May 20, 2016

ICT4D Views from the Field

75 New SolarSPELLs Built!


On Friday May 6, 2016, students at Cal Poly built 75 new SolarSPELL libraries! What’s more, this feat—which included drilling, wire-stripping, soldering, gluing, taping, Velcro-ing, and much more, was accomplished in just a few hours.



The group did, in fact, get a jump-start on the build on Wednesday, May 4, having had the opportunity to set up all of the equipment, describe and train on what needed to be done in terms of assembly and building, and identify any potential bottlenecks for the assembly-line manufacture that would take place on Friday.





These SPELL libraries are destined for schools in Samoa, Tonga, and the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM). In all three locations, we are working in partnership with the US Peace Corps, to provide their Volunteers with this educational technology to assist them in being able to carry out their mission of being teachers in remote, rural schools.


On the same evening of the build, the University hosted a gala evening for alumni, called the Evening of Green and Gold. SolarSPELL was invited to set up a display and speak to alumni about the project’s accomplishments.



Even though the build was exciting and fostered a sense of accomplishment, there remains quite a bit more to be done besides building the hardware of the library. After the build, the students transitioned to working on gathering additional content for the library (especially content curated for our new partners Samoa and Tonga), testing out the new website, building a new-and-improved how-to-use guide.


We look forward to deploying the first batch of the new SPELLs in Samoa in June!

by ljhosman at May 20, 2016 03:50 PM

May 18, 2016

One Laptop per Child

3 Becas 75% para maestría en Innovación Educativa – Universidad ORT


La Universidad ORT México es una institución de educación superior dedicada a impulsar y fortalecer al sector social a través de la formación de profesionales comprometidos y competentes en áreas de Responsabilidad, Emprendimiento y Liderazgo Social.

Derivado del Convenio OLPC – ORT, ofrecemos 3 becas del 75% para la Maestría en Innovación Educativa, para las primeras tres personas que concluyan el proceso de admisión.
Licenciatura en Administración y Responsabilidad Social* (EN LÍNEA)
Especialidad en Ética y Sociedad RVOE SEP 20150321
Maestría en Administración y Emprendimiento Social RVOE SEP 20150324
Maestría en Innovación Educativa RVOE SEP 20150323
Maestría en Educación Ambiental RVOE SEP 20150322
Maestría en Orientación Educativa para la Prevención de Adicciones*


*La Licenciatura en Administración y Responsabilidad Social y la Maestría en Orientación Educativa para la Prevención de Adicciones, se encuentran en trámite para obtener el Reconocimiento de Validez Oficial ante la SEP.

by mariana at May 18, 2016 01:27 AM

May 13, 2016

One Laptop per Child

What to pay attention to when teaching

A Drop in Performance Can be a Sign of More Advanced Thinking

Sidney Strauss
School of Psychology
Center for Academic Studies
Or Yehuda

Branco Weiss Professor of Research in Child Development and Education (Emeritus)

School of Education
Tel Aviv University

We all know that children get better at solving problems as they get older. Learning is always upwards and onwards. Children get better in their understanding over time. For example, children age 6 can solve all the problems they were able to solve at age four, and then some. This commonplace understanding of learning on the part of educators, parents, etc. is confirmed in our everyday observations.

But there is a surprise here. A line of research I began in the 1980’s, and which continues to this very day, shows that what we take for granted is not always the case. Studies of cognitive development indicate that, for some tasks, children have what is called U-shaped behavioral growth. What this means is that younger children solve a task correctly, older children solve the same task incorrectly and still older children solve it correctly.

Here’s an example. Let’s say we have three cups, two of which have the same amount of water at the same temperature and one of which is empty. We tell the children that the water in the two cups is cold and that they are equally cold. We then pour the water from those two cups into the third, empty cup and proceed to ask the children what the temperature in now. Children age around 4 say, correctly, that it’s the same temperature because all we did was mix same temperature water. Older children around age 6, say that the mixed water is twice as cold as the original water because there is now twice the amount of water. And children around age 8 return to the correct answer that it is the same temperature as the original water because even though there is the more water, that doesn’t mean the water is colder. It’s just more cold water at the same temperature.

Lest the reader think this is an isolated phenomenon that is found only for temperature this surprising finding has been found for tasks that tap children’s understandings of other physics concepts, such as viscosity, sweetness of water, density and pressure. And U-shaped behavioral growth has been found in other domains, as well, such as language learning, the use of metaphors and more.

So how does this happen? How is it that our commonplace understanding of always getting better has sometimes been shown not to be the case? How is it that children are getting worse in problem solving over time?

One answer to these questions is that children actually do improve their underlying thinking over time, but sometimes an advance in what gives rise to answers leads to a drop in their performance in problem-solving. For example, to return to our case of temperature, the youngest children do not pay attention to the amount of water; the older children do pay attention to the amount of water but erroneously think that more of one thing (amount of water) increases another thing (temperature); and the oldest children also pay attention to the amount of water but they don’t think that it affects the temperature.

Notice that not paying attention to the amount of water (that leads to a correct answer) is less advanced than attending to the amount of water (that leads to an incorrect answer). What that means is that in tasks such as this, as our thinking advances, there is a drop in performance.

Normally, were we to see a child solving a task correctly and then after a while she solves it incorrectly, we might get worried. But the way I showed how this drop works, we would understand that that drop in performance is a sign of cognitive advance.

What this implies is that, when teaching, we should pay attention to children’s reasoning about a problem more than if their answer to that problem is correct or not.


Strauss, S. (with R. Stavy). (Eds.). (1982). U-shaped behavioral growth. New York: Academic Press.

Sydney Straus is a member of the OLPC Learning Board.

by mariana at May 13, 2016 01:55 AM

May 12, 2016

Ghana Together

Axim Public Library Update


…that’s the total number of book checkouts recorded by the Axim Library staff in 2015! That’s probably about 14,000 more than recorded before the advent of the Mobile Library! As one Ghanaian put it to Maryanne Ward on a recent visit: “They have done well, by God’s grace.” And, we might add, by determined human effort!

Beginning early Dec 2014, the library staff---Gaddiel Eyison and James Kwesi Armado, led by their Regional Director Mercy Ackah---initiated a successful Mobile Library Service, powered by a motor-tricycle, which serves 15 Primary/Junior High schools in Axim proper and surrounding villages. We worked with our partner, Western Heritage Home, to put that over the top.

Regional Director Mercy Ackah meeting with staff

For the benefit of our Ghanaian readers, the schools (apologies for spelling errors…) are:

Morning Star
Saint Augustinos
Christ the King
Brawire Akymim
Life International
Roman Catholic

2,384 children paid the 1 cedi fee (about 25 cents US) for their once-per-year library registration fee in 2015. First term 2016 is coming along nicely, too. (Actually their parents did...)

Major thanks to:

-Parents, who pay the registration fee, encourage their child’s education, see to their uniforms and notebooks, and listen to them read aloud. Not so easy with probably no electricity for lights in the home. The library staff admonishes the children: “take this book to the house and read it to your mother!” Mom learns to read a bit better, too, and enjoys seeing her child’s progress.

-The elected Axim Municipal Assembly, led by Mr. James Baidoe, Municipal Chief Executive, which budgets 90 cedis/month (about $25) for fuel for the tricycle, provides the rooms in the Axim Community Center to house the library, and tries to fund basic supplies such as tape, pens, book card/pocket paper, etc.

Check-out time!

-Headmistresses and Headmasters and teachers who work around the weekly disruptions---the Mobile Library is here!  (Not perfectly scheduled---the tricycle is not very speedy!) And support the library staff by encouraging the students, monitoring the care of these precious books (do you know how scarce they are??), urging the children to ask their parents for the registration fee.

The Mobile Library is here! TERRIFICALLY EXCITING!!!

-Friends who donate books---wonderful books---the kind of books they’d be happy to give their own children or grandchildren---no 40-year-old encyclopedias for our world-class students in Axim!

-Ebby Mienza and his family who pack up the books that have been shipped to them in Maryland and get them to the container. And the shipperwho gets the container onto the ship, and takes it across the Atlantic.

Ebby Mienza and his daughter re-packing books into standard-sized boxes for the shipping container. They have processed thousands of books in this manner. Ebby grew up in Axim.

-Friends in Accrawho meet the ship at the port, off-load the books, do the import paperwork, and deliver them to the Axim Library.

Two very good guys. Ishmael Baidoe (left) lived for years in Finland, George Hayford in Atlanta. They are back "home" in Ghana and help by collecting books from the port at Tema and delivering to Axim. No easy task!

Most recent shipment, delivered to the Axim Library and still being unpacked as we write. 19 boxes!

-The Ghana Library Authority (the national government department that oversees libraries) that pays the staff, provides accession numbers, a National Service worker to help, tries its best with minimal resources to champion public libraries country-wide, and nourishes intellectual freedom.

There are challenges:

-In rural areas like Axim, this is the first generation where many students finish junior high to say nothing of senior high. Leaders are trying to instill the reading habit, but schools generally have few textbooks and no library books, so the public library is IT!

Students with their library books in their classroom. With these books, they can actually use their reading skills. Without these books, they basically have only the teacher's writing on the blackboard, and their own copying of the teacher's writing in their exercise books.

-Books don’t hold up well in the tropical climate. Also, these children are the first generation to actually handle books. They are taught to be careful, but…the staff uses a lot of book repair tape!

Kind of chaotic, but he's READING his book no matter what!

-Some parents feel the one-cedi library registration fee, mandated by the Ghana Library Authority, contradicts the principle of tuition-free school and free public libraries and are reluctant to pay, although it is affordable.

When parents are late or can't pay school fees, students are not allowed to attend school. So, they come on their own initiative to the library to read on their own. 

-Understandably, the school staffs would prefer libraries in their individual schools---all but impossible with current national resources.

-The cost of shipping physical books from the US is high, even with our cost-saving system. And books are simply not available to purchase there. Some recommend skipping physical books and going to digital readers, but that introduces whole new challenges with sporadic (and expensive) electrical and internet services for charging/downloading, care, distribution, etc.

-Some recommend using buses as mobile libraries, with built-in shelving, computer terminals, etc. that go from school to school. They are being used in some cities. But that brings the problem of the high cost of fuel and vehicle maintenance. We feel Western Heritage Home leadership (our Axim-based partner organization) made a wise choice by going to the thrifty mobile tricycle. Clunkier, but affordable, and works fine in this semi-rural area.

More than you all wanted to know…we tend to get carried away with this library stuff!! Ha!

Thanks for all 

When you’re cruising summer yard sales and farmers’ markets, if you spy some great children’s books, you know what to do!

For more News Updates,
Our website is:
Contact us at
We are a 501c3 non-profit, ID 26-2182965

by Ghana Together ( at May 12, 2016 07:03 PM

May 09, 2016

Juan Chacon Free Software & Education | El Salvador

Resizing a Logical Volume on Centos 7.2 with system-storage-manager

My desktop machine at work was setup to dual-boot Ubuntu 14.04 and Windows 10.  Deciding I needed Centos 7.2 much more than Windows 10, I installed Centos into the space that had been occupied by Windows.

Using the Centos 7 installation DVD, I followed the partitioning proceedure that I can now almost do in my sleep, creating the following partitions:
  1. 500 MiB /boot with an xfs file system on an actual partition
  2. 1024 MiB swap
  3. 20 GiB / with an xfs file system on a logical volume
  4. /home with whatever space is left with an ext4 file system on a logical volume
I said I could almost do this in my sleep. I made one huge mistake.  Instead of making the /home partition with GiB, I made it with MiB!  I didn't notice this until I got a warning about the home partition running out of space.  I had spent a lot of time already installing and then updating the system.  I didn't want to go through that again.

So I used this mistake as an opportunity to explore resizing my logical volume.  It took a bit of poking around, but eventually I found this webpage, from which I did the following:
  1. Logged into the GUI as root so that /home would not be in use.
  2. Ran yum install system-storage-manager to install ssm.
  3. Ran ssm list to see my volumes.
  4. Ran ssm resize -s [size] [volume] to make /home larger.
It worked like a charm, and now I'm logged back in with my regular user with a few hundered gigabytes of space in my /home partition.

by jelkner ( at May 09, 2016 03:37 PM

April 28, 2016

Ghana Together


On Friday, March 18, Ghana Together happily sponsored the first Days for Girls International Workshop at the Community Development Vocational Technical Institute (CDVTI) in Axim, Ghana!

CDVTI is a vocational high school, offering courses in hairdressing, fashion design, sewing/jewelry making, catering/baking, electrical, plumbing, auto mechanics, welding/fabrication, computer science, and general subjects such as English, math, health, home management, bookkeeping, entrepreneurship, etc.
What is Days for Girls International?

DFG is a US-based 501c3 non-profit whose mission is to create a more dignified, free, and educated world through access to lasting feminine hygiene solutions and to see every girl and woman in the world with ready feasible access to quality sustainable feminine hygiene & women’s health education by 2022.

A worthy goal backed by VERY large amounts of hard work!

We were introduced to DFG upon an invitation to visit the Anacortes, WA DFG Chapter. A group of women volunteer one day per month to sew Days for Girls menstrual kits. They are motivated by the plight of girls worldwide who miss school during their monthly periods because of lack of workable menstrual products. They generously offered 72 kits for us to take to Axim on our March visit, as samples.

And so on Friday March 18, Madame Bernice Ankrah, the Days for Girls Country Director for Ghana, and her husband Prince, traveled to Axim, Ghana from their businesses/home in Accra. Bernice conducted a DFG Workshop at the CDVTI. Maryanne Ward of Ghana Together was privileged to be present.

Madame Bernice Ankrah, Days for Girls International--Ghana Country Director
Madame Bernice first spent about an hour with both male and female students—about 55 students in all---plus half a dozen teachers. She shared how, because of her own early pregnancy and motherhood, she missed out on formal education, but has managed to catch up through personal effort. She mentioned that her own beloved children are about the same age as the students at CDVTI and she felt especially blessed to be able to be share her life experience with these Axim students.
She now owns her own fashion business with 16 seamstresses on her staff. Not only does she design, sew, and market clothing, but she also runs a “Days for Girls Enterprise”. As Country Director, Bernice travels to many parts of Ghana giving DFG informational workshops and also training seamstresses to sew DFG kits as a business enterprise.

Then she plunged enthusiastically into the subject at hand: reproductive health.

Pinning charts to the blackboard

She went over both male and female reproductive systems in great detail for about an hour! She has the natural Ghanaian oratorical ability, and had us all mesmerized! 

Suffice it to say that all the ladies (as she called them) learned more about the guy’s side of the topic, esp. the basic body parts involved in reproduction and how they work, and the guys about the ladies, than any of them had ever imagined! They gave absolutely rapt attention!

Simple charts but effective.This is Ghana---can't trust electricity for PowerPoint slides or keeping a laptop charged. She used the tools she had wonderfully.

Bernice finished the first session by imploring the guys to respect women and themselves when it comes to sex.
Then she excused the guys. Or let’s say she TRIED to excuse them. They were enjoying it so much, they wouldn’t leave! Director Seidu had to step in and assert her authority, and not only ordered them to leave, but told them they could NOT hang around the door and try to listen! She had to station a teacher outside to enforce her order! J

Come on guys---we love you, really we do, but it's time to GO!

Now it was “ladies time.” 

Bernice explained the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, and women's reproductive health in detail using her charts and vivid examples. 

Then she explained how the DFG-designed menstrual hygiene kits have so many advantages: they are washable, reusable, and last for probably two years. They have been redesigned/improved many times, depending on actual feedback, and work much better than the “rags”, as she put it---homemade solutions. 

Since most of the girls present were taking sewing classes, it is entirely possible for them to make their own. The girls discussed the problem of having to dispose of sanitary napkins. And they pointed out the substantial cost savings over purchased sanitary napkins, which most said they could not afford.

One of the fun activities was when a girl came up with an excellent comment or idea, Bernice would look at her intently, then choose an under-panty from her stash in about the girl’s size and throw it at her! Even Madame Seidu was treated to her very own under-panty after she made a comment, much to everyone’s enjoyment!

