the school while classes were in session.  In past years I made some repairs and bought some replacement chargers to keep the computers up and running.  Without someone on location maintaining the laptops, they break and don't get used.

Enjoy these pictures of the recent renovations.  It's something to celebrate.


by Becky Young (noreply@blogger.com) at December 16, 2016 07:33 AM

December 13, 2016

Ghana Together

It's All About SCHOOL in Axim, Ghana

These are most of the individual children we've have helped stay in school in 2016, in one way or another (a few of the little guys in blue uniforms couldn't be rounded up for the pic!). Fifteen of these students were in vocational school, learning needed trades. Dozens more were helped by library programs, school building renovations, dormitory hosting, new toilets, information technologies, and workshops.

Dear Friends,

We’ve had a good year!  On behalf of ourselves, our Ghanaian colleagues, and the many children we've helped, we give sincere thanks to all of you financial, in-kind, and “hard-work” investors! 

Please click HERE for our Annual Update Letter (if you haven't already seen it!)

...and HERE for News Updates with photos

Now we're focusing on 2017.

We and our friends in Axim have agreed to focus most of our efforts and resources in 2017 on getting and keeping Axim kids in school.

Here's why:

--Although Ghana has made great strides, and provides tuition-free education through junior high, there are still many children not in school in Axim.

--For some, the government-funded school is beyond reasonable walking distance.

--Some parents can’t come up with the $10 US for each of their children's uniforms, plus additional cost of underwear, notebook, pen, sandals, etc.

--Some students drop out to help fish or farm, so younger siblings can go to school.

--Maybe Mom’s market stall is the sole family income, and she cannot afford to send all her children.

--Maybe the student is capable, but can't fund vocational school, or senior high, which are not tuition-free at this point. 


We have been doing this for ten years, TOGETHER. We have developed effective ways to get and keep kids in school through our partnership with trusted colleagues in Axim, especially Operations Mgr. Evans Arloo’s strong recordkeeping/financial skills, Queen Mom Nana Adjow Sika’s knowledge of families and wise counsel, input from Headmasters/Mistresses, and James Kainyiah’s oversight and business acumen.

Yes, in some cases, we assume all school costs, including room and board. BUT, in most cases, we share responsibility with families.

Our aim is to get as many children as possible through Grade 6, minimum. At that level, they know basic math and English, can participate in their democratic system at the local and national level, read instructions, understand banking, send messages by mobile phone, etc.

And yes, we’ll definitely continue to send children's books to the Axim Public Library, which is serving 15 schools with the Mobile Library. And we'll shore up a few other needs here and there.

We again assure you that we use 100% of your donationstoward our projects.  We on the Ghana Together Board handle all administrative costs ourselves, including all travel expenses.
We ask for your financial support for our 2017 goals – focused on the continuing education of Axim’s children - either by check in the mail, or by credit card via the PayPal linkon our website.

Ex-pats may want to help their "hometown" anonymously, take advantage of US charitable deductions, and be confident of trustworthy handling of their contributions. 

And, if you are in Ghana, remember every cedi helps! You can deposit funds into the Western Heritage Home account at Ghana Commercial Bank. Contact James Kainyiah at 024-407-2638 for more info. We support businesses locally in Axim as much as possible.

With our sincere thanks…and our very best wishes for you, dear reader, in 2017.

Ghana Together Directors:  Maryanne Ward, Jerome Chandler, Rich Ward, Louise Wilkinson, and Nathan Ward

Mailing Address: 808 Addison Place, Mount Vernon, WA 98273

To help: http://ghanatogether.org/HTML/Donations.html

Email: info@ghanatogether.org  (or just respond to this email)

We are a US-registered 501c3, FED EIN 2182965

by Ghana Together (noreply@blogger.com) at December 13, 2016 04:46 AM

November 30, 2016

ICT4D Views from the Field

SolarSPELL Hackathon hosted by ASU’s Hayden Library



On October 25, 2016, Hayden Library at Arizona State University hosted a Hackathon for SolarSPELL.


It was not a traditional hackathon in terms of collaborative computer programming and coding, although some of that did take place. Instead, the goal was for the SolarSPELL team and the library staff at Hayden, to get to know one another and to find ways to work together to continue improving the SolarSPELL’s digital library.


The group divided up into three teams:

  • Organization and Content
  • Technology
  • Culture, Art, and Family


These teams have continued to meet, post-hackathon, focusing their work on improving multiple aspects of the library’s website on the front- and back-ends, identifying useful content to add, and determining how better to organize the library’s layout.


The team is looking forward to traveling to Tonga in a few weeks, to work with the Peace Corps, as well as local groups, as we bring the SolarSPELL to its fourth Pacific Island state!

by ljhosman at November 30, 2016 02:43 AM

November 29, 2016

One Laptop per Child

Gooooooaaaalllllls, all around. #OMAZE winner

Congrats to Robert T. from Cypress, CA who’ll fly to Madrid to cheer on and meet the Atlético Madrid team! Gooooooaaaalllllls, all around. Watch him find out here.


A big thank you to everyone for supporting One Laptop per Child to help us transform children’s education. You guys rock!

by mariana at November 29, 2016 11:13 PM

November 22, 2016

Hands of Charity XO Project | Kenya

Learning by Doing, Solving Real World Problems – Using Technology

Butonge primary school. – class seven


Understanding the Environment: Forests and Fields:

We used paint activity to choose colors according to the surrounding features. They drew a green vegetation as a simple of a place having enough rainfall and a good place for crop farming. Kids indicated rivers passing through that vegetation area and colored it with blue as a symbol of water and big trees showing the importance of forests. The purpose was to tell others on the importance of afforestation and effects of afforestation. The idea of afforestation is coming up to due increased number of cutting trees in the area they come from. 51 students attended the sessions as 26 laptops were used per session.

Comments from Hands of Charity Teachers and Leaders:



  • Poor transport systems resulted to breakages of computer due involvement in a motorbike road accident to Namwesi school. 4 computers were broken the screen.
  • Lack of enough hardware making some schools miss distance learning session on 6th and 7th June.
  • More schools demands XO laptop initiative but we have inadequate hardware and manpower.
  • Lack of a nearby repair center for replacement of broken machines.


  • Increased number of computer learners both in school and at the market place centre .
  • Technology skills spread in schools thus improving performance.
  • Behaviour change and communication over jiggers had improved.
  • Project based learning is becoming a key learning issue.
  • Need for more networks as it came out during Skype call sessions.


