January 15, 2018

Ghana Together

Ghana Together’s Mr. Quilt Man! Our own Jerome Chandler!

Jerome Chandler is a founding member of Ghana Together, having served since 2006. His interest in Ghana goes way back!

He served from 1958-1967 at St. John’s Senior High School in Sekondi, Ghana---the first four years, as math teacher, and then as Headmaster for five years. Sekondi is about 30 miles east of Axim.

It was a tumultuous time with Ghana becoming independent in 1957, followed by an unsettled period including a military coup in 1966, and political turmoil generally.  Not so easy to be the Headmaster in a school that followed the English education system, including administering the “Cambridge Exam” to his students---the same exam English students were taking at the time—during those difficult years!

Jerome returned to the US and eventually, luckily for us, he became a Science Instructor at Skagit Valley College for many years, here in Mount Vernon, WA.

But, he never lost his interest and affection for Ghana and its culture. And what better represents Ghanaian culture than its indigenous textiles---especially woven kente cloth and printed adinkra symbolic motifs?

And, since in his senior years, Jerome has taken up quilting, what better raw material than the beautiful Ghanaian cloth?

So, when our friend Kathryn Roe, Founder/Leader of Anansi Non-profit in Ghana, brought back extensive yardage of traditional Ghanaian “cloth” from Ghana, Jerome was thrilled! And he got to work!

First, he made a beautiful Adinkra symbols quilt for Kathryn herself, as a thank-you

The adinkra symbolism is an old traditional art form, which is still ubiquitous in Ghana. There is a record of a stamped Adinkra cloth being sent back to England in 1817. The symbols have meanings. 

See this website which beautifully documents the rich meaning. These symbols are still widely used in Ghana---not only on textiles but also as decorative art on buildings, signage, etc. 

Having made that first quilt, now Jerome was on a roll! So he made another one for the Mount Vernon Kiwanis Club, which has supported our students since 2007!

Gary Jones, (left),  International Program leader, accepts a quilt on behalf of the local Kiwanis 

One thing led to another! A few folks who have collected and arranged shipping for hundreds of children’s books got their surprise quilts!

He made this one below  for the Axim Library, featuring the Gye Nyame symbol meaning “except for God”, which may be the most common, and is found on textiles, stores, restaurants, taxi cabs, signage. A common use might be "except for God, you and I would not be greeting each other today."

The symbol in the middle is the symbol for God---"except for God"...

And one for our friend Bonnie who supported a student from...grade 3?...through nursing school...her "graduation gift."

And there are more, but this is a good sample! Some are going to our partners in Axim, who have worked so well with us to enable us to help them achieve our mutual goals.

We only wish we could honor every one of you, our dear readers and  “investors” in so many ways, with one of Jerome’s beautiful pieces! 

Thanks to you, we’ve managed to enable our partners, Western Heritage Home, to support 69 students this first term in 2018. We continue to support the library. We love this collaboration and are eager to see what 2018 puts in front of us!!

(Notice our logo features adinkra symbols. Starting at 1:00, "nurture", lifelong learning, health & beauty, leadership, and "except God.")

Ghana Together
808 Addison Place
Mount Vernon, WA 98273

Email: info@ghanatogether.org

by Ghana Together (noreply@blogger.com) at January 15, 2018 07:25 PM

January 04, 2018

OLE Nepal

The Mountain Village That Stole Our Hearts

AUTHOR: Yap Mun Ching DECEMBER 23 , 2017 For my last work trip of 2017, I had the rather unusual task of leading a group of 9 Allstars (AirAsia staff) from 5 countries and a 5-member film crew up the Gorkha mountains of Nepal to a village called Olang. The trip was part of a two-and-a-half-year long ‘To Nepal with Love’ campaign that AirAsia Foundation has been running with an excellent organisation called Open Learning…

by admin at January 04, 2018 11:01 AM

December 15, 2017

Ghana Together

Medical Milestones in Axim area of Ghana

Congratulations to our Western Heritage Home Scholar Dorothy Armoo who has graduated as a Nursing Assistant from the SDA Health Assistant Training School in Asanta, Ghana! Dorothy exemplifies the Western Heritage Home motto:
Dorothy will participate in a graduation ceremony in early 2018, at which time the new graduates will be assigned to their workplace---which could be ANYWHERE in Ghana! She is excited and proud!

And congratulations to Scholars Philomena Mensah and Charlotte Armah who met the academic requirements to be accepted into the Asanta Nursing Training School, and who have just completed their first term. They are on their way to becoming nurses!

Charlotte (left) &  Philomena on first day at the Asanta Nurses Training School

Charlotte (second from left) and Philomena (far right) with classmates at the end of first term of nurses training in their nice new training uniforms!

Huge thank you to Dr. James Heilman and the WikiMed Foundation for allowing us to purchase two of the first 100 newly-published prototype WikiMed Internet-in-a-Boxes! And to Adam Holt of Unleash Kids who connected Ghana Together with the WikiMed folks.

Western Heritage Home Operations Manager Evans Arloo and the computer lab teachers installed the units---one at Asanta Nursing Training School and the other at Essiama Community Health Nursing/Midwifery School.

Each of these little devices is a “hot spot” that sends signals to network-enabled computers and smartphones

Students can access as if they are on the actual internet from the computers in their lab and even on their smartphones, if they have them! (Actual internet is not very available yet in the more rural parts of Ghana, and if available, very expensive.)

WikiMed Training Session at the Computer Lab at the Asanta Nurses Training School

Western Heritage Home Operations Manager Evans Arloo (left) hands over the WikiMed device and documentation to the computer teacher at Asanta Nurses Training School

WikiMed Handing Over Ceremony at Essiama Nursery/Midwifery School. James Kainyiah, Chairman of Western Heritage Home, is tall guy 4th from left
Believe it or not (!), each of these little units holds:

--a complete collection of all healthcare, anatomy, and medication-related topics from Wikipedia, but in offline format---at least 50,000 articles in all
--a “Global Emergency Medicine Wiki”, which is the world’s largest emergency medicine open-access reference resource
--a “HealthPhone Medical Video Collection”---videos on various healthcare topics
--many “Practical Action” videos on topics such as agriculture, disaster response, fisheries, food processing, social and economic development, and waste management
--OpenStreet Mapsof the entire world (especially useful for medical personnel traveling in more remote areas of their own countries)
Dr. Heilman and his group allowed us to purchase these WikiMed devices, as prototypes, on the condition that the faculty and students will provide feedback to his group, to help improve the next release they are already working on. As Dr H told us, “These represent the work of 10s of thousands of people. I hope people find it useful. We are busy working on the next version.”
AND, remember those urine diversification/dehydration toilets Engineers Without Borders pioneered in Axim? Well, EWB built one, we of Ghana Together funded two more. We gave workshops…we visited…and RE-visited… we used them ourselves just to prove... (J) and now the nearby village of Apetaim has built one for itself, thanks to a local NGO!! A wonderful move to better health and hygiene! We only hope more villages take up this type of toilet design.

And so, we’ve come to the end of our year. So many good projects and accomplishments!
Our Annual Update Letter summarizes our year and our plans.
On behalf of the Western Heritage Scholars, and the Axim Community, we sincerely thank you for your financial help. The American dollar goes a long way in Ghana!
We spend every donated amount on projects there. All our administrative expenses, including travel, are paid out-of-pocket by our Board Directors. We try to help in areas where our expertise, technology, and funds can provide what is difficult or impossible for Axim-ites to provide for themselves. We have wonderful leaders in Axim who are our good friends, and partners.
If you want to help, please visit our website for more info. Our mailing address is:

Ghana Together
808 Addison Place
Mount Vernon, WA 98273

Email: info@ghanatogether.org

by Ghana Together (noreply@blogger.com) at December 15, 2017 04:17 AM

December 13, 2017

Tabitha Roder

Learn Moodle MOOC

As the year comes close to it’s end it seems like a good time to think of some development goals for 2018. Learn Moodle 3.4 Basics MOOC is a free, four week course that you can sign up for here.

For those who work in education there are many reasons why you might want to consider signing up for the next Learn Moodle MOOC starting 8 January 2018.

Here is a quick list, if you tick a box or two then think about signing up:

  • never seen an LMS or never seen Moodle
  • not used Moodle in ages and want a refresher of latest features and current practice
  • want to experience being a student to better understand their needs
  • interested course design and experience an approach used for big groups
  • get some inspiration for your teaching practice by seeing some activities in action
  • network with some other Moodle users, hear and share stories, make some friends – you can also join the conversation on twitter using #learnmoodle and engage with other participants in the forum
  • give yourself license to reflect on your own practice by comparing with what you see and experience during the MOOC
  • get some help on some challenges you are facing through doing the activities and learning more about Moodle and through conversations with other participants
  • get free professional development
  • you want a badge! you can use this MOOC as a way to collect a badge, useful particularly if you have started talking about badges at your learning institute but not figured out what it is all about yet and are ready to explore

Note that you can start introducing yourself and familiarising yourself with the course on 1 January 2018, so don’t feel like you have to wait until the 8th to get started.

That link again – https://learn.moodle.net/

Share the love and inspire other teachers by spreading the word to educators you know.


by tabithaparker at December 13, 2017 09:00 PM

December 03, 2017

Tabitha Roder

Letting the outside world into your classroom

One of the many lessons I have learned over my years of working in education, is to remember to bring the outside into the classroom.

There are lots of ways to do that, whether it be guest speakers, excursions, work experience, getting students to bring things in, all sorts! But an easy starting point is RSS feeds into your online classroom space.

I remember reading about RSS being old technology that was going out the window, but I have to say that news feeds are still incredibly powerful at helping connect what students are learning about with the real world.  They invite conversations that link theory with practice, and all too often give real examples of what can go wrong.

If you are using Moodle, it is very easy to add an RSS feed to your course (turn editing on, add a block, remote RSS feeds).

If you haven’t done it before but have a relevant news provider for the industry relevant to your teaching, you are looking for and you need to get the URL for the feed.

The URL (that is the web address) for the RSS feed will start with “http://” and usually ends with “.xml”.

Blogs often have RSS output, and there might be an RSS feed on one of your favourite industry websites, so go looking and bring the outside world into your classroom.

by tabithaparker at December 03, 2017 08:30 PM

November 30, 2017

Tabitha Roder

Communicating in Moodle

Today I’m highlighting some ways of communicating in Moodle.It is useful to remember the different methods available so you can use the right tool for the job. I won’t put pictures up for all the things I’ll discuss below, but I will point you to Moodle Docs so you can learn more about any of these features.


