May 23, 2017

ICT4D Views from the Field

SolarSPELL Team site visit to Lelepa Island, Vanuatu

On Saturday, May 13, the ASU SolarSPELL team was thrilled at having the opportunity to join Peace Corps volunteers Katie and Jack as they traveled back to their “home” island of Lelepa. There was a crowd of children at the pier, all of whom were elated to see Katie, whom they knew as their teacher.

We also met a number of the village residents as we trekked through the main street.

All of them were elated to see Katie and Jack returned to Lelepa.

There were beautiful seascapes at every turn, as we made our way to an amazing cave.


We were glad we hadn’t needed to travel in one of the local canoes, pictured above, but it was neat to see quite a few of them, nonetheless.

There were beautiful vistas around every turn, as we made our way to Lelepa’s famous cave.

One of the locals, Krystal, gave us a tour of the spectacular cave that just defied description, so I will leave it to the pictures. We also learned quite a bit about the legend of Chief Roi Mata, whose remains were found on the hat shaped island pictured below. (It’s called Hat Island.)

There were some ancient cave drawings from the 1800s depicting local topics of importance in that time (which were very difficult to capture on camera). Can you see the silhouette of a wild pig in the photo below?

Afterwards, we walked back out to where the boat was moored and to our surprise on this off-grid, unconnected island, there was a teenage girl, sitting on the beach with her tablet, watching music videos!

Our next stop was at Katie and Jack’s home, adjacent to the school where Katie teaches. We trained them on how to use the SolarSPELL library, giving them the lightning-speed overview of the device and pointing out some highlights of the content.

Lelepa island seems to be an ideal place for the SolarSPELL as Katie estimated that over half of the island’s residents own tablets, not even to mention how many smartphones would be found there as well, so finding devices in Lelepa would not present the same challenge as in Epau. The team was surprised at the difference in access to technology that a small difference in local income levels makes. We inquired about this and were told that since Lelepa has no water source of its own, (subsistence) farming is not an option, so people commute to Port Vila and work for wages. Clearly, they were earning more than the subsistence farmers. How interesting that geographic limitations could lead to higher incomes.

Katie and Jack were tremendously excited at the new possibilities that using the SolarSPELL presented for the school. Katie already shared numerous ideas she was having, not only for using the SolarSPELL in her classes, but for holding a workshop to introduce it more widely, to teachers and parents as well.

Finally, the team got back in the boat and headed around to the far side of the island for some absolutely amazing snorkeling.

And a great fish dinner afterward.

by ljhosman at May 23, 2017 09:48 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... 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

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by Ghana Together ( 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:

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 20, 2017

ICT4D Views from the Field

SolarSPELL visit to Epau village, Vanuatu

Cyclone Donna—a category 5 Cyclone that passed near to Vanuatu on May 8 & 9—effectively canceled our plans to travel to Ambae and Maewo Islands, respectively, to see Peace Corps volunteers in-action, visit their schools and health care centers, and carry out impact evaluations. Nonetheless, we were able to find multiple silver linings: Thanks to the flexibility of the Peace Corps staff and volunteers, our team was able to make three site visits more locally.

We first traveled to the more remote and rural side of Efate island, to visit Frances in the village of Epau, on Friday, May 12. Frances shared with us how she has been using the SolarSPELL library that the previous volunteer, who was stationed at Epau before Frances’s term of service, left with her.

Since her school has no devices of its own, and the families in Epau cannot afford purchasing devices like smartphones or tablets, Frances has been using the SolarSPELL herself to plan lessons for teaching. She also hosts community members at her house who have homework or other specific topics they would like to surf the SolarSPELL library to find out more about.

Frances teaches third grade students, which is when students in Vanuatu begin learning in English. We were excited to share with her all of the new content and resources our team recently added to the SolarSPELL library for absolute beginner-level English language learners.

