July 27, 2014

Project Rive: Reaching Students in Haiti

Worth It

More than halfway through our time here in Lascahobas, and the question that keeps running through my head has to do with value. We’re doing a lot of work here: installing network and solar systems, conducting training seminars, repairing large … Continue reading

by Sora at July 27, 2014 03:54 AM

July 26, 2014

Project Rive: Reaching Students in Haiti

Lascahobas: We Do It All

Writing this from Lascahobas, a market town in the Central department, where we’re working with a school that received laptops as part of the pilot program back in 2009. If you’ve been following this blog, you know by now how … Continue reading

by Sora at July 26, 2014 03:35 AM

July 25, 2014

Hinche Haiti Partners for Education

A Message from Father Noe at St. Andre

Hello my friends from Saint Dunstan. Greetings! On Behalf of the teachers ,parents , the kids and myself I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you for your support for the academic year 13 – 14....

by hinchehaitipartnersforeducation at July 25, 2014 02:24 AM

July 24, 2014

Project Rive: Reaching Students in Haiti

Kenscoff, Special Report

Kenscoff is a town up in the mountains that you reach by following one winding road out of the rich Petionville suburb to the southeast of Port-au-Prince. In the mornings, the route gets clogged up by big white NGO vehicles … Continue reading

by Sora at July 24, 2014 03:22 AM

July 18, 2014

Project Rive: Reaching Students in Haiti

The People, 1. Digicel, 0

Last week, I vented about Digicel blocking Skype and other VoIP applications, explaining how it’s not just that it’s inconvenient for me, but they shouldn’t be able to get away with what they’re doing.They don’t own the Internet. Luckily, the … Continue reading

by Sora at July 18, 2014 09:32 PM

More to See

The work continues here in Bois D’Avril. Every morning I have to pause for a moment on my way to the bathroom and just gape at the surrounding mountains. I wonder if the people here are as constantly struck by … Continue reading

by Sora at July 18, 2014 12:57 PM

July 16, 2014

Project Rive: Reaching Students in Haiti

Delmas 28 Launch

We just got done launching our second project with Ken Bever and Hope for Haiti’s Children at the College Chrétien de Delmas. This school has 580 students, from pre-K all the way up to the last year of high school, … Continue reading

by Sora at July 16, 2014 09:05 PM

Nancie Severs

Thank Goodness for Yoga! — Lebanon NH, NH


Lebanon NH, NH

I’m laughing at myself as I feel the sore inner thigh muscle I slightly pulled in Jill’s Wednesday AM yoga class this morning. We did a hamstring class that built up to Hanuman, the Monkey God pose, aka a split. I could not get near a split as a child and I was surprised at where my body went today. Pain is not always a bad thing. I came by this nagging thigh muscle very honestly. It makes me smile.

On Sunday, at day 6 following chemo, I developed a really angry rash. Because I have had life threatening reactions to medications in the past, two in particular which involved a rash, Mark & I had to go to the DHMC ER. They told us what would be an emergency and sent us home. An excellent dermatology consult on Monday confirmed a drug rash likely secondary to chemo. I’ll be going to Boston for allergy testing next Monday to make sure we can safely treat me for my next scheduled chemo.

On Monday, my muscle aches subsided and I had more energy. I am optimistic that after future chemos, I can plan to lay low on days 3 through 6, knowing that both my blood counts and my energy level will rise after just a short period of discomfort.

I spent a couple of days this week working on coordination of care issues between Dana Farber & DHMC. I had already had each record of my treatment sent to DHMC from DF. I am unimpressed with the cumbersome steps that my physicians must take to receive, locate, print, and then scan each file into my DHMC EMR. That’s not very “electronic” is it?

I’m getting all of my cancer treatment at DF BWCC. But I anticipated the need for urgent care when home, just as it happened on Sunday. The DHMC records still did not my correct diagnosis and the only way the doctors knew what chemo and other meds I had been exposed to, for the emergency evaluation, was because I had a copy of my DF records in hand. This is very frustrating!

Yesterday, I had a productive meeting with Dr. Brooks, my long time PCP & internist. I tried to share some constructive ideas to help figure out a system that will give us confidence when I require care, urgent or otherwise at DHMC while home. He promises to get the folks involved that can put a workable solution in place. I also set up a local standing lab order for the blood work I will regularly need for my DF doctors. The assistants at the DHMC 3 L lab were terrific and helped tremendously with that.

I’ve learned that I have to be willing to advocate for myself, even when doing so adds stress. It’s a good thing I practice yoga. Thank you Jill and "Hanuman" too.

July 16, 2014 08:46 PM

Project Rive: Reaching Students in Haiti

The Hills Are Alive

Today Ruben, Jeanide, and I headed up to Bois D’Avril, a small village in the mountains outside Port-au-Prince, near a town called Kenscoff. We’re staying with the Currelly’s, a Canadian couple who have been living here for thirty years. The … Continue reading

by Sora at July 16, 2014 03:18 AM

Honduras: The Owen Project

The Magic Mountain

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the beginning of World War I. Many new books have been written and old classics from that time, like Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain, have been reissued. I read The Magic Mountain in college and loved the contrast between the magnificent Swiss mountain scenery and the rather twisted characters of the patients in the sanitarium where the novel takes place. We left today for an extended trip higher into the mountains west of Siguatepeque than we had ever been before. We left in two trucks early in the morning and, because of the almost nightly rain showers, our path took us into a thick carpet of mist cloaking the mountain tops and  half way into the valleys. I thought of Mann’s book and felt a child’s sense of adventure and expectation. In Honduras, unlike in  Mann’s fictional Switzerland, the magnificent mountain scenery is reflected in magnificent smiles on bright faces, faces full of innocent wonder and trust. There is a biblical theme that warns against the moral corruption of cities and praises the salutary effect of living in isolated, small groups, immersed in nature, constantly in the presence of eternity. This was reflected in the children, teachers and parents we met in the first school of the day. Set in a pine forest, this humble school building seemed to recognize the majesty of its surroundings, making no attempt to assert a human presence, nestled into a bed of pine needles, tranquil and resonant. In the pictures below I will try to convey how this tranquility is reflected in the children’s faces as they listened to our initial introductions and instructions. Such beautiful faces full of innocence and absolute trust. They made me want to be a better, more loving man. 

The second school was even higher up in the mountains, at the very edge of the coffee fields, just where the original cloud forest takes over on the steepest slopes. This shift from geometric regularity to chaotic, riotous growth is quite striking. Sally’s grandmother was a quilter and we have one of her pieces. We use it under our Christmas tree, where its many folds and different patterns reminded me of the Honduran countryside on our travels. At this school the children had gathered pine boughs and spread them all over the classroom floor and in the area outside the porch where they greeted us with a performance of folk dancing and song. The resinous scent of the fresh pine permeated the performance and our time teaching. Somehow everything – the dancing and singing, the parent’s faces full of pride and our own enthusiasm and commitment- seemed fresh and pure. The thick carpet of  needles in the surrounding grove of pines gave the school a mysterious, hushed atmosphere, as if a secret were being whispered, and if one were quiet enough, one could sense the presence of God.

 

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With care,

Mark


by mkeddal at July 16, 2014 12:59 AM

July 15, 2014

Honduras: The Owen Project

Glory

Today we decided to visit Santa Rosita, the very first school where we started the Owen Project four years ago. Marty Keil, her daughter Morgan Stautzenberger and Morgan’s friend Haley Short flew in Friday night and were ready to travel into the mountains on Saturday. It had rained heavily during the night so the mountain sides were shrouded in mist. The air was freshly-scrubbed,,clean and cool.We carried a stack of pizzas, two soccer balls and hearts full of expectation.The long drive on winding dirt roads brought back many pleasant memories, and the views from the mountain tops were every bit as memorable and breath-taking. There is a distinctive scent in the mountains, a combination of damp vegetation, decaying leaves and something mysteriously sweet, like rotting fruit. It seemed that the entire environment was a single living being with a peculiar aroma.

Our reception in Santa Rosita was warm and intimate. The children called out our names, remembering us all, embracing us as we departed our trucks. The original school was a dilapidated, mud and wattle shack and the new school , located farther up the hill, is a  wonderfully clean concrete block structure with glass windows, a metal roof and a separate bathroom under construction. We brought red bougainvillea given by Lynn Campaigne. Our Episcopal Diocese of West Texas has been very involved in supporting this construction. The hope is that Santa Rosita will become a model for other rural schools, including classrooms, a kitchen, bathrooms and a septic system all in one.

Even more beautiful than the new buildings were the laughter and bright eyes of the students. When we first met them they were shy, incurious and skeptical about us and the XOs. Four years later they are secure, assertive and bursting with pride and curiosity. We were shown essays, projects, art exhibits and journals. Some of the older students now travel to a nearby town to continue their education.Sally and I almost felt like parents again, reconnecting with young people we have known for a number of years, sharing dreams and hopes together. The pizza was shared and then we played soccer. After being humiliated for an hour it started to mist and then rain gently. We looked up at the sun and saw a strange atmospheric phenomenon: there was a rainbow that surrounded the sun, making a complete circle of delicate colors, taking up half of the sky. This is called a “glory” and all of us were taken by how perfect that we saw this at that particular moment. I have come to recognize the presence of grace in the most unremarkable events of daily life. How much more impressive is this gratitude and sense of wonder when grace comes at perfect moments. May you find your own moments.