  • Participated in distance learning event.
  • Good network signal.
  • Getting a big network with OPEN ( Oneplaneteducation network)
  • Had a chance to talk to Katherine who is interning with Smallsolutionsbigideas.
  • Getting good support from smallsolutionbigideas in terms of hardware and stipends for teachers.
  • A promise from OPEN to get some new windows 7/10 PCs for summer distance learning expansion.

Recommendations for improvement.

  • More schools to be brought on board and participate in technology advancement.
  • Need for Internet access hardware and services for future events.
  • Bringing inn new management posts for proper running of the project.
  • Interschool heads meeting to promote technology in rural schools internship.
  • Science camp and wildlife educational tour facilitation by SSBI in August.
  • Expansion of distance learning project by bring more schools on board and promoting online discussion locally in schools.
  • The report was prepared by Bonaventure after receiving information from all teachers according to the activities done.


  • Poor transport systems resulted to breakages of computer due involvement in a motorbike road accident to Namwesi school. 4 computers were broken the screen.
  • Lack of enough hardware making some schools miss distance learning session on 6th and 7th June.
  • More schools demands XO laptop initiative but we have inadquate hardware and manpower.
  • Lack of a nearby repair center for replacement of broken machines.


  • Increased number of computer learners both in school and at the market place centre .
  • Technology skills spread in schools thus improving perfoemance.
  • Behaviour change and communication over jiggers had improved.
  • Project based learning is becoming a key learning issue.
  • Need for more networks as it came out during Skype call sessions.


  • Participated in distance learning event.
  • Good network signal.
  • Getting a big network with OPEN ( Oneplaneteducation network)
  • Had a chance to talk to Katherine who is interning with Smallsolutionsbigideas.
  • Getting good support from smallsolutionbigideas in terms of hardware and stipends for teachers.

RECOMMENDATIONS TO IMPROVE PROGRAMS: More schools to be brought on board and participate in technology advancement. Need for Internet access hardware and services for future events. Bringing inn new management posts for proper running of the project. Interschool heads meeting to promote technology in rural schools internship. Science camp and wildlife educational tour facilitation by SSBI in August. Expansion of distance learning project by bring more schools on board and promoting online discussion locally in schools. The report was prepared by Bonaventure after receiving information from all teachers according to the activities done.


  • Increased number of computer learners both in school and at the market place centre .
  • Technology skills spread in schools thus improving perfoemance.
  • Behaviour change and communication over jiggers had improved.
  • Project based learning is becoming a key learning issue.
  • Need for more networks as it came out during Skype call sessions.


Saturday- Bukokholo marketplace center-

used write activity to discuss on HIV/AIDS by documenting on how they should utilize their free time after closing school, during August holyday where initiation rite.

We had so many issues that came out such as; visting relatives, friends and towns while others said is the time to support parents at home and doing innovation work at the marketplace *2 sessions.


Monday- at Butonge primary school- more kids came in for computer session windows were full of learners who just wanted t ojoin others for the session even if it was not their class. They wanted to know more about what activity is being used by their colleagues as far as the program of computer is concerned. 90 learners attended the lesson and 31 laptops were used.

Tuesday- Namwesi primary school class 7 where we had uncontrollable population of student who were eager to the XO laptop because they saw one day in a week in their school is not enough. Sincewe did not want demoralizse willing to learn students it forced teachers present to arrange 5 pupils per laptop. 33 laptop swere used.

3rd WEEK from 14/06/2016 – 20/06/2016

Market place – general creative work learning for the full week was as per below mentioned sugar lab activity.

– use of record and making movies

– use of scratch- development of animations which included, word, animal and child to child interaction.

-use of tux math- for general math learning for kids

– paint activity- Drawing and creating stories over the pictures.

-Turtle sugar lab activity was used by class seven of Butonge primary to learn more about geometry in math.


4th WEEK from 21st – 30th June 2016

Creative learning by collection of plastic papers and washing them for reuse.

-planning with kids over what they think they can do with a case on afforestation to restore our planet through project based learning activities.

-selection of what kind of materials are needed to achieve their specific objective as the hope of new generation and climatecare.

by smallsolutionsbigideas at November 22, 2016 01:49 AM

Endangered Species One Planet Education On-Line LIVE Connections



How are Turtles endangered?Why do they hatch and lay eggs far from the sea and what distance is it from the sea?Are the turtles hunted and if yes what are they hunted for?Is there any use of the Rhinos horns and Elephant ivories used for in supporting the economy of the country?How many eggs does a turtle lay?If the Turtles lives in water, what makes them not to lay eggs in water?How is it important to Kenyan economy if Rhino horns and Elephant ivories are burnt?Do we have poachers hunting in developed countries?What can you do or what do you fell the government should do to poachers?After this section I Brighton would like to know how we will be sharing E-PAL informatiom with all the participants of this event?How is it important to the countries economy if Rhino horns and elephants tusks are burnt?


Is the undomesticated plants and animals in their natural environment.


Giraffe PrayingIs an illegal wildlife hunting and killing innocent animals with an aim ofselling some of their parts on black markets.


The common killed animals among the BIG 5 include;

Lion  Elephant  Rhino

LION: Reason why poached

Is poached and killed mainly because of it’s skin and heart according to our local understanding.Its skin is used for making leather shoes and bags.Its heart is used by the army soldiers as food. Locals belief that, the hearts make them to be as brave as the Lion ( a myth)


img_20161101_174838Are  huge animals They are mainly hunted because of their tusks.


They are mainly hunted for their horns.2.The horns cure cancer3.Other communities believes that the horns acts as a right of passage from childhood to adulthood.4The horns are used in making ornaments in some countries e.g. Kenya and Switzerland

which include, braceletes, bungles, earings and mirr. cancer

5.Other communities believe that the horn is a source of wealthy mostly Asian countries while others believes that it marks a right of passage from childhood to adulthood


The skins are removed from their bodies and sold in manufacturing industries

The skin is used in making lether shoes, bags and clothes according to local understanding.

Suggestions to the gorvernment as a way of improving wildlife security.

1. We would like the government of Kenya to employ more game wardeners.

2. Do capacity building to the entire community and who the gorvemenment suspect as the poachers on the importance of wildlife and,

3. Employ the poachers who freely surrender themselves to the government as a way of stopping poaching.

4. Those people with big farms to be allowed the government to build sanctuaries as a way of bringing security near the citizen.


Earns Kenya foreighn exchange after the tourist had visited KenyaIt is a pride of our countryThe forests acts as water catchment areas and bring rainfallHelp other tourists to have trips in Kenya to see animals that do not exist in the other countries.


A Rhino has two horns, one on its nose while the other on its forehead.

The horns are removed by cutting using a knife after killing the rhino.

They are then sold to demand countries through the connection of middlemen and even sold in Kenya to the people who are connected to poaching.