Frances gave us a fantastic tour through her village. There were various signs posted, attesting to the ferocity of Cyclone Pam, an off-the-charts cyclone that devastated Vanuatu two years ago, so it was quite understandable how seriously everyone had taken Cyclone Donna. Thankfully it was far less destructive than estimates were predicting.

As an update, we saw Frances again before we left. She let us know that on that very first evening after we brought her the Raspberry Pi with new-and-improved content, her host family was so excited about it, they kept her up very late into the evening, surfing and exploring all of the new content!

by ljhosman at May 20, 2017 03:33 AM

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 17, 2017

ICT4D Views from the Field

Additional Training with Current Vanuatu Peace Corps Volunteers


On Thursday, May 11, 2017, the ASU SolarSPELL team had an unexpected, additional opportunity to meet a group of current Vanuatu Peace Corps volunteers, and give them a training on using the SolarSPELL, as well as provide this group with updated hardware and content.

It was a fantastic opportunity to let these volunteers know the history of the project, get them up-to-speed on using the digital libraries, and introduce them to all of the new content we’ve assembled and added over the past two years, since our first deployment in Vanuatu two years ago.

A number of these volunteers had “inherited” the 2015-versions of SolarSPELL digital libraries from the previous volunteers who had served in the same location, but they had not received any official training and knew very little about the history or background of the project.

Because these volunteers already had a year of experience in the field, at their work-sites, they had plenty of insightful questions for our team.

Yet because most of them already had experience with using the libraries, they needed very little training on how to use them. As the photos show, the volunteers were very eager to discover all of the new content we had added over the past two years, and there is a lot!

Since these volunteers already had the housing and solar panel from the prior version of the SolarSPELL, and these were all still working, we simply provided a new Raspberry Pi with an updated micro SD card to each of the volunteers who attended this training with us, and we were grateful for this unexpected opportunity—an opportunity that presented itself because of Cyclone Donna!

We came home to a beautiful sunset at our hotel.

by ljhosman at May 17, 2017 09:10 AM

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 10, 2017

ICT4D Views from the Field

Largest SolarSPELL Training To Date Takes Place in Vanuatu

On May 9, 2017, the SolarSPELL team held a training with 41 incoming Peace Corps volunteers in Port Vila, Vanuatu. This was a record number of volunteers in a training for our team—by nearly double!

This training also marked the official launch of SolarSPELL Health—a new phase and programmatic focus for the SolarSPELL, complementing and augmenting our prior focus on Education. We are so grateful that Peace Corps Vanuatu invited us to include the Peace Corps Health volunteers, and we look forward to continuing to work very closely with the Health volunteers.

The day launched with an overview of SolarSPELL’s history and development.

Next, the volunteers received their new SolarSPELLs, and began figuring out how they work.

After that, they started surfing around on the SolarSPELL’s offline website, discovering all of the open-access education and health-related content that is now available to them.

Emily Blau, a member of the SolarSPELL team who is a doctoral student at ASU’s College of Nursing and Health Innovations, also explained to the volunteers how some of the content on the libraries was added with them specifically in mind, when they might be facing culture shock, homesickness or just not feeling well.

The afternoon continued with a discussion of some challenges the volunteers will likely face, when introducing SolarSPELL to their field-posts. All examples came from real-world examples shared with us by Peace Corps volunteers already in the field.

We were fortunate enough to have a guest speaker come and give some firsthand testimonial and recommendations for the future, for these incoming volunteers. Alexis, an RPCV who was serving in the field during our first Vanuatu training two years ago, has continued to work and live in the Port Vila area since concluding her service. There was complete silence in the room as Alexis spoke, as the in-training volunteers were so interested to hear what she had to say.

We also had some VIP visits during the day, both from Peace Corps staff, including Vanuatu’s Country Director, as well as staff from the Ministry of Health. It was fantastic to meet all of these people and learn of their keen interest in SolarSPELL.

We were also fortunate enough to meet an ASU alum!!!! Bryce is a health volunteer, looking forward to head out to his new island-home in a few short weeks. Go Sun Devils!