 

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With care,

Mark


by mkeddal at July 15, 2014 04:19 AM

July 14, 2014

Nancie Severs

After Chemo Course 1 - Altered Expectations — Lebanon NH, NH


Lebanon NH, NH

We are relieved that my treatment is underway. It was a really good week. Mark & Noah drove me home from The Brigham hospital in Boston Wednesday afternoon. On Thursday morning I got a short haircut. My FB friends say that I look "hip" and younger. I'll take that! My doctors anticipate that I will lose my hair over the next few weeks because the Chemo targets the fastest growing cells in our body. Our hair is the fastest growing normal cell and the chemicals are unable to discriminate. That's why cancer patients often lose their hair. Am I worried about that? Nope! I've some comfy hats, it's only "hair," and it will grow back eventually. I did not feel any effects of Monday night's chemo infusion until Thursday evening. When my legs and feet ached, I chalked it up to  21\2 days in bed, and then the fact that Noah and I had spent a full and active “vacation” day together. Noah wanted "American Chinese" for lunch. We played golf at Twin Lakes on Little Lake Sunapee and went to Dairy Twirl on the way home. Thank you Bruria for the delicious soup for dinner. I was way too tired to cook. On Friday, Jill’s therapeutic “Gentle Yoga” class at AHA gave me a boost. But by today, Saturday, i am realizing that my activity level and my expectations of what I can do will have to change during the period of "cancer cell eradication!”   My bones and joints hurt and my feet are tingling with pins and needles. I am tiring easily. I only walked a bit of our Prouty course and I came home for a nap.   I will find it difficult to accept the need to slow down. Friends & family, please remind me often that this is the best thing I can do for myself, & for us all, to give us the best shot at a cure!   It's a good thing that I have a long list of books and films to keep me busy in the coming months. Additional recommendations welcome.:)   Altering my expectations will be a good mental exercise. I am reminding myself, "don't lean too far back into the past nor too far forward into the future. The present is a gift. That's why its called a present!"

July 14, 2014 11:47 PM

Chemo Treatment Day 1 — Boston, MA


Boston, MA

Where I stayed
Boston Marriott Cambridge MA


I went home for the weekend and now I am back in Boston. It is very weird because I still don't feel sick. But that's a gift! My first chemo infusion will be today for 5 hours. I’ll need to be there several hours before it starts too. Noah flew in from Thailand for a rare visit. He spent the weekend visiting Ellen & Houman, Aaron and Megan, David and Aliza and sightseeing in LA. He is coming in to be with me for the first chemo  treatment. Mark will come down on Tuesday and bring us home Wednesday if I'm able to go right home. This week, I’m at the Cambridge Marriott as we think that will work best for the first treatment round. Today I did some shopping, and had a healthy dinner at Legal Sea Foods. It was a beautiful summer evening. The sidewalk cafes were filled with people enjoying the weather. I walked all the way from Prudential to the Boston Public Garden to see the roses and then through the common to the Park Street T. I think I will sleep tonight. Mark, was of course willing to join me today. My sisters, Janet & Lynn wanted to fly up from Florida, to be with me. My closest girlfriends offered. And Noah decided to fly in from Thailand. He won. He is on his way from the West Coast as I write.   I have felt wonderfully supported by my family and friends from the time I knew I needed surgery. The love and offers of assistance continue and I am very grateful. You all know who you are. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.   I am bull headed. I am most comfortable beginning the treatment process by myself. I'm not sick yet and while sitting around the hospital today is what I need to do, I don't see any reason for anyone else to be here too. I'm actually calmer & quieter by myself and I prefer to come in and get treatment without focusing on the reason for it. I hope to be like my amazing and brave cousin Tillie, and soldier on with my life during each step of the life saving treatment.   Reality hit in the lab this morning. I saw many very sick folks, a child or two, teenagers, young me and women and very elderly. Cancer does not discriminate. I had an IV inserted in my arm. Ouch. And now I'm in a sunny private room at The Brigham waiting to start the medications that will eradicate any remaining cancer cells.   At 4:30 PM it looks like I'll be getting the infusion late tonite. We can't rush things and there isn't any reason to. Everyone I've met has been cheerful and competent. 6:30 PM brought dinner, and a handful of anti-nausea & anti-allergy meds. We had agreed on the lowest doses and fewest agents possible.  We started the Taxol at 8:00 PM for 3 hours followed by 1 hour of Carboplatin.   We finished at midnight. I was woozy and had a headache, but that’s about it. 6:00 AM: We Did It! And with NO Steroids (usually used but I react badly to them.) I am feeling tired, but clear-headed and not too bad. The treatment plan my doctors created just for me has paid off off bonuses. It appears to me that I can be safely treated, and with the chemo regimen that we KNOW will kill my cancer!   I appreciate everyone's concern, notes, & healing thoughts sent my way so very much. As I get farther into this treatment journey, when there is something some of you can do to help, or to cheer me up, I'll gratefully accept assistance and I will let you know how you can help. Thanks & Love, Nancie

July 14, 2014 11:42 PM

Honduras: The Owen Project

Shangri-La

I confess that I am an unabashed idealist, child-like ( I hope!) not childish. I continue to reread Hilton’s Lost Horizon and I love the old, black and white film of the same name, starring Ronald Coleman. There is a wonderful scene where a group of travelers are high in the Himalayas, near death in a blizzard, roped together at the edge of a crevasse. They find a break in the rock face which leads to a hidden utopia, an isolated and protected valley full of cultivated fields, vineyards and forests. Ronald Coleman is full of wonder and haunted by a strange feeling that he somehow knows this place. This is the mystery of Shangri-la;. we are haunted, wherever we are,  that the world could be more beautiful and full of meaning.

It is the beginning of the rainy season in Honduras and already the mountain sides are bursting with new, delicately- green growth, and the mountain tops are wreathed in mists and clouds. We drove from Tegucigalpa to Siguatepeque and were treated to a vision of central Honduras in all its glory. We set out for a new village school early the next morning. We were joined by the Vice-Mayor of Siguatepeque, a former teacher, who was accompanied by her body guard in a government truck. Richard, Natalia, Becky and I rode in back with the computers and a rifle-wielding soldier. We soon found out that the rifle was for show and that it didn’t have a trigger or bullets. It still intimidated us! We drove through Siguatepeque, down crowded streets full of dust and diesel fumes. The city itself is not scenic, in fact it has the character of a boom town. All of the buildings are make-shift and slip-shod and nothing seems clean or orderly. As we turned onto a dirt road into the mountains, we left the hustle and bustle behind us and entered into a central american Shangri-la. The school itself was stucco and cement brick, but the trees and shrubs surrounding it lent their beauty to the simple structure. Of course the real treasure hidden here is contained in the bright eyes and beaming smiles of the children. They waited timidly, hiding behind the open windows periodically braving a look outside at us. There was a hushed silence, the bated breaths of many excited children. Where there was joyous chaos at Oropoli, here there was happy anticipation and barely-controlled hands and feet. Because the Vice-mayor was with us, some formal introductions were made and then the speeches began, given by teachers, parents, students- essentially anyone who feels compelled gets a chance to speak. There was nothing forced or superficial in all this.  Owen was mentioned in a  remarkably sensitive and compassionate way, as if the speakers themselves knew the pain of losing a child.  Wrinkled, weather-beaten old women spoke with incredible humility of their prayers and hopes for their children, and a light shone in their eyes that reminded Sally and I of how it feels to be a parent. Very soon all the thank yous were acknowledged and we got down to work with the students. Here is where the real magic begins. None of the pictures I’m including quite captures the combination of wonder and hilarity that prevails. I can’t imagine a person hardhearted enough not to smile and laugh in the midst of all this  happy discovery. Maybe we do learn all we need to know in kindergarten!!

 

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Thanks,

Mark


by mkeddal at July 14, 2014 03:57 AM

Fargo to Sudan XO

Tech Genius Doesn’t Need To Be White, Male And Wearing A Hoodie – ReadWrite

Tech Genius Doesn’t Need To Be White, Male And Wearing A Hoodie – ReadWrite.

Good initiative.  Been thinking about how our local Sugar Labs approach wasn’t quite right. We tried to build from nothing to something; if we start again, we need to find partners up front, have the infrastructure and support in place.

 


by kab13 at July 14, 2014 02:55 AM

July 12, 2014

Honduras: The Owen Project

The Dance of Life

On our second day in Honduras we drove into the montains near the Nicaraguan border to oscar Ochoa’s home village of Oropoli. It is much drier in this part of Honduras, reminding all of us of Texas. This is our first school in the southern part of the country. We expected a quiet entrance into the village and maybe an embarassing game of soccer. Instead, we ran headlong into a whirlwind of activity, a moving fiesta that followed us up the main street, such as it  was, across a river and to the school itself. There were flowers, folk dancing, music and smiling faces throughout. Some biologists speculate that when life began in the primordial seas, amino acids began to dance, combining to form single-celled organisms. As you will see below, we too felt surrounded by dancing life, full of joy and satisfaction.

 

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This was also our first experience with the XO tablet and we were a bit apprehensive. This only increased when we realized that we had to charge the 60 tablets before teaching. All of the parents and village worthies looked in from the open windows as chaos swirled around us in the form of 60 very excited children. Four hours later we had everything in hand and no child left disappointed or frustrated. In many ways the tablets are more accessible than the laptops and the applications are more numerous and just as entertaining and welcoming. Once again many of  the students stared in disbelief and wonder when we told them that these computers were theirs to use. I wish I could convey the spell cast over these children by the XOs; perhaps it is more the case of watching their imaginations come alive. I’ll let these pictures tell the story.

 

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With care,

Mark

 


by mkeddal at July 12, 2014 02:13 AM

Yeats Was Mistaken….

In a dark poem Yeats wrote that, “….the best lack all conviction, while the worst burn with passionate intensity…” I’ve been haunted by these lines for years and the current political and social environment seemed to verify Yeats’ somber prophecy. I can happily report that once again I have been saved by Honduras. We arrived in Tegucigalpa before noon on Tuesday, the 8th. We had a few minutes to gather our wits and then we met with the Undersecretary of Education. Richard, Linda and Natalia Grey were with us, along with Oscar Ochoa. The Undersecretary was quite approachable: a former teacher who has worked under several Honduran administrations. We were there to ask for internet access for the 16 schools we have supplied with laptops and tablets. The Undersecretary warmed to our presentation and became quite enthusiastic about the potential changes that could be made in rural areas. Very soon she was speaking more as an educator and less as an a politician. Her enthusiasm was infectious. We needed little prodding to tell of past trips into the mountains around Siguatepeque. With Linda as a creative and insightful translator, we were able to speak from the heart as well as the mind.

The excitement of our day was far from over. Later that afternoon, we met with a group of Honduran computer programmers writing code for a digitized curriculum that we could download into our XOs. The new XO tablets are android-based, different from the platform used in the laptops. For quite some time the conversation was quite technical and quite a bit over my head. Thankfully, Richard, himself a programmer, was able to carry on ably for our side. The atmosphere changed significantly when the topic changed to the underserved students in the mountains. These tech geeks where transformed into obviously passionate and idealistic teachers trying to change the lives of children who might not have shoes, but who might soon have a computer!