Director Safiatu Seidu gleefully showing off her "prize"!

Bernice donned a DFG kit over the top of her shorts---and strutted around a bit! A natural teacher, she made it fun as well as informative and broke down inhibitions with her humor but also sincere attitude.

Hey, Bernice, the kit fits!!

She conducted a sewing session, where she sewed some kits from materials she had brought---with everyone watching intently.

CDVTI sewing machines. Remember, with sporadic electricity, hand-driven machines can keep going no matter what!

Girls intently watching the sewing demonstration
At the end, she handed out a sample DFG kit to every lady in the room, including teachers, in each one's approximate size, from those Maryanne had brought. About 30 were left over and are being saved for September’s incoming class.

Director Seidu and student handing out the kits

The teachers told Maryanne they thought the kits were a very good idea. Teacher Flora, who teaches sewing and fashion design, was especially positive.

Teacher Flora captured the entire session on her tablet---for future instructional use, she said

Madame Bernice has promised to return to Axim to train students to sew kits themselves. She has introduced the concept to this one school in the community, but these young women, trained in sewing and eager to start their own businesses, can spread the idea. Maryanne also will follow up with Director Seidu in the coming months.

Every CDVTI female student has a DFG menstrual kit and new knowledge about their lives as women

We give our heartfelt thanks to the women of the Anacortes DFG Chapter for providing the introductory kits, and for their workshop that Maryanne attended before introducing DFG to Axim.

For earlier News Updates, go to
Contact us:
Our website is:

Our mailing address is: Ghana Together, 808 Addison Place, Mount Vernon, WA 98273

by Ghana Together ( at April 28, 2016 09:49 PM

April 23, 2016

One Laptop per Child

Film festival hosted by a 15-year-old to raise awareness for OLPC

At OLPC we love when we receive messages like this one. It definitely encourages us to keep on moving forward.  Thank you Sydney S!


I’m incredibly happy to be supporting such an organization as One Laptop Per Child. Thank you for being so receptive to a student like myself and for making this process as easy and fun as possible.

I have attached two photos from the event if you need them and here is some information about the film festival:

“Short Films, Long Lasting Effects” is a student film festival dedicated to promoting the art of filmmaking, while raising money and awareness for the charity One Laptop Per Child. This year’s inaugural event, created by 15-year-old sophomore Sydney S, was held on April 15, 2016 at Westhampton Beach High School on Long Island, New York and featured nine student films. Sydney developed a passion for filmmaking in the fourth grade, which led her to premiere her first movie at the local theater, to attend New York Film Academy programs twice, and to lecture about technology both online for a global audience at the Student Technology Conference and at the Suffolk ASSET Conference, the largest technology conference for teachers and administrators on Long Island. This film and technology background encouraged Sydney to fulfill her goal of hosting a charitable film festival.image002
“Short Films, Long Lasting Effects” brought together people from all areas of the community to highlight the talents of Long Island filmmakers. The short films were judged by industry professionals from the community, and a fan favorite prize was awarded to the movie that could raise the most money for One Laptop Per Child in its designated jar. About 100 people filled the seats of the auditorium during the film festival and volunteers in their bright blue shirts were lined up behind donation tables prepared to answer any incoming questions. “Short Films, Long Lasting Effects” was greatly enjoyed by all who attended and with the combined efforts of the film festival and fundraising in the community, succeeded in its goal of raising money to help One Laptop Per Child send laptops to the children in need around the world.

Sydney S.

by mariana at April 23, 2016 01:10 AM

April 19, 2016

Juan Chacon Free Software & Education | El Salvador

Moving an ArcGIS File Geodatabase to QGIS

I am taking GGS 553: Geographic Information System this semester at part of my graduate studies at George Mason University.  In a previous post I described how I ended up in this Geographic Information Science graduate certificate program, which I have now been pursuing for almost 2 years.  GGS 553 is a required course, and the first one in the program that has required me to use proprietary software, since much of the course is focused on learning to use ArcGIS.

I am both philosophically and ethically opposed to proprietary software, since it runs dead against the expansion of our shared cultural space, which I believe is vital to the survival of our species. This is a required course, however, and in the large scheme of things I am willing to compromise when I need to. I like to think of it as dancing with the devil, learning the devil's moves in order to be able to freely out dance him in the future. In this case that will mean applying what I learn in GGS 553 to mastering QGIS, the free software alternative to ArcGIS. I had intended to try to do each of our assigned labs this semester in both ArcGIS and QGIS, but when I found it difficult enough just to complete them on time in ArcGIS, I gave up on that idea after the first week.

This week we have a sort of half size assignment, so I thought I would use the extra time available to see if I could do it in QGIS.  The first challenge will be to load the project data into QGIS.  We were given the data in ArcGIS's file geodatabase format. QGIS can not yet read and write to this format directly, but there are tools available to convert it into PostGIS, with which QGIS can work well.

Last Summer I wrote a blog post documenting how I setup a PostGIS server on Ubuntu 14.04.  Since this year I am also needing to learn RHEL, I'll use this guide to setup the server on the little Centos 7 server I have at home for just such purposes, and then connect to it from QGIS running on my Ubuntu desktop.

Installing a PostGIS Server on Centos 7

$ sudo yum install postgis postgresql-server postgresql-contrib
$ sudo postgresql-setup initdb
$ sudo -i -u postgres
$ psql
postgres=# \password postgres
Enter new password:
Enter it again:
postgres=# \q
$ exit
$ sudo vi /var/lib/pgsql/data/pg_hba.conf

Change this line (near the bottom):

host    all             all               ident

to this:

host    all             all                  md5

Next allow database connections from outside:

$ sudo vi /var/lib/pgsql/data/postgresql.conf


#listen_addresses = 'localhost'

to this:

listen_addresses = '*'

Create a new database user with superuser privileges:

$ sudo su - postgres
$ createuser --superuser [user]
$ psql -c "ALTER ROLE [user] PASSWORD '[password]'"
$ exit

Then as that user create the database and add gis extensions:

$ createdb webster
$ psql -d webster -c 'CREATE EXTENSION postgis'

Then after copying over the Webster.db directory containing the file geodatabase, I ran:

$ ogr2ogr -f "PostgreSQL" PG:"dbname=webster user=[user] password=[password]" Webster.gdb

After which I connected my desktop QGIS to the PostgreSQL server running on my little household server and loaded the three layers I found there:


by jelkner ( at April 19, 2016 03:44 PM

April 07, 2016

Juan Chacon Free Software & Education | El Salvador

Software Management with YUM

YUM (Yellowdog Updater, Modified) is the package management tool used on Red Hat Enterprise Linux and its derived versions, CentOS and Scientific Linux. It acts as a front end to the RPM Package Manager (RPM), and is used to install, remove, and update software on Red Hat based systems.

I first encountered YUM when installing Yellow Dog Linux on PowerPC based Macintosh computers back at the dawn of the 21st century.  When I switched over to Debian based GNU/Linux systems with the release of Ubuntu in 2004, I completely lost touch with the RPM world until my Spring semester Linux System Administration course's pursuit of RHCSA certification brought me back into the fold.

I am writing this post to use as a handy list of the most common things I need to do when managing software:
  1. Update the software on the system
    $ yum check-update
    $ sudo yum update package_name
    $ sudo yum update [to update all packages]
    $ sudo yum group update group_name
  2. List all the currently installed software
    $ yum list installed
    $ yum list installed "global expression"
  3. Search for available packages
    $ yum list available "global expression"
    $ yum search term...
  4. Display information about a package
    $ yum info package_name
  5. Install a new package
    $ sudo yum install package_name
  6. Remove an existing package
    $ sudo yum remove package_name
  7. List the current repos
    $ yum repolist
    $ yum repolist -v
That covers the basics. I also need to learn how to clean up the cruft that accumulates over time as a system is run, in Debian land the kind of thing that would be done with $ sudo apt-get autoremove. It seems that in RPM space that is accomplished with the package-cleanup utility, so I'll look into that.


by jelkner ( at April 07, 2016 10:06 AM

April 04, 2016

Sayamindu Dasgupta

Studying the relationship between remixing & learning

With more than 10 million users, the Scratch online community is the largest online community where kids learn to program. Since it was created, a central goal of the community has been to promote “remixing” — the reworking and recombination of existing creative artifacts. As the video above shows, remixing programming projects in the current web-based version of Scratch is as easy is as clicking on the “see inside” button in a project web-page, and then clicking on the “remix” button in the web-based code editor. Today, close to 30% of projects on Scratch are remixes.

Remixing plays such a central role in Scratch because its designers believed that remixing can play an important role in learning. After all, Scratch was designed first and foremost as a learning community with its roots in the Constructionist framework developed at MIT by Seymour Papert and his colleagues. The design of the Scratch online community was inspired by Papert’s vision of a learning community similar to Brazilian Samba schools (Henry Jenkins writes about his experience of Samba schools in the context of Papert’s vision here), and a comment Marvin Minsky made in 1984:

Adults worry a lot these days. Especially, they worry about how to make other people learn more about computers. They want to make us all “computer-literate.” Literacy means both reading and writing, but most books and courses about computers only tell you about writing programs. Worse, they only tell about commands and instructions and programming-language grammar rules. They hardly ever give examples. But real languages are more than words and grammar rules. There’s also literature – what people use the language for. No one ever learns a language from being told its grammar rules. We always start with stories about things that interest us.

In a new paper — titled “Remixing as a pathway to Computational Thinking” — that was recently published at the ACM Conference on Computer Supported Collaborative Work and Social Computing (CSCW) conference, we used a series of quantitative measures of online behavior to try to uncover evidence that might support the theory that remixing in Scratch is positively associated with learning.

Scratch blocks

Of course, because Scratch is an informal environment with no set path for users, no lesson plan, and no quizzes, measuring learning is an open problem. In our study, we built on two different approaches to measure learning in Scratch. The first approach considers the number of distinct types of programming blocks available in Scratch that a user has used over her lifetime in Scratch (there are 120 in total) — something that can be thought of as a block repertoire or vocabulary. This measure has been used to model informal learning in Scratch in an earlier study. Using this approach, we hypothesized that users who remix more will have a faster rate of growth for their code vocabulary.

Controlling for a number of factors (e.g. age of user, the general level of activity) we found evidence of a small, but positive relationship between the number of remixes a user has shared and her block vocabulary as measured by the unique blocks she used in her non-remix projects. Intriguingly, we also found a strong association between the number of downloads by a user and her vocabulary growth. One interpretation is that this learning might also be associated with less active forms of appropriation, like the process of reading source code described by Minksy.

The second approach we used considered specific concepts in programming, such as loops, or event-handling. To measure this, we utilized a mapping of Scratch blocks to key programming concepts found in this paper by Karen Brennan and Mitchel Resnick. For example, in the image below are all the Scratch blocks mapped to the concept of “loop”.

Scratch loop blocks

We looked at six concepts in total (conditionals, data, events, loops, operators, and parallelism). In each case, we hypothesized that if someone has had never used a given concept before, they would be more likely to use that concept after encountering it while remixing an existing project.

Using this second approach, we found that users who had never used a concept were more likely to do so if they had been exposed to the concept through remixing. Although some concepts were more widely used than others, we found a positive relationship between concept use and exposure through remixing for each of the six concepts. We found that this relationship was true even if we ignored obvious examples of cutting and pasting of blocks of code. In all of these models, we found what we believe is evidence of learning through remixing.

Of course, there are many limitations in this work. What we found are all positive correlations — we do not know if these relationships are causal. Moreover, our measures do not really tell us whether someone has “understood” the usage of a given block or programming concept.However, even with these limitations, we are excited by the results of our work, and we plan to build on what we have. Our next steps include developing and utilizing better measures of learning, as well as looking at other methods of appropriation like viewing the source code of a project.

The paper (and this blog post) is collaborative work with Benjamin Mako Hill, Andrés Monroy-Hernández and William Hale. The paper is released as open access so anyone can read the entire paper here.

by Sayamindu Dasgupta at April 04, 2016 05:03 AM

April 01, 2016

One Laptop per Child

March 29, 2016

ICT4D Views from the Field

Voice of America features SolarSPELL on Learning English News Program

The Voice of America featured the SolarSPELL digital library in a recent news article on its website.

Screen Shot 2016-03-29 at 3.31.58 PM

Vanuatu Peace Corps volunteer Alexis Cullen, Peace Corps ICT4D Program Officer Gabriel Krieshok, and Prof. Laura Hosman were interviewed for the article. The article also features links to videos on the SolarSPELL website.

by ljhosman at March 29, 2016 10:41 PM

Juan Chacon Free Software & Education | El Salvador

Setting Up a Centos Router - Part 2

VirtualBox provides a wonderful tool for learning about networking.  It enables doing "network experiments" quickly and easily by removing the need to focus on problems at the physical (hardware) layer of the networking stack, since several VirtualBox VMs can be configured on a single host machine and networked together virtually. This blog post will document my attempt to setup a VirtualBox network.

The first thing I did was create a base install VM of Centos 7 and updated the software ($ sudo yum update).
VirtualBox supports cloning VMs, which is by far the easies and quickest way to spin up several VMs. To make a clone, right click on the base machine and select Clone:
Give the clone a name and check the Reinitialize the MAC address of all network cards box. I've never tried not checking this box, but I imagine bad things could happen if there were two machines on the network with NICs having the same MAC address.
I selected Full clone for each of these VMs. Linked clones can save space (see Linked Clone in VirtualBox, What is it and How to Clone Virtual Machine?), but at 20 Gigs for these VMs I have space for dozens of them, so the benefit of avoiding dependencies among the clones outweighs the potential savings of space.
I nice progress bar and a few seconds later and you have a new VM.
For the present experiment I created three VMs named CentosRouter, Server1, and Server2
CentosRouter is going to be the router (obviously ;-), so it will need two NICs:
Adapter 1 is set to Bridged Adapter, so that it will on the same network as the host machine.
Adapter 2 is set to intnet, the internal network I am creating with the VMs.  Server1 and Server2 also have their NICs set to  intnet.
The next step is to edit the network scripts and enable ip_forwarding on the router:
1. # vi /etc/sysconfig/network-scripts/ifcfg-enp0s3
2. # vi /etc/sysconfig/network-scripts/ifcfg-enp0s8 

Note: The UUID was obtained by running: # uuidgen enp0s8
3. # vi /etc/sysctl.conf
Finally, I needed to install firewalld and restart the router:
# yum install firewalld
# reboot
With the router configured, it is time to setup Server1 and Server2:
# vi /etc/sysconfig/network-scripts/ifcfg-enp0s3

Note: The HWADDR was obtained by running: # ip a as in the screenshot above.
Server2 should be similar, with IPADDR set to, and the HWADDR and UUID set appropriately.


by jelkner ( at March 29, 2016 06:34 PM

Setting Up a Centos Router - Part 1

In order to run the kind of experiments we will need to run to really learn proper GNU/Linux system administration, we need our own "safe space" in which to play.  In previous years when I had students with the level of skills our ITN 170 group is quickly acquiring, I always used one of our machines as a NAT Router so that we could isolate our own network traffic and setup custom services within our private network space.

The basic idea is captured in the following illustration.
What is required is a machine with two NICs (represented here by Tux) - one which connects to the outside network and the other which connects to the local network.

Setup Process

Here is what I did to setup a basic router using an old desktop PC:

  • Did a minimal install of CentOS 7 on a machine with two NICs, connecting one of the NICs to the outside network and activating this connection using DHCP on the host network during the installation process.
  • Ran yum update after installation to make sure I had the current software.
  • Ran yum install yum-utils vim to get vim and the package-cleanup utility. I then ran package-cleanup --oldkernels --count=1 to remove all but the current kernel package.
  • I ran ip addr and got back information on three network interfaces:
    1. lo - the loopback interface or localhost, with its network address.
    2. enp0s25 - the NIC on the motherboard which I had activated with DHCP during installation.
    3. enp3s0 - the addon NIC that was not configured during installation. It had the following information:
      enp3s0:  mtu 1500 qdisc pfifo_fast state UP qlen 1000
      link/ether 00:15:17:20:b6:e6 brd ff:ff:ff:ff:ff:ff
  • I edited /etc/sysconfig/network-scripts/ifcfg-enp3s0 adding the following:
    GATEWAY="x.x.x.x" (place your gateway adress here)
I used the resources linked below to try to enable IP routing and NAT, but I was not successful in getting it to route.  I have a laptop running Centos 7 connected to the router machine.  Before attempting this setup I had installed ClearOS on the router and got it to route for the laptop with a setup process using ClearOS's web interface.  An experienced friend of mine shamed me into removing this, however, by telling me he would never hire a sysadmin who only new how to set this up using a web interface.