Several of the volunteers were quite interested in the SolarSPELL Library lab. Tomorrow, we’re looking forward to meeting the volunteer who will be taking the lab back with her, to her school, next week.

The SolarSPELL team from Arizona State University included four undergraduate students from the Polytechnic School, of the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, a doctoral student from the College of Nursing and Health Innovations, and a faculty member from the School for the Future of Innovation in Society and the Polytechnic School.

by ljhosman at May 10, 2017 11:55 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 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:

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.


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 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 22, 2017

Sridhar Dhanapalan

Interview with Australian Council for Computers in Education Learning Network

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

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

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

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

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

Published in Engineers Without Borders Magazine

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A One Education classroom in Kenya.

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

A One Education classroom in northern Thailand.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Complete Literacy Experience For Young Children

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

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

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

In large part, I believe that we were successful.

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

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

Revisiting Our Assumptions

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

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

A standard PC keyboard
A standard PC keyboard

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

The Apple iOS keyboard
The Apple iOS keyboard

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

A Re-Think

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Typeface

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

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

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

On the Screen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

April 20, 2017

One Laptop per Child

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


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

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

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

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

Children singing their hearts out.

Learning through a new tool.

Focused and deligent

Enjoying the moment.

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

April 17, 2017

ICT4D Views from the Field

100 SolarSPELLs Built in One Day!

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

by ljhosman at April 17, 2017 04:19 PM

April 11, 2017

One Laptop per Child

Manuelita Foundation

fundacion manuelita 2017

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

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

April 09, 2017

OLE Nepal

An interview with our teaching resident — Shikha Dhakal

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

by admin at April 09, 2017 01:05 PM

April 03, 2017

Juan Chacon Free Software & Education | El Salvador

Migrating from VirtualBox to KVM/Qemu

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

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


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

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

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

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

Learn the Sugar operating system

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

Second Semester:

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

The trip:

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

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

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

March 20, 2017

One Laptop per Child

Lennox Island students learn digital animation

Pilot project provides laptops, training

Eric McCarthy
Published on March 7, 2017

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

March 09, 2017


Ethiopia: A New Project

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

Please RSVP:

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

We will have Ethiopian coffee and light snacks.

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

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

by sverma at March 09, 2017 04:03 AM

March 08, 2017

One Laptop per Child

Innovation Center – Zamora Terán Foundation- Nicaragua.


Our vision olpc 1

What is the Innovation Center?

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

How was it created?

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

Our Philosophy

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

“Innovative Learning”

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


Humanizing Robotics

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

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

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

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

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

14480711_1261142853936110_93835016129170463_oFotos FZT. fb

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

March 07, 2017

One Laptop per Child

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

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

Photo-ExhibitionSalomón de la Selva (2) Gemelas

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

March 04, 2017

ICT4D Views from the Field

SolarSPELL goes to the Capitol! (in Phoenix)

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


It’s always exciting when Sparky shows up!


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




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


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


by ljhosman at March 04, 2017 07:09 PM

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February 14, 2017

Sridhar Dhanapalan

Creating an Education Programme

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

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

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

The references for this talk are on our development wiki.

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

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

Investment in our Children’s Future

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

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

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

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

Comprehensive Education Programme

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

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

OLPC Australia certifications

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

OLPC Australia online training process
Online training process

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

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

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

OLPC Australia programme cycle
Programme cycle

Technology as an Enabler

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

The key principles of the Engineering Department are:

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Join our mission

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

Our Prospectus provides a high-level overview.

For a detailed analysis, see our Policy Document.