It was then that I remembered Yeats, realizing that I had just witnessed a reversal of his dark forboding. Here in Honduras, at least, it is the best who burn with passionate intensty.

More later,

Mark


by mkeddal at July 12, 2014 12:45 AM

July 11, 2014

Project Rive: Reaching Students in Haiti

Not Just An Inconvenience. An Outrage.

Last night, I was sitting in a local park, preparing to connect with the leader of our Lascahobas team on Skype first, and then our intern who’s coming down in September next. I was looking forward to the chance to … Continue reading

by Sora at July 11, 2014 07:42 PM

Special Report: Thomazeau

Back in 2008, One Laptop Per Child decided to launch pilot projects in four Haitian towns: Kenscoff, Lascahobas, Jacmel, and Thomazeau. I’ll be working with a school that received laptops in Lascahobas in a few weeks. This is the Thomazeau … Continue reading

by Sora at July 11, 2014 02:13 AM

July 09, 2014

Project Rive: Reaching Students in Haiti

When Things Don’t Work

While I’m working in Haiti, I use an unlocked Moto G smartphone to make calls and connect to the Internet. There’s two big telco companies here, Digicel and Natcom. Digicel’s the larger one, and it’s actually probably the largest company … Continue reading

by Sora at July 09, 2014 06:08 PM

July 08, 2014

Hinche Haiti Partners for Education

Wonderful Feedback on Teacher Training

I recently was communicating with two of the teacher trainees in Hinche on Facebook. I would like to share their messages, showing their appreciation for the teacher training that we have been providing through the partnership with MIIS and St. Dunstan’s. A...

by Lisa at July 08, 2014 05:40 PM

Nancie Severs

Boston Treatment Begins — Boston, MA


Boston, MA

Where I stayed
With Friends in Coolidge Corner, Brookline


I spent four days in Boston with preliminary appointments and setting up logistics. I went home for the weekend and now I am back in Boston. My old friends, Adele & Larry, were terrific hosts and I stayed with them. I enjoyed the city, and even went to a great yoga class at Coolidge Corner Yoga in between my appointments. Scroll through the photos and you can see some of Boston in mid-summer.

It is very weird because I don't feel really sick yet. But they must expect me to get sick because I have three nausea meds prescribed. My first chemo infusion will be on Monday. It is 4-5 hours, once it starts. I’ll need to be there several hours before it starts too.

The first treatment challenge is whether I’ll tolerate the chemo without a rash or allergy. I saw two very bright physicians last week specifically to address my past medication adverse events. We have a plan and we are prepared. I'm psyched to get started. After Chemo, I'll get my haircut on Wednesday, short. Then I’ll have about 3 weeks before you see pictures in cool head wraps. Have you ever wondered why chemo patients often lose their hair? It's because the chemo targets the fastest growing cells in our bodies for the "kill." Cancer cells grow too fast. "They don't die enough." Our hair is made up of our fastest growing "normal" cells, and since the chemo targets fast growing cells, it also kills our hair follicles. That's why I'll lose my hair.

I have a lot of confidence in the doctors at Dana - Farber. Heck their pathologists saved my life already when they correctly re-diagnosed the type of cancer that I have. I fully expect that together we can pull out a cure. I'm prepared to do whatever it takes.

Here are some tips to help you navigate my blogs.


1. Click on a photo anywhere in the entry and you will get a larger
photo with arrows to click and scroll through all photos. In that
format, you'll see the title and any comments I wrote on the right side
too.


2. If you scroll down to the bottom of the page, below the photos on
any entry, the Table of Entries (Contents) appears below each
entry. You can scroll and click on any Entry from any other Entry.

July 08, 2014 02:45 PM

An Unexpected Journey Begins — Lebanon NH, NH


Lebanon NH, NH

When people ask what I do, my husband, Mark usually says, that Nancie’s a “professional traveler.” I smile, grateful for the amazing opportunities I have had over the past 8 years. This year, I had some business cards made up in Bangkok, to use for my volunteer work. For fun, I described myself as a “Professional Adventurer” and “OLPC Volunteer.”

In late April, 2014, I began a new adventure. Like many of my treasured experiences, this too was completely unplanned. I had some symptoms that led to a cancer diagnosis. On May 6, I had surgery (a hysterectomy) to remove the cancer and now, I'm on an "Unexpected Journey".

I was originally diagnosed at DHMC & NCCC, our local hospital and cancer center. I arranged “second opinions at the Dana Farber - Brigham & Womens Cancer Center (DF-BWCC) in Boston. We quickly learned that you should always get a second opinion! It is not an understatement to say that in my case it saved my life.

The DF-BWCC pathologists obtained the biopsy and surgical slides, and they did what they do when asked to consult. They carefully re-examined everything, as if it were a first look. My diagnosis changed. We learned that I have a different kind of cancer than we had first been told. It is called Uterine Papillary Serous Carcinoma. It is a particularly aggressive type of cancer. While we had been told at DHMC that that the tumor was “contained” and mostly removed by the surgery, we now understand that the treatment needs to be very aggressive. Finally after unfortunate delay, my treatment plan is in place. I will be treated at DF-BWCC in Boston and I am confident that I am receiving top-notch care.

I had not decided whether to share this publicly or if so, when to do it. I had not put anything on Facebook until this week. I had told my family and some of my friends. While I want to reply individually to all of the emails, phone calls, and cards of support I have been receiving, my need to focus on the details of care and treatment, is making this difficult. I have friends that have used Caring Bridge or Facebook for their treatment updates, so that their extended family & friends and can keep in touch and offer words of support. I’ve decided that this “Professional Adventurer” prefers Travelpod.:) I’ll post some updates and the details we wish to share in this new “trip.” There is a link to “trips” on the right side. Click on that to read some of my other adventures of the past few years.

I haven’t told my Mother about the need for treatment as I do not think it will do her any good, and it won’t change anything for her to know. She knows that I had a hysterectomy and I visited her shortly afterwards, looking strong and running off to yoga class as usual. Mom doesn’t use the Internet and we are all on board with this decision. We may decide to tell her at some point, but we may not. If you know my Mom, or anyone else at the Coves where she lives, please be careful not to mention my illness.

Over the past few weeks I’ve been in the garden, to yoga classes, played some golf, and kayaked at Grafton Pond. I visited my Mom and family in Florida and I’ve shared tea, gelato and meals with friends. I’ve largely caught up on my volunteer work and other life details. While my goal has been to fit the cancer treatment into my life rather than have it take over my life, the new diagnosis requires that I devote the year ahead to going for the “cure.”

My snapshots will be just that, as my Iphone is the source of the photojournalism you’ll see here. I’ll post updates here and I will see your “comments” if you leave a note.

I know that my family and friends will be concerned about me. I deeply appreciate that. I’ll see your emails but I will not be able to reply to all of them. If I don’t answer the phone when you call, it just means that it is not a good time for me to talk. Worrying about me won’t do anyone any good; please don’t. I am feeling strong and healthy going in and I will be starting this fight with a smile on my face.

This journey may take me places I've never been. I view it as another adventure and it will surely bring gifts of its own to me. What you can do, is to take a moment every day to appreciate life when you send me healing thoughts and prayers.

With love and deep gratitude for all my family and friends.
Nancie

Here are some tips to help you navigate my blogs.

1. Click on a photo anywhere in the entry and you will get a larger
photo with arrows to click and scroll through all photos. In that
format, you'll see the title and any comments I wrote on the right side
too.

2. If you scroll down to the bottom of the page, below the photos on
any entry, the Table of Entries (Contents) appears below each
entry. You can scroll and click on any Entry from any other Entry.



July 08, 2014 02:45 PM

July 05, 2014

Hinche Haiti Partners for Education

Where the dirt road ends

Originally posted on Project Rive:
As the priest here in Hinche, Pere Noe is in charge of not just one church but a whole parish of them. He lives and works at St. Andre’s, but spends a lot of time…

by hinchehaitipartnersforeducation at July 05, 2014 03:39 AM

Au Revoir, Hinche

Originally posted on Project Rive:
We leave Hinche at 4 in the morning (yes, you read that right), so here’s a wrap-up post where I dump all of my photos on you and reminisce about the time we’ve had here.…

by hinchehaitipartnersforeducation at July 05, 2014 03:36 AM

Seventh Day: Unleash Kids Travels North to Hinche, Haiti and St. Andre’s School!

Originally posted on Haiti Dreams!:
Early this morning we (Unleash Kids!) left Port-au-Prince for a 2 or 3 hour ride to St. Andre’s School in Hinche. Once here, we had some lunch and got to work checking out XO laptops…

by hinchehaitipartnersforeducation at July 05, 2014 01:47 AM

July 04, 2014

Hinche Haiti Partners for Education

Scholarship Drive Update

Our goal is in sight! 100% of your donation goes to St. Andre’s school operations. We are only $3000 short of our $35,000 goal and still have matching funds available. We know there are folks out there who want to help,...

by hinchehaitipartnersforeducation at July 04, 2014 09:52 PM

Bert Freudenberg

SqueakJS runs Etoys now

TL;DR: Try Etoys in your web browser without a plugin (still buggy, but even works on iPad). Feedback from more platforms is very welcome, and fixes to improve the compatibility, too.
Half a year has passed since my initial release of SqueakJS. Now I can report on some significant progress since then.

For one, I adopted a UI layout similar to Dan’s Smalltalk-72 emulator, where the debugger interface is only visible when the system is stopped. Now that the basics are working, there is no need to show the debugger all the time. Try it yourself at the Lively page.


But more importantly, many more subsystems are working now. BitBlt is almost complete (all the important modes are implemented), WarpBlt works (for scaling and rotating morphs), the image can be saved, an emulated file system supports reading and writing of persistent files. This now is enough to not only run the very old and undemanding “mini.image”, but SqueakJS now can even run the very latest Etoys image, the same version as on Squeakland. Beware of the many incomplete features and outright bugs still left to be fixed, but try it for yourself here.

While Etoys feels a lot slower than the MVC “mini.image”, and some operations take many seconds, it is surprisingly responsive for normal interaction. On the browsers with the fastest JIT compilers (Safari on Mac, IE on Windows) it is almost good enough, even though no serious optimizations were done yet. It is also interesting to see that some browsers (Chrome and Firefox) are currently significantly slower. And not just a little slower, but Safari outperforms Chrome by 200% for this workload! This is likely due to Safari›’s excellent LLVM-based FTL JIT.