So for now I have assigned two of my students to continue looking into it, and I'll get together with that friend who shamed me into this to get his assistance on Tuesday if we haven't figured it out by then.

To be continued...


by jelkner ( at March 29, 2016 05:39 PM

Sugar Digest / Walter Bender

Nevada Driver Licenses and ID Cards

However, taxi drivers in Clark County must get a permit from the Nevada Taxicab Authority.RV, boat and trailer owners need a Class A or B license to drive vehicles 26,000 pounds or heavier. An Endorsement J is needed to tow a vehicle over 10,000 GVWR. If the combination of the towing vehicle and the towed vehicle(s) exceed 26,000 pounds, a Class A license is required. Firefighters, farmers and military members who drive non-commercial heavy equipment. This endorsement is a limited exemption from commercial licensing requirements.Must wear corrective eye lenses (glasses or contacts). See Testing.DMV Home Page | About us | Driver License | Registration | License Plates | Business | Forms |

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Offices | State of Nevada Home PageHonorably-discharged veterans may have a Veteran designation placed on their license. Present evidence of honorable discharge at any DMV office. Fight Fraud NVSingle vehicles with a weight (GVWR) of 26,001 or more pounds;Cars, vans, pickups, mopeds, and other vehicles with a weight (GVWR) ofCombination vehicles, such as tractor-trailers, with a Gross Combination Weight Rating (GCWR) of 26,001 pounds or more, provided the vehicle being towed has a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of 10,001 pounds or more.

Motor Voter

Please enable Javascript! This site uses Javascript for menus and many other features. You must enable both Javascript and cookies to use DMV Online Transactions.

Organ Donation the operator may tow a vehicle weighing 10,000 pounds GVWR or less. See the Commercial Driver Handbook.

If you are obtaining the designation only, the fee is $9.25 for a non-commercial license or ID card or $13.25 for a commercial license. There is no additional fee if you are renewing your license or completing another license transaction. If you are mailing a license renewal, you may mail a copy of the document. Visit to obtain a copy of your DD-214 or other evidence of honorable discharge.RV & Trailers

26,000 pounds or less; allows towing of a vehicle with a GVWR of 10,000 pounds or less. Class C license holders may tow a combination of vehicles not to exceed seventy feet in length. If the GVWR of the towed vehicles exceeds 10,000 pounds, an Endorsement J is required.

Nevada license classes, common endorsements and common restrictions are listed below. Nevada does not issue any type of Chauffeur or other special license.Living WIll LockboxMotorcycles. If you impulsive a motorcycle and a Class A, B, or C vehicle, your certify exit attest both classes, provided you render met all otc requirements. See Motorcycles, Mopeds & Bicycles, Motorcycle Skills Test and the Motorcycle Handbook.

See the Commercial Driver Handbook.

March 29, 2016 01:39 AM

March 21, 2016

Sugar Digest / Walter Bender


My WordPress instance seems to be attracting hackers. Please refer to my posts in the Sugar Labs wiki ( wile I sort things out.

March 21, 2016 02:23 PM

March 20, 2016

Sayamindu Dasgupta

Marvin Minsky

Last week, the Media Lab organized a memorial event for Marvin Minsky. The main event space had large life-size images of Marvin’s living room on all sides; I had been lucky enough to visit Marvin and Gloria a few times over the last three years (courtesy Brian Silverman and Cynthia Solomon), and I’m glad that the living room was an integral part of celebrating Marvin’s life and legacy. Each table in the post-event reception had a large pile of fortune cookies in the middle, and each of these fortune cookies had a “Marvinism” inside. Here’s an example (Hiroshi Ishii tweeted a list of all the Marvinisms in the cookies):

Marvinism fortune cookie

For those who can read Bangla, I also wrote a short piece on Marvin for the “Bigyan” (বিজ্ঞান) e-zine; you can read it here.

by Sayamindu Dasgupta at March 20, 2016 08:58 PM

Juan Chacon Free Software & Education | El Salvador

Centos Command-line Tricks and Tips - Getting Rid of the Terminal Beep

Getting Rid of the Terminal Beep:

My terminal was making an annoying beeping (more like a swoosh beep, actually) every time it couldn't match a tab completion.  I like to listen to music while I work, so this was really driving me crazy.  All I needed to do to stop it was to run:
$ echo 'set bell-style none' >> ~/.inputrc
which appends 'set bell-style none' to the .inputrc file in my home directory.  .inputrc didn't exist in my home directory (I checked before running the command), so running this command created it.
After exiting the terminal and starting another, the terminal maintained the silence I wanted it to ;-)

by jelkner ( at March 20, 2016 01:16 AM

March 13, 2016


Congratulations to Sameer Verma

 Our own Sameer Verma has been elected for a two-year term on the Sugar Labs Oversight Board! He joins the board of 7 members governing the future of Sugar Labs.

Elections for the Sugar Labs Oversight Board were held in January. All seven seats were up for election, the top 4 winners were elected for two-year terms and the following 3 were elected for one-year terms. In this way approximately half the board is up for election each year, going forward.

Board meetings are held on the first Friday of every month over IRC. You can find the meeting minutes on the Sugar Labs wiki.

Congratulations to Sameer and the other board members. OLPC-SF is excited and is looking forward to what 2016 brings for Sugar Labs and the OLPC Community.

by adborden at March 13, 2016 02:55 AM

March 11, 2016

One Laptop per Child

Memorias 2015 – Fundación Zamora Terán

Memorias 2015 es la publicación en el que la Fundación Zamora Terán comparte las memorias y logros del año 2015.

Pueden encontrarlo desplegado abajo o en este link.


by mariana at March 11, 2016 07:17 PM

March 08, 2016

One Laptop per Child

5 años apoyando la transformación del aprendizaje – Fundación Quiroz Tanzi

La revista Conexiones del Ministerio de Educación de Costa Rica publica un número sobre la implementación realizada por Fundación Quiroz Tanzi en Costa Rica.

Pueden leerlo dando click aquí o abajo:


by mariana at March 08, 2016 02:46 PM

March 07, 2016

One Laptop per Child

Sugar Labs in Google Summer of Code

Sugar Labs has been accepted as a participating organization in Google Summer of Code. Visit for more information or if you are interested in being a mentor.



by mariana at March 07, 2016 03:36 PM

March 05, 2016

One Laptop per Child

Ibirapitá, proyecto de inclusión digital de jubilados en Uruguay. @Plan_Ceibal

El cerebro no se jubila.

Antonio M. Battro

Academia Nacional de Educación,

Pontificia Academia de Ciencias,

Esta nota se propone exponer el mensaje contundente de la gran bióloga italiana a la luz de Ibirapitá, el nuevo programa de inclusión digital del gobierno del Uruguay que ha comenzado a distribuir tabletas conectadas a Internet a las personas jubiladas con ingresos reducidos. Es decir, los mayores de 65 años contarán con los mismos recursos digitales que ya sus nietos han recibido a partir de los 5 años, gracias al “modelo uno a uno”, una laptop/tablet por niño del Plan Ceibal ( De esta manera se está construyendo en el Uruguay un amplio y generoso puente digital que abraza 60 años de vida. Este programa de inclusión digital inter-generacional, el primero de su tipo en el mundo, merece destacarse y ser imitado.

Pueden leer el documento aquí.

by mariana at March 05, 2016 02:58 PM

March 04, 2016

One Laptop per Child

Sustainable education: Uruguay’s @Plan_Ceibal


Sustainable Humanity, Sustainable Nature: Our Responsibility Pontifical Academy of Sciences, Extra Series 41, Vatican City 2014 Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, Acta 20, Vatican City 2014

This meeting on “sustainable humanity and sustainable nature” is a valuable opportunity to introduce and discuss the notion of “sustainable education”.We are willing to understand and improve the interactions between “human capital and natural capital”.Education is part of the human capital of our societies but the notion of “sustainable education” is still under construction and needs special consideration. In particular it is impossible to imagine a sustainable school system that remains independent of the rapidly expanding digital environment of today.Our society has created a new“virtual ecosystem” which is covering the planet and is modifying the life of millions.The good news is that education can play,and is playing in many cases,an increasing and constructive role in this global process towards equity and solidarity in the human family.We are convinced that a sustainable education must be based on evidences and not on ideologies.A sustainable education must be supported by political, economical, social, technological and pedagogical sustainable programs.

Continue reading here or below:

by mariana at March 04, 2016 01:26 PM

Animated Video and Call to Action – @OLPCCanada

The OLPC Canada team is excited to share a new animated video highlighting some of the inspiring outcomes when Aboriginal students are connected with educational technology. Please help us build awareness of this initiative by sharing this video on Facebook and Twitter and liking it on Youtube.

OLPC Canada provides 21st century educational tools to Aboriginal students nationwide. To date, they have connected more than 60 Aboriginal education programs and 9,000 students to technology designed with children in mind. Please help raise awareness about this initiative by sharing this video. It takes a network to connect a child.

Learn more at:

by mariana at March 04, 2016 01:20 AM

February 24, 2016

XOs in Honduras


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 ( at February 24, 2016 07:06 AM

February 22, 2016

Ghana Together


It’s a new year and in addition to ongoing projects, Ghana Together, with our associates of Western Heritage Home, are busy working on some new mutually-agreed-upon projects.

First to completion is a new polytank at the Heritage Building!

The Heritage has seen heavy and multiple uses over the years---as an orphanage/children’s home; as space for science classes, computer classes, community gatherings, exam preparation classes; a dormitory for senior high school girls; and a couple of rooms as the residence of Western Heritage Home's Operations Manager.

And now our beloved Heritage has a new mission as the dormitory for young men and women from the recently-established Manye Academy Government Senior High School.

The original tank was installed and hooked up to the Axim piped water system, on the expert advice of the Pacific Northwest Chapter of Engineers Without Borders team. The Bellingham-based group traveled to Axim in 2009 and advised that this approach was the best way to ensure a clean, steady water supply to the Heritage Building.

Leif Pederson, of Ghana Together, added his engineering expertise, and with local Axim workers, connected the tank to the building to provide water to showers, toilets, kitchen, and outside spigot.

Leif Pederson (the guy with the cap) and Axim workers figuring out how to get the water from the Axim water system up into the polytank back in 2009...

First they had to hook up the pipes

But that polytank just plain wore out, so our first priority project for 2016 was replace it, and provide ongoing clean water for the nearly 30 residents from Manye Academy Senior High School and their House Supervisors.

You get some VERY strong take down the old one and hoist up the new one...

And you get LOTS of expert advice from the ground level!!

And  you climb up there to hook everything up, and hope against hope...

Mission accomplished thanks to you, our fellow “investors”, and the Axim workers and supervision that pulled it off! The boarding students now have...SHOWERS, TOILETS, OUTSIDE WATER SPIGOT... 

And just so you know, the cost was about 2000 Ghana cedis, or about $550 US.

Boys' shower...girls have one on the second floor...

This kind of project is not flashy, but fills our mission of supporting mutually identified and agreed upon local needs.

A little background

The Manye Academy Senior High School is a new program offered by the long-time private Primary-Junior High School. It was established by Professor K. S. Nokoe, who has a PhD from the University of British Columbia! 

Years ago, to "give back" to his hometown of Axim, he established the Manye Academy. Professor Nokoe is now retired as Professor and Acting Dean of the School of Graduate Studies at the Ghanaian University of Energy and Natural Resources. He specializes in mathematics and statistics. 

Because the government of Ghana now provides tuition-free education through junior high, the number of students qualifying for senior high is growing rapidly. There are not enough slots. And so Prof. Nokoe moved to add slots!

Manye Academy Senior High is not private, but government-owned, and with classroom space and management provided by Manye Academy. For Ghana Education Department certification they had to have a dormitory for boarding students, and the Heritage Building is the perfect solution, being within easy walking distance of the classrooms! But a dormitory needs WATER---and so now they have it!!


For earlier News Updates, go to
Contact us:
Our website is:
Our mailing address is: Ghana Together, 808 Addison Place, Mount Vernon, WA 98273

by Ghana Together ( at February 22, 2016 09:44 PM

February 17, 2016

ICT4D Views from the Field

Two Videos on SolarSPELL from Cal Poly’s Mustang News

Mustang News, the award-winning on-campus source for media about California Polytechnic State University, has released two videos about the SolarSPELL project.

The first video (above) gives an overview of the library and the project (up to now).

The second video covers the Appropriate Technology Workshop and Build Day that was held in October 2015, when Cal Poly students from across the campus came together and built 30 SolarSPELL libraries in one afternoon.


by ljhosman at February 17, 2016 01:43 AM

February 12, 2016

OLE Nepal

Process to get approvals to construct schools damaged by the earthquake

As we are getting ready to start constructing schools damaged by the earthquake in Gorkha district, we thought it’d be helpful to share the official process that we went through to secure all the approvals and paperwork. This might come…

by Rabi Karmacharya at February 12, 2016 12:14 PM

February 10, 2016

Project Rive: Reaching Students in Haiti

FAQ about the Student Org

Kids Write is recruiting new members! Here’s some info about us. What do you guys do? We partner with schools in Haiti. At each school, we train teachers to use tablets and laptops in their classroom for students to read, … Continue reading

by Sora at February 10, 2016 03:02 PM

February 08, 2016

Juan Chacon Free Software & Education | El Salvador

Text Processing and Unix History

Preparing for the RHCSA certification is turning out to be a heap of fun! Despite more than 20 years as a free software activist and personal user of GNU/Linux systems for all my personal computing, and despite being a computer science teacher during that same time, there are a wide range of basic Unix CLI skills that I only scratched the surface of in all that time (shame on me!).

Preparing for the RHCSA is providing the opportunity to address that deficit at long last.  Chapter 4 of the book we are using in class to study for the certification is titled "Working with Text Files". The most enjoyable thing about this investigation into Unix text file processing is the view it provides into Unix history.

In the beginning there was eded begat ex, and ex begat vi... Along the way we got cousins grep and sed too.  Since grep, sed, and vi are part of the Unix admin's toolset, I want to learn to use them at least well enough to be able to help prepare students (and myself) for the RHCSA certification and to be able to present them well to future students in my ITN 170: Linux System Administration class.

Since in the beginning there was ed, let me start with that.  I found a very nice blog post, Actually using ed, which I found to be a wonderful introduction to this tool.  I set myself the task of using ed to create a list of fruits in a file named fruits.txt.  The first thing I found out was that trying:
$ ed fruits.txt
did not create the file for me, instead returning a "No such file or directory" error.  So I did the following, which worked:
$ touch fruits.txt
$ ed fruits.txt
After that, I ran $ cat fruits.txt, and saw that everything was as I wanted it:
Now if I want an alphabetical listing of the fruits in my list, I can run:
$ grep berries fruits.txt | sort
and see this:
RegexOne is a nice, interactive tutorial for learning basic regular expressions.  I wanted to do all the exercises using grep on the command-line as well, and in the process setup a new github repo for resources related to our RHCSA study, here.

Next I wanted to learn sed.  Sed - An Introduction and Tutorial by Bruce Barnett is a wonderful tutorial.  With so much awful document out there, it is great to find something written by someone with a grasp of how people actually learn.

Using the fruits.txt file I created with ed, I ran $ sed s/berries/cherries/ fruits.txt and got:
Since sed uses the same substitution syntax that vim uses, learning it will be a big help in becoming a more effective vim user as well.

by jelkner ( at February 08, 2016 06:10 PM

QGIS Delivers Functionality and Freedom

I am taking a graduate course this semester, GGS 553 - Geographic Information System, which is required for the Graduate Certificate in Geographic Information Sciences program that I am hoping to complete.  I like the text book we are using for class, and greatly enjoyed the first lecture.  What I am not happy about is that the labs which will make up a large part of the course assignments require the use of proprietary software, specifically ArcGIS, and then by extension, the Windows operating system on which it runs.