Messaging provides an easy way to send private messages between users. In newer Moodle versions there is a messages icon in the top of the screen that tells the user if there are unread messages. Users can add people to their contacts, they can easily search for people by name or by course. The user can decide their own preferences for receiving notifications of new messages when online/offline by mobile or email. This feature is particularly popular with students who use social media platforms already. I would not recommend using this feature for course announcements.

In some cases, administrators disable messaging.


Forums (and announcement forum)

A versatile feature, forums allow students to communicate between themselves, in whole class or in specific groups, with or without the teacher/facilitator involved. The students don’t need to be logged in at the same time.

The group options give flexibility. An example of use could be a competition where groups of students complete a project of their choosing where all must use the same methodology. In this example, I might set the forum to have “visible” groups, so students can talk amongst their group, and they can see (but not interact with) the other groups posts. The splitting of the groups conversations makes it easier for them to track the conversation, but the visibility of the other groups conversations lets them see different ways to use the methodology, so more learning.

Optional subscription means students can choose whether they are notified of new posts to forum threads, whereas forced subscription suggests the teacher thinks all students need a notification of new posts. 

There is an announcement forum for teachers to update their students. This forum does not allow for student responses.

Chat activity

The chat is for real-time synchronous discussions. This is particularly useful for courses that are entirely online, to provide a set time that teachers can provide text based support for their students.

It is also useful for students to use in groups for planning their projects, or discussing other group activities.

Chat times can be published for scheduled times or available for students to make their own times to chat with each other.

Chats can be recorded and can be set to allow or not allow students to view the past chat sessions.

Moodle profile settings

Users have control over how they receive notifications from Moodle. They can choose to receive email digests for example rather than individual emails for every forum posts. It is a good idea to familiarise yourself and your students with these settings.

profile settings

profile settings

Calendar and Upcoming Events block

Not always thought of as a communication tool, the calendar does in fact communicate to users events coming up as advertised by the Moodle site, the courses they are enrolled in, groups they are in, or their own events they enter into the Moodle calendar. Similarly the upcoming events block can be displayed in a course with links to calendar events. 

There is the option to export calendars and import into other calendar programs with an ics file. Some students might for example want to put a dynamic link to their Moodle calendar in their google calendar.

Feedback activity

This activity provides a way for students to communicate their views about a course or topic (or evaluate their teacher) by answering questions designed by the teacher. Feedback can be anonymous, there can be as many questions as necessary (though I would advise to keep evaluations short) and there is a graphical analysis of the responses automatically created.

User tours

The new tours feature (Moodle 3.2 or newer sites) allows administrators to communicate changes made to a site with customisable tours. If this interests you, read here.

Where to from here

These are not the only communication features of Moodle, but hopefully serve as a reminder that there are lots of options so it’s worth having a good think about which is the right tool for the task.

If you don’t know which tool is right, and you have read the Moodle Docs pages, you can try talking with other Moodle users you know. There is also the Moodle community forums as a great place to get help, and they are multi-lingual.

by tabithaparker at November 30, 2017 11:00 PM

November 29, 2017

Tabitha Roder

Monitoring in Moodle

Today I want to share a few ideas around monitoring in Moodle: Setting up your Moodle courses to reduce the teacher management workload, effectively monitor student progress, and empower students with the autonomy to self manage as they progress through their studies.

So often teachers talk of the high workload in managing online components of the their courses; checking which students have completed what tasks, looking for forum contributions and checking what needs marking.

This post will show tracking options and reports available to teachers and students. I will focus on core tools that are available in a modern Moodle standard install. There are excellent modules and plugins available, however they’re not much use if you don’t have admin rights, so here’s what tools you will have.


Course administration block - reports

There are different types of reports available in Moodle through the administration block or through the user profile page.

Logs and live logs

You can generate logs of course activity by selecting any combination: participants, days, activities, actions or events. Then click on “Get these logs”.

Use the ? icon to get more information. The logs give you active links enabling you to access the student’s profile page or the particular page they were viewing. IP address gives an estimate of the student’s location.choose which logs you want to see

Teachers and students both have access to logs but they get different information. See the user reports below for student views.

Course reports > Activity reports

Teachers can assess the usage of each activity and resource within their course using the activity report. It shows the count of clicks and the number of unique users who clicked. This can assist in having conversations with learners about why some activities and resources have more clicks than others, but the data in isolation should not be used to make assumptions.

A question that helps teachers understand this:

You read the Course > Activity report and find one resource has 200 clicks, another has 20 clicks. Discuss which resource is the most useful to your students and why? What is the data telling you?

activity report

Ask teachers to discuss the possible causes of clicks:

  • “It was really useful so I referred to it often.”
  • “It was confusing and I read it over and over but still don’t understand.”
  • “I didn’t click on it because the name of it made me think I didn’t need to open that.”
  • “I didn’t open it because I already knew about it.”

Course reports > Course participation

Teachers can generate a participation report on a particular activity. For example: forum view or forum posts. A useful feature of the participation report is the option to send a message to all students who have or have not completed an action.

Course reports > Activity completion

If the Moodle site has activity completion enabled this can drastically improve course management and a huge time saver for both the teacher and the student. Setting up activity completion is discussed later in this blog post, so keep reading!activity completion report

The reports above are largely teacher focused. Next, let’s look at the reports and tools primarily for students.

User reports > Profile page

user profile page

User reports > Today’s logs and all logs

Students can use the logs to show their submissions were sent on time. They can also see what days of the week they are more active.user profile todays logs

User reports > Outline report

This is a brief outline of the learner’s course participation. For more detailed information they can look at the complete report. This report is useful for a brief overview and to check if they have missed anything.user profile outline report

User reports > Complete report

The learner can use the complete report to get a detailed record of their course contributions. Depending on the course design, the learner can print their complete report and use it as a study guide. Teachers who would like to encourage this approach should get their students to write question and answers in forum posts, and ensure the layout of activities like database show the questions in the students responses so the questions appear in the complete report.

I have used this approach in a course that has an elearning pre-requisite to a face-to-face workshop. The learner prints their complete report and brings it to the workshop, instead of printing a large workbook.

user profile complete report

Using the reports

When I teach people how to use the reports and logs I give them scenarios to consider in groups.

  • A student says that they have submitted an assignment before the due date, but it is showing as late. Which reports can you look into to see exactly when the student accessed and submitted the assignment? Discuss in a group and submit your chosen answer in this choice activity.
  • The teacher wants to check the students are all keeping up with the course work. They should have done the first three topics.  Which reports can you look into to see exactly where the students are at? Discuss in a group and submit your chosen answer in this choice activity.
  • One of the students has asked to meet with you about their course work. They are struggling with the course work but they say they have been trying to do all the course required activities. What report would you look at to prepare to meet with them? Discuss in a group and submit your chosen answer in this choice activity.


Completion settings

Earlier we showed you the Activity completion report. To use the report above, you need to set up activity completion at site level course level, and in each activity and resource.

It is helpful to refer to Moodle Docs > Activity completion settings to learn about this feature, but the brief is that you can use activity completion settings in Moodle to track and display activities and resources as “complete” for students based on criteria set by the teacher for each resource or activity, dependent on viewing, submitting, receiving a grade, or posting or replying conditions being met.activity completion icons

When I teach this I show how to setup activity completion settings on existing activities such as forum, glossary, page, quiz, and assignment. I discuss with teachers self marked quizzes that show as complete immediately on submission, versus teacher marked assignments which can show as complete on submission or complete when a grade has been received. When the “completion” happens on grade received there is a delay.

Another consideration is that this tracking does not assess quality of contributions. For example, forum conditions can’t assess quality of posts, only quantity. Viewing a resource does not equal reading/understanding/processing etc.

Restrict Access settings

This feature allows you to restrict students from accessing a resource or activity based on criteria set by the teacher (roles are blurry, so I am simplifying here).add restriction pop up

There is useful documentation at Moodle Docs > Restrict access settings for you to find out more.

Examples we use in our practice include:

  • Restrict access until another resource or activity is marked as complete – e.g. certificate not available until assignments are marked complete.
  • Restrict access until after a grade over 90% achieved in another graded activity.
  • Restrict access to a group or grouping – we use this to manage monthly new intakes and classes.
  • Restrict access until after a date – this could restrict the learner from viewing a resource or activity until after a presentation or a field trip.
  • Restrict access so only visible to people who have match a profile field – e.g. city equal to Auckland, this would allow you to show a label with a face to face event for learners in that city.

You can use restrictions to stop learners from viewing the certificate module until after feedback activity is marked complete, and they have a grade of 100% on the assessment activity.  This ensures instructional designers are always getting feedback on their development, and the learner has met the assessment standards agreed with the SME.

Note that when you have two restrictions there is the option to require the student to have met “all” or “any” of the requirements. With “all” you see “and” but with “any” you see “or” between the conditions.

The “Restriction set” is best left for teachers with some experience setting the other restriction types first.

Course completion criteria

When I teach course completion criteria, I demonstrate how to set this up and then encourage them to give it a go. Documentation for setting up course completion is here – Moodle Docs > Course completion – and you should totally read it.

This is a task list for workshop participants:

  • Turn on and off course completion tracking in course settings in practice course.
  • Add course completion block.
  • Set course completion criteria via the administration block
  • Discuss the risks of unlocking the criteria after a course has started (note the option to unlock without affecting current completions – how does this impact future participants?).
  • Discuss what happens if you want to add an activity, track it in course completion, after students have started? We promote pre-planning, but there is an option to retain some of the data if you do need to make adjustments after the course start date. We recommend reading https://docs.moodle.org/31/en/Course_completion_FAQ

Grader report

Moodle includes a grader report that is automatically populated by graded activities in your course. The documentation Moodle Docs > Grader report will give you the steps to using grader report.

During workshops with teachers:

  • Look at what is automatically put into the grader report, and what you can manually add, show how to set up categories and grade items, how to use groups for filtering and set grade visibility, type (real/percentage/letter), and weighting.
  • Get the workshop participants into groups and give them an existing course that is not currently used by students. Ask the groups to organise the grader report in a way that makes sense to their group, add categories and grade items as necessary, and decide on the weighting of activities.

What I want teachers to think about are the benefits to the students for having the grade structure organised, as well as themselves and moderators and auditors of courses.

I ask workshop participants to share examples and discuss ways they can use these features in their courses.

Feedback on these workshops is overwhelmingly positive. Participants are keen to spend more time on familiarising themselves with these features.

Some feedback received from participants:

  • “I have learnt more in the last 2 hours than in the last day… you have my creative juices flowing now.”
  • “This session is how I envisioned the whole day to be. It was great!”
  • “Impressed by the combination of solid development and “on the fly” flexibility.”
  • “I am very keen to add more activities to my courses. Our current pages are flat, unorganized and definitely have the scroll of death!”
  • “I’ve got a lot of information now to try and get more out of Moodle which is currently being hugely underutilized.”
  • “Really useful to discuss the ways the reports can be used and interpreted, using the as a start point for discussion!”