The remarkable thing about the screenshot above is how unremarkable it looks. Apart from the missing white oval behind the “Home” label it looks just like it’s supposed to. In comparison, a week ago the screen still looked like this:


The difference is that Tobias Pape and I added support for Balloon2D rendering. This is Squeak’s default vector rendering engine, originally created by Andreas Raab to show Flash animations. But unlike the rest of the SqueakJS VM, we did not port the original code. Instead, our plugin intercepts the drawing commands and renders them using HTML5 canvas drawing routines. While still far from complete, it can already render one kind of important shapes: TrueType font glyphs. They are defined by Bézier curves, which need to be rendered with anti-aliasing to look nice. And now that we can render text, the graphics are almost complete. Many more details still need to be implemented, especially color gradients.

This highlights one strength of Squeak: The VM and its plugin modules present a well-defined, stable interface to the outside world. That is what makes a machine truly “virtual”. In contrast, other systems rely on FFI (the foreign function interface) or similar techniques for extension. While convenient during rapid development, it does not keep the interface small and stable. That interface is overly broad and unpredictable. Typically, client code must be special-cased per platform. It's calling C functions directly, which may or may not exist on a given platform. That makes it much harder to move the system to another platform, and in particular one that is completely different, like the web browser. The Squeak Etoys image on the other hand did not have to be modified at all.

What I’d like to see fixed in Squeak is that there should be working fallback code for all non-essential primitive functions. This would make it much easier to get up and running on new platforms.

For SqueakJS, bugs need to get fixed, and many features are still missing to run Etoys fully. Adding support for other Squeak releases than Etoys would be great (closure/Cog/Spur images). Contributions are welcome: fork my github project.

by Bert (noreply@blogger.com) at July 04, 2014 08:42 PM

SqueakJS: A Lively Squeak VM

I'm proud to announce SqueakJS, a new Squeak VM that runs on Javascript:


It was inspired by Dan's JSqueak/Potato VM for Java, and similarly only runs the old Squeak 2.2 mini.image for now. But I developed it inside the Lively Kernel, which allowed me to make a nice UI to look inside the VM (in addition to all the Lively tools):


It represents regular Squeak objects as Javascript objects with direct object references. SmallIntegers are represented as Javascript numbers, there is no need for tagging. Instance variables and indexable fields are held in a single array named "pointers". Word and byte binary objects store their data in arrays named "bytes" or "words". CompiledMethod instances have both "pointers" and "bytes". Float instances are not stored as two words as in Squeak, but have a single "float" property that stores the actual number (and the words are generated on-the-fly when needed).

For garbage collection, I came up with a hybrid scheme: the bulk of the work is delegated to the Javascript garbage collector. Only in relatively rare circumstances is a "manual" garbage collection needed. This hybrid GC is a semi-space GC with an old space and a new space. Old space is a linked list of objects, but newly allocated objects are not added to the list, yet. Therefore, unreferenced new objects will be automatically garbage-collected by Javascript. This is like Squeak's incremental GC, which only looks at objects in new space. The full GC is a regular mark-and-sweep: it's marking all reachable objects (old and new), then unmarked old objects get removed (a very cheap operation in a linked list), and new objects (identified by their missing link) are added to the old-space list. One nice feature of this scheme is that its implementation does not need weak references, which Javascript currently does not support.

This scheme also trivially supports object enumeration (Squeak's nextObject/nextInstance primitives): If the object is old, the next object is just the next link in the list. Otherwise, if there are new objects (newSpaceCount > 0) a GC is performed, which creates the next object link. But if newSpaceCount is 0, then this was the last object, and we're done.

The UI for now copies the Squeak display bitmap pixel-by-pixel to a typed array and shows it on the HTML 2D canvas using putImageData(). Clipboard copying injects a synthetic CMD-C keyboard event into the VM, then runs the interpreter until it has executed the clipboard primitive in response, then answers that string. This is because the web browser only allows clipboard access inside the copy/paste event handlers. You can drag an image file from your disk into the browser window to load it.

Besides running it on your desktop, you can install it as offline web app on an iPad:


On the iPad there is neither right-click nor command keys, but the menu is available on the inside of the flop-out scrollbars. It needs a fairly recent browser, too - it works in iOS 7, but apparently not in older ones. On Android it works in Chrome 31, but not quite as well (for example, the onscreen-keyboard does not come up on an Galaxy Note tablet).

Go to the project page to try it yourself. The sources are on GitHub, and contributions are very welcome.

Have a great Christmas!

by Bert (noreply@blogger.com) at July 04, 2014 03:47 PM

July 01, 2014

Chris Ball

Serverless WebRTC, continued

Around a year ago, in WebRTC without a signaling server, I presented an simple app that can start a chat session with another browser without using a local web server (i.e. you just browse to file:///), and without using a signaling server (instead of both going to the same web page to share “offers”, you share them manually, perhaps via IM).

It’s been a busy year for WebRTC! When I released serverless-webrtc, Chrome didn’t support datachannels yet, so the code only worked on Firefox. Now it works in stable releases of both browsers, and is interoperable between the two, for both reliable (TCP-like) and unreliable (UDP-like) transfers. And I’ve just added Node to the mix (so you can do Node—Node / Node—Chrome / Node—Firefox) as well, with the first release of the serverless-webrtc NPM package. Here’s how to try it out:

$ git clone git://github.com/cjb/serverless-webrtc
$ cd serverless-webrtc
$ npm install
$ firefox serverless-webrtc.html &
$ node serverless-webrtc.js
<paste firefox's offer into node, hit return>
<paste node's answer into firefox, click ok>
<you're connected!>

And here’s a screenshot of what that looks like:

I’m able to do this thanks to the wrtc NPM module, which binds the WebRTC Native Code Package (written in C++) to Node, and then exposes a JS API on top of it that looks like the browser’s WebRTC JS API. It’s really impressive work, and the maintainers have been super-friendly.

Next I’d like to unwrap the JS from the node client and make a pure C++ version, because the Tor developers would like “to have two C++ programs that are capable of chatting with each other, after being given an offer and answer manually”, to help investigate WebRTC as a method of relaying Tor traffic.

Finally, a link that isn’t related to this project but is too cool not to mention – Feross Aboukhadijeh has a WebTorrent project to port a full BitTorrent client to the browser, also using WebRTC in a serverless way (with trackerless torrents, and peer-to-peer node introductions).

What would it mean if the next Wikipedia or GitHub (see Yurii Rashkovskii’s GitChain project!) didn’t have to spend tens of millions of dollars each year for servers and bandwidth, and could rely on peer-to-peer interaction? I’d love to find out, and I have a feeling WebRTC is going to show us.

by cjb at July 01, 2014 01:01 PM

June 29, 2014

Hinche Haiti Partners for Education

Priorities for Episcopal Schools in Haiti

Priorities for Episcopal Schools in Haiti The St. Andre’s school is well on it’s way to meeting the priority goals of development for all Episcopal Schools in Haiti. Thanks to everyone for their unwavering support for this mission and the...

by hinchehaitipartnersforeducation at June 29, 2014 04:18 PM

June 24, 2014

Hinche Haiti Partners for Education

Anatomy of a Haiti Mission Trip

Update from Youth Haiti Mission Team member Rodger Langland:   Father Noe did most of the service this morning and then headed to two other parishes to do services there. Back about 16:00. He says his combined parishes have about 2500...

by hinchehaitipartnersforeducation at June 24, 2014 04:01 AM

June 23, 2014

Ghana Together

Update on WHH Scholars


We thought our readers would like an update on those original Western Heritage Home Scholars. As “orphaned or vulnerable children” (a Ghanaian government classification) they spent their early years in the WHH Children’s Home in Axim. In fact, their care was WHH’s first substantial community project and our first collaboration with WHH. <o:p></o:p>
<o:p> </o:p>
You may recall that in mid-2011 the WHH Board moved the children into kinship/foster homes, both out of their own concern about the long-term effects of institutionalizing children, and also because of some governmental policy changes.<o:p></o:p>
<o:p> </o:p>
Maryanne visited with most of these children in February this year. She was told by Manye Academy staff that due to the extra tutoring and care in early years at the Children’s Home, they have done well in their studies, considering they had few to no academic skills when they started at Manye at various ages.
 