I have been a free software activist for more than 20 years. Software for GIS makes it especially easy to state why I believe so strongly in software freedom. To put it simply, I believe software should be part of humanity's shared cultural heritage, and that all efforts to turn it instead into a commodity are immoral.

Installing ArcGIS made this painfully clear to me.  In the first place, using it required that I use a non-free operating system, so I am running Windows just so that I can use ArcGIS.  Going through the gymnastics (registering an on-line account, figuring out where to enter the product code after missing it the first time through the installation, etc.) required to establish that I was "authorized" to use the commidified resource was most unpleasant. It rubs me deeply the wrong way to see human creativity misspent making the world a worse place rather than a better one.

No matter.  I have to do it to complete this required course, so I am determined to make the best of it.  What that means to me is keeping in mind the well known quote from Sun Tzu,
"Know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles."
So I'll count learning ArcGIS as knowing my enemy, and time permitting, I will do each lab assignment in QGIS in parallel.

The first thing I wanted to do was to install the latest QGIS on my Ubuntu 14.04 desktop.  To do this, using this web page as a guide, I added the following to the end of my /etc/apt/sources.list file:

# For QGIS 2.12
deb trusty main
deb trusty main

Then I ran:
$ sudo apt-key adv --keyserver --recv-key 3FF5FFCAD71472C4
$ sudo aptitude update
$ sudo aptitude install qgis
This is a much easier process than installing ArcGIS. QGIS also runs much faster than ArcGIS, and on the operating system I choose, not the one chosen for me.

It also seems that the wonderful folks who have developed QGIS have modeled its UI after the non-free standard, so the lab notes describing ArcGIS helped me understand QGIS as well. QGIS's Browser is the equivalent of ArcGIS's ArcCatalog. Here is the QGIS Browser showing the shape files from my first lab:
The QGIS Desktop functions like ArcGIS's ArcMap.  Here is QGIS Desktop with my Lab 1 shapefiles in a map:
So far, so good.  I was able to answer all the lab questions using QGIS with the given data, and I learned new things about QGIS through doing the ArcGIS lab exercises.

by jelkner ( at February 08, 2016 05:06 PM

January 28, 2016

Juan Chacon Free Software & Education | El Salvador

Creating a Shared Partition Between Ubuntu and Scientific Linux

Now that I've removed Windows from my desktop computer at work, and installed Scientific Linux in its place (note: it was, Centos 7.2 with LVM partitions, but now it is Scientific Linux 7.1 with standard partitions), I decided I needed a partition that could be shared between the two distros for large user data.

For example, I have 12 Gigabytes in my Music directory, and a number of VirtualBox hard disk images (at 20 to 30 Gigabytes each) that I would like to access from both OS's.  So my plan is to create a new partition which I will mount on /media/share on both Ubuntu and Scientific Linux.  Then I'll make symbolic links from /home/[username]/Music to /media/share/Music from each home directory.

Before I could create a new partition, I needed to shrink one of my existing partitions to free up space.  Here is how the partitions looked when I started:
and here is what they looked like after shrinking /dev/sda3, growing /dev/sda4 and inserting /dev/sda7 into the new space inside it:
I made the change by booting my computer from an Ubuntu 14.04 Live DVD and running GParted. It took about 20 minutes to shrink my home partition, but it worked without incident.

The next step is to add a mount for the new /dev/sda7 partition.  It's been several years since I played around with mounting partitions, but I still remembered that it involved editing the /etc/fstab file and adding the device and the mount point.  So I loaded my /etc/fstab file and noticed something had changed since I last looked at it:
# /etc/fstab: static file system information.
# Use 'blkid' to print the universally unique identifier for a
# device; this may be used with UUID= as a more robust way to name devices
# that works even if disks are added and removed. See fstab(5).
# <file system> <mount point>   <type>  <options>       <dump>  <pass>
# / was on /dev/sda2 during installation
UUID=4ae26245-fe59-40d2-a380-2c2de57b652b /               ext4    errors=remount-ro 0       1
# /home was on /dev/sda3 during installation
UUID=5c4e86f6-1d94-4eab-9931-5d3aa29e1583 /home           ext4    defaults        0       2
# swap was on /dev/sda1 during installation
UUID=bba8f235-d8b0-4131-9a3e-ec286c3b3837 none            swap    sw              0       0
I was completely unfamiliar with UUID, and had been expecting to see device names (like /dev/sda3 etc.) instead.  I bit of searching led me to several links:
Running $ sudo blkid gave me this:
 /dev/sda1: UUID="b70d7272-e47f-426a-a979-5417bb2f7801" TYPE="swap"
/dev/sda2: UUID="4ae26245-fe59-40d2-a380-2c2de57b652b" TYPE="ext4"
/dev/sda3: UUID="5c4e86f6-1d94-4eab-9931-5d3aa29e1583" TYPE="ext4"
/dev/sda5: UUID="76f8dd02-3671-49ba-b75a-da6d8bb65b19" TYPE="ext4"
/dev/sda6: UUID="e7e58de9-a748-4500-b300-ae1ca10f2056" TYPE="xfs"
/dev/sda7: UUID="44244888-7000-49bf-8ac8-2c32e2f73eb5" TYPE="ext4" 
which I used to add the following line to /etc/fstab:
UUID=44244888-7000-49bf-8ac8-2c32e2f73eb5 /media/share ext4 defaults
and then ran:
$ sudo mkdir /media/share
$ sudo mount -a
which mounted /dev/sda7 on /media/share. Next I moved all my music files to /media/share/Music, deleted the Music directory in my home directory, and replaced it with a symbolic link (note: run from my user's home directory):
$ ln -s /media/share/Music Music
I started Rhythmbox and it worked as if nothing had changed.

Rebooting into Scientific Linux, I added the same line to /etc/fstab and ran the same mkdir and mount commands, then removed my still empty Music directory, made the same sym link, and voila, I had access to all my music from Scientific Linux (after installing Rhythmbox, that is).

For VirtualBox VM sharing, things are a bit more complicated.  Ubuntu makes installing VirtualBox trivial, since it is in the main repository, but on Ubuntu 14.04 version 4.3 is what you get.  On Scientific Linux I installed version 5.0 using the instruction from an earlier post.

Fearing there might be meta-data conflicts between the two versions, but feeling confident the virtual hard disk image files (.vdi) could be shared between them without conflict (since I regularly copy these files back and forth between distros without problems), I did the following:
  1. On the Ubuntu side, I moved my entire VirtualBox VMs directory from my home directory to /media/share and sym linked to it as I had done with the Music directory.
  2. On the Scientific Linux side, I kept VirtualBox VMs in my home directory, using sym links only for the virtual disk image files.  For example, from inside $HOME/VirtualBox VMs/Server1 I ran:
    $ ln -s /media/share/VirtualBox\ VMs/Server1/Server1.vdi Server1.vdi
This worked nicely.  Just for fun, I ran yum update on Server1 launched from VirtualBox 5.0 on Scientific Linux, then rebooted into Ubuntu 14.04 and relaunched Server1 from there, seeing changes I had made.

Finally, after noticing that VirtualBox-4.3 was available for Scientific Linux 7.1, I ran # yum remove VirtualBox-5.0 and then # yum install VirtualBox-4.3, made the VirtualBox VMs directory in my home directory a sym link to /media/share/VirtualBox VMs and quickly added all the VMs back.  Now even the VMs with the VirtualBox extensions installed (for full screen GUI and auto mouse capture) work on both OS's.

by jelkner ( at January 28, 2016 09:24 PM

January 27, 2016

Juan Chacon Free Software & Education | El Salvador

Thonny - A Python IDE for Beginners

I received an email a few days back from Aivar Annamaa about a Python IDE for beginners called Thonny.

The YouTube video introducing the IDE looks promising, so I am jumping at the opportunity to take a look at it.

Thonny is in the Python Package Index, so it can be easily installed (and installed by user without system admin privileges) using pip.  In a previous post I documented installing Python 3.4, which is required to before what follows.

First I want to get pip3.  Since it is not yet in the main Centos repository, I installed it with (note: run $ sudo -i and then # exit before running this command in the same terminal emulator so as not to be prompted for a sudo password):
$ curl | sudo python3.4
I want to install Thonny inside the user's local directory, so I installed it with:
$ pip3 install --user thonny
This installs the thonny egg in $HOME/.local/lib/python3.4/site-packages (creating the needed lib/python3.4/site-package directory if it is not already there), and installs a shell script to launch it in $HOME/.local/bin. When I tried running thonny from the command prompt, I got an error message: ImportError: No module named 'tkinter'. So I needed to install tkinter:
$ sudo yum install python34-tkinter
after which thonny launched.  It complained that it couldn't find rope or jedi, however, so I installed those locally as well:
$ pip3 install --user rope
$ pip3 install --user jedi
Since thonny is a GUI IDE, I wanted a GUI launcher for it.  To get one I created a Thonny.desktop file based on the one I found here, with the following contents:
[Desktop Entry]
GenericName=Python IDE
Exec=/home/[username]/.local/bin/thonny %F
Comment=Python IDE for beginners

[Desktop Action Edit]
Exec=/home/[username]/.local/bin/thonny %F
Name=Edit with Thonny
and placed it in my /home/[username]/.local/applications directory (Note: replace [username] with your actual username).

Here is a screenshot of Thonny running
My next task will be to go through some beginner Python lessons using Thonny to see how it feels.

by jelkner ( at January 27, 2016 08:12 PM

January 21, 2016

Hands of Charity XO Project | Kenya

Imagine You Could Do This Too! African Friends

Hands of Charity and  Kenya Friends of Small Solutions
We could do this… join the movement, create fashion from ‘trash’!

View on Youtube:


by smallsolutionsbigideas at January 21, 2016 03:09 PM

January 14, 2016

Hands of Charity XO Project | Kenya

Poetry about Math & Imagination

by Loren Malaguzzi

The child is made of one hundred |The child has a hundred languages | a hundred hands | a hundred thoughts | a hundred ways of thinking, of playing, of speaking. | A hundred always a hundred | ways of listening | a marveling of loving | a hundred joys | for singing and understanding | a hundred worlds | to discover | a hundred worlds | to invent | a hundred worlds | to dream.

The child has a hundred languages | but the steal ninety nine. | The school and the culture separate the head from the body. | They tell the child: to think without hands | to do without heart  | to listen and not to speak | to understand without joy | to love and to marvel only at Easter and at Christmas, | they tell the child:  to discover the world already there | of a the hundred, they steal ninety-nine.  They tell the child: that work and play reality and fantasy | science and imagination | sky and earth  | reason and dream | are things | that do not belong together.  | And they tell the child that the hundred is not there | The child says | NO way, The hundred is there.

by smallsolutionsbigideas at January 14, 2016 06:23 PM

January 11, 2016

Project Rive: Reaching Students in Haiti

Pyramids, Mudcakes, and Other Scams

“I’m headed off to a meeting,” Bernadette tells me. “It’s a new program where you sell things, and you can also make money by enrolling other merchants.” Warning bells start going off in my head. “I’d like to hear more … Continue reading

by Sora at January 11, 2016 03:30 AM

January 08, 2016


OLPC SF 8th anniversary

OLPC San Francisco is eight years old! We will be hosting our monthly meeting Saturday, January 9th, from 10AM - 1PM at the downtown SFSU campus, 835 Market Street, 5th floor, Room 597 (the fishbowl).


  • Meet and greet
  • Sugar Labs Oversight Board elections
  • Projects for 2016
  • Party

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 January 08, 2016 09:01 PM

ICT4D Views from the Field

SolarSPELL Field Report from Kelly, Peace Corps Volunteer in Vanua Lava, Vanuatu

Hi SolarSPELL team,

First, thank you for the opportunity for me to present such a cool device to a remote village in Vanuatu!



I really enjoyed delivering the SPELL unit to the village of Vetimboso near my site here on the island of Vanua Lava. To date it has been the most rewarding project that I have encountered during my service. The Head Mistress and her teaching staff were elated to receive such a cool device. Internet is rare in this part of the world, as you know. Those who are lucky enough to have a smartphone and are geographically situated to receive data find that the service is too slow for any serious browsing. Because the SPELL system provides fast and reliable access to information without reliance on an external network it was more than well received. It’s always good to see happy customers.


The trip to the school in Vetimboso by four wheel drive truck took about and hour and a half from the Provincial Center here in Sola. I was greeted at the school with a custom greeting of fresh mats covered with fresh flower pedals, and refreshments of fresh fruit and a fruit drink. Very welcoming.


After introductions and refreshments I demonstrated the unit. I followed with a training session that included both a session on finding content, and a session on the workings and maintenance of the unit. All of the staff remained fully engaged and were truly engrossed in learning about the device. A hands on session was also given to assure their full understanding of the system.


I see great value in this system for developing countries like Vanuatu. I see a huge “bang for the buck” advantage of distributing more of these systems throughout the islands. Although we do have Internet available, it is unlikely that the Internet will be able to serve most of the population in the remote areas of the county. Although the local Service Provider is expanding its network, there is still the issue of affordability. Further, most remote villages are without electricity, so usage is very limited even for those who can afford a data plan.


I have received some feedback about the system, mostly regarding requests to update the digital library with custom content as needed by the schools in addition to what is already there. At their request, I have helped the school in Vetimboso with the purchase of a projector for use with the system. They will use a small generator to power it and use it for the classroom.

Thanks again for the opportunity and continue the good work.

Kelly B.
Peace Corps Volunteer
Republic of Vanuatu


The Village of Vetimboso. The village is one of the largest all custom villages in Vanuatu. All structures have been hand made with local natural materials. The village is very clean and the residents obviously have great pride in their community.

The Village of Vetimboso. The village is one of the largest all custom villages in Vanuatu. All structures have been hand made with local natural materials. The village is very clean and the residents obviously have great pride in their community.

Local children and likely recipients of access to the SPELL system. Photo taken near Solang School.

Local children and likely recipients of access to the SPELL system. Photo taken near Solang School.

Headmistress Atina was very happy to receive the SPELL system.

Headmistress Atina was very happy to receive the SPELL system.

The teachers reassemble the SPELL system that was completely disassembled by me as part of their training. They successfully and enthusiastically completed the task without my help.

The teachers reassemble the SPELL system that was completely disassembled by me as part of their training. They successfully and enthusiastically completed the task without my help.


by ljhosman at January 08, 2016 06:52 PM

December 28, 2015

Hands of Charity XO Project | Kenya

Endangered Wildlife

Who is Smarter, Humans or Animals?

Small Solutions Big Ideas has been delighted with the art produced by our Hands of Charity project participants.  They have been researching, writing, and creating art on the issue of wildlife protection for several years now.

The illustrations and story created by the students tells about how the animals take on the issue of poaching. The animals discuss how to protect their endangered brothers.  In these drawings the humans have guns. The animals don’t have guns, so they use other powers to drive poachers away.   In our human world, we use guns often to protect ourselves, or to get rid of people perceived to be dangerous and to solve conflicts.

Animals also have conflicts. Sometimes these are solved in violent confrontations, but confrontations of skill or stealth. When one person has a gun and another doesn’t, the one without the gun feels helpless.  They feel they must get a gun.  But is that a solution to conflict? Are animals more creative and smarter in the ways they solve conflict and address power struggles, such as competition for food ?

I ask this question of the children and students?    What other ways are there to face danger and solve conflicts?  Please post your ideas here Bukokholo students.


NEW ART 2 33Daniel_PosterStopDestroyingLastDaysofPoachers

giraffe PoacherRhinobyDanny

by smallsolutionsbigideas at December 28, 2015 09:50 PM

December 27, 2015

Hands of Charity XO Project | Kenya

Deepening Learning

How do we change learning?  It’s not just about getting computers and teaching kids to use them,  it is about deepening and accelerating the learning.  Change attitudes and a vision of what learning can be.