A Rhino is one of the big animals in KenyaIt is strong wide and big animal that feeds on grassIt issaid that it normally feedon grass at nightIt stays in the forest

ELEPHANT: An elephant is a huge animal found in the forest. It lives for about 80 years. Its young one is called a calf. It normally feeds on grass during the day. They have two tusks on their noses and a strong trunk that runs from the forehead.They are mainly hunted for their tusks/ivory.

Rhinoceros history  Critically endangered

2 species of African rhino Scientific name-  Black dicero  – Bicorns white Black rhino 1-5 tons White rhino more than 2 tons.   Black Rhino population had gone down by 97.6% since 1960.

Size-60 inches at the shoulder Life span 35-40years  Habitat grassland andopen sakawa Diet- Herbivorous  Gestation- 16 months  Predators- humans  Run for 30 miles per hour

by smallsolutionsbigideas at November 22, 2016 01:35 AM

November 13, 2016

Ghana Together

Another Project Done and Dusted in Axim, Ghana

Last weekend, James Kainyiah, on behalf of Western Heritage Home and Ghana Together, “handed over” a renovated men's dormitory and UDDT type toilet to Madame Safiatu Seidu, Director of the Community Development Vocational Technical Institute located in Axim, Ghana.

James Kainyiah (front, 2nd from left in the wild yellow shirt) and Director Safiatu Seidu (pink headscarf) along with teachers in the front row join with students to celebrate the dedication of their newly-renovated dormitory

CDVTI has a long history in Axim, as a training schoolfor textile design, dressmaking, cooking/catering, hairdressing, jewelry making, home and family management, entrepreneurship, basic computer science, English, business math, etc. Historically, most of the students were young women.

A few years ago we renovated the CDVTI girls’ dormitory, opening up opportunity for training to 40 or so young women from surrounding villages.

In the past 2-3 years CDVTI has added welding/fabrication, electrician, construction, auto mechanics, and other trades, all much-needed in the Axim area. These courses have attracted more male students. But without living quarters...

...maybe this building could be renovated into a guys' dormitory?

Well, yes, it could be. So this year, with a lot of help from local contractors and the students themselves, we fixed up this old building. Now 40 male students have a place to live. 

Dormitory as it looks now after being renovated

They slept on mattresses on the floor for 2nd term, but a local carpenter made 20 bunkbeds. Madame Seidu is thoroughly enjoying greeting the delivery motor-tricycle!

The carpentry students assembled the bunk beds, led by the guy in the yellow hat. Thank you, guys!

BUT, a new problem emerged---the guys were going to have to share the little two-compartment toilet currently used only by female teachers!! WHAT???

But, of course (!) Axim folks now know all about urine diversification/dehyration toilets, thanks to Engineers Without Borders (Bellingham-based...what a group!!). WHEW!!

So, before you know it,  CDVTI had a two-compartment, one-urinal, guys-only UDDT! (Thanks, Mr. Appiah, contractor extraordinaire. You're the BEST!)

Led by Kingsley Lamin (in the white hat), one of our WHH Scholars, the welding/fabrication students built a guard to secure the hand-washing container

One of the hoped-for "spin-offs" from this project is that these students now understand the concept and design behind the UDDTs---keeping urine and feces separate and available for use as fertilizer. Odor is much minimized. They are much easier to maintain. The students learning construction, especially, may find business opportunities, and use this knowledge in future as they graduate out into the work world.

We've been involved at CDVTI for many years. We really like the idea of vocational training, especially in a developing country like Ghana, which is trying to provide basic services, especially in more rural areas.

In addition to the renovation projects, we're currently supporting 14 students on scholarship at CDVTI. 

Ghana Together's Louise Wilkinson and Susan Hirst taught a Leadership Workshop for the entire CDVTI student body in Sept 2015. 

We hosted a Days for Girls Workshop for both guys and gals in March of 2016, led by Bernice Ankrah, Ghana DFG Country Manager, with menstrual kits supplied by Anacortes, Washington Days for Girls Chapter. 

And, we recently received a gift of about 100 up-to-date technical books on construction, plumbing, electricity, etc. for the pretty much, up-to-now, non-existent CDVTI Technical Library.

Thanks to all---financial investors, CDVTI and Western Heritage Home on-the-ground leadership, local contractors, student work teams...

Bit by bit we get it DONE!!! 


NOTE: If you received this via email from a friend and would like to subscribe, go to http://ghanatogether.blogspot.com/ and add your email to the box. Thanks!

Contact us at info@ghanatogether.org (or just respond to this email)
We are a US-registered 501c3. Our FED EIN is: 2182965

by Ghana Together (noreply@blogger.com) at November 13, 2016 12:10 AM

November 04, 2016


San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee proclaims Nov 5 2016 as OLPC Day in San Francisco!

We are once again pleased to share that San Francisco Mayor Edwin M. Lee has declared November 5, 2016 as One Laptop per Child Day in San Francisco! The Proclamation was presented to Sameer Verma, Professor at San Francisco State University, and Founder OLPC SF by Carol Ruth Silver, a long time city official, social activist and author.


by Anonymous at November 04, 2016 10:46 AM

October 29, 2016

Ghana Together

Engineers Without Borders Invitation to Ghana Travelogue---See YOU There!!

We are happy to post this invitation to a Travelogue on the recent Engineers Without Borders visit to Axim. (You saw our last News Update...if not, scroll down a bit). Put on your best Ghanaian "duds" and we'll see you there!!


Hello All,

Please join us for the Ghana Travelogue on Wednesday 11/9 from 5:30-7:00 at Mount Baker Theater's Encore Room (entrance off Champion Street), in Bellingham, WA.

This event is free, and open to the public (donations accepted). Please feel free to bring your family, friends, coworkers, etc. to hear about our recent trip to Axim, Ghana to evaluate the performance of our sanitation project built in 2014. This was our chapter's fourth visit to Axim, and it's great to see all of the progress that has been made. 

Please post the attached flier at your school, office, library, favorite coffee shop, or on your favorite bulletin board.

See you there!!

Colleen Mitchell

(And if you haven't yet, please vote for our Kenya water supply project on Penetron's Facebook page by midnight tonight!! We are competing to win grant funding to help improve water supply for the residents of Kiritiri, Kenya.) 


by Ghana Together (noreply@blogger.com) at October 29, 2016 08:21 PM

Juan Chacon Free Software & Education | El Salvador

AP CS Principles - The College Board Gets It Right

Beginning this Fall, students in high schools across the United States were able to will be able take a new course - AP CS Principles.  I can't say I've always been a big fan of the College Board and the impact this very powerful institution has on education in my country. I have to say, however, that I think they got it right this time. From my experience thus far, I am a huge fan of the new CS Principles course.