So here’s an update.
<o:p> </o:p>
Ben (P5) and Gladys (P2) attend in Brawie/Akyminim Primary School, in north Axim, near the Community Development Vocational Institute. They live with their Grandma. It’s a tough go, but the school headmaster says as long as we provide uniforms and fees which cover exercise books, pens, daily lunch, etc. they’re ok. We’re grateful to generous neighbors who help out Grandma as best they can.<o:p></o:p>
<o:p> </o:p>
Philomena (Form 1 SHS) and Charlotte (Form 1 SHS) are on Tullow Oil Company scholarships at Nsein Senior High School. They are both outstanding students, and the oil company pays all of their expenses, so they require no support from us as this time. Way to go girls!!! Way to go Tullow!!
<o:p> </o:p>
Peter has just graduated JHS, took his BECE exams, and is awaiting results. He will attend High School in the Nzema East area, starting September, either with our help or, because his academic work is tops, he is hoping for a scholarship.  He likes math, science, business, and computers, he says. Peter has moved from Mr. Bentil’s home (how can we thank you for your years of generosity to this boy??) and is now living in the Heritage Volunteer Quarters. He is helping Evans Arloo, the Manager, esp. with the One Laptop Per Child Computers (he’s an early expert!). Peter not only lost his parents as a young boy, but recently both his biological sister (sickle cell) and his brother (typhoid). <o:p></o:p>
<o:p> </o:p>
Frederic is in P6 at Manye Academy and living in a kinship/foster home in Axim.<o:p></o:p>
<o:p> </o:p>
Francis (JHS Form1) and Lamin (JHS Form 2) are living in kinship homes and attend Manye Academy. Lamin still loves soccer and has become an outstanding athlete.<o:p></o:p>
<o:p> </o:p>
Olivia, George, Isaac, and Eric are in JHS Form 1 at Manye. <o:p></o:p>
<o:p> </o:p>
Isaac dropped out for a couple of years to join his older brother in traditional medicine work, but he has been counselled by WHH board member Nana Adjow Sika (Queen Mother) to finish high school before he makes career decisions and he has decided to accept her wise counsel.<o:p></o:p>
<o:p> </o:p>
Eric also dropped out and joined a fishing crew in Ivory Coast, but he decided he wanted to be back in Axim, and learn driving or electrician work. But, to do that, he needs to finish JHS first, so he has decided to resume his studies at Manye. (Thank you, Manye staff, for being so flexible---you are true educators!)<o:p></o:p>
<o:p> </o:p>
George, Olivia, Ernestina, Isaac, and Eric are boarding at Manye Hostel. As they got older, between helping their families with fetching of water, cooking, etc., and lack of electricity so no lights, they had too little time for homework during daylight hours. In the hostel, they have regular food, water, and a generator. It is crucial, in Ghana, for students to finish junior high. Eligibility for senior high school is based on junior high test results. Without JHS training, one simply doesn’t have the skills to work in Ghana’s economy.<o:p></o:p>
<o:p> </o:p>
Gifty is in SHS in Beyim. <o:p></o:p>
<o:p> </o:p>
Joanna is with her biological grandmother/auntie in the Takoradi area. <o:p></o:p>
<o:p> </o:p>
Mary is with family in Accra. <o:p></o:p>
<o:p> </o:p>
Wahab and Adiza are in Tarkwa in kinship homes. <o:p></o:p>
<o:p> </o:p>
Emmanuela is at the Blind/Deaf School in Cape Coast. She is doing well. Maryanne didn’t visit her because she has adjusted well, per the teachers, and a visit would perhaps disturb that. We pay for some of her expenses—all of her menstrual supplies, clothing, toiletries, etc.<o:p></o:p>
<o:p> </o:p>
Godwin has been taken into James Kainyiah’s family in Takoradi and is growing up with the Kainyiah children. He still loves his OLPC and told Maryanne he is tops in his class in ICT (computer studies). <o:p></o:p>
<o:p> </o:p>
We save Dorothy Armoo for last! She has graduated senior high school and is teaching at a small private primary school just south of Axim. She loves teaching---English and ICT. She is earning her own living. We are so proud! WAY TO GO DOROTHY!!!<o:p></o:p>
<o:p> 
Dorothy, second from left, with fellow teachers
</o:p>


One of Dorothy's classes in their "bamboo school"

These WHH Scholars are still a primary responsibility for WHH and for Ghana Together. We jointly continue to support them financially, on an individual, as-needed basis. Our goal is to make sure that one way or another, all who have the academic ability will finish senior high school, a high achievement in Ghana. We’d like to do more for those who are academically capable
<o:p>
 
They see each other as "extended family" and do look after each other. We are proud of them. Dorothy, the "senior sister" called at 2:00 am on Mother's Day to wish all the "Mums" on Ghana Together's Board a Happy Mother's Day from all the scholars.
<o:p></o:p> 
We are especially grateful to local leaders, especially James Kainyiah, Isaac Bentil, Queen Mother Nana Adjow Sika, and the various teachers and administrators at Manye Academy, especially Felicia Atta, former assistant headmistress and current teacher. <o:p></o:p>
<o:p> </o:p>
And youhave helped support these children over the years. They and we thank you.
<o:p></o:p> 
The WHH motto is “Making Leaders of the Least” and so they are…
<o:p></o:p> 
</o:p>
<o:p>For more info see http://ghanatogether.org</o:p>
<o:p>Contact us at info@ghanatogether.org</o:p>
<o:p> </o:p>

by Ghana Together (noreply@blogger.com) at June 23, 2014 08:11 PM

OLPC SF

Google Hangout from OLPC SF June 2014 meeting

Thanks to Mike Lee, a recording of the Google Hangout from our June 2014 meeting is up on Youtube. Clearly there are better ways of managing Google Hangouts, and clearly I don't know most of these, so once again, thanks to Mike Lee for saving the day! For the parts of the session on XOVis, you can see a blog post at http://www.olpcsf.org/node/208, and get slides from http://www.slideshare.net/sverma/xovis-analyticsvisualizationsugarolpc-3... . Braddock Gaskill's slides on Internet-in-a-Box are posted on GitHub at https://github.com/braddockcg/internet-in-a-box/raw/master/doc/201402_SC...

 

<iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/jDyiL8jvGWY" width="420"></iframe>

by sverma at June 23, 2014 06:04 PM

OLE Nepal

Comparing Deployment Data with XOvis

It is hard to believe that six months have already passed since my arrival to Kathmandu. My volunteering time at OLE Nepal is up. At the end of May, I delivered a final presentation about XOvis, an XO usage visualization application our Data Quest Team has developed, and bid farewell to my Nepali colleagues. From [...]

by martasd at June 23, 2014 02:57 PM

OLPC SF

XOVis: The quest continues

Note: Slides for this project are now posted to Slideshare at http://www.slideshare.net/sverma/xovis-analyticsvisualizationsugarolpc-3...

Update: Martin Dluhos has published a post at OLENepal's blog site, which was written independent of this post, but acts as a good companion to this post, especially highlighting the ways in which OLENepal can compare data across schools. http://blog.olenepal.org/index.php/archives/902

The "Quest for Data" project has been going on for a while now. You can take a look at previous posts to get an idea, but the short of it is that we've had several efforts to gather data that allows us to peek into the usage behavior of projects. These have happened in Paraguay, Jamaica, Australia, India, Peru and a few other places. XOVis is a newer incarnation in that string of efforts. Thankfully, this one builds on the foundations of some of the previous ones.

Learning Analytics
is defined as a process with four phases: measurement, collection, analysis and reporting. In case of Sugar, the measurement happens within each activity - more specifically through its metadata - where we use proxies such as start time, collaboration, type of activity, file produced, etc. to assess a level of engagement. For the purposes of this post, we'll go with the assumption that these proxies imply correlation with engagement, and therefore to learning (yes, this is a big assumption, but this is a blog post, and not a double-blind peer reviewed journal paper, so I won't get into it here).

Visualization is an important stage in the reporting process, although by itself, it may lead to incomplete assessments. Visualization tends to be used with aggregates, that is the aggregate behavior of a classroom , school or a collection of schools. So, for instance, we may be interested in seeing how a group of children use Sugar activities during school hours versus outside of school hours (for those fortunate deployments where the laptop goes home).

The data flow is from the laptop's Journal, to an automated Journal backup set on the School Server (XS or XSCE), to the extraction of metadata, to aggregate analysis and finally visualization. There are several ways to do this, but we chose to look at a three-tier architecture: The laptop's Journal, The School Server and the hypothetical Ministry of Education or NGO central cloud service. Metadata flows from XO to XS[CE] via automated rsync backups. Metadata flows from XS[CE] to the Ministry/NGO central server through a mechanism explained below.

XOVis architecture

At this point, I must specify that the XOVis application was written by Martin Dluhos, while he was working at OLE Nepal, while I helped with the overall architecture, based on my experiences in Jamaica and India, and Andi Gros helped with the visualization front-end. The work that Martin did is thankfully built on top of what Raúl Gutiérrez Segalés and Leotis Buchanan did earlier in Paraguay and Jamaica respectively. We also involved input from Martin Abente Lahaye about Australia's Harvest system, and Anish Mangal about sugar-stats, and were mindful to create an architecture that can accommodate both systems (these other systems will need some coding labor, of course).

Resuming the explanation, one of the key issues was to deal with the problem of offline and intermittent connectivity to School Servers. We needed a glue that connected the School Server to a central location, and would be resilient to pick up sync where it left off, and do so without human intervention (very much like rsync). Then we would need an engine to aggregate the data across different cross comparisons - averages and comparisons of usage by day, by month, by year, etc. This is where CouchDB magic comes in. CouchDB can:

  1. Store data as json documents at the School Server.
  2. Generate aggregates using MapReduce.
  3. Store the visualization front-end (HTML+JavaScript).
  4. Synchronize from School Server to Ministry-of-Education/NGO over broken/intermittent connections (can also use a USB stick sneakernet).
  5. Make coffee while running all of the above (ok, so that's not true)

Could we use CouchDB to address all these needs? Yes! So, we used CouchDB to do #1, #2, #3, and #4. For #5, you are on your own :-)

 

So, this is somewhat how it goes. You can head over to GitHub (https://github.com/martasd/xovis) and grab the code. If using a XS (I haven't tested yet) I'd recommend that you install by hand, using the

./scripts/install_xovis.sh 

script. If you are running your project on XSCE, use the ansible playbook for xovis.

./runansible 

will play all playbooks and install all services, including xovis. To install xovis only, do

ansible-playbook -i ansible_hosts xsce.yml --connection=local --tags="xovis"

Next, make sure that you have Journal backups in

/library/users

If you have registered XOs with this School Server, the backups will start to happen automatically (takes 30 minutes or so). If you have user backups, then you can run the process_journal_stats.py script to do a bunch of things.

 

process_journal_stats.py all 

will export metadata to comma-separated value (csv) format for analysis in Excel, LibreOffice or R.

process_journal_stats.py activity

will spit out stats for activities

process_journal_stats.py dbinsert xovis --deployment <deployment-name> --server http://admin:admin@127.0.0.1:5984

will push the metadata into the local CouchDB database on the School Server. Note that the admin:admin userid:password may/should change.

Next, to visualize what your deployment has been up to, open up a browser on a machine connected to your School Server. Go to

http://schoolserver:5984/<deployment-name>/_design/xovis-couchapp/index.html

Pick your deployment from the dropdown and click on a button to check out the visualization!

Frequency of use

Frequency of use

 

Activities tracked by month

Activities by month

 

Activities by time of day

Activities by time of day

by sverma at June 23, 2014 08:58 AM

June 20, 2014

Anish Mangal: walking the path...

Ed-tech v/s culture

If you've been in the "ed-tech" space long enough, you listen to enough conversations and start getting your head around the major issues people often get wrong. One of them is culture. I've titled the post "Ed-tech v/s Culture", because that's what I see happening in many places with many projects. I think this is a dangerous trend.

Education, or more generally learning, especially for young children, never happens in isolation, and often times, happens more outside the school than in. To put it one way, it is a long process of enculturation one in which many people play a part - friends, parents, uncles, teachers, mentors et. al. This process takes place at a different pace across different societies, and the societies themselves are at various stages of cultural evolution (for lack of a better word).