And despite each workshop being three hours long, when asked “Tell us one thing you would change or improve” received responses are like these:

  • “Too short! Could spend a whole day using this type of thing.”
  • “Restricted time limit.”
  • “It would be great to have a bit more time to go over how to create these things.”
  • “More time!”

I hope this blog post helps you monitor your students or provided you ideas for your courses.

by tabithaparker at November 29, 2017 06:37 PM

October 24, 2017

ICT4D Views from the Field

Record 150 SolarSPELLs Built in One Day!

On Saturday Oct 21st 2017, over 40 volunteers arrived at ASU’s Polytechnic campus to help build 150 SolarSPELL digital libraries. This is the largest build in the history of the project, breaking the previous one-day record of 100. These libraries will go out to Peace Corps volunteers and local teachers in Tonga, Rwanda, South Sudan, and Fiji in the coming months.

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

The volunteers transitioned over to the build area and received a step-by-step walk-through of each stage of the building process, led by the SolarSPELL Hardware team lead and Build-Master, Miles Mabey. Subsequently everyone chose their stations and jumped right in.

There were many opportunities for hands-on activities, including wire-stripping, soldering, gluing, cutting, velcroing, heat-shrinking, and laminating.

The hardware team took advantage of lessons learned from the previous Build Day last April, to make numerous process improvements, so the assembly line-style work was even more efficient.


The Build Day proved to be a family affair on multiple fronts, with many siblings, parents, and children coming out for the day’s activities.

We also welcomed some students who are originally from Rwanda and South Sudan to the Build, which was particularly exciting since approximately half of the SolarSPELLs will be going to Rwanda and South Sudan. These students are Bridge2Rwanda (B2R) scholars. B2R is an integral SolarSPELL partner for the project in Rwanda and South Sudan.

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

We even got press coverage from the State Press—click here for further reading and more photos!

The fabulous photos in this post were taken by SolarSPELL team member Tyrine Pangan, bottom row, right, in the team picture below.

The finished boxes:


by ljhosman at October 24, 2017 08:14 PM

September 06, 2017

Path Education, Pakistan

Path Annual Report 2017

Major Programme Achievements

We are pleased to inform the Management Committee of the progress being made at Rahnuma Public School, our sole project.

The school year ending June 2017 brought many new achievements. Of the six Science Students who sat for their final SSC examinations with AKUB four passed with very good results specially in Urdu, Islamiat, Pakistan Studies and English. Two very weak students who are sisters and come from a difficult background, need to re sit their Math and Physics exams in supplementary papers, but we are hopeful they will clear these.
We have examined the results this year and discovered that in Physics, our students obtained one A and 2 B’s, a high score. In Chemistry we got two B’s and we know the teacher has to do better. Our area of weakness are Mathematics and Biology in which we are looking to train our teachers and hire additional resources.
With the board approval we have expanded the Junior school by taking over the building and as many students as would transfer from APNA School from May 2017. Our admissions closed in June with over 400 students with room for about 50 more students in Senior school. Our plan is to grow this strength through organic growth as our Junior school students moving up in greater numbers into senior school.
We can report that the International Primary Curriculum (used by British Schools all over the world) that we introduced last year has proved hugely successful. Teachers have responded very well to this new method of teaching. We hope to see concrete results as these students move into highschool and demonstrate the skills they are learning to think and analyse information for themselves.
We will continue to monitor and guide the primary school teachers to learn and improve their teaching skills. The school has just concluded one month of training on teaching English and Phonics to primary school students. This was provided by Infaq Foundation Free of cost.

Teacher’s Recruitment

We have added 5 new classes from Nursery to Year 3, giving us two sections each for Nursery, Reception, Year 1, 2 and 3. Five new teachers have been hired for these classes and we are pleased with the new staff who were taken on from May so they could be trained. 5 additional Teacher’s assistants have also been hired to support these teachers.
We now have two Vice Principals, Ms. Saima Ahmed for Primary Section and Ms. Humaira Yasmeen for the Senior Section which will now be housed in the new building we have taken over from Sapna. With a school that had increased capacity by more than 30%, this administrative change is necessary. We also have Ms. Sadia Irshad looking after Early Years and Primary Science and Social Studies Curriculum.

Fund Raising

We have had another successful year of fund raising. We approached three corporate sponsors this year. Of these, this month Infaq Foundation have approved a donation of Rs. 1 million for Rahnuma after we applied for a grant and arranged for several sessions for their team to meet our teachers and staff.
The second organization was Rotary Club, who are still doing their review and we will know about this after they have completed their due diligence in August.

Our individual contributors have also been very generous and have sent us substantial amounts as zakat and other donations.

Upgrade of Facilities

Upgrade of facilities and class rooms continues. This year we have focused on furnishing the five new classes we are adding to the Primary School as well as furnishing the new building. We have budgeted for this additional one time expense.

Future Plans

We have successfully increased our student strength significantly this year. The plan is to now manage the growth of this expanded junior school in a way as to feed into the much smaller senior school without causing disruption for students and teachers. Our plan is to offer only the top studets in Year 6 places in our high school, allowing us to manage the standard of students we fund to SSC. We will ensure that all students who do not get a place in the senior school do get admission elsewhere.

Financial Highlights

We are happy to report that the financial year 2017 we were able to raise sufficient funds to meet the school’s growing needs.

We thank all the staff of Rahnuma and volunteer Board members of PATH who devote so much time to making our work at Rahnuma Public School so successful.

Kishwer Aziz
July 30th 2017

by kishwer at September 06, 2017 07:33 PM

September 04, 2017

ICT4D Views from the Field

SolarSPELL Project Honored with PLuS Alliance Education Innovation Award

Dr. Laura Hosman received the PLuS Alliance Prize for Education Innovation at an awards ceremony held at Bush House, of King’s College London, on Sep. 3 2017.

The PLuS Alliance Prize recognizes outstanding innovation contributions by individuals or groups in addressing the greatest global challenges facing society today. The PLuS Alliance Prize was established in 2017 with a total prize of $50,000 and is awarded annually in two categories: Education Innovation and Research Innovation.

These prizes are awarded to ground-breaking research that either addresses a need or solves a current problem in one or more of the arenas of global health, sustainability, social justice, or technology and innovation, in the previous five years.

The Prize is designed to highlight innovative work that:

  • Addresses a globally significant issue
  • Makes a direct and positive impact
  • Helps—or has the potential to help—communities globally

After presenting the award to Dr. Hosman, ASU President Michael Crow connected to the SolarSPELL WiFi and was impressed by how quickly the website came up on his smartphone.

Dr. Hosman also had the opportunity to explain how the SolarSPELL digital library works, to many of the event’s attendees.

It is truly an honor to receive this award, as it recognizes the dual importance of SolarSPELL’s mission: to offer transformative educational experiences for my ASU students, as they see the project through from A-to-Z, designing, building, and then implementing the libraries in the field. Simultaneously, the library is benefiting schoolchildren and communities across the developing world. Receiving this distinguished award will help our team continue this important work and have a greater impact, for even more people, around the world. Thank you to Arizona State University, to the dedicated students I’ve worked with, and to the PLuS Alliance!

by ljhosman at September 04, 2017 01:33 PM

August 12, 2017

ICT4D Views from the Field

August 02, 2017

OLE Nepal

Developing the New E-Pustakalaya

## Introduction ## Since OLE Nepal’s inception in 2007 we have strived to provide open and free access to quality education and innovative learning environments to children all over Nepal.  One of our core missions is to reduce the disparity found within the accessibility of learning tools brought about by geographic location, school type, and population group.  E-Pustakalaya, our free and open digital library, closed the gap by providing a collection of thousands of books,…

by Melech Maglasang at August 02, 2017 11:23 AM

July 26, 2017

ICT4D Views from the Field

ASU SolarSPELL Peace Corps training in Micronesia: Three Years in FSM!

The ASU SolarSPELL team traveled to Pohnpei, in the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), in July 2017, to carry out a training on the solar digital libraries with a new cohort of Peace Corps volunteers. This training represents the third (annual) training with FSM volunteers, launching SolarSPELL’s third year of use in the field.

This particular training was quite special, as our team comprised a librarian from ASU Libraries, who offered a training on how to set up a library in a school, as well as a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (RPCV) who had served in Pohnpei some twenty years earlier, who had returned to the island for the first time since her service. We also had some special guest visitors attend the training from SolarSPELL project partner PREL, Pacific Resources for Education and Learning, with whom we look forward to collaborating even more closely in the (near) future!

The training kicked off with a background and overview of the SolarSPELL project, explaining not only where the idea for a solar digital library sprang from, but also some of the challenges and successes that the project has faced over the years. This presentation concluded by welcoming this new group of volunteers into the SolarSPELL family.

We continued the training by distributing both tablets and the SolarSPELL digital libraries, so that the volunteers could figure out how to operate the libraries, and could begin to surf and explore the library’s content, as well as pose any questions about the content, functionality, etc.

Subsequently, we held a scavenger hunt for the volunteers, to help familiarize them with the content on the library. Since there were prizes involved, the scavenger hunt became quite competitive!

The winning team members were quite pleased with the prizes!

After lunch, the training segued into a workshop on “How to Set Up a Library in Your School,” led by Lorrie McAllister, Associate University Librarian at ASU. The volunteers played a game to familiarize them with challenges associated establishing a library in resource-constrained conditions.

Discussion continued on relevant topics such as obtaining books, keeping the library as free as possible of bugs, mold, and other potential environmental threats, as well as topics like setting up a book check-out system, and incentivizing reading.

Finally, Jessica Hirshorn, Senior Lecturer in Leadership and Interdisciplinary Studies at ASU, and a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (RPCV) who had served in Pohnpei, FSM approximately 20 year prior, gave some valuable advice and insights to this incoming class of volunteers.

Jessica had the benefit of 20 years of hindsight, to see the impact her service had had, and she shared this with the incoming volunteers, which was quite a motivating force! The new volunteers had plenty of questions for Jessica.

The day ended in the traditional SolarSPELL way: with a group photo.

And some nice SolarSPELL team pictures, too!

Pictures taken by Brooks McAllister.

by ljhosman at July 26, 2017 12:08 AM

July 12, 2017

Ghana Together

How Are Those Western Heritage Home Scholars Doing??

Remember, way back, when James Kainyiah refused to identify a bunch of kids as "orphans" or what the Ghana Ministry of Women and Children calls "OVCs" (orphaned or vulnerable children)?

...NO, he said. No. These children are our SCHOLARS...we are making leaders of the least! ...And so we are.