Working with the NSF, the College Board has approved three on-line curricula for the launch this Fall:
Last Spring I used the Mobile CSP curriculum with students who were taking dual-enrolled CSC 200: Introduction to Computer Science with me through Northern Virginia Community College.  While I haven't researched the details of its history, it is obvious that CSC 200 was created by the Virginia Community College System (VCCS) to receive credits from the new AP CS Principles course.

As a free software activist of many years, I found little gems inside the Mobile CSP curriculum that let me know kindred spirits where involved in its creation:
This Fall I am again teaching CSC 200 using Mobile CSP. The more I use App Inventor the more I love it.  While I've been too busy to keep up with this blog of late, it is time to get back to more regular posting so I can document our experience this year with this wonderful new curricula.

    by jelkner (noreply@blogger.com) at October 29, 2016 08:09 PM

    October 22, 2016

    Ghana Together

    Engineers Without Borders Evaluate UDDT-style Toilets in Axim, Ghana

    Yes, we're into toilets again!! Bear with us...:)
    Thank you, Pacific Northwest Chapter of Engineers Without Borders, for revisiting Axim to evaluate the “urine diversification/dehydration (dry) toilets” (UDDTs) and generally taking an in-depth look at all things “toilets.”
    Colleen Mitchell (you’ve met her before in prior News Updates) and Evan Dahl traveled to Axim this Sept, primarily to evaluate the first UDDT in the Axim/Nzema East area.

    Colleen Mitchell, Evan Dahl with sunglasses, and one of UDDT contractor's staff in Axim, Ghana. They are examining the growing area behind one of the UDDTs, which has been fertilized for nearly three years by urine.
    They were hosted by our Western Heritage Home affiliates in Axim: James Kainyiah, Chair, and Evans Arloo, Operations Manager. Thank you!

    In 2013-2014, this EWB chapter designed, funded, traveled to Axim to initiate, oversaw building, and trained students and staff for a new-design UDDT-type toilet at the Axim Catholic-Government Junior High School.

    Colleen Mitchell in 2013 just prior to building a new toilet. This was the sole toilet at the Catholic-Government JHS School, for about 200 students

    Current toilet at the Catholic-Gov't JHS, thanks to the Pacific Northwest Chapter of Engineers Without Borders. In Sept 2016, having been in use for about three years, Colleen and Evan evaluated this toilet thoroughly as to use, maintenance, design considerations, etc.
    We, with our Western Heritage Home affiliates based in Axim, helped a bit by finding a potential school, introducing the concept to school leaders, staff, and parents, and generally using our experience in Axim to pave the way.
    And, based on the success and improvements we saw at the EWB’s initial project, we of Ghana Together funded and built two more prototype UDDTsat the Methodist-Government Primary/JHS School, and a smaller one for the young male students at the Community Development Vocational Technical Institute.

    Toilet at the Methodist-Gov't School for primary students in early 2015

    New UDDT type toilet funded by Ghana Together at the Methodist Government School, in March 2016. We used EWB's design, with some changes based on input from local experience, and the same contractor
    But, it was time for the expert EWB engineers to evaluate the viability of the UDDT installations in Axim.
    Certainly, these toilets are not the highly-desired, WC-flush-type---we understand that--- but given Axim's current infrastructure development, this concept is a big step forward, and makes sense,especially for children and youth in schools. (Note that about half of Ghana’s 20.000 public schools are entirely without toilets, as are thousands of private schools.)

    Evan and Colleen found that, generally, the UDDT concept is working out well.
    Some positives:

    ·         good support and promise of protection while visiting in the area from the Municipal Chief Executive

    ·         no discharge of untreated waste that can contaminate water sources

    ·         students clean their UDDT once/week

    ·         paper and cloth/paper menstrual supplies can go right with waste and it don’t have to be burned or buried separately

    ·         best toilets students have, so they “hold it” until they get to school

    ·         soap hanging from a rope is very good—encouraging kids to wash hands after every use

    ·         urinal size is ok

    ·         no odor present in inactive chambers

    ·         compost was high-quality, dry, soil-like

    ·         students and teachers are catching on to the use of red/green plugs to signal which chambers are in use and which are sealed for a year

    ·         teachers who had no toilet at their schools for themselves really appreciate the dedicated “teacher stall”
    Colleen and Evan met with community leaders, school staffs, and students. They GOT a lot of feedback---they GAVE a lot of feedback!

    They left detailed notes/report for each school for recommended changes and improvements.

    They and Western Heritage Home representatives also visited the local rubber plantation, which also uses the “dry toilet” concept, along with the fertilizer produced, in the villages located on their lands. There are others in the Axim area, such as coconut farmers, who have expressed tentative interest in the fertilizer produced by these toilets.

    It is our hope that the three prototype UDDTs now in Axim, used by students from kindergarten through young adult vocational students, will provide local leaders sufficient information to use this design in future toilet construction.
    This is NOT just about providing toilets, although we'd love to build more!!

    MOSTLY, it's about bringing to folks in Axim this workable concept to build better toilets, requiring only local materials, labor, and expertise.
     Axim area leaders now have detailed information from the local contractors who actually did the construction; technical drawings and details from EWB; evaluations from meeting with Colleen and Evan; extensive published technical literature we’ve supplied about UDDTs worldwide; and ample feedback from the actual day-to-day teachers and students who use the UDDTs.
    Sure, there can be ongoing improvements to the concept—but these 3 toilets set a new benchmark.

    The trick, we well understand, is usually not the lack of sincere desire on the part of leaders, but the persistent lack of funds.
    New UDDT toilet funded by Ghana Together at the Community Development Vocational Technical Institute and newly opened about two weeks ago. This is for 40-50 male students only, and therefore is smaller. The guys had no toilet at all prior to this one.
    Just a little backstory here:
    Ghana is having a national election, too, as a firmly democratic country. What struck us about THEIR election is the pledge (the “Manifesto”) by one of the Presidential candidates, made at the Banquet of the State House on Sept 14, 2016 that, if elected, he will end the “age-old menace of open defecation” by 2021!

    Great goal, but tempered by the Ghana Demographic and Health Survey 2014, which found twenty-one percent of Ghanaians have no access to a toilet and still use the bush or open field for defecation. And this is even worse in rural areas, such as Axim, where it reported at least thirty-four percent of the population still practice open defecation.
    This is a call to action for Ghana’s leaders. We hope the efforts of EWB, to share knowledge that is being used successfully in many parts of the developing world, and with help from us, will help improve the situation for folks in at least one town in Ghana.
    NOW, we ask you to click on the Ashley-Vance Engineering website link below.