In the 21st century model of learning, teachers are no longer delivering learning, they are mentors, guides, collaborators in learning activities.  They are empowering children to think on their own, to articulate and understand their own learning process, and to excel.

The hurdles are many:  too many children, too few teachers, too few laptops,  not enough time in a school days. And often there is not the teacher capacity or the resources to direct students past the standard content and expectations.  The biggest hurdle however is often built in cultural attitudes towards learning and the potential of the children.

The large population of African children y must be ready to take on real world challenges now, before they are have finished their schooling.  This requires a new approach.  Project based learning is one of these approaches.

We are very grateful for Chole Richard’s work with Hands of Charity to help them fully use this model, and implement child centered learning in their projects.  Even though these hands on projects have been going on for a couple of years, the students must learn now to lead them, and go further in their learning.

We must work with the students on all fronts, improving their writing, articulation of ideas, critical thinking, understanding of social cultural issues, and the means of cultural change, become true advocates of their country’s future.

Hands of Charity now has full access to the internet to expand the research, reading, and literacy of their students.  They have tools for accelerating mathematics in Turtle Blocks,  and Scratch.  They are good at using media, images and song to express their ideas.  They can find on-line information they need to improve the science of their projects – digging into the ecological issues of animal habitats, and the cultural structure of wild animal life.

We have great hopes for you all.

Here are girl’s working on Scratch in November during Sandra Thaxter’s visit. And Elvis one of our talented artists.



by smallsolutionsbigideas at December 27, 2015 01:26 AM

December 24, 2015

OLPC Basecamp @ Malacca, Malaysia

Malaysia BasecampTrek 2.015 in Pictures (Part 1)

 The basecampTrek2.015 visit. 10 XOs where left to the children few months prior.
 Children were asked to document their environment and home.


We visit again 2 weeks later for a review of progress on
what they done. Awesome photos with write-ups


We left  a digital resource wifi Rachel platform for them to manage.

by T.K. Kang ( at December 24, 2015 05:07 PM

Malaysia BasecampTrek 2.015 in Pictures (Part 2)

We visited another deployment. There were report of non-working keyboards
.The children were taught to problem solve and repair the XOs themselves.

A video of a session is available here 

                                              Doing the repair himself and in group

First XO repaired by the proud 9 year old kid.

by T.K. Kang ( at December 24, 2015 06:33 AM

December 23, 2015

XO Educational Software Project - Haiti

Hello world!

WordPress へようこそ。これは最初の投稿です。編集もしくは削除してブログを始めてください !

by 08061120 at December 23, 2015 04:25 PM

December 22, 2015

Hands of Charity XO Project | Kenya

Chole’s Training & Inspiration


Last week Chole Richard of Jina Uganda, a teacher A PMM Secondary School. Chole is also a Teched leader. He introduced the Hands of Charity teachers to project based learning as a 21st century approach to learning.

Chole explained that it is a learner driven learning program in which the learners are actively engaged in problem solving of real world issues that affect them. As a learner driven program, the students identify with the problem at hand and are inspired to learn everything to solve it.

He played a video clip giving a brief explanation of what project based learning is: Youtube link to project based learning explained PBL.

IMG_6223 IMG_5978

The key differences between PBL and the traditional method of learning.  PBL is Learner centered Teacher centered whereas traditional learning is compartmentalized into subjects. Traditional Tends to be judgmental; punishing mistakes. Mistakes are often opportunities for reflections and evaluation. Greater emphasis on cognitive learning. In PBL emphas is on all the three domains of learning.


Emphasis on memorization…. Aims at higher order thinking

Competitive learning………….. Teamwork; collaboration

Tends to be less concerned with technology…Technology as an integral tool of learning

Little regards for individual differences ..Complete attention to individual differences.

Disregard for student exhibition… Exhibition is an integral part of learning activity

Chole also took time to explain the general need to revisit the purpose of education if the real benefit of PBL and technology in learning activities are to be realized.

He stressed particularly the need to equitably attend to the three domains of learning and the need to drive the learners to higher order thinking even as we attend to the lower order thinking.

Chole says that he also laid emphasis on individual differences of learners, further that there are two key elements in PBL which needs to be present – making the program learner driven and ensuring active participation and in-depth knowledge of their chosen subject matter.

Learners have their own experiences and concerns for which they should be given opportunity to express and build on. It is crucial that the learners work on projects they identify with and own if PBL is to be of any meaning.The projects by their very nature have a start and an end. They start with the learners conceiving an idea and ending with final feedback and evaluation. The key steps/activities in project based learning. • Recognizing or identifying a need/problem • Identifying target beneficiaries. • Formulating clear aims and objectives • Identifying methodologies. • Identifying tools and resourceful persons • Drawing up a work plan • Executing of the plan • Punctuated by continuous reviews, critique, and self evaluation • Completed work outcome/end product to the identified beneficiaries • Feedback from the field and further self-evaluation • Exhibition/Sharing of learning experiences in the whole process 4 I added that project based learning is not a one day affair but may take months, a full school term of even a year. I laid more emphasis on the importance of evaluation which is all involving and takes very many forms

For instance:  Taking note of students’ increased enthusiasm to participate and learn  Taking note of how they come up with their own ideas either for the ongoing project or for a new one.  Asking students to make reflections of their learning points in written or spoken form.  Evaluation at individual level or as a class/program 


by smallsolutionsbigideas at December 22, 2015 12:52 AM

December 12, 2015

Ghana Together


Dear Friends---both American and Ghanaian,
We of Ghana Together and our Ghanaian partners of Western Heritage Home thank you from our hearts for your help with our projects in Axim, Ghana during 2015---especially for financial donations, generously-offered expertise, and logistical assistance.
We sincerely thank all the Axim adult leaders who put these resources to work. The "elbow grease" is theirs!

-Supported 75 students in various ways --- tuition, room & board, textbooks, personal supplies, uniforms, shoes, underwear, notebooks, pens. In most cases, families helped with some costs, but without our help, these students would not be in school.
-Completed the renovation of the dining/assembly/study building at Axim Girls Senior High School.

-Coordinated on-site visits for Adam Holt of Unleash Kids, and Katelyn Henderson and her Dad Jeff. Adam installed the first Internet-in-a-Box in Ghana at the AGSHS, giving access to Wikipedia, hundreds of science/math videos, maps, and other resources. Katelyn taught beginning coding, installed another Internet-in-a-Box at Axim Library, and trained students to search Wikipedia using the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) computer. Absolutely thrilling for the Ghanaian kids (and maybe the Americans, too!)

-Enhanced the Axim Girls Senior High School’s Jerome Chandler Science Room with a ½ size, scientifically accurate, plastic human skeleton, dog & sheep teeth (!), chemicals, science posters, and back issues of Science News Magazine.
-Completed a second Urine Diversion/Dehydration Toilet (UDDT) at the Methodist-Government School, serving 750+ students. We trained the teachers in its concept, use, and maintenance. Imagine knowing your child has a clean, non-smelling, sanitary toilet at school! Imagine your daughter having a private, clean facility during her menstrual cycle!

-Delivered about 1500 children’s books to the Axim Library. Funded the launch of the new Axim Library’s Mobile Library Tricycle Program, which now visits 11 primary/JHS schools weekly. Delivered 98 technical books to the Community Development Vocational Technical Institute--electrical, plumbing, carpentry, etc.
-Provided electricity to charge about 40 OLPCs for the entire year. And then, were amazed at the big news!! Maybe our years of supporting the Library and the Children’s Computing Lab (OLPCs) had something to do with the Ghana Library Authority & the Ghana Investment Fund for Electronic Communication selecting Axim Library as the perfect spot to create a Community Information Center? Ten new desktop computers, internet access, solar power, and best of all, a National Service computer specialist to manage the whole computer shebang!

-Delivered 50+ lbs. of pre-school learning materials and purchased a DVD player for the Anglican Crèche.
-Conducted---by Board Member Louise Wilkinson and friend Susan Hirst--- Leadership Workshops for 75 senior high students. The leaders of tomorrow!
-Loved seeing Gifty Essien’s new fashion business, one of our Western Heritage Scholars, who graduated senior high this spring—the first in her family to do so. With her $300 Leif Pederson Graduation Award, she has traveled by tro-tro to Takoradi several times, purchasing fashionable bras, cosmetics, and jewelry, and selling them in Axim Town. She can’t quite afford her own “stand” as yet and so is using a small table in front of her friend’s stand. She has her bell to attract customers. She is realizing her dream to have her own fashion business, as she calls it. Her Mom, a subsistence farmer, is so proud! WE are so proud!!

-Continue the scholarships---and maybe expand them.
-Renovate the young men’s dormitory at the Community Development Vocational Technical Institute--enable about 30 guys to get technical training.

-Keep those Internet-in-a-Boxes running!

-Explore introducing the “Days for Girls” menstrual kits. We don’t want a single girl to miss school ever again.

-Continue to ship children’s books, pre-school educational materials, and science-oriented/technical magazines. Purchase a few science supplies.
Who knows what else? When Ghanaians and American put their minds together…WATCH OUT! (We dream of more toilets...)

Thank you for your partnership in these projects that have such a positive effect on individual lives and on the community of Axim.
We again assure you that we use 100% of your donations toward our projects.  We on the Ghana Together Board handle all administrative, travel, and other such costs ourselves.

We ask for your financial support, either by mail or credit card via the PayPal link on our website. We try as much as possible to buy locally in Ghana, in support of business and workers there. We ourselves consider our efforts in Axim a good investment in youth, education, sanitation, and community development.

We are a registered US-based 501c3 non-profit. Your donations are tax-deductible.
Ghanaians who wish to help can deposit funds into the Western Heritage Home account at Ghana Commercial Bank. Contact James Kainyiah at 024-407-2638.
With our sincere thanks…
Ghana Together Directors:  Maryanne Ward, Jerome Chandler, Rich Ward, Louise Wilkinson, and Nathan Ward
Mailing Address: Ghana Together, 808 Addison Place, Mount Vernon, WA 98273
Phone: 1-360-848-6568

by Ghana Together ( at December 12, 2015 08:20 PM

Thanks for a Really Great Year!

Dear Friends---both American and Ghanaian,
We of Ghana Together and our Ghanaian partners of Western Heritage Home thank you from our hearts for your help with our projects in Axim, Ghana during 2015---especially for financial donations, generously-offered expertise, and logistical assistance.
We sincerely thank all the Axim adult leaders who put these resources to work. The "elbow grease" is theirs!

-Supported 75 students in various ways --- tuition, room & board, textbooks, personal supplies, uniforms, shoes, underwear, notebooks, pens. In most cases, families helped with some costs, but without our help, these students would not be in school.
-Completed the renovation of the dining/assembly/study building at Axim Girls Senior High School.

-Coordinated on-site visits for Adam Holt of Unleash Kids, and Katelyn Henderson and her Dad Jeff. Adam installed the first Internet-in-a-Box in Ghana at the AGSHS, giving access to Wikipedia, hundreds of science/math videos, maps, and other resources. Katelyn taught beginning coding, installed another Internet-in-a-Box at Axim Library, and trained students to search Wikipedia using the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) computer. Absolutely thrilling for the Ghanaian kids (and maybe the Americans, too!)

-Enhanced the Axim Girls Senior High School’s Jerome Chandler Science Room with a ½ size, scientifically accurate, plastic human skeleton, dog & sheep teeth (!), chemicals, science posters, and back issues of Science News Magazine.
-Completed a second Urine Diversion/Dehydration Toilet (UDDT) at the Methodist-Government School, serving 750+ students. We trained the teachers in its concept, use, and maintenance. Imagine knowing your child has a clean, non-smelling, sanitary toilet at school! Imagine your daughter having a private, clean facility during her menstrual cycle!

-Delivered about 1500 children’s books to the Axim Library. Funded the launch of the new Axim Library’s Mobile Library Tricycle Program, which now visits 11 primary/JHS schools weekly. Delivered 98 technical books to the Community Development Vocational Technical Institute--electrical, plumbing, carpentry, etc.
-Provided electricity to charge about 40 OLPCs for the entire year. And then, were amazed at the big news!! Maybe our years of supporting the Library and the Children’s Computing Lab (OLPCs) had something to do with the Ghana Library Authority & the Ghana Investment Fund for Electronic Communication selecting Axim Library as the perfect spot to create a Community Information Center? Ten new desktop computers, internet access, solar power, and best of all, a National Service computer specialist to manage the whole computer shebang!

-Delivered 50+ lbs. of pre-school learning materials and purchased a DVD player for the Anglican Crèche.
-Conducted---by Board Member Louise Wilkinson and friend Susan Hirst--- Leadership Workshops for 75 senior high students. The leaders of tomorrow!
-Loved seeing Gifty Essien’s new fashion business, one of our Western Heritage Scholars, who graduated senior high this spring—the first in her family to do so. With her $300 Leif Pederson Graduation Award, she has traveled by tro-tro to Takoradi several times, purchasing fashionable bras, cosmetics, and jewelry, and selling them in Axim Town. She can’t quite afford her own “stand” as yet and so is using a small table in front of her friend’s stand. She has her bell to attract customers. She is realizing her dream to have her own fashion business, as she calls it. Her Mom, a subsistence farmer, is so proud! WE are so proud!!

-Continue the scholarships---and maybe expand them.
-Renovate the young men’s dormitory at the Community Development Vocational Technical Institute--enable about 30 guys to get technical training.

-Keep those Internet-in-a-Boxesrunning!

-Explore introducing the “Days for Girls” menstrual kits. We don’t want a single girl to miss school ever again.

-Continue to ship children’s books, pre-school educational materials, and science-oriented magazines, and science supplies not available there.
Who knows what else? When Ghanaians and American put their minds together…WATCH OUT! (We dream of more toilets...)

Thank you for your partnership in these projects that have such a positive effect on individual lives and on the community of Axim.
We again assure you that we use 100% of your donations toward our projects.  We on the Ghana Together Board handle all administrative, travel, and other such costs ourselves.

We ask for your financial support, either by mail or credit card via the PayPal link on our website. We try as much as possible to buy locally in Ghana, in support of business and workers there.
We are a registered US-based 501c3 non-profit. Your donations are tax-deductible.

Ghanaians who wish to help can deposit funds into the Western Heritage Home account at Ghana Commercial Bank. Contact James Kainyiah at 024-407-2638.
With our sincere thanks…

Ghana Together Directors:  Maryanne Ward, Jerome Chandler, Rich Ward, Louise Wilkinson, and Nathan Ward
Mailing Address: Ghana Together, 808 Addison Place, Mount Vernon, WA 98273
Phone: 1-360-848-6568

by Ghana Together ( at December 12, 2015 08:02 PM

November 26, 2015

ICT4D Views from the Field

30 More SolarSPELL libraries delivered to Chuuk, Micronesia!


Thirty additional SolarSPELL libraires have been delivered to Chuuk, FSM!

On November 23rd and 24th a training on the use of these solar powered offline digital libraries was held at Chuuk High School. The training participants included both principals from remote island schools and Chuuk High School staff who will be traveling to remote islands to give training on the SolarSPELL libraries to teachers at these schools—following a training of the trainers model.




The Chuuk Department of Education (DoE) is encouraging these schools to budget for 20 Chromebooks (laptops) to accompany these libraries, which the DoE will help the schools obtain.




The training was led by Dr. Laura Hosman, and the libraries had been built one month prior, by students at California Polytechnic State University. A special thanks to Hiro Mori for his help during the training.


This delivery and training brings the total number of SolarSPELL libraries that have been delivered into the field, across the Pacific Islands to 80!


On a separate but very related note, we returned to Chuuk High School on Nov 25th and were able to observe a trial group of Grade 12 students using an offline library that is being piloted at Chuuk High. It was inspired by the offline intranet server approach demonstrated a few years ago at CHS by the PISCES project. However, this project has taken the idea to a whole different level.





Students access cached educational information over an on-campus intra-net connection, from the schools’ growing digital library/repository. This intra-net connection is very fast. (By contrast, we attempted to connect to the Internet while this class was taking place, and were unable to load a single page.)