Maryanne Ward traveled to Ghana in June and caught up with most of the 74 scholars Ghana Together supported in one way or another during the 2016-2017 school year. A wonderful adventure!!
Dorothy is in her last term of nursing school, and will graduate in November. She is currently doing clinical practicum in the hospital in Babiana, Ghana. 

Dorothy doing her practicum

Eric and Francis are both in automotive apprentice programs in Tarkwa and Takoradi. Maryanne met Francis’ mother briefly, who expressed her thanks. Unfortunately, We don't have up-to-date pics...
Philomena and Charlotte have graduated from Nsein Senior High School, both in the top ten of their class.

Philomena is working for Mr. Bentil as a receptionist in his business and also cares for her five younger siblings, because her mother is too ill to care for them. She is teaching her 14-year old brother to cook, so if/when she is accepted into nursing school in September, he can manage, he says, and he'll keep himself and the younger siblings in school. Then, when Dorothy becomes a nurse, she can help him with his own training.

Charlotte has started a small business selling water sachets, which she says has enabled her to support herself. Her Mom, who told Maryanne she finished 3rd grade herself, is just over-the-top proud of Charlotte and as a savvy market woman, has helped Charlotte launch her own little business. Charlotte also plans to go to nursing school in September, with our help.

Philomena, Maryanne, Charlotte, Charlotte's niece, and Charlotte's Mom

Emmanuella is finishing her first year at Ghana National College in Cape Coast, which has a specialized senior high school for blind students like her. She told us she's made friends, and has learned to "walk about the campus" unaided. She's learning via a "talking laptop", and will join the choir in September!

During the break, she will join her Auntie who has a small subsistence farm near Axim, and help out as much as she can.

Emmanuella with her laptop. She has a special program that reads her textbooks aloud, and headphones

Peter is finishing his term at Nsein Senior High. Peter will work during the break readying the Heritage Building for a new group of boarding female students from Manye Academy Senior High. He will finish his senior high school in spring of 2018 and hopes to go to university to become an engineer.

Peter and Maryanne discussing Peter's future!!

Kingsley (2nd year) and George (1st year) are finishing their term at Community Vocational Development Technical Institute (CDVTI). They are specializing in welding, but taking courses in English, math, computing, government, and some other basic vocational classes. During the break, they will work as "apprentices" to a local welder.

Kingsley and George---"brothers" in the art of welding!

Gifty and Ernestina are finishing their  year at Axim Girls Senior High School. Gifty wants to become a teacher and hopes to attend extension classes from the Winneaba School of Education, held right in Axim at the Manye Academy. Ernestina is about to enter her 3rd year of SHS.
Gifty and Ernestina with Maryanne---PURPLE is the school color!!

Johnson completed Junior High and will enter CDVTI in September and specialize in electrical work. He is working now with his uncle preparing little rubber plant shoots for planting.

Johnson and Maryanne

Godwin is finishing his 2nd junior high school term, and plans to take his BECE exam and graduate in August 2018.

Olivia is an entrepreneur, in business with her Mom, selling gari, a food made from cassava, and other food items.  
Maryanne and Olivia, near her and her Mom's food stand

Gladys is in 3rd level at Manye Academy andBen in 4th level. These two, with Godwin and a few others, plan to spend time at the Heritage Building during their break, working with the One Laptop Computers, esp. the more advanced learning activities. Have fun and learn at the same time!!

Gladys, Maryanne, Godwin, and Ben

Twelve scholarship students at CDVTI will graduate end of August, specializing in vocations such as hairdressing, sewing, culinary arts, and carpentry. They also have training in entrepreneurship, family/home management, etc. They received Days for Girls and Leadership training in 2016.

Ghana Together scholarship graduates at Community Vocational Development Technical Institute (one is missing)

Thirteen Apewosika Village School-Christ the King scholarship students will graduate Level 6 and start at government-funded junior high school in September. We supported 50 primary students at this school during the 2016-2017 school year, helping this poor fishing neighborhood. Fishing is declining, and the community is struggling.

13 of these students are graduating Grade 6 and are headed for JHS---we are sorry we didn't get a pic of the actual 13!!

Each of these young men and women have been given a chance to overcome their circumstances through education. Ghana is investing liberally in education, with government schools initiating tuition-free senior high school this coming September.

In fact, when we started working in Ghana in 2006, there was no tuition-free education from primary through university.

On behalf of these 74 youngsters we've helped out during the 2016-2017 school year, we thank especially the adults in Axim ---James Kainyiah and Queen Mother Nana Adjow Sika, Evans Arloo (WHH Operations Mgr), Headmistresses/Headmasters, and teachers. Their dedication is inspiring.

 And we thank you, our dear readers...for your support and encouragement.


For prior News Updates go to http://ghanatogether.blogspot.com

To respond to this email, hit "reply" or info@ghanatogether.org

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

by Ghana Together (noreply@blogger.com) at July 12, 2017 05:03 AM

July 10, 2017

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 (noreply@blogger.com) at July 10, 2017 04:53 PM

July 03, 2017

ICT4D Views from the Field

ASU SolarSPELL Samoa Training with Peace Corps Volunteers and Local Teachers

The final highlight of the ASU SolarSPELL team’s time in Samoa was a two-day training with the Peace Corps volunteers and their local counterpart teachers. This was our team’s first opportunity to carry out a training with local teachers, and we are so grateful for the Samoa Peace Corps staff for suggesting it and then making it a reality!

The day started off with an introduction of the team from the Peace Corps country director, Sherry Russell.

It continued with a historical overview of the development of the SolarSPELL: it did not appear out of thin air! There was a lot of in-field “lessons learned” that went into developing it, and we’re never finished with development: the library is a living thing. The background also lets participants know where they fit in to the overall picture of the SolarSPELL, and that they are now part of the SolarSPELL family.

The team next distributed the SolarSPELL libraries, explained how the technology works, got everyone connected, and then allowed time for the participants to begin surfing and exploring the content.

The ASU students on the team subsequently gave a “highlights tour” of the SolarSPELL’s content, with each taking one of the website’s main categories to elaborate upon.

The following day was kicked off with a scavenger hunt. There were prizes for the winners, so the event turned quite competitive! Surprisingly, the smallest team won the competition.

Next, there were a few frank discussions of the challenges that the participants would likely face once they returned to their home schools and villages. The SolarSPELL is a disruptive technology, and introducing new technologies is always challenging. We worked through six “use case” scenarios, all from real-world challenges that previous Peace Corps volunteers had faced, in the field.

We took more time for questions and answers, and the participants (as always) had useful, valuable questions, insight, and advice for us. We will take this advice to heart and use it to improve the future versions of the library!

by ljhosman at July 03, 2017 01:13 AM

July 02, 2017

Sayamindu Dasgupta

Big news

Last month, after nearly 5 years of knowing each other, sharing each other’s interests, and learning from each other, Sucheta and I got married.

We had a small ceremony with close friends by the Salish Sea on the beautiful Orcas Island. We will have a more “formal” get together in Kolkata later this year on dates TBD.

Here is a picture of us:

Picture of us

…and here are some pictures from the ceremony taken by Steve Horn:

Picture of the ceremony 1

Picture of the ceremony 2

Picture of the ceremony 3

by Sayamindu Dasgupta at July 02, 2017 04:00 AM

June 27, 2017

Honduras: The Owen Project


The theologian Origen created the idea of apocatastasis, which means in the Greek that at the end of time everything will be as it was in the beginning. For Origen this meant that history is moving to the perfection that existed when the universe was an idea in the mind of God. I was reminded of this when we rode into the mountains after a heavy downpour on our way to Santa Rosita. This was the very first school we visited seven years ago. Below are the words I read to the gathered parents, students and village elders.

” There is a saying in my country that once you leave home you can never return.But every time we come back here it feels like coming home. I remember the old mud and wattle school and the desks set up outside under the trees.  I remember the looks of wonder in the eyes of you parents, a look of gratitude for prayers answered. I remember the looks of understanding and compassion in all of your eyes when we told you of our son and why we were here. I remember the looks of excitement and enthusiasm on your young faces and those of pride on the faces of your parent’s. My favorite memory of all is when we walked to the swimming hole in the rain, each child carrying a laptop, stopping under porches when the rain grew heavy.  Each year when we come back, we see more confidence, more understanding and more aspiration.  Today I see faces of children who will find the talents that God gave them and share them with the world.  Truly these memories are touched by grace.

Too often it is easy to think that the world is only filled with struggle and war, with poverty and oppression.  But I see here something miraculous, something magical, something that confirms what is best in human beings, wherever they live, whatever language they speak.  There is something hopeful and resilient here, something beautiful and holy. To those who say that miracles never happen, I say what about Santa Rosita!”

Here are some photos:

by mkeddal at June 27, 2017 02:34 AM

June 26, 2017

Sayamindu Dasgupta

Learning to code in one’s own language

Millions of young people from around the world are learning to code. Often, during their learning experiences, these youth are using visual block-based programming languages like Scratch, App Inventor, and Code.org Studio. In block-based programming languages, coders manipulate visual, snap-together blocks that represent code constructs instead of textual symbols and commands that are found in more traditional programming languages.

The textual symbols used in nearly all non-block-based programming languages are drawn from English—consider “if” statements and “for” loops for common examples. Keywords in block-based languages, on the other hand, are often translated into different human languages. For example, depending on the language preference of the user, an identical set of computing instructions in Scratch can be represented in many different human languages:

Scratch code translated into English, Italian, Norwegian Bokmål, and German

Although my research with Benjamin Mako Hill focuses on learning, both Mako and I worked on local language technologies before coming back to academia. As a result, we were both interested in how the increasing translation of programming languages might be making it easier for non-English speaking kids to learn to code.

After all, a large body of education research has shown that early-stage education is more effective when instruction is in the language that the learner speaks at home. Based on this research, we hypothesized that children learning to code with block-based programming languages translated to their mother-tongues will have better learning outcomes than children using the blocks in English.

We sought to test this hypothesis in Scratch, an informal learning community built around a block-based programming language. We were helped by the fact that Scratch is translated into many languages and has a large number of learners from around the world.

To measure learning, we built on some of our our own previous work and looked at learners’ cumulative block repertoires—similar to a code vocabulary. By observing a learner’s cumulative block repertoire over time, we can measure how quickly their code vocabulary is growing.

Using this data, we compared the rate of growth of cumulative block repertoire between learners from non-English speaking countries using Scratch in English to learners from the same countries using Scratch in their local language. To identify non-English speakers, we considered Scratch users who reported themselves as coming from five primarily non-English speaking countries: Portugal, Italy, Brazil, Germany, and Norway. We chose these five countries because they each have one very widely spoken language that is not English and because Scratch is almost fully translated into that language.