    Then make sure to click at the end of the brief article, where it says “click HERE to see the video…”  

    (Evan is employed by the Ashley & Vance Engineering Company.)
    NOTE: Readers, especially Ghanaians, interested in more details can contact us at info@Ghana Together.org and we’ll get you connected.
    For prior News Updates, go to http://ghanatogether.blogspot.com/
    Email us at info@ghanatogether.org 
    See our website at http://ghanatogether.org
    We are a registered 501c3 non-profit, ID 26-2182965

    by Ghana Together (noreply@blogger.com) at October 22, 2016 11:22 AM

    October 17, 2016

    One Laptop per Child

    Support @OLPC and Meet @AntoGriezmann and the @Atleti co Madrid Team at the Derby


    Ready for the ultimate Derby experience? Here it is. You and a friend will be there as Atleti takes on Real Madrid, and you’ll get VIP access like no one else. Not only will you take pictures with the Atleti team after their practice on November 19th, but you’ll also snap legendary photos on the field before the big game. When it’s finally time for the Derby on November 20th, you’ll watch the showdown from the best seats in the house: the President Suite. Afterwards, you’ll hit up the exclusive players’ press conference, meet Antoine Griezmann and he’ll hand you a signed jersey while you collaborate with a solidarity initiative. Enter and participate!:  http://bit.ly/DerbiMadridVIP

    SOIS LÀ POUR LE DERBY MADRILÈNE! Assiste à Atlético-Real Madrid en Présidentielles au Vicente Calderón et obtiens un maillot dédicacé par Antoine Griezmann tout en participant à une action caritative! Clique et participe!:http://bit.ly/DerbiMadridVIP 
    ¡VIVE EL DERBI MADRILEÑO EN DIRECTO! Asiste al Atlético-Real Madrid en el Palco Presidencial del Vicente Calderón y consigue una camiseta firmada por Antoine Griezmann mientras colaboras con una iniciativa solidaria. ¡Entra y participa!:  http://bit.ly/DerbiMadridVIP 

    by mariana at October 17, 2016 04:24 PM

    October 12, 2016

    One Laptop per Child

    Kamba Dyami: An Unusual Friend

    Guest post by  Richard Caraballo from the Kamba Dyami Project in Angola

    Paul wasn’t a typical child from Angola. He was quiet as well as shy, but he was always laughing. He had green eyes and black hair. He was very tall for his age.  He was living in a poor neighborhood called Lixeira (Portuguese for “dustbin”).

    kamba-dyami-2 It was a normal day when Paul arrived at school. Deep in his heart, he felt that something was about to happen, but he didn’t know what. When he enteredhis classroom, he saw that his peers were excited about something. So he asked his teacher: “Why is everyone so excited?” The teacher answered: “We have a new friend named Kamba Dyami and it is a computer.” Paul asked: “Kamba Dyami?” “Which means MY FRIEND in one of the African languages used in Angola. The language is called Kinbundu”,said the teacher. Paul sat in his place a little bit confused, though he liked the idea of having this new friend as he’d never had a computer in his hands before.

    After ten minutes, the teacher entered with the “new friend” and gave one to each student. The teacher also got a new friend, but he didn’t know how it worked either.

    Two of Paul´s friends, who were living near his house, asked him about this computer, but Paul couldn´t explain what it was because it was the first time he held one.

    The class was very noisy when a stranger entered. At the moment when he entered everyone made silence. This strange man came to explain all about Kamba Dyami. Also, he came with a challenge for the class. Everyone had to make a video about their neighborhood using this new technology. After one week, he was to choose one to receive a prize.

    The strange man gave them a few instructions. They had to interview a number of neighbors about garbage. “What do you think about trash in our neighborhood? Why do we have so much waste here? What do you propose we do to eliminate litter at Lixeira?”

    kamba-dyami-1Paul, who was born in Lixeira, had never asked himself these questions. On the other hand, he thought this was a real challenge. He was concerned thinking that he wouldn’t be able to complete the project because of the problems he had with his parents and siblings. They didn´t pay attention to him because they thought work was more important than studying. However, it was now mandatory for children to attend school in the country. When Paul´s parents and siblings were children, studying wasn´t obligatory.

    The stranger in Paul’s classroom was a big, serious and strict man. He started to look around to pick a student to do the project. Paul hid behind his fellow students because he didn’t want to be chosen as he was nervous. The stranger was looking for an interesting student; he looked at Paul and chose him. Paul thought: “Oh no, what I am going to do? This job is impossible for me and I have only one week to complete it.”

    But Paul learned to use Kamba Dyami faster than he thought. During the first and the second day, he wasn’t able to do any interviews because he had to work with his family. On the third day, his brothers took the computer and they didn’t want to give it back to him. Paul already knew a lot about the Kamba Dyami laptop because he had already explored all the activities it had. However, he wasn’t able to do any interviews until the fourth day.

    The neighbors saw him walking around the neighborhood with the computer. They asked his parents what was going on, but Paul’s parents answered that what he was doing really didn´t matter. On the other hand, people saw Paul’s computer ability and they encouraged him to become a master of this technology and told him that nobody in the neighborhood could use a computer as well as him.

    On the last day, he was able to complete many interviews around the neighborhood and accomplished his task. This was a big challenge for Paul.

    Through this activity, Paul not only learned to use the computer, he also learned a lot about life. He learned about the people who were living in his neighborhood. He acquired new skills and learned that he can change his own future through education.kamba-dyami-3

    by mariana at October 12, 2016 03:54 PM


    OLPC-SF Community Summit 2016

    This year's Summit will be held Nov 4-6 at the San Francisco State University Library (LIB 121), 1600 Holloway Avenue at 19th Ave, San Francisco, CA 94132

    As you know, the OLPC San Francisco Summit is a community event that brings together educators, technologists, enthusiasts, and volunteers.  We share stories, exchange ideas, solve problems, and foster collaboration around the original mission of One Laptop per Child to empower communities through education and learning worldwide.
    The theme for this year's Summit is "OLPC: New beginnings." Workshop topics will include new laptop hardware, offline content, Sugarizer/platform-free solutions, forward-looking education curricula.  Sessions will feature deployments from different parts of the world, with discussion of similarities and differences. It's not too late to propose a session or workshop.
    We look forward your presence for lively discussions and vigorous networking at the Summit!

    by adborden at October 12, 2016 06:05 AM

    October 03, 2016

    Ghana Together

    Way to go Emmanuella and George--Western Heritage Home Scholar Graduates!!

    Graduating Junior High School when your home town is Axim, Ghana is no small accomplishment!
    Just this month, Emmanuella graduated from the School for the Deaf and Blind in Cape Coast and George graduated from Manye Academy in Axim.