Throughout history, there have been many precedents of new technologies shaping culture, but, to be honest, it's a tight feedback loop. The sages in India wouldn't have discovered '0' if they weren't imagining things in huge time-periods, and astronomical scales that required the invention of zero. There are many other examples from the modern age, and it is a generally well known fact that culture and technology are often interlinked, quite closely.

What happens then, when a piece of technology, which is almost futuristic to it's intended audience is air-dropped and folks with access to it are left to themselves. (Kind of like if aliens flew to earth and shared the plans for cold-fusion or faster-than-light travel). To make matters worse, the targeted audience of ed-tech projects is generally young children, who may be incapable of taking the decisions by themselves, mostly because the societal sphere they exist in doesn't play any significant influencing part. This happens as a result of technology being treated as a commodity rather than as an agent of cultural change.

A more tangible example is the recent news story about iPads being hacked by kids in a school in LA.

Following news that students at a Los Angeles high school had hacked district-issued iPads and were using them for personal use, district officials have halted home use of the Apple tablets until further notice.
Assuming that tablets were being given to children to foster creative learning, an incident like this should actually attract adulation rather than criticism, where the children came across a problem, and they worked, hopefully creatively, to find a solution to it. However, that's not what happened, and the school halted home use. Why? I can take one guess. It was because the parents of those children were never "involved" by the school in the process of their children gaining access to iPads. The were most likely made to sign some legal document, which they would have happily did - who wouldn't like to have a new iPad, right?

Wrong!

The critical mistake that happened here was a piece of new technology was introduced in an existing ecosystem, and all the parties involved (mainly the parents) weren't informed of it's true ramifications. Hence they were never able to influence or guide their children of how it might be useful to them, what the various risks were or atleast keep an eye on what's happening. I guess a physical analogue could be a child discovering cigarette smoking, and instead of having a parent telling them that it's bad for their health, you have a machine that says "access denied". It doesn't take a lot to imagine what would happen next.

iPads are commonplace in the US, but in many remote regions of the world, people have never seen an old cellphone before, let alone a computer or a tablet. In such a situation, it is almost delusional to assume that airdropped laptops or tablets would lead to expected or intended results. Projects that make such an assumption and don't engage with local communities and encourage grassroots efforts are doomed to less than ideal, sometimes even negative results. I see it happening with OLPC in many places.

Unfortunately (or fortunately) there is no easy, elegant way to make this happen. You can have all the technical infrastructure and resources you want, but it is not going to lead to the "education revolution" that you were hoping for. Lasting change only happens through grassroots efforts; and a deep appreciation for the communities in which the new piece of technology is being introduced. The sooner that ed-tech community realizes this, the better it will be for everyone.

Best,
Anish


by Anish Mangal (noreply@blogger.com) at June 20, 2014 02:58 PM

From the ashes of OLPC... (Part 1)

This is the first in a series of blog posts on the subject, and focuses more on the community related aspects of the One Laptop Per Child project. Future posts will cover other aspects, and hopefully I will get around to completing them soon enough to maintain continuity. 

The One Laptop Per Child project is a global initiative to revolutionize early education through innovative use of technology and learning philosophy. Launched in 2005/6, the project attracted a lot of attention with the goal of distributing 100 million laptops - one for every child in a developing nation. Through its eight year history (so far), the project has seen many ups and downs, but has managed to distribute close to an impressive 3 million laptops mostly in Latin America, Africa, Australia and parts of the US. There are active volunteer communities, both local and global which provide support for the laptop hardware, and the Sugar learning software - a core component of its learning philosophy. 

Attributed to its scale and unique nature of the project, it has attracted the interest of many scholarly researchers, foundations and other organizations to study the impact of the project with its successes and failures. This however, is a more personal account of my association with the project and my thoughts at the road forward. I joined the project in the spring of 2010 as a volunteer and later as co-founder of Activity Central - a services & support start up within the ecosystem. I had the privilege of witnessing the project at close quarters in Paraguay, Uruguay and Australia which constituted a significant chunk of the overall project. It certainly constituted a major chunk of 'innovation in the field' that helped make the project produce favorable outcomes in these places. Activity Central shut down operations earlier this year and my involvement with the project has dwindled since. I should also make it clear that I have never been associated with the OLPC organization (Foundation or Association) in any form whatsoever.

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Many in the volunteer community now believe that the project is at a crossroads; there is considerable churn within the OLPC organization and the volunteer community. Many old-timers have bid-aideu and while there are new volunteers and even a GSOC project, the number has steadily gone down. The OLPC foundation in Cambridge, MA, which was responsible for a lot of the early innovation around the laptop and its software shut down last year, and the OLPC association in Miami is cannibalizing its own visionary green machine with a consumer android tablet for american kids. It runs proprietary software, contrary to one of its core principles of open and free software for democratized learning. However, the most telling indicator is the fact that the amount of new laptop orders isn't even a patch on the years gone by. OLPC-the-original-project is now largely a support what we have operation.

An important, perhaps defining facet of OLPC is the volunteer community, and communities don't form or shut down like organizations, but congregate or disperse around ideas and vision. The fragmentation in the community is a mirror of the fragmentation in project's vision. This is actually rather exciting and I'm glad that it is finally happening. Some notable efforts are XSCE, UnleashKids, Sugarizer among many others. At a recent summit in Malacca, Malaysia, discussions were centered around 'OLPC 2.0' signifying a brave new world we all must confront. Further, technology-enabled education is poised for explosive growth, even in developing nations [insert your favorite benevolent-foundation report here].

And thus it becomes critical at this time of change that a fair light be thrown upon the past. It will be OLPCs biggest failure, and certainly my biggest fear, that the lessons learnt from this grand worldwide experiment are forgotten by new initiatives in the times to follow. In the lines below, I will try to present my biased view of some of the key lessons that need to be remembered. I present them in context of OLPC as a project aimed at revolutionizing learning with a heavy emphasis on grassroots approaches.

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Ideas > Community ≫ Individuals


Before you start to think that I am advocating socialism (or worse as a friend put it, radical communism), let me state upfront that ideas, and community are essentially the product of talented and brilliant individuals getting together, and the intent is not to suppress anyone's individual's contributions. Open communities do not form overnight, but through an organic process of individuals identifying with a vision and a big & hairy audacious goal. It is also built on trust, and a faith in democratically evolved processes of decision making (this is even true of large successful communities with so called benevolent dictators).

As a community grows and evolves, it is natural that some individuals will take on important roles. However, both the individual concerned and the community should work to ensure that at no point should they start to overshadow the project's vision with their own. OLPC/Sugar suffered by not following this, perhaps more so because there were a large number of academicians and government officials involved, and though I don't bear any ill-will, some individuals within the community sought to influence the project's evolution - not always through the defined decision making processes.

Practice radical transparency
The way in which a projects earliest community members behave and form informal rules of exchange has a significant if not defining influence on its future growth. One aspect which I would like to specifically point out is public v/s private discussions. A lot has been said and written about the balance between the two, but I would say this - when a community grows beyond the number of people that can fit in an SUV, every decision which pertains to community processes, or roadmaps for development must be clearly defined and every discussion related to that decision must take place in publicly archived spaces. This is easier said than done, as the desire to form a small coterie of people who have a 'safe environment' to discuss and decide can be overwhelming; Resist that! even if it means parting ways with some volunteers.

I was not there during the early days of OLPC/Sugar, but when I joined, it was obvious to me that there was a high-council where decisions were made, and the amount of important communication happening through private, business and informal channels was significant. I know this because I am also guilty in partaking in some of it, as a result of the preexisting mess in the ecosystem.

The world is flat ... er, not quite!

One challenge which doesn't necessarily confront most volunteer communities but did so in the case of OLPC/Sugar was the level of diversity in terms of connectivity and geography. This was accentuated further by the fact that such diversity was not at all evenly spread across the professional background of the volunteers. For example, most teachers and students (roughly, the end users) had very little connectivity with the rest of the ecosystem, while most software development volunteers were quite well connected. This resulted in two problems:
  • A majority of volunteers in the 'technology' sub community had little idea of the kind of problems a teacher or a student would face while using the laptop and what would be a useful/useless feature to have as part of the package. This lack of information and insight was resolved more often by guesswork rather than taking on the arduous challenge of contacting the people at the deployment. Broadly put, different groups in the ecosystem were not adequately represented, which coupled with the lack of transparent decision making caused a loss of faith in upstream's (mostly technology folks and researchers) ability to deliver. Within ActivityCentral, this problem was well understood, and despite our best efforts to give voice to the real world users, we were only partially successful. 
  • As a result of this schism and loss of faith, most of the deployments never really reaped the benefits of the work put in by the technology team. Even now, there are many deployments which are using 6-7 year old software builds on their laptops, because a persistent effort was never really made to involve them in the shaping of the technology they are meant to use. This is not a problem for the researchers/scholars in the community as they are quite happy with tinkering and doing a few pilot projects a year to get enough material for research. Thus, we had two or more divergent subcommunities and a sufficient lack of affinity between them to merge.
  • In hindsight, I think if we had focused more on data driven decisions, and instituted well designed data collection and analysis platforms, some parts of the problem could have been addressed. Still the human element of this challenge is what I believe was the greatest roadblock. 
I guess the lesson to take from this is to realize and respect the level of diversity in your community, and go out of your way to make sure that each broad segment is well represented as much down the tree as possible. Having a member in an the board/high-council is a good step, but is not the same as installing a process to solicit feedback at a grassroots level. 

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Big splash upfront might not always work

If you perform a Google-image-search 'One Laptop per Child', you will more likely than not run into a few images of Nicholas Negroponte holding the little green machine or Kofi Annan, the then UN secretary general, playing with an old prototype hand crank powered laptop. As mentioned before, OLPC was launched with much pomp and fanfare and there was an immense amount of recall for 'the $100 machine' locally. This attracted torrent of volunteers willing to be part of the project in the beginning resulting in a hastily put together large community with some of the flaws discussed above. Looking in retrospect, it is questionable that the approach OLPC followed in it's earliest days is a model that should be followed by future ed-tech projects, and though I do not have a firmed up opinion about this, I feel this is an important perspective that should be looked at in greater detail. 