Even after controlling for a number of factors like social engagement on the Scratch website, user productivity, and time spent on projects, we found that learners from these countries who use Scratch in their local language have a higher rate of cumulative block repertoire growth than their counterparts using Scratch in English. This faster growth was despite having a lower initial block repertoire. The graph below visualizes our results for two “prototypical” learners who start with the same initial block repertoire: one learner who uses the English interface, and a second learner who uses their native language.

Graph of our results

Our results are in line with what theories of education have to say about learning in one’s own language. Our findings also represent good news for designers of block-based programming languages who have spent considerable amounts of effort in making their programming languages translatable. It’s also good news for the volunteers who have spent many hours translating blocks and user interfaces.

Although we find support for our hypothesis, we should stress that our findings are both limited and incomplete. For example, because we focus on estimating the differences between Scratch learners, our comparisons are between kids who all managed to successfully use Scratch. Before Scratch was translated, kids with little working knowledge of English or the Latin script might not have been able to use Scratch at all. Because of translation, many of these children are now able to learn to code.

This blog-post and the work that it describes is a collaborative project with Benjamin Mako Hill. You can read our paper here. The paper was published in the ACM Learning @ Scale Conference. We also recently gave a talk about this work at the International Communication Association’s annual conference. We have received support and feedback from members of the Scratch team at MIT (especially Mitch Resnick and Natalie Rusk), as well as from Nathan TeBlunthuis at the University of Washington. Financial support came from the US National Science Foundation.

by Sayamindu Dasgupta at June 26, 2017 04:00 AM

June 25, 2017

ICT4D Views from the Field

ASU SolarSPELL Samoa Peace Corps Volunteer Site Visits Part 2: Upolu Island

The ASU SolarSPELL Team’s second day of visiting Peace Corps volunteers’ sites took place on Upolu Island. We first visited Cynthia’s school, and got a tour of the school’s library.

Once again, the ASU students got to spend some quality time with the primary-level students. We even got to demonstrate the SolarSPELL to these students, including a Virtual Reality field trip.

As a post-script highlight, Cynthia let us know that our visit has re-inspired interst in the SolarSPELL at her school, and sent us pictures of her students using the digital library in the following days.

Our next stop was to see Zack. We had let him know we were on the way, so he had asked another teacher to take over for him once we arrived. Thus, we were delighted to be able to watch Zack’s host mother leading a class on environmental issues.

When she excused the class to start working in groups, the ASU students again had the opportunity to interact with the students, helping them brainstorm about how and why erosion takes place. We got a tour of Zack’s house, and spoke further with him about using the SolarSPELL at his school.

Finally, our marathon-of-a-day ended with Craig, and he gave us a quick tour of his school and library.

After this (and a quick dip in the Piula Cave pool), we returned to Craig’s house where he kindly allowed us to interview him. In fact, we interviewed all of the volunteers we went to visit, and our videographers made a fantastic couple of videos from this footage. Those will be highlighted in separate posts.




by ljhosman at June 25, 2017 07:16 PM

June 22, 2017

ICT4D Views from the Field

ASU SolarSPELL Samoa Peace Corps Volunteer Site Visits Part I: Savai’i Island

In May 2017, the ASU SolarSPELL team traveled to Samoa to carry out a training on the SolarSPELL digital libraries with both Peace Corps volunteers and their local counterpart teachers. Before this training took place, however, the team had the opportunity to visit some volunteers who had received SolarSPELL libraries (and training) one year prior, in their local schools and communities. We had the chance to catch up with these volunteers, receive feedback on some of the challenges and victories they’ve had vis-à-vis using the SolarSPELL in their schools and communities, and got a much better idea of what their lives are like as Peace Corps volunteers.


On May 27, the team had the opportunity to travel to Savai’i Island and visit two Peace Corps volunteers at their schools. The day began with a ferry ride across the ocean, from Upolu Island to Savai’i Island, which was breathtakingly beautiful.

Once arriving at Savai’i, we headed to Kiana’s school, where students were still in class. Kiana showed us her library, and we talked further about the SolarSPELL, while also providing her with an updated SD card with all of the new content we’ve been collecting over the past year.

The team was so fortunate to be able to interact with the students at this school, once class let out. A number of the SolarSPELL university students got to read to the primary schoolchildren, as well as play some games, including playing hide-and-seek, and dancing.

Other heretofore-unknown talents were demonstrated, as well!

Next, after a quick barbeque lunch along the side of the road, the team visited Patrick’s school, where we learned about how he is in the early stages of incorporating use of the SolarSPELL into recently launched computer courses. We also updated the content on Patrick’s SolarSPELL.

The team had many other amazing experiences on beautiful Savai’i Island, and some of the more breathtaking photos are below.

by ljhosman at June 22, 2017 08:48 PM

Honduras: The Owen Project

Stand and Deliver

There is a wonderful tradition in Honduras of giving impromptu speeches at important events. I’m sure there are some basic conventions, but to an outsider they appear spontaneous and authentic. Everyone can participate, if they are willing. At the beginning of each school visit and at the end there are a round of these speeches given by teachers, parents, students, administrators and someone from our group. Linda is our first choice, not only because of her fluent Spanish, but because she seems to know our minds and hearts and give a view of these to the villagers. Sometimes I will ask her to say something specific, something that needs saying at that moment. This year I wrote speeches for particular schools and Linda translated them as I spoke. A word to the wise: google translate does not pick up nuance or connotative meanings. I tried using this application on these speeches with laughable results. My editor( read Sally) has warned me that I am dangerously close to bombast in these posts, so I will simply reproduce the speeches as presented. After this I will include another collection of pictures. The first text was read at the Special School in Siguatepeque. I’ll enter the second tomorrow.

” My favorite place in all the world is my house in Seguin. This is because my wife lives there and, for a time, my son did as well.  My house is filled with love and openness, with caring and compassion.  It is a place where you can leave the cares and frustrations of the world behind and enter the Kingdom of God.  On the best of days, I wonder why the world cannot be like my house, filled with acceptance and idealism.

My second favorite place in the world is this school, because it feels like my house. I am a teacher and in my profession there are often very selfless and committed people, but I have rarely seen teachers like yours; their every movement and word seems full of caring and authentic concern.  I can see something miraculous in your eyes as well, you students; I see such vulnerability and trust, such openness, enthusiasm and curiosity. Jesus said that only those who can become as children will enter the Kingdom of God. You have helped me to understand these mysterious words.

I miss my son very very much. He was a beautiful soul. Thankfully, so is his mother. Thankfully, too, I sometimes catch a glimpse of the light of his eyes in yours. It is a very beautiful memory. Thank you all. We hope that you will enjoy these computers, and that they will empower your creativity and wonder. There is much in the world that is wonderful. You have some of that magic here, and we hope you find more in your futures.”

Here are more pictures:

by mkeddal at June 22, 2017 01:34 AM

June 20, 2017

Honduras: The Owen Project

The Heart Has Its Reasons That Reason Cannot Know


Pascal anticipated the world we live in today, a world where we live too much in our heads. Our hearts and bodies are ready with their wisdom, but we cannot hear them. I thought of this when we all arrived at the Zari Hotel in Siguatepeque long after midnight. Our minds were exhausted but our hearts were full and our bodies knew what to do. Even our Forestry Ministry driver, Raul, seemed caught up in our comfortable transition. Freed from the tyranny of thinking, I could look on in wonder at our gathered group and feel the miracle of our shared love and commitment, the many years we had been in exactly this same situation. All those experiences shifted into a single frame and made the very air itself seem somehow deepened and full of magic. The faces of these people I know so well seemed to shine from within because I was in the presence of saints. Sometimes in a pleasant dream I will walk through a familiar place but the experience is charged with some powerful symbolic significance, as if nothing was as it seemed and that everything was to be cherished as full of meaning and wonder. I have yet to wake up from this dream of Honduras. I floated through breakfast the next morning and on into the trip into the mountains to visit our first school. It is very rainy and humid this time of year and this serves to intensify all the aromas of rural Siguatepeque. You can literally smell the fertility of the mountainsides, the saturated dark earth, the profusion of leafy green and the many flowering shrubs, trees and flowers. Most beguiling are the scents of the  tropical fruits, fruits on trees and displayed on roadside stands. Surely Eden smells like this!!   Arriving at the school, we soon saw the faces of excited and expectant children, lined up before us like precious fruit. I can’t express the impact of these faces, so full of curiosity and anticipation. It is humbling and inspiring at the same time, making our hearts open like flowers. I woke up from this pleasant dream three hours later, after we had completed all of our lessons and the children were exploring in a room full of laughter and gasps of surprise and amazement. I’ll stop now and let you see the pictures which will make my words seem shallow and unnecessary.


by mkeddal at June 20, 2017 10:52 PM

The Sangreal

As a young boy I loved the Arthurian legends, particularly the search for the Holy Grail. When Lancelot or Gawain set out to travel to a rural chapel, their path, though simple at first glance, was always fraught with adventures and challenges which put unexpected obstacles in their way. A journey of an afternoon ends up lasting months. Hungry for the destination, for the goal, I was always anxious to move on with the narrative. Now I realize that the tests along the way are just as important as reaching the goal, that the slings and arrows of fortune are a necessary preparation. Sally and I are often very anxious before our mission begins. Making flight connections, checking shipping logistics, anticipating customs duties all seem like dragons to be faced. Yet as soon as we board our flight, it seems as if everything were happening by itself, as if some larger fate or destiny were drawing us forward. After 16 hours of relatively uneventful travel we arrived in San Pedro Sula to meet Linda, Richard and Natalia and to begin our quest for the Sangreal.

by mkeddal at June 20, 2017 08:38 PM

June 12, 2017

OLE Nepal

Discovering E-Paath in Canada

How OLE Nepal inspired talks about starting OLE in Canada  April 17-21, 2017 | Lalitpur OLE Nepal’s team of trainers conducted a 5-day in-house teacher training on ICT-integrated teaching-learning practice for teachers from Dhading, from April 17-21, 2017. The training was organized by Zen’s Outdoor Leadership Camp for Youth (ZOLCY), a Canadian non-profit organization. Following is an account of ZOLCY’s experience while working with OLE Nepal to bring quality educational resources to the public school…

by admin at June 12, 2017 07:23 AM

June 11, 2017

ICT4D Views from the Field

ASU SolarSPELL Team at ICT Days Conference in Vanuatu

The ASU SolarSPELL team’s final two days in Vanuatu were spent at the national ICT Days conference, May 17-18.

The conference proved to be a fantastic opportunity for the team to explain, demonstrate, and all around talk about the SolarSPELL and the Library Lab.

The team never would have imagined such a level of interest! I do believe our table was consistently the busiest one there! There was regularly a crowd of people around it, excited to learn about it, eager to use the tablets we provided, to surf the library’s content.