We were amazed and impressed as we watched these students take tests, be able to monitor their progress on assignments and outcomes on exams, and watch Khan Academy videos and TED talks, among other things. Kudos to Matt Kosik for the fantastic job he’s doing on this project.



by ljhosman at November 26, 2015 02:37 AM

November 24, 2015

Nancie Severs

My Foot is in My Mouth! — Hopkinton, MA

Hopkinton, MA

Are you wondering what's happening in the OLPC volunteer community? I have been asked often recently what do I do? My close friends and colleagues know that even though I’ve had some health challenges to address, I'm still occasionally volunteering to support the efforts to enhance the experience that children and teachers have with One Laptop Per Child rugged XO laptops. You might say, these laptops are 2007 technology. Old and slow. Why don't you give out tablets.

Many of us have tried the tablets for our personal lives and have added keyboards or migrated back to a netbook type device for serious work or learning. The original XO laptop design unveiled the first flash technology netbook to the world. And it is still really useful for children of all ages, especially in the developing world. There are 4 models, the XO-1, (1GB), the faster XO 1.5 (4GB), the lower power with customizable memory and keyboard 1.75 and the XO-4 with those features and a touchpad.

Many of us from the OLPC volunteer community have continued our work through Unleash Kids.

There are about 3 million XOs around the world. A dedicated core group has been working together to enhance the performance and utility of the existing XOs. Meeting remotely and weekly, these volunteers have created a new software platform that will expand even the oldest XOs with an OS installed and run from a 32 GB SD card. They have developed a school server which can pair with the XOs and will allow users to save and transfer work to and from their teachers. The server can host an “internet in a box” which can provide a classroom or library with a searchable intranet that functions like a mini Internet for remote locations that are still without Internet access. This is a very exciting development and will enhance the utility of the already proven rugged hardware of the XO laptop.

The Volunteer Contributors program has already repaired, refurbished and redistributed over 350 XO's. It is still accepting and receiving used units. Working XOs or those that need repairs are welcome.

Adam recently called me. He said that a team of volunteers from EMC in Hopkinton, Massachusetts had offered to help refurbish XO's as a community service project. Would I come and help him with that?

I am good at XO repairs and I couldn’t say no. I drove my trusty Element down to the place where Adam had XOs, from New Hampshire. As he loaded more than a hundred XO's into my car; laptops, chargers, parts machines etc. I scolded him. I said "Adam, in 2 days, we will never get to half of those XOs. You are putting 1500 + pounds in my car for me to drive with."

On the appointed date, we arrived at EMC at 8:00 AM. Unloading was easier than loading, as there were many willing hands to help. We met Joe Paradise, the EMC Team leader who enthusiastically pursued this project and had recruited a terrific team of volunteers. Each volunteer came for at least several hours. Some for longer. EMC is a generous company, encouraging its employees to participate in community service projects by providing 3 8 hour days of “paid volunteer time” annually. Most often, projects take place in the local community and off site. This may have been the first project to bring the volunteer opportunity to the EMC campus. Joe handled the logistics seamlessly.

Adam and I set up stations: Charging, Cleaning, Diagnostics and Triage, Disassembly and Reassembly, Reflashing and Repairs.

Former OLPC employee wizard Paul Fox joined us and shared his expertise for the entire first day. Together Paul and I got the De-Bricking table going. We taught disassembly and reassembly and firmware up dating and re-flashing. Jessica, another UK volunteer joined us for the second day.

A few years ago, I had discovered that “Mr. Clean Magic Erasers” easily cleans the dirt and grit that accumulates on XO ears and keyboards. (They are melamine and they work by actually sanding off the dirt and grime.) While we brought most of the needed supplies, the EMC volunteers generously provided the pricy “Magic Erasers.” And they also did the “dirty work” cleaning well used XOs that had been re-donated. And, we volunteers enjoyed donuts and lunch donated by the EMC Team!

Throughout each day, the stack of XO's labeled "ready to go" grew taller. The refurbished XO’s many of which started out really dirty look brand-new. I was surprised at how much we accomplished on the first day.

Adam and I hope everyone had a fun and meaningful experience. On the second day we had new groups of volunteers. I was so pleased to see that Ray and Dave returned to help again! We attacked some more difficult repairs. With volunteers Holly and Aniruhda we managed a successful keyboard and touchpad repair. It’s a difficult repair and it took us 2 hours to do 3 XO's. But we now know how to do it. It will go faster the next time. And we can share that knowledge at some site where one additional XO will make a big difference to a child.

My foot is in my mouth. Adam, you were absolutely right to fill the car!
This was the most successful repair sprint ever. In just 2 days we took home 167 previously unusable XO's, XO-1’s and 1.5's, now tagged “Ready to Ship.”

Thank you Joe Paradise and each one of the talented, earnest volunteers. What a wonderful Community Service project. We hope we can repeat it.

Are you looking to volunteer? Do you have a project location and need XO's?
Go to: program
Draft a Stellar Project Proposal: program/Project_proposal_form
Submit it by email to

November 24, 2015 02:33 AM

November 16, 2015

OLPC Basecamp @ Malacca, Malaysia

Nov 16 2015

It has been 2 years since "olpc BaseCamp2013: The next journey" and months since I wrote here.

We can now look back over the 2 years to see what have change in the landscape of digital learning platform. The momentum is getting stronger with many new people and organisations doing what we hope to do in the past. This is a good sign indeed.

Today is Nov 16 and it is 10 years since the first XO laptop prototype was revealed. Happy 10 years birthday. Enjoy this shot clip of the past and don't blink towards the end.

Over the next few days olpc BaseCampTrek2.015 will be active in Malaysia. Some of us will visit various mini deployments planted over the 2 years.  While personally I am not able to be there in person this time, I am fortunate however to have done Australia BaseCampTrek2.015. I visited One-Education ( last week  and saw their great team in action.

I had a glimpse of their modular Infinity Laptop which will be launched soon in indiegogo kickstarter this month. You can win a infinity by going to this page:

Keep the next journey alive and enjoy

T.K. Kang

by T.K. Kang ( at November 16, 2015 12:43 AM

November 12, 2015

ICT4D Views from the Field

30 more SolarSPELL libraries built at Appropriate Technology Workshop and Build Day at Cal Poly


On October 24 2015, students from across Cal Poly’s campus gathered for an interactive workshop on Appropriate Technology for the Developing World and to participate in the hands-on activity of building 30 additional SolarSPELL libraries. The workshop and build were led by Prof. Laura Hosman.



The students, representing a wide variety of majors, participated in a lively discussion about some of the challenges of bringing technology to developing world contexts, when a lack of technology may not have been the problem in the first place. The workshop also highlighted some successes and failures of ICT in developing regions.



The hands-on build activities saw students jumping in to solder, drill, heat-shrink, glue, fasten, cut, splice, affix, and much more…as they enthusiastically built 30 SolarSPELL libraries in approximately 2.5 hours. Feedback received from the event indicated that the students truly enjoyed the experience, and felt they were able to contribute to a real-world project.



Here are some quotes from the students:

The simplicity of the SolarSPELL design made me realize what appropriate technology might look like.



The hands-on project makes you feel like you are making an actual contribution to helping address a problem. The design of the technology reflects the needs of the location.


It was a humbling experience that made me really consider the way technology interplays with social/political/economic situations.


I loved the build aspect because it made me feel a part of something bigger than myself.



Cal Poly’s own Mustang News covered the event and released a video featuring the day’s highlights.

The 30 libraries that were built at this event are heading to Chuuk, which is one of the four Federated States of Micronesia. This will be SolarSPELL’s third in-the-field deployment, bringing the total number of libraries in the field to nearly 80! We’re looking forward to the on-site training in November.





by ljhosman at November 12, 2015 04:54 PM

October 31, 2015

Ghana Together

What about that Jerome Chandler Science Room at Axim Girls Senior High School (AGSHS)?

Happy Halloween! A perfect day to inquire about that Jerome Chandler Science Room at AGSHS you’ve heard so much about …perfect, because one of this year’s additions is just so darned appropriate to highlight TODAY OF ALL DAYS!!!

Plus, on our recent visit to Axim, we had firm instructions from Jerome to learn all we could about what’s happening to his precious Science Room! 

They were moving the Science Room to the new classroom building, and classes hadn’t begun, but we talked with the teachers, and this week --about a month into the school term -- we received photos via the magic of “Whatsapp.”

A scientifically accurate 1/2 size plastic human skeleton
Science teachers opening the skeleton. Dept. Head Eric Jim is second from the left. The five AGSHS science teachers – integrated science, chemistry, biology, physics, and agriculture – use the Science Room about once/week or as needed for practicums.

What the heck????

Three junior high schools – Life International, Morning Star, and Catholic Government School – regularly send students to the Science Room for practicums.  Akyimen-Brawere JHS has asked to join occasionally. Ahlesunna has been invited and hopefully will accept. All of these schools are within walking distance---within about 30-45 minutes. Teacher Jim schedules these schools for end of the day, so students can walk straight home after the practicums.

If you want to know what they're looking at, call Jerome!!

In addition, during the one-month school holidays in 2015, science vacation classes were held every day for junior high students.

This year, thanks to our ever-generous science fans back home in America, we supplied a scientifically accurate human skeleton, and also a little more than $1000 worth of chemicals, dry cell batteries, dessicator, and teeth and jaws of sheep and dog (!). 

We thank Evans Arloo, Western Heritage Home Operations Manager, who traveled via tro-tro the nearly 300 km to Kumasi to purchase these supplies from the same business that supplies the science department and medical school at Kwame Nkrumah Science and Technology University.

The AGSHS Science Room is equipped with both computer and overhead projectors, tables, stools, shelving, 50 scientific calculators, numerous posters, stethoscopes, and all the materialsneeded to support hands-on teaching of the JHS/SHS Ghana Education Science curriculum.

Jerome also wrote a definitive manual of experiments to demonstrate all the major concepts in the curriculum (reviewed by Rich Ward, who pretended to be a junior high student!). We bring Science News Magazines, for the science teachers, who have few intellectual resources. (Hint: if you subscribe to a science-oriented magazine, we can help recycle your back issues!)

We thank AGSHS Science Dept Head & Teacher Mr. Eric Jim who has worked with us from the beginning, and also Headmistress Theodora Appiah, who well understands the importance of science education (and happens to be married to a university chemistry professor!). 

Madame Theodora took leadership of AGSHS in January 2015, and she, Eric, and the teachers have put the science program into high gear! It's been fun to help them with their goals! And so we thank YOU, dear Reader!

For more News Updates, see
To contact us, email Ghana Together
For more info, see
We are a US-registered 501c3, EIN 26-2182965

by Ghana Together ( at October 31, 2015 06:52 PM

October 29, 2015

Ghana Together

Ghana 2015 – Fun

Four of us went to Ghana in September of 2015.  The group consisted of Maryanne Ward, Susan Hirst, Louise Wilkinson and her 18 year-old granddaughter, Alexis.  All of us but Alexis had been to Ghana before.  We have written about the Leadership Workshops we did.  This is about the experiences and fun we had there as tourists! We recommend it!!

Alexis, Susan Hirst, Maryanne Ward, and Louise Wilkinson

Ghana is, as usual, friendly, colorful, and chaotic.  Because of the Ebola epidemic in West Africa, there were very few visitors in Ghana last year.  Although Ebola never reached Ghana, it still is influencing tourism this year, we were told.  We were almost the only people in the hotels where we stayed in both Accra and Axim.  Perhaps that’s why internet was unavailable which made contact with families at home much more difficult.

Axim Beach Hotel with its wonderful ocean view and clean beach. It's a bit rough for swimming, but perfect for walking, enjoyiing sunsets, and just overall sheer beauty.

However, there has been a tremendous improvement in the main road from Accra to Axim.  Those bumps and potholes are mostly a thing of the past and the travel time has been cut almost by half!  But the dirt roads in Axim have not improved and getting to the Axim Beach Hotel (with its beautiful beach and comfortable thatched-roof huts) was always a wildly bumpy adventure. So was the beach road we took to the Ankroba Beach Hotel.  We were stopped by young men pulling in a long net - a boat’s catch, and Alexis was able to help them.

Cottage at the Axim Beach Hotel. Comfortable, clean, safe, good food...:)

Pull, Lexy, pull!! The guys certainly appreciated the "help" of their American friend who just happpened on the scene as we drove the coast road from Axim to Ankobra. Fun!!

We went to a Kundum festival in Nsein, a neighboring village.  It was much smaller than the Kundum in Axim but the procession and dancing were again wonderful.  The chief was carried on a palanquin on the heads of four men who were all dancing, and Alexis caught the attention of numerous handsome young men.

Nsein Villagers marching to their Kundum Festival. Can you hear the drums?

The "Dignity Ladies" dancing in their colorful blue hats and beautiful dresses.The theme of the festival was "Women Empowerment"
Finally the Chief arrives in his palanquin, to the acclaim of his people, and with a small royal princess leading the way before him. We were honored to be invited to a private meeting with the Chief, just prior to the start of the festivities.

The slave castle in Axim is 500 years old, as of this very year—2015!  We took a tour there and learned about a hidden tunnel to the island of slave embarkation and about the commandant who fell to his death while watching the ocean for the ship carrying his fiancée into port. Involvement in the slave trade makes the castle a depressing place, but there are terrific views of Axim town and the colorful fleet of boats.

The slave castle in Axim, built by the Portuguese in 1515, owned also by both the Dutch and the British, over its long history, and looking today much as it did then. We've been told the Dutch Embassy sees to its painting every so often.

Sunday we dressed for church and walked through Apewosika, the east end of town extending from the hillside down to the sea.  The hill is lined with wood and corrugated steel huts, many fish smokers, and women, children, chickens and goats.  The children and some adults were greeting us with “obroni” meaning “white person,” and “Hello how are you I am fine” in one string of words.

Typical Axim street scene while walking from the hotel to church

Mostly people are friendly, welcoming. Few "obronis" visit Axim, especially in the town center. T

The Methodist Church was full of women dressed in bright print dresses and colorful headdresses or carefully done hair with weaves.  The men look stunning in white or colorful shirts and pants and often wear shoes with long points.  We tried to slip into the church but were spotted (we do stand out) and ushered to the front and after the sermon, Maryanne was called upon to speak.  She is well-known here since she comes every year.  She did a great job of speaking and pointing out people in the congregation who had helped with many of our education and sanitation efforts in town.  Then the best part – the offering.  Row by row people danced to the front of the church to put their offerings in the basket.  There is such joy in the dancing.  Of course when it was our turn we joined them – but we can’t move like they can despite the compelling music. 

Our friend, Miss Frances Polley, a retired math teacher, dances her faith at the Axim Methodist Church. 

We were invited to the King Awulae’s home for dinner.  We were ushered into a dark living room with huge leather couches and a massive TV which was turned on for our entertainment, showing what must have been a Nigerian soap opera.  After a time we were invited to a table and served a wonderful fish soup with rice.  During this time Awulae had spoken to us only briefly which, it turns out, is customary here. 

Louise and Paramount Chief "King" Awulae Attibruskusi at her home near Seattle in 2011. He is the hereditary chief of Lower Axim and manages land and resources from Axim to Ivory Coast on behalf of his people. We were honored to have him in our midst here in NW Washington after his business trip to California. He serves on the Ghana National Petroleum Council, and in the past few months has launched a Foundation to support needy students.

However after dinner we had an interesting conversation with King Awulae and Mr. Bentil, a Ghanaian and a good friend of ours.  Awulae spoke vehemently against President Obama visiting and saying that Ghana and other African nations should legalize gay marriage.  It is very much against their culture and the law.  He spoke positively about women leaders and thinks they are not as corruptible as men.  However, when they are corrupted, they can do more damage because people have trusted them. The corruption of 30 plus justices in their court has been the big public topic of discussion here.  That is only about 10% of the justices, but Awulae is outraged that they could be corrupt when they are the keepers of justice for the people.  The head of their court of justice is a woman.  He didn’t seem to be blaming her, although he said she should take responsibility.