    And they not only graduated, but they found out just yesterday they did so well on their final “BECE” exam that they qualify for Senior High School! No mean feat in Ghana, where the slots for Senior High are limited. A high level of scholastic achievement and strong test scores are required to qualify.

    New JHS graduates Emmanuella and George, Sept 29, 2016

    Queen Mother Nana Adjow Sika II has taken special interest in all the Western Heritage Home scholars, and especially in Emmanuella.

    She has supported Emmanuella emotionally, and has encouraged her at every step.
    Nana is a founding member of the Western Heritage Board and continues to serve.
    Queen Mother Nana Adjow Sika II congratulating her protégé (Sept 2016)

    In her early childhood, Emmanuella was given the opportunity to live at the Western Heritage Children's Home. She needed special care due to her early onset of Stargardt Disease, a juvenile form of macular degeneration. At this point she is legally blind.

    George also spent his early years at the Western Heritage Children's Home, due to difficult home circumstances.

    Emmanuella and George both attended Manye Academy in Axim early on. George continued there, but about five years ago, Emmanuella had to be transferred to the Cape Coast School for the Deaf and Blind.

    Emmanuella and George, both Western Heritage Home Scholars, and also age-mates and school-mates. George is showing her how to use the magnifier we brought from the US so she could work with an XO children's computer.

    George in 2007

    Saturday chores at the Western Heritage Home

    George the scholar and also a guy who loves sports!

    When Western Heritage Home phased out their residential program, George moved into the Manye Academy Dormitory.

    We have provided for his tuition, room, board, and personal supplies during his entire school years and will continue to do so.

    Meanwhile, Emmanuella transferred to the Cape Coast School for the Deaf and Blind. The school supports her tuition, room and board, but we help out with clothing, personal supplies, traveling back and forth to Axim during vacations, etc.

    Emmanuella and Maryanne Ward at the Cape Coast School for the Deaf and Blind
    Emmanuella is well-known in Axim for her musical talents, especially singing! She sings at special services in her church and at community events.
    At her school in Cape Coast, she sang the Ghanaian National Anthem during the March 6 Independence Day celebrations (with a microphone she said!). And she told us that since the blind students can hear her sing, they dance with her; the deaf students can see the blind students dance and join in. This celebration was actually featured on Ghana TV!
    Emmanuella singing at the dedication of the Chief's donation of a television to the Community Center. Western Heritage Home's James Kainyiah is offering a little support!
    His motto is "Making leaders of the least!" and so he has.

    Emmnanuella managed in August to take her final exams by reading some of the test at very close range, especially the math, and also by having some of the test read to her and she could answer orally. She can read Braille.
    So what's next for these two scholars?

    George’s dream is to attend a vocational high school and learn welding.

    Emmanuella's dream is to return to her Cape Coast School and earn her SHS high school degree.

    We're going to love helping them do just that!!

    For prior News Updates, http://ghanatogether.blogspot.com/
    Contact us: info@ghanatogether.org
    We are a 501c3, EIN: 26-2182965
    808 Addison Place, Mount Vernon, WA

    by Ghana Together (noreply@blogger.com) at October 03, 2016 12:17 AM

    September 12, 2016

    ICT4D Views from the Field

    SolarSPELL featured by ASU’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering

    Arizona State University’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering ran a feature story on SolarSPELL! What a great welcome-launch for SPELL at ASU. Looking forward to great things happening at ASU.

    by ljhosman at September 12, 2016 01:11 AM

    September 11, 2016

    Tabitha Roder

    Moodle Moot NZ 2016

    I am excited to write about the upcoming Moodle Moot NZX being hosted by HRDNZ and Northtec.

    Join us for Moodle Moot NZX 5th-7th October in the ‘Winterless North”

    It’s a special year, as HRDNZ celebrate 10 years of being a Moodle Partner (wow!) and we would love you to join us for the best Moodle Moot ever !

    New Zealand Moodle Moots are regarded as one of the best in the world. They are always well organised with excellent speakers and workshops, but what sets them apart from other conferences is the friendly atmosphere and support, the feeling of belonging to a community, and high level of participation and sharing by attendees.

    This year the Moodle Moot is a celebration of HRDNZ being a Moodle Partner for ten years. To recognise this milestone, everyone attending the event this year will also be entitled to 10% off any of the HRDNZ MoodleBites courses – yay!

    This year the Moodle Moot is structured to begin with a community day, followed by two workshop days.

    The first community conference day is a great opportunity to meet people and get yourself focused and energised ready for the workshops. Keynote speakers are Scott Hunley talking about The Internet of Things, Justin Hunt (creator of PoodLL) speaking on the Life of a Moodle Developer, and Hazel Owen on Creating meaningful assessment in Moodle. Stuart Mealor will reflect on Moodle over the last ten years, and we’ll also hear from some other great voices across New Zealand.

    There will be four workshop streams: teaching, administration, management and developers. This is ensuring there is “something for everyone”. I am contributing a couple of workshops this year so hope to see and hear some of you there. You can switch between streams, and you’ll find me in the teacher and management streams.


    So a big thank you in advance to NorthTec for hosting venue and all that goes along with that role, and thanks to the HRDNZ team. Do take the opportunity to say a big thank you to our hosts and make some new friends over the three days. I find Moodle friends become friends for life!

    Register here.

    by tabithaparker at September 11, 2016 09:56 PM

    August 30, 2016

    Juan Chacon Free Software & Education | El Salvador

    My Annual Love Letter to SchoolTool

    It is the end of August, and time once again for me to setup my SchoolTool instance for the coming school year. Each year for the last several years, I have sent an email to the SchoolTool mailing list expressing both my joy and my deep felt gratitude at the pleasure I experienced setting up my very own student information system (SIS).  Sadly, we may have come to the end of an era, and SchoolTool's days may be numbered, so I felt it more appropriate this year to express my gratitude here in my blog.

    The reason I feel compelled to write a "love letter" to the SchoolTool developers each year is that they have made the very complex process of setting up an SIS smooth and painless, both by the design of the software itself, and by the wonderful SchoolTool Book written by English teacher and former project manager, Tom Hoffman.  It provides a model of what technical documentation should be, and the influence that the documentation process and the user interface design process had on each other is apparent. With nothing more than the book to guide me, I can create a school year, populate it with courses, sections, terms, time tables, instructors, students, and skills. In just a few minutes I am ready to start the new school year. The ease with which everything works is a total thrill!