We had an eager audience in the Smart Sistas ICT Camp for girls, when the whole group came over to visit us.

We had a few groupies who spent quite a bit of time with us.

Longtime collaborator and friend of SolarSPELL, Ian Thomson, from the University of the South Pacific, took some time to talk with the team.

There was even an opportunity to demonstrate the SolarSPELL to the Australian High Commissioner to Vanuatu, Jenny Da Rin!

The team so greatly enjoyed being able to talk with so many ni-Vanuatu people about the SolarSPELL.

The team wondered many times whether there was a language barrier, as we explained everything in English, and there are a number of technical terms. However, the rate at which people returned to the table, after listening to the explanation once, and then explained to their friends and relatives how SolarSPELL worked, and how to surf the library’s website, showed us that language was no real barrier.

There are so many great pictures from this fun event!

by ljhosman at June 11, 2017 07:52 PM

June 09, 2017

One Laptop per Child

OLPC and FZT: Transform Africa Summit

On May 10th to 12th, 2017, leaders and stakeholders from various industries, countries and continents gathered in the KIGALI CONVENTION CENTER to participate in the Transform Africa Summit. They all had one purpose: to foster constructive conversation towards building a Smart Africa. The Transform Africa Summit facilitated meetings for leaders from the public and private sectors to discuss policies and opportunities to accelerate the continent towards a socio-economic transformation, as the theme for the summit stated:  “Smart Cities Fast Forward.”

OLPC and Foundation Zamora Teran participated in this summit as a wonderful example of how technology combined with commitment is indeed the solution to sustainability and development.


During the summit, Foundation Zamora Teran shared its experience with the One Laptop Per Child projects in Central America. As a part of its educational program, the Foundation Zamora Teran created the first digital island, Ometepe. This served as a relevant case study for the summit. Summit participants had the opportunity to interact with the OLPC and FZT teams to learn about the strategies they employ for success in their educational program. One such strategy for success focuses on actively engaging all relevant stakeholders, including educators, technical teams and operations teams, in the process.  The three sectors work together to bring all stakeholders together in order to positively impact the community


During the exhibition, many officials from participating countries visited the OLPC/FZT stand to learn how its ecosystem could be a key to sustaining different development projects in their respective countries. Journalists and TV stations also had the opportunity to learn more about the OLPC/FZT services. FZT and OLPC conducted interviews as well.

The Summit was a wonderful opportunity for OLPC and FZT to build global connections to increase opportunities to provide children around the world with a quality, innovative education.

(Below are several interviews.)

by Diriana Teran at June 09, 2017 06:35 PM

June 07, 2017

One Laptop per Child

FUNDECYT-PCTEX Joins Efforts with Fundación Zamora Terán and OLPC

In 2016, the Fundación Zamora Terán in Nicaragua  entered Phase II of its One Laptop Per Child Educational Program. In an effort to strengthen the program, the Fundación Zamora Terán signed a collaboration agreement with FUNDECYT-PCTEX a non-profit organization based in Spain to continue to support the educational program throughout Central America.

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The objective of the collaboration is to continue the social transformation process and strengthen the existing educational institutions. Extremadura, an organization based in Spain, is devoting resources to further support innovative education in Nicaragua. The organizations are working together to network, innovate, and scale the OLPC educational program. Estremadura is currently developing new educational applications for the XO Laptop. The organizations opened CEDSL in 2015, a space for educational innovation and training, using open source software and technologies. Teachers, university students, staff of NGOs and other foundations come to receive training on the use of technology in the educational process.

The project also strengthens the role of the private sector in achieving inclusive and sustainable growth in developing countries. The organizations  promote and strengthen public-private partnerships by creating new, multilateral partnerships and alliances between national and local authorities, business and NGOs in order to facilitate the development of local capacity and the delivery of services, particularly in rural areas for women and other marginalized groups.

More than 390 people will benefit from this alliance, including technical staff and educational officers of the Fundación Zamora Terán (15), teachers from primary schools in Nicaragua (52), students of the San Judas Tadeo Educational Center of Managua (188), University students from UNAN, UdM and UNI of Nicaragua (105), university support staff of the Free Software Development Center (10), NGOs, technical personnel and Nicaraguan Educational Foundations (20 participants).

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The applications developed for the XO Laptops will benefit 224,000 people in the region, including 45,500 children, and more than 1,000 teachers in schools in which the FZT has a presence in Nicaragua and Honduras. Applications developed during phases I and II of the project will be available through the XO Laptops and will be distributed nationwide. All XO Laptops use free software. In addition, the families of participating children will have the ability to access and use such applications.

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by Diriana Teran at June 07, 2017 04:41 PM

Sugarizer: Bringing OLPC’s Software to Any Device

OLPC France (http://olpc-france.org), a volunteer driven association, has just released a new version of the Sugarizer platform. Sugarizer allows the Sugar Learning Software to be used on any device. More precisely, Sugarizer is a port of Sugar – the open source learning platform distributed on the XO laptops – in web technologies. You can run it within a browser (http://try.sugarizer.org), as well as from your Android, iOS or Windows device. There are links for every device.  Any computer, tablet or smartphone can be transformed into an XO Laptop! The Sugar Learning Software allows children to learn through doing. Sugarizer allows children to benefit from the Sugar Learning Software from any device. Children also have the ability to connect globally with the worldwide OLPC experience.


OLPC France, a grassroots organization started in 2008, has run several OLPC deployments. The organization distributed 200 XO Laptops to a small island north of Madagascar. It also provided 50 XO Laptops to a city near Paris. Recently, it distributed 25 XO Laptops in Saint-Ouen, a suburb of Paris.

picture 2

(XO-4 used in the classroom in Saint-Ouen)

This new deployment is also using 25 Android tablets with the Sugarizer OS (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.olpc_france.sugarizeros), which replaces the standard Android environment. Children can then enjoy a Sugar-like look and feel and activities (e.g. Labyrinth, an application to build mind maps or the famous Speak activity), and other Android applications (like Book Creator).

Still in beta, the Sugarizer features continue to improve, thanks to support from the SugarLabs community and Google. This month, two students from the Google Summer of Code program (https://summerofcode.withgoogle.com/) will join the team. There are currently 24 activities available in the latest version of Sugarizer (v0.8). The volunteer team continues to work to port new activities. The next version of Sugarizer (v0.9) will have at least 30 activities. All Sugarzier activities are available in English, French, and Spanish. Sugarizer is available in English, French, Spanish, German, Portuguese, Japanese, Arabic, Polish, Igbo and Yoruba.

With Sugarizer, the spirit of OLPC is now accessible from any device.

by Diriana Teran at June 07, 2017 04:11 PM

June 06, 2017

Ghana Together

Way to Go Frederick!

Today, June 5, is a BIG day for Frederick Johnson, one of our Western Heritage scholars. He is just ONE of the 468,053 candidates who have sat this very day throughout the entire country for this year’s Basic Education Certificate Examination, which is given at the end of Junior High School.

Frederick Johnson, WHH Scholar, Junior High Graduate, Budding Electrician

In Ghana, education from Kindergarten through Junior High is available to all, boys and girls, and has been tuition-free for about ten years now.

However, there are limited slots for the next level of academic senior high and vocational schools. Hence the importance of the BECE exam, which determines whether or not a student is eligible to continue to the next educational level. The stakes are high!

The exam covers English Language, Ghanaian Language and Culture, Social Studies, Integrated Science, Mathematics, Basic, Design and Technology, Information and Communication Technology, French (optional), Religious and Moral Education. Whew!!

Frederick's dream is to become an electrician. He has already informally apprenticed to Manye Academy’s staff electrician for two years, and is “famous” among his friends for his skills in this area. He will continue this apprenticeship and if his exam results are adequate, we’ll try to find a spot in a vocational/technical school for him.

We've known Frederick since 2008! He has attended Manye Academy since Kindergarten, which is when we got to know this talented, quiet, thoughtful young man. His family situation is such that he lived in the WHH Children’s Home early in his young life and then in the past few years has been a boarding student at Manye Academy.

Young Frederick in 2008, proud to be able to spell his own name!
We’re proud of you, Johnson. 

You will graduate Junior High this Friday, June 9. 


For prior News Updates: http://ghanatogether.blogspot.com/

by Ghana Together (noreply@blogger.com) at June 06, 2017 03:42 AM

June 05, 2017

Project Rive: Reaching Students in Haiti

Apèl Ekriven / Call for Writers

English further down. Kids Write ap cheche ekriven ayisyen ki ta renmen kontribye nan yon nouvo koleksyon istwa syans fiksyon / fiksyon spèkfilatif. Nou poko defini egzakteman kisa kategori sa yo vle di nan yon kontèks ayisyen, men nou gen … Continue reading

by Sora at June 05, 2017 02:22 AM

Yon Nouvo Pwojè / A New Project

English further down. M ap reyalize pwojè sa a kòm tèz mwen: sa a se yon pwojè elèv inivisitè fè pandan dènye ane etid yo. Lekòl m (William & Mary, yon lekòl piblik nan Virginia) ap finanse pwojè sa a. … Continue reading

by Sora at June 05, 2017 02:21 AM

June 04, 2017

ICT4D Views from the Field

SolarSPELL Team works with SMART Sistas Vanuatu to develop Robot for FIRST Global Competition

The ASU SolarSPELL team had the opportunity to work with the SMART Sistas Vanuatu team on Sunday May 14. These amazing young women will be the first ever team from Vanuatu representing the country at the upcoming FIRST Global robotics competition in Washington DC in July 2017.

For this competition, the SMART Sistas will need to develop a robot from the same parts that are provided to every team in this global competition—what they do with these parts, and what they can make the robot do—is what will distinguish them from the other teams at the competition.

The SolarSPELL team arrived early and discovered that Lana and Lilia were already hard at work.

Shortly after this, team leaders/teachers/mentors Rodney and Grace from the US Peace Corps arrived and all of the team members introduced themselves.

Our team described how the SolarSPELL digital library works, and the SMART Sistas were quite taken with it.

Then, it was time for the hard work of the remainder of the afternoon. Good thing there was a robotics major among the ASU students! Even so, all of the ASU students were engineering majors, allowing them to contribute their valuable skills to the effort.

The short term goal for the day was to make sure the robot could be driven up a ramp. The longer term work included a great deal of brainstorming ideas about how to make this robot do what it’s supposed to do. The ASU students had plenty of ideas, but also indicated that they were just blown away by Lana’s and Lilia’s ideas.

A few days later, the SolarSPELL team was fortunate enough to see the SMART Sistas give a presentation at the ICT Days conference in Port Vila (May 17). Not only were the girls all poised, well-spoken and confident, their robot was a star, too! They drove it out in front of them on-stage at the beginning, and at the end, they drove it up the ramp effortlessly.