We spent time visiting the children formerly in the Heritage Home, catching up with them and seeing how they’d grown.  Some are at Nsein High School and others at Manye Academy.  It was wonderful to see how lovely and smart they had become.  We took toys to a preschool, and visited the Apewosika elementary school where Ghana Together is sponsoring a number of students. The children were full of energy and joy, fascinated to see these white foreigners, and swamped the delighted Alexis. 

Philo, Peter, and Charlotte---our WHH senior high scholars. They sent a message that they needed scientific calculators for their classes, which we brought for them. They are thriving at Nsein SHS.

We are proud of Kingsley, who just graduated junior high, and received a scientific calculator to celebrate! Kingsley will attend a school for welding and fabrication, and maybe some automotive mechanics training. Ernestina also graduated JHS, but was with extended family in Accra during our visit. She also received a calculator as her graduation gift.

Some of the WHH Scholars with their mentor, Evans Arloo. They attend Manye Academy, and live in the dormitory there.

Lexy with students from Apewosika Village School. Ghana Together provides tuition for 50 students from this very impoverished neighborhood. The extended family must provide uniforms, shoes, underwear, exercise book, and pencil.

Lexy and Maryanne show the new learning materials to children at the Anglican Creche in Axim. The materials are a gift from Crossroads Preschool in Burlington, WA---THANKS!!! 

We visited the Axim Library with Mercy Ackah, the former Axim librarian who is now head of the region for the Ghana Library Authority.  We have been sending books for the last several years to the Axim Library and it seems to be the only one of her five with any significant holding. While we were in Axim, 16 more boxes of books (about 2000 volumes) arrived, given by Americans, to the library. Thank you!!

Mercy Ackah, Regional Library Director for Ghana Library Authority; Gaddiel Eyisson, Axim Public Library Director; and Maryanne

We hung a picture of Tom Castor, Louise’s late husband, in the One Laptop Per Child computer room to honor his work renovating the small computers and lovingly teaching the children of Axim how to use them. 

On our last night in Axim we went to a lovely resort at the end of the point east of Axim, Lou Moon.  We were able to swim there (the lovely beach at the Axim Beach Hotel has an undertow and so swimming is not safe).  We watched a spectacular sunset and had dinner there.

Sunset with fishing canoes at Lou Moon Hotel/Restaurant---Wow!!

We met Gifty Baaba Asmah in Takoradi for lunch.  She is still working hard to improve Ghanaian life through her non-profit.  She is currently collaborating with the University of Rhode Island on ways to recycle the plastic ever-present in the Ghanaian landscape.  We spent the next few days at Kathryn Roe’s house near Cape Coast.  Kathryn has a program to provide scholarships to poor students who pass their high school exams but otherwise would not be able to continue their education.  It was a very comfortable house and we hardly noticed the 12-hour loss of electricity.  

A very nice lunch place in Takoradi with long-time friend Gifty.

Some of us did the Canopy Walk in Kakum National Forest, toured the Cape Coast Castle and “petted” the crocodiles at Han’s Botel.  And we were able to walk through the little village where Kathryn lives, Mpeasem.  

Children, children. Ghana's population is young! Ghana now provides tuition-free education through junior high school, but it's a challenge for many parents to provide the uniforms, etc. and the schools are crowded. But the difference is striking from our first visit, nine years ago.
The people were friendly and children followed us everywhere.  We bought bananas and took pictures.  It is dirt and huts, chickens and goats, and seemingly a lot of family warmth and play.

Typical family scene---Mom is a fish seller. Kids "help"!!

Kakum Forest Canopy Walk. A wonderful way to experience tropical Africa!

We spent two days in Accra, taking in some key sights - Osu to shop, Kwame Nkrumah’s tomb and museum, a workshop for coffins in shapes related to the dead person’s activities (a truck, a pineapple, a camera) and the Makola market.  We walked to the Cultural Arts Center and saw how much of the craft work is actually done.  We had dinner with Frank Cudjoe and his family – Anita and children Sue and Leif.  And we stayed at the Afia Hotel, which is charming, but has a tremendous amount of trash on the beach.

Yes, these are coffins---made after the interests of the family member who has died and will be laid to rest in them. One of Ghana's interesting traditions!

Another coffin. No doubt the family member had a love of photography and cameras! He or she will be buried in this coffin, which probably closely matches the actual camera owned by the deceased.
We recommend the Afia Hotel in Accra as a great place to stay. But, this beach, near the hotel, highlights the huge challenge Ghana faces with keeping trash off the beaches and struggling with sanitation generally.

The trip was wonderful.  We spent a lot of time working hard and interacting with high school students, and were able to relax and enjoy some amazing places.

Our all-time favorite photo, taken by Susan Hirst, photographer extraordinaire! The three children are "students" at the Anglican Creche. We LOVE the hairdo!!!

So much pure fun with wonderful friends. We are grateful, especially for the wonderful care given us by the staffs of the various hotels, the many drivers who transported us safely---esp. Quamie Annan, to Kathryn Roe for her hospitality in Cape Coast, and to the friendly, welcoming people of Ghana!

For more info see
To contact us, email
Ghana Together is a US-registered 501c3, EIN 26-2182965

by Ghana Together ( at October 29, 2015 08:10 PM

October 21, 2015


OLPC-SF Community Summit 2015

 One Laptop Per Child San Francisco is hosting the annual Community Summit this weekend, October 23-25th 2015[1] at San Francisco State University, 1600 Holloway Avenue, Business Building room 202 in San Francisco, CA. You can register online through eventbrite.

OLPC San Francisco Community Summit 2015 is a community event that brings together educators, technologists, anthropologists, enthusiasts, champions and volunteers. We share stories, exchange ideas, solve problems, foster community and build collaboration around the One Laptop per Child project and its mission worldwide.
On Friday evening, we will be screening WEB at 5pm. The documentary follows Peruvian families living in remote villages in the Amazon Jungle and Andes Mountains as their children experience the One Laptop per Child (OLPC) program, gaining access to the Internet for the first time. WEB considers both the benefits and complications that arise from digital connections. Alongside the poignant and sometimes humorous local stories, the film includes interviews with leading thinkers on the Internet including Foursquare founder Dennis Crowley, Wikipedia’s Jimmy Wales and OLPC founder Nicholas Negroponte for an insightful look at our times.

by adborden at October 21, 2015 03:55 PM

October 15, 2015

Ghana Together

Leadership Workshops in Ghana

Recently, you’ve been reading News Updates about toilets, building renovations, and scholarships in Axim, Ghana. This News Update breaks some new ground!

Four of us have just returned from a trip to Ghana: Maryanne Ward, the head of Ghana Together (GT) who travels to Ghana every year; Susan Hirst, GT supporter who has taught science, been a middle school counselor, and was an AIDS educator on three former trips to Axim; Louise Wilkinson, a board member of GT and retired educator from Boeing who has extensive experience working with adult groups on leadership and cultural diversity and who traveled to Ghana twice with her husband, Tom; and Louise’s 18 year-old granddaughter, Alexis Coats. Alexis just graduated from High School in Vancouver, WA, and is headed for a nursing career.
Maryanne Ward, Susan Hirst, Louise Wilkinson, Alexis Coats, and James Kainyiah (Chair of partnering organization, Western Heritage Home)

The three adult women are original “founding mothers” of Ghana Together and have been involved in Axim one way or another for almost nine years.

The purpose of this journey was to work with Ghanaian youth on personal leadership. We had floated the idea for several months among the Head Mistress and teachers of the Axim Girls Senior High School (AGSHS), and to the Director of the Axim Community Vocational Technical Institute (CDVTI) where they teach dress-making, cooking, hair-dressing, electrical work and auto mechanics as well as some academic and entrepreneurial skills.
Louise and Madame Safiatu Seidu, Director of the Community Development Vocational and Technical Institute in Axim, Ghana. They are planning the Leadership Workshop for the coming week.

We also proposed the idea to Kathryn Roe of Cape Coast and Bellingham, WA. Kathryn is the Founder and Director of Anansi Education, which provides scholarships to enable good but impoverished students to attend high school in Cape Coast.

All of these leaders responded with a lot of interest so we developed a curriculum and began scheduling several months in advance of the visit. The Ghanaian school administrators suggested we give the Leadership Workshop the first two weeks of the new term, because we would be working with Form 3 (senior) students. The Workshop would be the perfect orientation, launching them into their last year of senior high school with some new skills to figure out their futures.

And so, after considerable planning, we bravely embarked! We were confident! We had all the bases covered for presentations on Leadership Skills to Ghanaian high school students. Of course, it would go smoothly. After all, Louise is a specialist in leadership and multicultural understanding, Susan in junior and senior high students, and Lexy, in being a real teenager! What could possibly go wrong??

The Axim Girls Senior High School (AGSHS) building---newly opened during the first days we were there

HA! We had forgotten to take into consideration that we were in Ghana!

Little did we or they know that a changed Ghana Education Service policy required the AGSHS girls who were boarding at the Heritage Building to move out, pronto, never mind they had just arrived on campus hours before!

Computer/science/administrative/teachers’ rooms became instant “dormitories” more or less in one day. Mattresses strewn on the lawn. Bunk beds crammed into rooms. Teachers and students carrying desks, tables, chairs, contents of administrative offices, computers, science materials to a newly-opened classroom building.

Mattresses on the grass. The "boarding" students had to move quickly with their meagre possessions---a mattress, sheet, two uniforms, probably one other outfit, personal items...

The school’s electrician, whose Nzema name actually translates as “God the Father” (comforting thought!), had to bravely install the solar panels on the roof of the new two-story classroom building to keep the Internet-In-a-Box and computer lab running, and that only with help with a specialist from Toronto via the shaky internet connection!

Lacking their hastily vacated teacher’s room, which was suddenly filled with bunkbeds, mattresses, and the small bags of personal belongings, teachers were simply sitting in chairs under a tree putting together the new academic year as best they could!

On top of that, there were two national holidays during our two-week window---Kwame Nkrumah’s birthday, and a Muslim Holy Day---that had not been factored in.

But this is Ghana, where everyone somehow manages to cope with grace and dignity, no matter how trying the circumstances.

Headmistress Theodora Appiah, keeping her cool (and demonstrating “leadership under pressure” beautifully!), continued stoically working from her makeshift “office” in one of the classrooms, trying her best to keep some semblance of order and hospitality for her foreign guests.
The "ever-cheerful-no-matter-what" Madame Theodora Appiah, Headmistress of AGSHS. Her motto is: "I would rather try and fail, then not try at all." An example of leadership right there in front of her students.

Teacher Jerry Kwofie managed to pull together the rather frazzled students, who, of course, having just arrived on campus hours before after a month’s vacation, had no idea that they were going to be the first-ever participants in Leadership Training in the entire Nzema East District!

And yes! We DID manage to conduct three wonderful workshops in Axim, and another in Cape Coast, with about 100 students total, mostly in groups of around 25.

One of the groups received six hours of class time. Others had four or five hours, and one group had two hours. Not quite as planned; however, we felt that all the groups appreciated the information and learned something from the presentations.
Leadership Workshop participants at the Axim Girls Senior High School

Louise led the discussions, as Susan chimed in and Alexis wrote information on the board and provided real life examples. 

We started out asking students to name good leaders. They named political figures, local headmistresses, and their local tribal chief. Kwame Nkrumah, the first President of Ghana, was on every list. These leaders all had positions of power. We asked students to list what things made these people “good” leaders and they came up with lists of characteristics befitting these famous leaders.
Louise working with AGSHS girls in a small group

We then asked them to list people in their lives who had influenced and helped them. Parents, siblings, and friends made this list, and these were people without fame or titles who were able to influence others. 

We pointed out that each student there was a leader because they could use their “leadership” qualities to have influence over themselves and others. We asked them to look at the list of good qualities and think of which qualities they now had and which they would like to get. Alexis said that she was very shy and it was hard to speak in front of a group, so she was using these classes to work on confidence. The students were very impressed with her honesty.

We divided the students into small groups, gave each group a different situation, and asked the groups to report out on what they would do in this situation. For example, one group had to decide what, as leaders, they would do if “You see a friend of yours stealing a computer from the school computer lab.” Another group was challenged with “A younger girl you know starts going home with an older man.” The students really worked on these situations and gave great reports.

Susan Hirst working with students at AGSHS

As we worked through the program, Louise introduced the themes of trust, critical thinking, and emotional intelligence, using words and examples that the students could understand. These were presented as leadership skills that provide the foundation for creating good relationships and making good choices, for themselves and others.

Group work followed and the students were again given a variety of situations which related to their larger community: “An oil company opens an office in town. They bring workers from their country. You ask why they don’t hire local people. You are told the local people are not adequately educated and are not reliable or prompt. What would you as a leader do?”

And: “Women cut up fish on the beach. The beach is dirty and some people get sick from the fish. You ask why the beach has to be dirty. People say there is nowhere else to go to the toilet. What would you as a leader do?” Again the students really worked together and gave great reports about how they would deal with these problems as leaders in the community.

AGSHS students. These young woman are probably among the first in their families, and in fact in Ghana itself, to attain a senior high school education. Ghana generally, and Axim specifically, especially through the leadership of Chief Awulae Attibrukusi, has put major emphasis on "girl education." One of the Chief's common sayings is, "Educate a woman. Educate a family."

At the end of each class, students were encouraged to review and affirm their learning by saying together, “I am a leader, I am a leader of myself, I am a leader of others, I am a good leader…..” adding more qualities and ending with “I am a leader!” There was wonderful energy as the students left the room and then waited outside to take pictures of us, and especially of themselves with Alexis.
Lexy Coats assisting her Grandmother Louise by capturing concepts on the board. The students had personal notebooks in which to capture the concepts for themselves. Lexy had the opportunity to make friends among her peers in Ghana---we wish every American teenager could have such an experience!

Adults sat in on some of the courses, helping us communicate well with the students and providing us perspective on how they might be receiving the learning. One adult suggested that we include religion more clearly in the curriculum, noting that prayer is used more than choice when making good decisions. Another said the group exercises were very powerful, enabling students to apply what they had learned. Another, James Kainyiah, told the group that they were very fortunate to have had this leadership learning so early in their lives, and that he wishes he had had this advantage. We felt we had given them some very useful information and, as usual, learned even more from them.

We are working on getting feedback from the students (and adults). These types of class activities---using groups, personal stories, open-ended real-life situations, open discussion, role-playing---are new to them. We’d not only like to know how the classes affected the students, but how they can help us improve! After all, the Municipal Chief Executive (Mayor) of Axim has requested the workshop for his staff! Who knows…???

The Workshop leaders with some of the AGSHS workshop participants. 
The Leadership Class at the Community Vocational Institute. This class included  young men learning such trades as electrician and auto mechanics. 

Maryanne’s role was basically logistical---seeing to introductions, lodging, meals, taxis, classroom space, etc.  She also reviewed a number of Ghana Together projects, including checking up on students on scholarship with Ghana Together, working with the library, computer and science lab people, including delivering a complete half-size human skeleton, visiting old friends in the community and, we understand, giving a very graphic demonstration on how to use the new toilet that had been installed.
A half-size human skeleton (plastic) given to the AGSHS Science Lab, courtesy of the one and only Jerome Chandler, and somehow carried all the way to Africa by Maryanne. And thank you Ghana Customs for having the sense not to look too closely! And there we are...what we do for science!!

We are grateful to have had this opportunity. We thank our Ghanaian hosts for their welcome, and for encouraging their students to participate wholeheartedly. We hope the Workshop made a positive impact on their lives. 

Thank you!

For more information, go to
To contact us, email
We are a US-based 501(c3) nonprofit, Fed EIN 26-2182965
We appreciate donations of any size, by check or by PayPal link from our website

by Ghana Together ( at October 15, 2015 12:09 AM

October 11, 2015

ICT4D Views from the Field

SolarSPELL First Field Update from Alexis & Steve in Naviso, Maewo, Vanuatu: A Smashing Success!


We held a training with Peace Corps volunteers in Vanuatu just last month, on how to use the SolarSPELL digital libraries, and provided 25 libraries and tablets to the attendees.