    I teach dual-enrolled high school / community college classes in a career and technical school in Arlington, Virginia. The SIS provided by Arlington Public Schools is not setup to properly handle the odd configurations of overlapping high school and college classes that I need to make my CS / IT program work.  SchoolTool provides me with a customizable SIS that meets my needs, while providing a host of added benefits to my students.  The CanDo Skills Tracking system lets students see their progress on the explicit skills they are expected to acquire in my classes. The SchoolTool Quiz component enables me to create custom tests and quizzes automatically linked to the skills tracking system.

    SchoolTool will forever epitomize what free software means to me and why I've dedicated much of my energy over the past 20+ years fighting for software freedom. It was created in an open process with input throughout by the real users of the system.  I became one of those users back in the Summer of 2005, when I met Tom Hoffman at Pycon and began the collaboration that continues to this day. Both the CanDo and Quiz components were added at the initiative of a small group of us in Virginia, and students of mine contributed directly to the development of both components. There is still no other software, either free or proprietary, that does what SchoolTool does.

    The development of SchoolTool was driven by the desire to provide use value and to create a tool to help change the world, specifically by positively impacting education in Africa and the developing world. Thanks to the sponsorship of Mark Shuttleworth, it was freed from the imperative of commodification for an extended period of time. It never could have developed the innovations it has otherwise.

    Some big mistakes where certainly made along the way to SchoolTool's development, the biggest of which is probably building SchoolTool on a dead end web application framework, Zope 3, which has now isolated SchoolTool from the larger free software development community. That mistake may cause SchoolTool to follow its framework into abandonment. You never can tell with free software projects, however, since they can be taken up by anyone at any time who finds them useful.  Perhaps SchoolTool will find new life in some unexpected way, or perhaps some of its innovations will find their way into another free software SIS.

    I am just happy that it will be available for at least the next several years on Ubuntu servers.  I plan to keep using it for as long as I can, since it is a tremendously effective resource to help my students monitor their learning, and since I get to experience the joy and excitement each year of setting it up!

    by jelkner (noreply@blogger.com) at August 30, 2016 04:38 PM

    August 17, 2016

    Juan Chacon Free Software & Education | El Salvador

    Setting Up a RHCSA Practice Laptop - Part 1

    In order to practice for the RHCSA at home, I took an old Dell Latitude E6500 with 4GiB of RAM and purchased a 500GiB hard drive on which I could install CentOS 7 with a server GUI as the base operating system and them multiple virtual machines using KVM with which to experiment and learn.

    My package selection for the install was a Server GUI installation. I partitioned the hard drive with 1 GiB of swap, 500 MiB on a standard partition for the /boot, and 30 GiB for the root partition.

    I also created a 60 GiB partition for /home, and then allocated everything that remained (375.27 GiB) to /var.  The reason for giving some much space to /var is that the default KVM / qemu setup on CentOS 7 places virtual hard drive images in /var/lib/libvirt/images, so I wanted plenty of space available for multiple images.

    After the install finished I wanted to see what the partitions looked like, so I ran
    $ sudo yum install system-storage-manager
    and then
    $ sudo ssm list
    which revealed the following:

    Device Free Used Total Pool Mount point
    /dev/sda 465.76 GB PARTITIONED
    /dev/sda1 500.00 MB /boot
    /dev/sda2 0.00 KB 465.27 GB 465.27 GB centos
    Pool Type Devices Free Used Total
    centos lvm 1 0.00 KB 465.27 GB 465.27 GB
    Volume Pool Vol size FS FS size Free Type Mount point
    /dev/centos/swap centos 1.00 GB linear
    /dev/centos/root centos 30.00 GB xfs 29.99 GB 26.73 GB linear /
    /dev/centos/home centos 60.00 GB ext4 60.00 GB 55.88 GB linear /home
    /dev/centos/var centos 374.27 GB ext4 374.27 GB 349.02 GB linear /var
    /dev/sda1 500.00 MB xfs 493.73 MB 293.59 MB part /boot

    To be continued in Fall of 2016..


    by jelkner (noreply@blogger.com) at August 17, 2016 07:03 PM

    August 12, 2016

    Ghana Together

    1st Term 2016-2017 Scholarhips

    Yes, we know. The chart below is barely readable…but we wanted to show it to you anyway. It shows the 1st term, 2016-2017 school year, scholarship costs for 69 Axim students, sponsored by Ghana Together.

    In most cases, these costs are shared with the extended families, as with the CTK Academy students where parents supply uniforms, underwear, notebooks, shoes...and we pay tuition...for students living in this remote area, where the only reasonably available school is a private school.
    We also list WHH staff salaries for three months and Internet-In-A-Box internet support, so the North American team can troubleshoot this incredible resource at Axim Girls High School and the Axim Public Library, which most Axim children frequent. 

    Note that "CDVTI" stands for Community Development Vocational Technical Institute, a government vocational training school. Note that secondary schools in Ghana are NOT tuition-free at this point.

    Payee Beneficiary Item CEDIS USD (3.9)
    Axim Girls Sr High  Ernestina tuition, textbooks, math tutorial (Term One) 769 $197
    Manye Academy Ben, Gladys, Johnson  Tuition, boarding, fees, notebooks, textbooks, uniforms, sandals… 2942 $754
    Various vendors 6 WHH Scholars Personal supplies: health/hygiene, snacks, pocket money, etc. 1560 $400
    CDVTI Kingsley Tuition, room, board 380 $97
    CDVTI 10 women, 2 men Tuition, room, board 2860 $733
    Nsein SHS Peter Extra Classes, student council, sci club, debate/drama, practicals 970 $249
    Midwifery/Nursing School Dorothy Nursing-midwifery tuition, room, board, texts, etc. (one semester) 2175 $558
    Christ the King Academy 50 primary students tuition, 1st term 5850 $1,500
    WHH Staff Arloo, and 2 watchmen salaries July-Sept (three month) 1500 $385
    Azim Girls SHS Computer lab support Cellphone subscription for internet-in-a-box support 400 $103
    TOTAL 19406 $4,976

    Maybe you can’t quite make out the small print, but the bottom line is almost exactly $5,000 for most of the school costs for 69 students, averaging about $73 each. And some of those costs are "once/year" only, like uniforms, sandals, and textbooks.
    Some of you have asked how we get such accurate, detailed info from our friends in Axim, esp. when it comes to school costs.

    Well, we won’t burden you (J) with the incredibly detailed 16 sheets of statements/invoices that our guy in Axim, Evans Arloo, collected from the schools and forwarded to us.