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


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

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

February 13, 2017

ICT4D Views from the Field

SolarSPELL Featured on Cronkite News

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

by ljhosman at February 13, 2017 04:40 AM

February 02, 2017

Jim Gettys

Home products that fix/mitigate bufferbloat…

My New Years resolution is to restart blogging.jigsawfish2

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

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

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


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

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

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

Evenroute IQrouter

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

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

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

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

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:


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
$ sudo apt-key add raspberrypi.gpg.key
 Then set the contents of /etc/apt/sources.list to:
deb jessie main contrib non-free
deb-src jessie main contrib non-free
deb jessie/updates main contrib non-free
deb-src jessie/updates main contrib non-free
deb jessie-updates main contrib non-free
deb-src jessie-updates main contrib non-free
and set the contents of /etc/apt/sources.list.d/raspi.list to:
deb jessie main ui staging
# Uncomment line below then 'apt-get update' to enable 'apt-get source'
#deb-src 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 ( at January 15, 2017 02:25 AM

January 14, 2017

Ghana Together

We Can Only Say Thank You

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

Here’s the breakdown of students

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

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


Email:  (or just respond to this email)

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

by Ghana Together ( at January 14, 2017 06:29 PM

XOs in Honduras

News report on San Miguelito

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

by Becky Young ( at January 14, 2017 06:14 AM

January 12, 2017

OLPC Basecamp @ Malacca, Malaysia

dLEAP into 2017

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

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

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

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

by T.K. Kang ( at January 12, 2017 03:16 AM

January 02, 2017

Hands of Charity XO Project | Kenya

Vacation Camps at Bungoma Center & Wildlife Studies

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

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

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

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



Elvis and Friend







by smallsolutionsbigideas at January 02, 2017 02:32 AM

December 30, 2016

Hands of Charity XO Project | Kenya

December 20, 2016

ICT4D Views from the Field

Tonga Peace Corps embraces the SolarSPELL digital library


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



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



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


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



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




by ljhosman at December 20, 2016 09:32 PM

December 16, 2016

XOs in Honduras

6th grade graduation

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

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

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

by Becky Young ( at December 16, 2016 07:34 AM

Un resumen en español

Escribi eso junto con la maestra de la escuela:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

by Becky Young ( at December 16, 2016 07:34 AM


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

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


by Becky Young ( at December 16, 2016 07:33 AM

December 13, 2016

Ghana Together

It's All About SCHOOL in Axim, Ghana

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

Dear Friends,

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

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

...and HERE for News Updates with photos

Now we're focusing on 2017.

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

Here's why:

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To help:

Email:  (or just respond to this email)

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

by Ghana Together ( at December 13, 2016 04:46 AM

December 04, 2016

Ntugi Group | Kenya





































by ntugi at December 04, 2016 09:28 AM





































by ntugi at December 04, 2016 07:31 AM

November 30, 2016

ICT4D Views from the Field

SolarSPELL Hackathon hosted by ASU’s Hayden Library



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


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


The group divided up into three teams:

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


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


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

by ljhosman at November 30, 2016 02:43 AM

November 22, 2016

Hands of Charity XO Project | Kenya

Learning by Doing, Solving Real World Problems – Using Technology

Butonge primary school. – class seven


Understanding the Environment: Forests and Fields:

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

Comments from Hands of Charity Teachers and Leaders:



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


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


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

Recommendations for improvement.

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


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


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


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

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


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


Saturday- Bukokholo marketplace center-

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

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


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

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

3rd WEEK from 14/06/2016 – 20/06/2016

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

– use of record and making movies

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

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

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

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


4th WEEK from 21st – 30th June 2016

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

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

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

by smallsolutionsbigideas at November 22, 2016 01:49 AM

Endangered Species One Planet Education On-Line LIVE Connections



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


Is the undomesticated plants and animals in their natural environment.


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


The common killed animals among the BIG 5 include;

Lion  Elephant  Rhino

LION: Reason why poached

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


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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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


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

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

Rhinoceros history  Critically endangered

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

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

by smallsolutionsbigideas at November 22, 2016 01:35 AM

November 13, 2016

Ghana Together

Another Project Done and Dusted in Axim, Ghana

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dormitory as it looks now after being renovated

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bit by bit we get it DONE!!! 


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by Ghana Together ( at November 13, 2016 12:10 AM

November 04, 2016


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

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


by Anonymous at November 04, 2016 10:46 AM