Below is the text of an email from Alexis Cullen. She and her husband Steve are Peace Corps volunteers in Naviso, on Maewo Island, in Vanuatu. They organized a big launch event for the SolarSPELL library’s debut there, to coincide with their community’s annual holiday. I have inserted photos that Alexis shared from the big event. Wow! 3_22049487652_48f4fa4c51_kDear Laura,

The SPELL debut was a smashing success!  When we returned to our village of Naviso after your training in Port-Vila, the community was in the throws of busily preparing for the huge party to celebrate our annual provincial holiday on September 15th (PENAMA day), which the whole island was invited to attend.  Temporary food stalls and kava bars were being built out of bamboo, lights were being strung from the classrooms that would be powered by a generator, and a sound system with huge speakers and a control/sound system board were being carried down the mountain on the backs of villagers.


Everyone was buzzing, and as soon as my husband and I arrived, the chairman of the school committee found me to ask when I was going to show the special thing I had gone to train for.  I popped it out of my bag and showed him the SPELL digital solar library, and after I was done he excitedly told me I needed to join with the first speech so that we could turn it on at the very start of the party so everyone could connect the whole time.


I went and made “Wi-fi” hot spot signs and put one unit in the school library, with the device sitting in the window so people could see it and then another device at the kava bar.  That night, the night before the 3 day party started, I turned it on so that everyone working on setting up could try it out first.  One of our villagers who is from a neighboring island who married into our island found a video in the “geography” section under “local topics” that showed video of his family dancing! He couldn’t believe it.  He promptly downloaded it to his smart phone to take it back to show his wife.  (There are probably 3 smart phones in our village, population 600).  Everyone started referring to it as “kiaman internet” (fake internet).


The next day the party began and people started pouring into our village from all around the island.  This is no feat to be understated, as many people on our island have never visited our village, because the road to get there is so hard – literally our village is referred to by other islanders as being “in a hole”.  The first speech that morning addressed this, as a prominent leader from the other side of the island described how happy he was to see this party happing in Naviso, as often they think of Naviso as its own island, sort of an island within the island.  With no cell phone communication and no truck roads, known for sorcery and tradition, they are unfortunately often labeled as “backward” and “man-bush” by those from the other side of the island.  But during this three day event, everyone joined hands and the islanders from all over, including Naviso villagers themselves, were PROUD of everything they had done to put this party together – including – they were SO proud of the the SPELL unit!



Little groups huddled together over smart phones to watch videos and look up things using offline Wikipedia and no one could believe that the village “in the hole” had a technology so advanced.  Teachers from other schools wanted to know how to get one from their schools. People asked all kinds of questions and explored the content. My little 4 year old host sister, sitting in our kitchen, who has never seen a truck, said “Wi-fi!” proudly as we all looked at her, mouths wide open.


There were just a few glitches with certain smart phones, but other than that the SPELL units ran night and day!  We turned them off at 10 PM each night and turned them on again at 7:30 AM the next day, and they worked!  We sometimes put them in the sun, and sometimes charged them off of our larger solar panel/battery/inverter unit at our house that keeps our satellite phone charged, if we needed a quick fix. But these units are so low power, they just keep going and going and going!



We can’t thank the SPELL team enough for this wonderful innovation!  It really galvanized our remote community! We are so proud, and excited to start using it in the classroom!





by ljhosman at October 11, 2015 09:57 PM

September 29, 2015

OLE Nepal

Volunteer Spotlight: Srikaran Masabathula

Srikaran Masabathula is our Earthquake relief volunteer from Knox College, Illinois. During his second year at Knox, he was looking to make a positive difference and decided to head to Nepal to support OLE Nepal with their earthquake relief efforts…

by Sofila Vaidya at September 29, 2015 09:38 AM

September 21, 2015

ICT4D Views from the Field

Successful Second Deployment of 25 SPELL Solar Digital Libraries with Peace Corps in Vanuatu


The Solar SPELL team from Cal Poly held a full-day training session at Peace Corps Headquarters in Port Vila, Vanuatu, on September 9, 2015. Volunteers traveled to the training from across many of the islands that comprise Vanuatu, and were extremely enthusiastic about being able to use the digital libraries in the schools and communities where they are stationed.



This training was the second of two this summer carried out by Cal Poly Professor Laura Hosman and the team of students in the Liberal Arts and Engineering Studies (LAES) Program at Cal Poly who worked on designing, developing, and deploying the library over the past few months. A total of 50 Spell libraries have been deployed with the Peace Corps in the Federated States of Micronesia and in Vanuatu.


P1180095Prof. Hosman led the training with the assistance of Ginger Jacobs, a student who participated in the LAES course. Ginger played a leading role in finding and curating the library’s content, and led the training that focused on that area. Another student from the course, Beth Hotchkiss, who had focused on the library’s design and production while on-campus, served as the team’s videographer and photographer during the on-site training.


The Peace Corps volunteers across the Pacific Islands commit to two years of volunteer service, and are most frequently posted to schools. The majority of these schools will not have reliable electricity/power or Internet connectivity, so these libraries are designed to provide relevant educational content in these challenging environmental conditions—especially for first-time users of such technology.


The Solar SPELL library was designed to help meet the needs of the Peace Corps volunteers, vis-à-vis enabling and improving education, in the field. It includes open access content, much of which is localized for the Pacific Islands. The offline library’s content can also be found in on-line version here:


The library’s hardware is designed to be as simple to use as possible, with no moving parts in order to avoid overheating. The solar panel and plastic case are waterproof, providing an extra level of protection against the salt air and humidity that is ever-present in the Islands.


After covering the nuts-and-bolts of how to use the library (and the tablets) during the morning session, the afternoon training session shifted to a more frank discussion of the societal, political, and human-nature-type challenges that the volunteers might face in introducing new technology to places it has not been used before. New technologies are most frequently disruptive when introduced for the first time. We therefore initiated a brainstorming and discussion session of “What might happen?”, “What could go wrong?”, and (therefore) “What should I do?” Considerations such as meeting with village chiefs and school principals before introducing the technology within the schools or communities were brought up. Many participants reflected that this session had been, for them, the most valuable of the day.


The enthusiasm of the Peace Corps volunteers was matched only by the gratitude they expressed to the team for our work on the libraries, for its relevance and helpfulness to their work, and for the training session itself. This appreciation was echoed by the Peace Corps staff as well. It was both humbling and extremely gratifying to hear so many expressions of “Thank you so much,” “This will be so appreciated by my community,” “This is fantastic.”


A quote from the first email of thanks we received, the day after the training: “I really can’t praise or thank you all enough for what you’ve done (and are still doing) in this project, and feel very privileged to have a role in it. That being said, I can at least say this much:

Y’all done real real real good.”


Our team is particularly grateful to Peace Corps Vanuatu Country Director Keith Honda, for being an early supporter of the project and for encouraging the partnership and training to take place, and to Alexis Cullen PCV, for her diligence and enthusiasm in spreading the word about the libraries across Vanuatu’s volunteers, and in co-coordinating the training. Additional thanks to Solomon Jimmy, and we look forward to keeping in touch with all of you as we gather feedback from Vanuatu and work to improve the libraries!


The SPELL Solar Digital Libraries project was made financially possible through a Community Grant from the Pacific Telecommunications Council, an in-kind donation (of Banana Pis) from LeMaker, as well as an in-kind donation (of Nexus 7 Tablets) from Inveneo.

by ljhosman at September 21, 2015 08:04 PM

September 14, 2015

Hands of Charity XO Project | Kenya

Term Break Activities

Busy weekend marketplace center sessions.

Busy weekend marketplace center sessions.


The month was with a lot of activities to be done since it was a holiday, kids were to come at the center and learn from there. We as teachers planned to have a science camp which was done from the marketplace center near Bukokholo in Bungoma County.

1st and 2nd which was a weekend, and learners came at the center as from 10.00 am to 5.30pm. They used tamtam mini, tamtam jam to enjoy themselves from music others used speak, browse, and record activities. Those who used browse discussed different subjects such as physics, chemistry since they were secondary students. From them young kids learned that with discussion they can learn more things that were not understanding.

3rd and 4th which was Monday at Butonge and Tuesday at Namwesi, it was a free class where students were to do any activity they like as from 3.00 pm to 5.30pm as teachers were walking around to see if any student is stuck and assist. The lesson was much interesting because most of the learners were doing paint activity and scratch to perfect on their drawing and scratch animation.

5th Wednesday, 6th Thursday and 7th Friday at the market place centre kids in good numbers and were grouped according to the ages and classes at school and teachers gauged them on what they can do on XO sugar lab activities. Every group was to explain an activity that they know to others.

8th and 9th it was a weekend where learners did keyboard work at the market place. This is to ensure that all learners to master the whole keyboard and each button with it’s functions. All kids were attentive in that sector because teachers were to evaluate them over work done on the keyboard.

10th to 14th- At the market centre- Learners from different schools came for lessons so we arranged 3 teachers to be on duty to help learners on which activities they were to do and introduce new learners on XO sugar lab activites sincw we never miss new learners at the center at any given holiday. They were three teachers per session as from 10.00am to 5.30pm. These was the day learners did most of write activity to master all the functions of every key on the keyboard. They used brackets, exclamation marks, colons, semi-colons, question marks, comma, full stops etc.

15th and 16th – It was a weekend- learners did write activity for familiarization both for old students and new students. we asked them to use all punctuation marks and inserting of tables, alignments of paragraphs and inserting of their pictures (images) on a text. They enjoyed too much as others kept on repeating same work for several times.

17th- 21st- Monday to Friday-Learners did turtle art where they constructed different shapes as per math arrangements. We had new students who saw it as a difficult activity but with time they manned and did well. They were showed how to use pen size, pen shade and pen color for them to know more about the activity.

22nd to 23rd- weekend- It was a short break for the teachers.24th to 25th-camp planning between teachers and students over the roles to play in that science camp.

26th-Was to be the first day of the camp for the registration of kids to participate in the camp. There was a lot of co-operation among the learners which were to participate. We had those who were to present paint, turtle art and write activities. There was a lot of competition among themselves. We liked their arrangement.

27th-Arrival of students from different schools who were registered to attend to the camp,

1-The camp overview  2-Grouping of students as per an activity 3-Topic orientation by each teacher as per group 4-Entertainment

-Afternoon each group was assigned to an activity as per camp focus..Group were as follows;

-Paint activity -Write activity -Speak activity -Scratch activity -Etoys activity -Browse and solar system.

28th-Discussion and writing stories over what was done on paint activity, paint, scratch, memorize, maze, Record, browse and sharing off pictures and discuss the impact of those pictures.

29th-Was teachers camp review and recommendation over what kids did in the camp.

30th-31st-Teachers rested after the camp.


*Inadequate facilities for the camp due to high number of students

*The target was not met because funding was not to expected and budgeted for.

*Days were few as per proposal expectation.


*Young kids aged 4-8 years were so many at the camp with aim of learning and eating not even wasting a single second at the time of arrival. When the time for lunch arrived they were very keen and excited.

*Girls were much interested in singing , poetry, narrative talks and computer learning than boys.

*Boys were good artists by use of paint activity than girls.

*Girls attended the camp more than the boys in numbers.

*Those kids who were infested with the jiggers before, were free from infestation. Due to lesson learned, attended the camp and as a result others were motivated with the previous camp results . As a sign of togetherness they came and joined others to learn in problem identification and solving as their fellow kids are doing with the case of jiggers..

*The parents who were interested with the camp challenged their children to be so keen in whatever is happening in camp venue.

*Memorize activity improved the learners imaginations

*Learners were much interested with the camp, so they were just forced to leave the place because time was not on our site.

*Because of insufficient funds, our camp was not a boarding camp but was half board camp.


-It was achieved because students were able to explain why they were doing activity or drawing those pictures.

-Kids improved on self explanation and esteem they planned how to identify problems and then have a better solution.

-They used pictures to teach the whole world over what is happening to endangered species namely black rhino and elephants

-Students have known which animals are mostly poached and most endangered animals.

-Promotion of child to child interaction

– Teachers were given name tags for easier identification in schools and market center.

-Learners are able to talk about proper trash disposable and plastic reuse.

-The camp brought kids together and throught it they have known their child rights as that to education, food and expression.


*We need more facilitation for the camps to promote child to child interaction.

*There should be funds upgrading so as to meet our target for the future science camps (more funds needed).

*There should be learning by seeing i.e Learners should be exposed to some game parks and game reserves to see which animals are being targeted with poachers then have chance to interview game wardens over the same.

*Teachers motivational tour- teachers should be taken out at least once per year for them to share and exchange views with other OLPC sites country wide. At the end ,this will promote team work and experience.

* Learners who are performing well to be awarded for others to work hard.

* Intersite camp competition (OLPC) as promotion of XO sugar lab activities to different parts of Kenya.


by smallsolutionsbigideas at September 14, 2015 05:45 PM

September 11, 2015

Kartik Perisetla - Sugar Hacks

WikipediaHI: Offline Wikipedia in Hindi !!

Last week I spent some time working on WikipediaHI activity for Sugar Desktop Environment. I must say it is one of the awesome activities I have come across. The best part is that it can serve you with data in offline mode. That is even if don't have internet connection which is otherwise required to access Wikipedia online, then also your WikipediaHI activity will serve your purpose.

There are lot many developers and contributors who are working in collaborative form on such awesome stuff who continuously inspire you to take up new things and create something that can be used by others in the world. Sugar developers and contributors are epitome of such group.

I came across few of such developers, Anish Mangal and Gonzalo Odiard, two of them whose contributions are significant for Sugar. I took up the task of creating WikipediaHI using Wikipedia dump for Hindi available for free. I followed the steps specified on this page[ hosted by Gonzalo] for creating Wikipedia activity in your own language.

I will quickly explain the steps I took to create WikipediaHI:

1) Downloaded the Wikipedia dump file for Hindi:
NOTE: [ Make sure you pick the valid latest file from here :   this location will show you listing as per dates. Pick the latest dump and proceed further.]

and downloaded WikipediaBase from this link

2) Created "hi" directory for HINDI under WikipediaBase directory and moved the downloaded dump to this folder.

3) Extracted contents of this file using:
bzip2 -d hiwiki-20121225-pages-articles.xml.bz2

4) Processed the dump using page parser:

The result of this operation will generate these files:

5) Then you can include selective articles or all articles from this dump to your activity by using this command:
* Make sure you have favorites.txt and blacklist.txt filled with appropriate keywords.

Now if you want to include all articles use this command:
../tools2/ --all

6) Then proceed to create the index for these articles:

7) In order to test the index created in previous step you can use this command:

8) Next step is to expand the templates of articles :
cd ..
./tools2/ hi

9) Go back to hi directory and re-create the index :
cd hi
mv hiwiki-20121225-pages-articles.xml.processed_expanded hiwiki-20121225-pages-articles.xml.processed
../tools2/ --delete_all

10) Download the images for the articles you selected:
cd hi

if you want to download the images for pages you selected in previous step:
../tools2/ --all

11) Create files specific to language:
(a)activity/ : activity info file for you language activity
(b)activity/activity-wikipedia-lang.svg : activity icon for your language
(c) : activity file for your language
(d)static/about_lang.html : about page for wikipedia in your language.
(e)static/index_lang.html : index page for wikipedia in your language. This is the page displayed when activity is launched. So its important for you to know the articles included in the search.db ( generated when index is created) for you to create the index page.

12) Create the XO file for wikipedia in your language:
./ hi/hiwiki-20121225-pages-articles.xml

I went through the search.db file to identify the articles present in it and create the index page accordingly.
This gave me an idea to write some script that can generate index page(part or whole) to be used as home page for activity using search.db[ Stay tuned for next blog on this idea]

Here you go.. you can see WikipediaHI

On launching this, you can see the index page listing the articles you can view offline using WikipediaHI

If you want to play with WikipediaHI, you can download it : WikipediaHI-35.xo

I must thank Gonzalo for his amazing help and guidance in getting this done. I have to mention here that Wikipedia
changed its XML format in their dumps which resulted in error when I was creating the index. I took Gonzalo's help to get it resolved.
Thanks to Anish, who motivated me to pick this up and guided me to complete it.

Thanks guys !! :D

by Kartik Kumar Perisetla ( at September 11, 2015 05:39 AM