    Every detail is in these statements!
    Did you know, for example, that Dorothy’s “obstetrics textbook” for her 2nd year will cost exactly 30 Ghana cedis? That’s about $8.00. Or that Peter will pay 10 cedis (about $2.50) for his Science Club dues…the Club of which he, as an outstanding student, is the “Executive.” Or that Kingsley will pay 270 cedis (about $70) for food for Sept-Dec (quite a bargain for 16-year old guy!)? Or that Ernestina’s “bed user fee” will be 2 cedis(about 50 US cents) for her 1st term, along with 399 cedis ($102) for her tuition?

    The schools’ administrative offices prepare these  statements and give them to parents, or in our case, scholarship sponsor. The sheets are stamped and signed with the name of the school and the accountant/preparer.

    And, I'm sure you are DYING to know...how exactly does Arloo get these 16 typed or handwritten sheets to us 10,000 or so miles away?
    Why, of course, by the magic of “Camscanner”, the cellphone app. With it, he photographs the statements and saves them as PDF files. He then forwards them using “Whatsapp”, another nice little free tool, using the nice signals pouring out from the cell tower in Axim Town. And we use Whatsapp too, to "receive" the files, and also for follow-up communication. Our Ghanaian friends are total whizzes when it comes to cellphone use, seriously! They've taught us all we know!!
    So, friends, these are children we’ve been supporting for some years. Knowing the needs of local families well, Queen Mom Nana Adjow Sika II and James Kainyiah have chosen these students, along with input from Headmaster David and Director Seidu, and have overseen their progress. Evans Arloo helps the scholars with their day-to-day needs and challenges.

    And yes, we would appreciate your financial help in launching the new school year, 1st term, for these 69 youngsters, beginning mid-September. Thank you.

    Ghana Together
    808 Addison Place
    Mount Vernon, WA 98273
    We are a 501c3, Fed ID 26-2182965

    by Ghana Together (noreply@blogger.com) at August 12, 2016 05:28 AM

    August 09, 2016

    Hands of Charity XO Project | Kenya

    Hands of Charity Community Change Makers


    The camp started on a Saturday which consisted of learners and teachers joined and showed a lot of interest towards the camp and did group work learning on the projects they intend to deal with for finding a long term solution in different fields and out of it they set up plans in different categories as shown below.

    o -Jiggers

    o -Wildlife

    o -Trash

    o -HIV/AIDs programs


    Kids went for Mapping in Households infested with Jiggers

    They set up activities that which they did in campaign for jigger free.

    They came up with specific objectives on the case study and arranged questionnaires they will for the entire period of the project.


    -General hygiene

    -Environmental management in control of Jiggers

    -Child involvement in Jigger control.


    Children free from Jigger infestation and attend classes by August 2016.


    To educate the household members infested with jiggers using testimonies from children who were infested and now free from the jiggers.

    Activities for the case study;

    During weekends, pupils to reach out jigger infested families to give health education as child empowerment on hygiene and good environmental management.

    Evaluation for the progress last Saturday of every month.

    Organizing health action days together with health workers and community members to talk about the problem as a sign of togetherness and child involvement.


    During mapping when kids saw their fellow children infested with jiggers they showed concern by asking questions such as;

    What causes jiggers?

    What does it feed from human body?

    How does it procreate and its lifecycle?

    Who is at risk to jiggers and

    How does it spread from one person to the other?

    The above questions were in children themselves after mapping activities. During mapping it was found that mostly children from poor families who stay under unconducive environment such poor housing, beddings, hygiene and ignorance/illiteracy contributes to jigger infestation.

    Most of kids infested by jiggers are of age group 3 -13 years in areas identified.

    Very few in age group of between 14 -18 years and between age group of between 50 – 65 are infested just because the lack information about precaution concerning general hygiene.

    Out of this observations, learners came up with the above proposal for the coming six months implementation.


    Lack of enough cloves

    Pull and push between children to see how the infested person looks like.

    High exceptions of free drugs by community members.

    Fear of jigger infested clients to be inspected and given a child driven first aid.


    Learners were able to understand the effects of jiggers to human health.

    Learners were able to identify areas with high jigger problem

    They used the camp to give priority to problems according to the situation.


    A theme setup for discussion was (who had ever had somebody staying positively (people living with HIV/AIDs)


    Kids/ Learners to come up with experience stories about HIV clients.


    -Learners to know that we have people living positively.

    -For them to identify what problems that can make them be at risk to HIV/AIDs.

    -Get possible ways of HIV/prevention


    -Through poetry- poems were recited by camp participants with a theme how shall be save from it as a young generation.

    -Written story- learners wrote stories on XO laptops expressing what they understand about HIV compared to 20th century.

    -Using internet to research- by use of BRCK and Safaricom routers to access information about HIV which included most affected countries, which co-horts in terms of age.

    -Visiting CCCs in our Kenyan health facilities to discuss the case with service providers and HIV clients


    Once in a month by visiting a nearby health facility to find out the infection rate.


    To ensure that kids/ Learners understand that we have people staying positively on village level and need their support and encouragement of stigma free environment.


    Have a reduced stigma and proper HIV advocacy within local villages.


    Pupils were much interested to use internet in finding information about the case study.

    It was noted some children are affected with HIV at their homes.


    -Background of endangered species

    Centre of discussion was about elephant, rhino, and lion.

    Major issues were how those animals feed, move and stay.

    -How important are they to the country economy

    They discussed how it earns foreign exchange to the country and nature.

    -What makes them endangered?

    Key issues were why are they mostly hunted by poachers, what for, what facts are behind the killings and how are they marketed and for what reason.

    -Who targets them and for what reasons.

    Which countries mostly demands their products and on what purposes.


    -To inform the world on the reasons why we should conserve our wildlife.


    -Creating room for the children of the world to have a say and educate others about wildlife in the county.

    -To have reduced myths and misconception over endangered species e.g. Rhinoceros species

    -To promote online learning with an aim of minimizing wildlife slaughter worldwide.

    -Create a room for research and information sharing.


    Learners use write sugar lab to write stories about what they feel should be done to endangered species in the safety.

    Paint sugar lab to draw pictures of endangered wildlife species

    They used scratch sugar to make conversational projects concerning the feeling of the wildlife endangered species.


    It was noted that most of students have information about the happenings to our wildlife but they had been never be given a chance to express their feelings.

    Camp participants showed a lot interest in wildlife safety discussions.


    Trash was among our intended camp activity but due to time limitation it was left out.


    Facilitation to be increased for more days of any planned science camp in future.

    Camps to be facilitated quarterly.

    Smallsolutionsbigideas to look for a way of funding jigger project to enable participants to have enough logistics.

    Need of Internet services provision to enhance online learning.

    JiggersFeetFullViewSSBI to facilitate health service providers and teacher workshop with an aim of reducing jiggers’ cases.

    by smallsolutionsbigideas at August 09, 2016 03:37 PM