We are happy that we had the chance to get to know these amazing young women, proud that we had the chance to work with them, and we wish them all the best at the FIRST Global competition in Washington DC next month! You are AWESOME!!!


by ljhosman at June 04, 2017 11:50 PM

May 25, 2017

ICT4D Views from the Field

SolarSPELL Site Visit to Nguna Island, Vanuatu

The ASU SolarSPELL team’s third site visit was to Nancy’s village of in Nguna on Monday, May 15, 2017. With a village population of about 130 and no electricity, running water, or Internet connectivity, this village faces significant challenges. To give one example, there is no school beyond a kindergarten. All schoolchildren must travel to other villages to continue their schooling. Nancy welcomed us to her home and told us more about the village when we arrived.

Some of the local schoolchildren began asking Nancy to help them with various homework or school-related activities, and she heard about a SolarSPELL digital library that had been left with a headmaster in a neighboring village, on the same island but quite a distance away, by a Peace Corps volunteer who had completed their term of service there. She asked the headmaster for the SolarSPELL and had been using it for the past 6 months. We brought her the new, updated version.

Nancy had invited a group of students she regularly interacts with, to come and be among the first to “surf” the new SolarSPELL library.

At first, these kids were incredibly shy–this picture captures it well!

But after Miles explained how the SolarSPELL worked, and pointed out some of the new content, they were off and running!  They became far less shy, and we were so happy to see how second-nature it was for them to connect to the library and start surfing, whether on a tablet or smartphone.

They began surfing to their hearts’ content, (mainly) watching videos that interested them.

They are currently on a two-week break from classes, so this was a welcome diversion. A village youth leader also joined in the action.

Later on, he proved to be a natural on flying Bruce’s drone, taking amazing aerial photos of the village.

Another highlight of the day was that our nursing student, Emily, was able to meet with some local women, to hear the health-related concerns facing them, their families, and/or the village more generally. What a fantastic opportunity to learn what the true challenges are for remote villages that lack so many resources we take for granted.

The team would like to thank our gracious Peace Corps volunteer hosts in all three locations. What an amazing experience to be welcomed everywhere we went, benefiting from the wonderful relationships that the PCVs have established and cultivated with their home villages. We feel so fortunate to have been welcomed in so warmly, in each and every case.


by ljhosman at May 25, 2017 01:05 PM

May 22, 2017

Ghana Together

The wheels on the bus go… ♬♬

NOPE! Not the wheelsbut the windscreen, the bonnet, and the bumper... went...not “round, round, round”...but “crash, crash, crash” ---right into the building at the Axim Girls Senior High that houses the water generating plant..
…causing much damage (but not to the water plant--whew!). And James is “working with” the driver…who is OK, but….

…so general consternation all around! Although the Ghana Education Service provided the bus about a year ago, operations, repairs, maintenance are up to the school…and typically this is done through what is known as “the old boys” fund---
…from the very recentdays when most high school graduates WERE ”old BOYS”, and were able to collectively donate to alumni funds…

but since this is a new GIRLS’ school, with maybe only a couple of classes graduating and therefore very few “old girls”… not much alumni leverage here…
…and how are the current students living a distance to get to school? Get to another high school for all-important tests? Get to other events like their recent debate with Nsein High School on how to stop corruption (which they WON)…and…

Crammed into a teacher's van to go to debate contest--before new bus came on the scene!

…well, to make a pretty long story a bit shorter, after much “Whatsapping” with James and Headmistress Theodora, we decided to...

...raid our bank account of $3000 and get the darned bus FIXED. Unexpected expenses, but we’ve been committed to this school for a long time and this is no time to be slackers!!

...and the windstorm came…and ”whoosh, whoosh, whoosh”…

…and blew off some of the roof of the Heritage Senior High Dormitory Building! BUT generous Aximites got that all back in shape by themselves---thank you, guys!

Thanks for the help, guys. We can see the need for paint, too.

…and then the horn on the ship went “toot, toot, toot”...

…as it pulled into the port at Tema with 982 children’s books on board!
…which at this moment are all processed and ready to flow out to schools via the tricycle mobile library.

Thanks to you all in this sturdy network of collaborators who keep this stream of “literacy enabling devices” going across the great Atlantic!

Library staffer Gaddiel processing the new books! Good guy! He's very skilled at driving the motor tricycle, too.

And on the library front, the new government is pledging to build 60 new public libraries in rural areas, and Axim leaders are requesting one be built there. Wow! Wouldn’t that be great?

Maryanne plans to visit Axim in the next few weeks, following up on the Days for Girls workshop on menstruation, UDDT toilets, library programs, scholarship students (74 at last count, and other projects.   

We thank you, dear readers, for your support and encouragement.
For prior News Updates go to http://ghanatogether.blogspot.com

To respond to this email, hit "reply" or info@ghanatogether.org

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

by Ghana Together (noreply@blogger.com) at May 22, 2017 11:26 PM

Hands of Charity XO Project | Kenya

Many Kids – Not Enough Laptops

Join Our Campaign: Our goal is to provide 120 devices to Hands of Charity Programs.

Who knew that from every corner of these hill towns children emerge and the schools are overflowing. This was where we landed 6 years ago. These villages clustered within 4 kilometers of each other have possibly 10 schools, many with classrooms of 50 to 70 pupils. We are hoping to increase the number of laptops, tablets and macbooks to meet the need. Our leaders work seven days a week, because the time students have to access computers during are in school programs is not enough. So they come on the weekends, often 70 to 100. Help us with this fundraiser: http://gofundme.com/path4kenya

by smallsolutionsbigideas at May 22, 2017 06:55 PM

HOC Teachers Address Girl’s Issues April 2017


Hands of Charity was inspired by the work of our partner organization in Uganda, Venture for Good in Jina,   making reusable sanitary pads.  We sent some fundst Hands of Charity for them to purchase supplies, so they have begun.  The plans are for the teachers do hold community events,  as funds are available and invite girls to come and learn about their reproductive health, about how to handle their fear of men, and develop pride and faith in the wonder and beauty of being female.  Here is their report.




It was the last week for the schools to break for the holidays.

Teachers Rose, Anita, Rhodah and Irene were to prepare girls who were to come at the center and learn how to make sanitary pads for themselves.

Teachers shared ideas on how to develop skills of solving problems at their level of understanding.

Teachers did not only prepare on homemade sanitary pads but also on general reproductive health issues and sanitation.


2nd WEEK APRIL 2017

Girls aged 12 years and above were brought together at the center for homemade sanitary pad lessons and general hygiene talks lead by Teacher Rose and Anita

Major things girls learned over homemade sanitary pads was;

-what material are to be used?

-how cost effective they are?

-how to cut and have recommended measurement of the sanitary pads.

How the pads are used compared to those sold in shops.

Major aim of doing this was to improve confidence in young girls and minimize school absents of girls during their menstrual periods and reduce costs to the families that are not financially able and balance self-esteem in all the girls cutting across all lifestyle.


by smallsolutionsbigideas at May 22, 2017 06:25 PM

May 18, 2017

Sayamindu Dasgupta

Children’s Perspectives on Critical Data Literacies

Last week, we presented a new paper that describes how children are thinking through some of the implications of new forms of data collection and analysis. The presentation was given at the ACM CHI conference in Denver last week and the paper is open access and online.

Over the last couple years, we’ve worked on a large project to support children in doing — and not just learning about — data science. We built a system, Scratch Community Blocks, that allows the 18 million users of the Scratch online community to write their own computer programs — in Scratch of course — to analyze data about their own learning and social interactions. An example of one of those programs to find how many of one’s follower in Scratch are not from the United States is shown below.


Last year, we deployed Scratch Community Blocks to 2,500 active Scratch users who, over a period of several months, used the system to create more than 1,600 projects.

As children used the system, Samantha Hautea, a student in UW’s Communication Leadership program, led a group of us in an online ethnography. We visited the projects children were creating and sharing. We followed the forums where users discussed the blocks. We read comment threads left on projects. We combined Samantha’s detailed field notes with the text of comments and forum posts, with ethnographic interviews of several users, and with notes from two in-person workshops. We used a technique called grounded theory to analyze these data.

What we found surprised us. We expected children to reflect on being challenged by — and hopefully overcoming — the technical parts of doing data science. Although we certainly saw this happen, what emerged much more strongly from our analysis was detailed discussion among children about the social implications of data collection and analysis.

In our analysis, we grouped children’s comments into five major themes that represented what we called “critical data literacies.” These literacies reflect things that children felt were important implications of social media data collection and analysis.

First, children reflected on the way that programmatic access to data — even data that was technically public — introduced privacy concerns. One user described the ability to analyze data as, “creepy”, but at the same time, “very cool.” Children expressed concern that programmatic access to data could lead to “stalking“ and suggested that the system should ask for permission.

Second, children recognized that data analysis requires skepticism and interpretation. For example, Scratch Community Blocks introduced a bug where the block that returned data about followers included users with disabled accounts. One user, in an interview described to us how he managed to figure out the inconsistency:

At one point the follower blocks, it said I have slightly more followers than I do. And, that was kind of confusing when I was trying to make the project. […] I pulled up a second [browser] tab and compared the [data from Scratch Community Blocks and the data in my profile].

Third, children discussed the hidden assumptions and decisions that drive the construction of metrics. For example, the number of views received for each project in Scratch is counted using an algorithm that tries to minimize the impact of gaming the system (similar to, for example, Youtube). As children started to build programs with data, they started to uncover and speculate about the decisions behind metrics. For example, they guessed that the view count might only include “unique” views and that view counts may include users who do not have accounts on the website.

Fourth, children building projects with Scratch Community Blocks realized that an algorithm driven by social data may cause certain users to be excluded. For example, a 13-year-old expressed concern that the system could be used to exclude users with few social connections saying:

I love these new Scratch Blocks! However I did notice that they could be used to exclude new Scratchers or Scratchers with not a lot of followers by using a code: like this:

when flag clicked
if then user’s followers < 300
stop all.

I do not think this a big problem as it would be easy to remove this code but I did just want to bring this to your attention in case this not what you would want the blocks to be used for.

Fifth, children were concerned about the possibility that measurement might distort the Scratch community’s values. While giving feedback on the new system, a user expressed concern that by making it easier to measure and compare followers, the system could elevate popularity over creativity, collaboration, and respect as a marker of success in Scratch.

I think this was a great idea! I am just a bit worried that people will make these projects and take it the wrong way, saying that followers are the most important thing in on Scratch.