The argument for this approach is somewhat obvious and quite well made. Big splash equals lots of eyeballs equals lots of potential volunteers; who would not want that? Yet, there exist very successful community projects which were unheard of until they started becoming big: Linux, GNU, Wikipedia. All these projects were borne out of their own subcultures rather than a mass media fed stream of marketing material. The argument against can be made like this: OLPC never really had a subculture to start with, and if it did, the "organization" didn't respect that.

As I said, I don't have a definitive opinion on this one, perhaps the problem was not the big splash but the last line of the previous paragraph, and what is worse, it holds true since the inception of OLPC till the present day (from what I know of).

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If you have been reading this far, I thank you for it, and hope that you look forward to the next post in the series, which looks closely at the challenges at deployment sites. 

Cheerio,
Anish

by Anish Mangal (noreply@blogger.com) at June 20, 2014 02:58 PM

June 19, 2014

Unleash Kids: Unsung Heroes of OLPC, Interviewed Live

Internet-in-Your-Hand

Here’s the low-down on mobile Internet in Haiti, as of June 2014, based on what they told me at the airport. Hope it works for you as well as it does for me: having access to email, Skype, maps, and even Wikipedia info about what kind of fruit I’m eating has proven to be so useful. Plus, I can turn my phone into a hotspot and make posts on my laptop using that connection (what I’m doing right now):

-Digicel and Natcom are the two main providers.
I use Digicel because it’s available in more of the locations where we’re working. Natcom is still catching up.

-There’s two plans and two prices.
7 GB for US$26/month or 15 GB for US$50/month (less if you have Haitian currency on hand)

-Some places (Port-au-Prince and Hinche, for example) have 3G, but in most areas the connection will be slower.
I can normally support Skype calls, but sometimes it goes in and out.

-If you have an Android phone, the people at the shop might not understand how to set it up. Here’s what you need to do (courtesy of my friend Curt):
Access point names says
digicel
digicel.web

i click on that and…
Name: digicel
APN: digicel.web (WARNING: Digicel 4G FAQ says to try web.digicelha.com instead, so you may want to try each, as this is the one setting that matters most!)
Proxy: Not set
Username: Not set
Password: Not set
Server: Not set
MMSC: Not set
MMS Proxy: Not set
MMS port: Not set
MCC: 338
MNC: 050
Authentication type: Not set
APN type: Not set
APN protocol: IPv4
APN roaming protocol: IPv4
APN enable/disable: APN enabled (greyed out, cannot change)
Bearer: Unspecified
MVNO type: None
MVNO value: Not set

by Sora Edwards-Thro at June 19, 2014 08:12 AM

June 12, 2014

Hinche Haiti Partners for Education

June 09, 2014

Hinche Haiti Partners for Education

June 05, 2014

OLPC Friends Oceania

Ghana Together

We say goodbye to Tom


This past Saturday we of Ghana Together gathered with family and friends at the East Shore Unitarian Church in Bellevue, Washington State, to say goodbye to Tom Castor.
Both Tom and his beloved wife Louise were among Ghana Together’s founding members. He was an active board member until the day of his death on May 16, 2014.<o:p></o:p>
Tom put his heart and soul into the all the work we did with the people, and especially the children, of Axim, Ghana.<o:p></o:p>

In our early years, we supported a children’s home. He and Louise traveled with us to dedicate the building and launch that effort.<o:p></o:p>


Tom and his wife, Louise Wilkinson, in Ghana
<o:p> </o:p>
He delighted in interacting with the children. They loved to touch Tom’s skin, gently pulling the hair on his arms and beard, completely unafraid of this gentle white man!<o:p></o:p>

<o:p> </o:p>He was with them when the lights went out and when it was time to get up with the sun to get ready for school!<o:p></o:p>

<o:p> 
Tom showing off his fancy camera to his enraptured audience!
 
</o:p>
He helped set up a science room at Manye Primary School.<o:p></o:p>



Tom receiving a traditional stole from Felicia Atta, Assistant Headmistress, in appreciation for his contributions to the Manye Academy Science Room
 
He raised funds to build a water tower.<o:p></o:p>
<o:p> </o:p>
He used his technical background to help rebuild about 50 One Laptop Per Child computers and took delight in teaching the children how to use them.<o:p></o:p>


This One Laptop Per Child stuff is REALLY fun. girls!!
<o:p> Tom helped walk</o:p> the entire town of Axim, recording longitude and latitude coordinates for every water spigot.<o:p></o:p>
<o:p> </o:p>
He faithfully served behind the scenes as our Vice President and Secretary, approving bank wires, writing minutes, and giving his best candid counsel.<o:p></o:p>

We are grateful to have known and worked with this skilled, kindly, generous friend.
 
<o:p></o:p> 
<o:p>For more information, see http://ghanatogether.org</o:p>
<o:p>Contact us at info@ghanatogether.org</o:p>
<o:p></o:p> 

by Ghana Together (noreply@blogger.com) at June 05, 2014 05:06 AM

June 03, 2014

Honduras: The Owen Project

The Woods Are Lovely, Dark and Deep, But I Have Promises to Keep….

Dear Friends,

Finals week began today, bringing with it a distinctive mix of apprehension, nostalgia and adolescent craziness. We are off to Siguatepeque early in July. Our team this year will include: Sally and I; Richard , Linda and Natalia Guevara- Grey; Marty Keil, her daughter, Morgan, and her friend Hayley Short; Peter and Elisabeth Englefield; and Becky Young . Our 160 XO3 android tablets are already in Honduras. We will meet with the Vice Minister of the Honduran Ministry of Education in Tegucigalpa soon after we land. We hope to secure WiFi for Owen Project schools, training for those teachers and technical support for all the existing XOs in Honduras. In order to expedite this, we must download a special digital curriculum created by the ministry onto the XO tablets and the existing laptops. This is quite exciting as it reveals our growing relationship with the national and local education authorities. Furthermore, this cooperation is in keeping with the vision of OLPC to empower isolated students by connecting them directly to the web and to revolutionize the accessibility  of education for rural developing world communities. We will take tablets to 5 new schools and try to visit all the other 10 Owen Project schools. With WiFi access, we hope to establish sister-school relationships with our public schools in Seguin  and those around Siguatepeque through skype and facetime. Thinking about the first 4 years of the Owen Project is to enter a world without spiritual inertia or friction, where our initial efforts to create and direct the project have created a momentum that has taken on a life and direction of its own. This is quite humbling and a confirmation of grace at work in the world.

More later,

Mark


by mkeddal at June 03, 2014 07:13 PM

June 01, 2014

Fargo to Sudan XO

How to Get Girls Into Coding – NYTimes.com

How to Get Girls Into Coding – NYTimes.com.

Fabulous opinion piece.  Natalie Rusk, a Scratch developer, notes that the next two years are really important because the “call to code” hasn’t really addressed “what do you want to program?”  Code for the sake of code won’t work for very many learners, boys or girls.


by kab13 at June 01, 2014 03:40 PM

May 29, 2014

Fargo to Sudan XO

May 20, 2014

Hands of Charity XO Project | Kenya

Why do Kids Like Scratch?

Bonaventure Masika Reports that kids like Scratch because

It improves their skills in animation projects as it’s much involving. Therefore, a kid can not have time to think on anything destructive but things technologically.

-It is a general, is a learning sugar lab activity that consists almost every feature of the XO laptop. For example; record sound, take photos, paint, import sounds among other tasks.

Kids also love the scratch project samples installed which real make them strive so had to come up with similar like animations.

Why do they like Record? They can see their own real image! – It is a centre of entertainment for the kids as they can make a movie in any style as it will be replayed and if any mistake done they can redo as they delete the unwanted one. – It saves the video automatically even if the learners do not know to do it.- Makes kids feel that they are news reporters on the television through imitation.

Mr. Speak- This is always one of the favorite activities when Small Solutions teams were in the field training.  Here is what the Bungoma team says about it:

When starting up this activity the voice says I quote ”Hello Mr. X, please type something” This create love between a child and the computer.

**And they love the movement of the eyes as the cursor is moved.

**The speaking and pronounciation of words as a way of motivating kids to type more words as a result they improve on keyboarding and English as a language. I think you can imagine a kid from a very rural school.

**The feature that answers a question related to science by the help of the robot among other general questions and iIs a much entertaining center when kids chat with it as it uses funny words during discussion process.

What about Tux Math? works as an entertainment activity and it makes a kid much involved in doing math due to back up noise of tux math command.-They also like seeing the appearance of math questions as they appear on the XO screen with a sign of a flame with those shot like noise made by the activity.-Most interesting is the matching of crow like a bird below the screen before and after the math session.

What more would these kids like to have:

WHAT SHOULDL BE ADDED TO SUGAR LAB

-Time in minutes when it comes to video recording – minimum of 10 minutes on Record activity.

*Biology and Physics be detailed as chemistry on browse science books.*Memory capacity be improved in general as that of a tablet XO tablet which is above 5GB and restores power for 5 hours.   Kids wish to have a tablet like keyboard since they say is hard, switchable and pretty. Digital games be added such as those on windows such as motorbike,safari rally and football and any other child friendly game that you think is fit.

Kids learning about HIV AIDS, and discussed how it affects the economy and opportunities for livelihood.  They also learn about reproductive health.

Creative learning by collection of plastic papers and washing them.

-planning with kids over what they think they can do with plastic papers.

-selection of what material is needed to achieve the specific objective.

The report was prepared by teachers;

Rose, Nelly, Dorice, Shalin, Dorcus led by Bonaventure.

 


by smallsolutionsbigideas at May 20, 2014 04:46 AM

May 18, 2014

Fargo to Sudan XO

Cursive Writing and Coding: Conflicts over School Goals (Part 1)

kab13:

For the transferability of coding to really work, learners can’t just be using computational thinking in other contexts, they also need to be coding in contexts other than the programming class. That’s why we have been arguing for a “smarter computing culture” in which opportunities to program are broadly available.

Originally posted on Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice:

Schools as “museums of virtue”* and schools as engines of change have been dominant and conflicting metaphors in the history of school reform. In the mid-19th century, tax-supported public schools pursued Reading, ‘Riting, ‘Rithmetic–the three Rs. Basic literacy–being able to read the Bible, write one’s name, know elementary ciphering, and absorb family and community values–were the primary reasons for creating public schools. In a predominantly rural society, one-room schools sought to preserve the virtues of Protestantism, instill basic literacy, strengthen patriotism, and social custom through the three Rs.