Kids’ conversations around Scratch Community Blocks are good news for educators who are starting to think about how to engage young learners in thinking critically about the implications of data. Although no kid using Scratch Community Blocks discussed each of the five literacies described above, the themes reflect starting points for educators designing ways to engage kids in thinking critically about data.

Our work shows that if children are given opportunities to actively engage and build with social and behavioral data, they might not only learn how to do data analysis, but also reflect on its implications.

This blog-post and the work that it describes is a collaborative project by Samantha Hautea, Sayamindu Dasgupta, and Benjamin Mako Hill. We have also received support and feedback from members of the Scratch team at MIT (especially Mitch Resnick and Natalie Rusk), as well as from Hal Abelson from MIT CSAIL. Financial support came from the US National Science Foundation.

by Samantha Hautea at May 18, 2017 08:55 PM

May 15, 2017

One Laptop per Child

Congratulations to Uruguay on the 10th anniversary of its national OLPC program, Plan Ceibal! Feature: Uruguay marks 10 years of bridging digital divide.


We want to share this amazing article. Congratulations to Uruguay on the 10th anniversary of its national OLPC program, Plan Ceibal!

By Gerardo Laborde

MONTEVIDEO, May 14 (Xinhua) — Uruguay this month is celebrating the 10th anniversary of a national program that has made Internet available to the masses by providing all elementary school students with a laptop.

The national program, called Plan Ceibal, in conjunction with the global nonprofit initiative called One Laptop Per Child (OLPC), made Uruguay “the first country in the world to provide one laptop to every primary school student,” according to OLPC’s website.

“I must admit that, at the beginning, I never imagined a plan so complete and well executed,” OLPC’s founder, the U.S.-born Nicholas Negroponte, said during a visit to Montevideo this week.

Negroponte, who is also the founder of MIT’s Media Lab, said one of the factors that helped to make the plan a resounding success in Uruguay was President Tabare Vazquez, who was serving his first term (2005-2010) when the plan was first adopted.

Vazquez was adamant about the scope of the program, insisting it should cover every child, according to the state Uruguayan News Agency (UyPress).

“Nobody else did that. That is extraordinary,” said Negroponte.

In announcing the plan in December 2006, Vazquez said that as of 2007 “the fundamental school supply our children are going to have is going to be this computer.”

The first green-and-white laptops, which cost 100 U.S. dollars to make, were distributed in May 2007 at a school in the small town of Villa Cardal, in the southern department of Florida, home to just 500 inhabitants. But soon schoolchildren throughout the country had a “ceibalita,” as the laptops were called.

The first three students to get a laptop were Micaela Rodriguez, Rocio Martinez and German Arrua, today aged 17, 18 and 19, respectively.

All three agree the laptop marked a turning point in their educational life.

“They came to be used for all the day’s work,” Rodriguez told national radio network Radiodifusion Nacional del Uruguay (RNU).

“With a computer, we could find out about many things that we didn’t know existed in Uruguay,” she added.

Martinez agreed, saying the Plan Ceibal, a Spanish backronym that stands for Basic Informatic Educative Connectivity for Online Learning, “was a great help” for studying.

Arrua, meanwhile, recalled using his laptop to take pictures.

The president of Plan Ceibal, Miguel Brechner, said prior to the initiative, “only 9 percent of children from the poorest households had access to a computer. Today, more than 90 percent of that population does.”

Thanks to its effectiveness, Plan Ceibal was expanded to secondary school students and since 2016 is being used to teach the elderly.

According to Negroponte, two other factors helped make the program a success in Uruguay, including developing the needed infrastructure, which state telecom Antel was tasked with doing.

The third factor was the country’s belief in the advantages of promoting equality, he said.

“Due to these three things: Vazquez, equality and the telecommunications, this project turned into what it is. And it helped us in many aspects, and that’s why I want many other countries to copy this experience,” Negroponte said.

Uruguay “has become the byword” for progressive educational programs, he said, predicting that “in 20 years, Uruguay will be producing the world’s most creative people.”

by Diriana Teran at May 15, 2017 04:23 PM

May 03, 2017

Hands of Charity XO Project | Kenya

Why Africa is Important

It’s not just that Africa is important, it has always been important, what I want to say is that Africa is a critical part of our future as Americans.  In the next ten to twenty years, the maturing second generation of leaders of these new democracy leaning countries  (remember most African countries did not gain independence until the 1960s and 70s)  will drive significant political and economic changes in the continent.  Africa will be the the planet’s most populous continent in the next 30 years. It is also much larger and diverse geographically than most of us realize.  Africa is rich in resources, intelligent educated citizens and talent.  In addition Africans are highly motivated to move past the old politics to establish truly representative governments.   Already these countries have more women in leadership roles, and Kenya has a written a new constitution.


What is important here is the large population of youth. In some cases it is 60% of the country.  The youth bubble challenged governments to build enough classrooms and train enough teachers.to meet the education needs for the 21st century.  Kenya’s current president ran on a platform that featured not just education, but technology for education.  He has been in power almost 4 years, and just now the technology is arriving in schools for the 6 year-olds.  Teacher salaries have increased, as well as investments in creating a digital curriculum. A large percentage of schools in Kenya now have electricity.   This is not true in many other African nations, but what they do all have is some access to cell phone and the internet.  Another cultural factor is that African countries do tend to work collaborate regionally.  East Africa has open borders among 5 countries, so that goods, people, jobs and educations cross borders.

Efforts such as those of a small organization like are able to bring rural communities out of isolation, assist them in using their technology in schools, not just to learn math, reading and science, but to benefit the community through project based learning initiatives.  Bonaventure has led our students to become community workers to eliminate Jiggers infections, to educate girls about their reproductive health, to develop girls into leaders, to assist in the healing and education for HIV affected families and have assisted orphans develop skills and find sponsors for their continued education.

Listen to this Video by one our young female teachers:   https://youtu.be/TtFLD16zHaU

What Africa doesn’t have is the capital investment.  Our students may graduate for secondary school to a country that has no jobs for them, no career opportunities. So how do we prepare them.  Through the project based learning, they are able to develop the vision of their capacity to be innovators and leaders.  We are pleased to have worked with George Newman at One Planet Education who has taught them about effective advocacy, and research.  They have learned how to speak out, how to collaborate with their peers in Asia, the US and the Middle East. Surely such efforts will bring positive outcomes and new opportunities for our 21st century.

Watch this video created by one of the orphans supported by our center’s leaders.   https://youtu.be/nlGeywKnEfY


by smallsolutionsbigideas at May 03, 2017 05:46 PM

April 28, 2017

One Laptop per Child

April 27, 2017

One Laptop per Child

Unlocking the potential of technology.


Ethnographer and photographer Laura de Reynal has been documenting the work of organisations, such as Mozilla and One Laptop per Child who are helping communities to get online for the first time.

Madagascar, 2012. A girl stands with a laptop next to a black board The first online experience for these 16-year-olds in Madagascar was browsing Wikipedia and writing what they had discovered on a blackboard.

Madagascar, 2010. Children hold their laptops whilst smiling.to deploy small laptops in

The One Laptop per Child project was one of the first to deploy small laptops in classrooms in developing countries, more than a decade ago.

Madagascar, 2012. Children use their laptops.

The children were able to practise their algebra by shooting spaceships.




by Diriana Teran at April 27, 2017 06:33 PM

April 24, 2017

One Laptop per Child

Centre de Chirurgie Orthopedique et de Rehabilitation “Saint Marie de Rilima”

BLOG 04.24.2017

One Laptop Per Child continues to expand its educational program in Africa. Thanks to a generous donation from the Nommontu Foundation, OLPC provided 27 OLPC Laptops to Centre de Chirurgie Orthopedique et de Rehabilitation Sainte Marie de Rilima,  the top health care facility in Rwanda for children with health issues.  The Center cares for approximately 70 children for three or more months while they receive treatment.  With this donation, these children have access to education and technology during their stay in the Center. OLPC provides ongoing training and guidance to facilitators and children.  The OLPC team continues to work closely with the staff in the Center, as we strive to guide the process of technology integration into the lives of these children who otherwise would have no opportunity to receive a formal education or learn to use technology while they receive care at the Center. The children are delighted with this opportunity to learn and use technology to create and experiment. These children are truly a model of hope for their parents, community, nation and the world.

by Diriana Teran at April 24, 2017 04:08 PM

April 20, 2017

One Laptop per Child

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


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

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

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

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

Children singing their hearts out.

Learning through a new tool.

Focused and deligent

Enjoying the moment.

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

April 11, 2017

One Laptop per Child

Manuelita Foundation

fundacion manuelita 2017

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

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

April 09, 2017

OLE Nepal

An interview with our teaching resident — Shikha Dhakal

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

by admin at April 09, 2017 01:05 PM

April 03, 2017

Juan Chacon Free Software & Education | El Salvador

Migrating from VirtualBox to KVM/Qemu

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

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


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

March 22, 2017

Hands of Charity XO Project | Kenya

Gabon Maze

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


by smallsolutionsbigideas at March 22, 2017 10:51 PM

March 21, 2017

One Laptop per Child

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



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

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

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

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

Learn the Sugar operating system

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

Second Semester:

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

The trip:

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

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

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

March 09, 2017


Ethiopia: A New Project

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

Please RSVP:


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

We will have Ethiopian coffee and light snacks.

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

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

by sverma at March 09, 2017 04:03 AM

March 04, 2017

OLE Nepal

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February 02, 2017

Jim Gettys

Home products that fix/mitigate bufferbloat…

jigsawfish2Bufferbloat is the most common underlying cause of most variable bad performance due to latency on the Internet;  latency is called “lag” by gamers.

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

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


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

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

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

Evenroute IQrouter

First up, I’d like call out the Evenroute IQrouter, which has a variant of SQM that deals with “sag”.

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

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

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

The Evenroute is effective on all technologies, not just DSL. It is just particularly important for DSL users, which suffer from sag more than most…

Ubiquiti Edgerouter

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

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

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

LEDE/OpenWrt and BSD for the Geeks

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

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

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

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

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

Other Out of the Box Devices

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

Cable Modems

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

Under the Covers, Hidden

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

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

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

Coming Soon…

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

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

by gettys at February 02, 2017 08:00 AM

January 30, 2017

Sayamindu Dasgupta

Supporting children in doing data science

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

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

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

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

Project metadata User metadata Site-wide statistics

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

January 27, 2017

Hands of Charity XO Project | Kenya

Children of the World are Our Most Precious Resource

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

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

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

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

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

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


by smallsolutionsbigideas at January 27, 2017 03:58 PM

January 15, 2017

Juan Chacon Free Software & Education | El Salvador

Welcome to PIXEL!

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

From Raspbian to Debian + PIXEL

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

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

Installing the Debian + PIXEL Desktop on a KVM Virtual Machine

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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