One hundred and fifty years later, public schools are not only expected to instill the traditional three Rs and socialize children into dominant societal values but also expected to be responsible for the “whole child” and change society for the better. There has been an unrelenting expansion of traditional  three Rs to now include a suite of literacies:  scientific , numeracy

View original 975 more words


by kab13 at May 18, 2014 03:27 PM

Saigon OLPC

Bad Students

So I was a bad student. Every evening, I would head home with school snapping at my heels. My reports testified to my schoolmaster’s disapproval.CHAGRIN ECOLE When I wasn’t bottom of the class, I was second to last. (Champagne all round!) At first severe spelling difficulties, rebellious when it came to memorizing dates and places, incapable of learning foreign languages, and with reputation for laziness (lessons not learned, homework not done), I brought home pitiful results unredeemed by music, or sport, or indeed any extra curricular activity.

I was an object of amazement, and continual amazement at that, as the years rolled by without any signs of improvement to my educational torpor. “I’m flabbergasted!” and “Well, I’ll be damned!” are phrases I associate with adults starting at me in total disbelief, as they registered my failure to get my head round anything at all.

She’s never really got over the fact that I was a bad student.

From early on, my future appeared so compromised that she could never feel entirely confident about my present. Not destined to become anything I wasn’t equipped to survive as far as she was concerned.  I was her precarious child.

EcoleThere is, of course, the question of root cause. How did I become a dunce in the first place? Child of a middle –class civil servant, born into a close, loving family, surrounded by responsible adults ho helped with my homework… My father was a polytechnicien, my mother a housewife, no divorce, no alcoholism, no emotionally disturbed relatives, no hereditary defects, three brothers who had all passed the baccalaureat (all mathematicians:; two became engineers, the third an army officer), normal family routine, healthy diet, books in the home, cultural interests commensurate with background and era: painting up to the Impressionist poetry up to Mallarme, music up to Debussy, Russian novels, a predictable phase of reading Teilhard de Chardin, Joyce and Cioran if they were feeling really adventurous, calm, laughter-filled and cultivated mealtime discussions.

Despite all this, a dunce.

Since 1662 the French word cancre has referred to a student who doesn’t succeed at school. This compromises an extension of the word’s primary meaning: “crab”.

It’s a telling metaphor. The dunce is a student who doesn’t follow the straight and narrow path of normal schooling he moves slowly and sideways, far behind the students ahead of him on the path to academic success…

Einstein, Balzac, Chaplin, Edison, Charlemagne, Debussy, Darwin, Picasso and dozens of others were dunces. If they’d been “no-hopers”, they would have stayed that way. Exceptional gifts which school didn’t know how to bring out were waiting deep inside their duncedom.

Duncedom is a tumor from which certain children suffer, and of which they must be cured, for it can prove fatal to society.

So the dunce is not just a bad student. That he is a bad student is, rather, a consequence of being inhibited by his duncedom, as is his potential to be lazy, unruly, violent, a liar, a truant etc. “Bad student” is then an inadequate and even inaccurate translation of cancre, since it attempts to pass of consequence for cause.

Happy Student

Our “bad students”, the ones slated not to become anything, never come to school alone. What walks into the classroom is an onion: several layers of school blues – feat, worry, bitterness, anger, dissatisfaction, furious renunciation – wrapped round a shameful past, an ominous present, a future condemned.  Look, here they come, their bodies in the process of becoming and their families in their rucksacks. The lesson can’t really being until the burden has been laid down and the onion peeled. It’s hard to explain, but just one look is often enough, a kind remark, a clear, steady word form a considerate grown-up, to dissolve those blues, lighten those minds and settle those kids comfortably into the present indicative.

Naturally, the benefits are temporary; the onion will layer itself back together outside the classroom, and we’ll have to start all over again tomorrow. But that’s what teaching is all about: starting over again and again until we reach the critical moment when the teacher can disappear.

If we fail to set our students in this course … their existence becomes potholes on an indefinite missing. Of course we have not been alone in digging the tunnels or not knowing how to fill them, but these women and men have still had one or more years of their youth, sitting in front of us. And it is not nothing, a year of schooling (damn): this is eternity in a jar.

Excerpts from the book School Blues by Daniel Pennac. Link to the article about his book in French Chagrin D’Ecole.


by polyachka at May 18, 2014 10:00 AM

May 17, 2014

OLPC Basecamp @ Malacca, Malaysia

Musing: 1/2 a year after basecamp

This weekend will be 1/2 a year since basecamp@Malacca, 2013 ended (read Nancie Severs present and past  blog here).  As I muse on the past the issues of impact change and teachers support constantly surface. A recent blog is positive that MOOC can make a difference. However even with money change is not that easy. I notice the constant OLPC bashing  never seem to end. However there is a  thoughtful  blog that gives credit to OLPC 1:1 initiative despite some doubts if we are still alive:

“One laptop per child” visions began almost half a century ago with Alan Kay’s Dynabook concept. Kay pursued education initiatives for decades. The nine-year-old OLPC consortium aimed unsuccessfully for a $100 dollar device, encountering technical and organizational challenges. The site’s once-active blog has been quiet for six months. Its Wikipedia page reflects no new developments for two years. Media accounts consist of claims that OLPC has closed its doors; these are disputed, but the debate speaks for itself.  

Over the past week I have been watching old Video1 &  Video 2  to try to capture the spirit of the past. This  tireless spirit is acted out once again  in OLE Nepal, with TurtleArt Day being conducted by Walter Bender and core OLPC supporters. Some attended basecamp2013.



For children to learn in the digital age they must have access to the digital tools. With tools (e.g. XO laptop) available for some fortunate communities, adults must allocate time for usage. This is critical when the laptop or tools are not own by the child and dependent on adults for access. It is universal for any reform initiative  that  “ .....  At some time, you have to persuade people.”  (the ending line of this long article)

Can teachers learn?  My hope is  teachers learn and support each other in the process. My hopes are raised when I received e-mail with updates: 

" we spent a good 3 hours today with the XO ..... I am pleased with the response as the teacher learned the activities ... showed much promise. Down the line, she began to imagine and suggest how to use some of the activities for the kids ... I am really pleased!! I am confident that she will explore some more when she gets home, and knowing how to move around the XO, she will manage well"

Getting champions will keep the fire burning. I ponder if organising basecamp2014 can make new impact, but keep reminding myself: "if it happen, it will happen". So far I am happy the the mobile  Open Learning Chest is been used and going to different communities.

Nevertheless 2015 is worth thinking about when OLPC reach a decade since it was announced.


.


by T.K. Kang (noreply@blogger.com) at May 17, 2014 05:16 AM

May 15, 2014

Sugar Digest / Walter Bender

Sugar Digest 2014-05-15

Sugar Digest

Happy 6th Birthday Sugar Labs

1. I just got back from Turtle Art Day in Kathmandu, Nepal. OLE Nepal helped organize a 2-day workshop with 70+ children from four schools. Many thanks to Martin Dluhos, Basanta Shrestha, Subir Pradhanang, Rabi Karmacharya, Bernie Innocenti, Nick Dorian, and Adam Holt, all of whom contributed to the event.

It was not a surprise that children in Nepal are like children everywhere else: they take to programming like ducks to water. We began by taking the children in small groups to learn some basics about controlling the turtle: one child plays the role of turtle, one holds the pen (a piece of chalk) and the rest, in a circle, instruct the “turtle” how to draw a square. They need to be very precise with their instructions: if they just say “forward” without saying how far forward, the turtle keeps walking. If they say “right”, without saying how far to turn, the turtle keeps spinning. After they draw a square, I ask them to draw a triangle then they are ready to start with Turtle Art. I’ve posted a few of the chalk drawings in the wiki: simple ones from my session to more elaborate from those working with another one of the mentors.

After working with chalk, we went to the computers. On a laptop connected to a projector, I introduced Turtle Blocks, and again ask for a square. I show them that they can snap together blocks, e.g., forward 100, right 90; showed them the repeat block; and then I show them how to use the start block to run their program with the rabbit or snail (fast or slow). Over time, I introduced the pen and let them explore colors for awhile. Next, I introduce action blocks: make an action for drawing a square and then call that action inside of a repeat block followed by right 45, and you get a pretty cool pattern. This was followed by more open-ended exploration. I introduced a few more ideas, such as using “set color to heading” (the color is determined by the direction the turtle is heading); “set color = color + 1″ to increment the color; and “set color = time” to make the color slowly change over time. I also introduced a few other blocks, such as show, speak, and random. Finally, I introduced boxes. For this, I use a physical box: I ask the children to put a number (written on paper) in the box; then I ask them what number is in the box. I ask them to take the number in the box and add 1 to it. Again I ask them what number is in the box. I repeat this until they get used to it; then I show them the same thing using Turtle. The example program I write with them is to go forward by the amount in the box, turn right, and add 10 to the number in the box. I asked them what they think will happen and then show them that it makes a spiral. When they run it with the “snail”, they can see the number in the box as the program runs. Another block I explicitly introduced was the “show” block. We programmed an animation with “show image”, “wait 1″, “show image”, “wait 1″, … They recorded dance steps using the Sugar Record activity and used those images in their Turtle projects. As often as possible, we tried to have a child show their work to the entire group. At the end of the second day, we had a table set up for an exhibition; we had to keep adding more tables as more and more children wanted to show off their projects.

We originally planned on break-out sessions on Day Two, but we had a technical glitch on Day One, that slowed things down quite a bit. The children were running Sugar 0.82 on XO-1 laptops, which is nearly six-years old. They had them connected to the mesh network, which cannot scale properly to 70+ machines. The result was a lot of frozen machines. It took most of the day to figure out what was wrong. Once we turned off the radios, everything worked great. I also had to spin a stripped down version of Turtle Art, since a number of dependencies I use, such as some Python 2.7 features, were unavailable on 0.82.

We did have one break-out session for robotics. I brought a Butia to Nepal and I wrote the typical program with the kids to have the Butia go forward until it got to the edge of the circle (everyone was sitting in a circle on the floor); whomever the Butia approached had to push a button so that the Butia would spin and then go in another direction. We then added a few embellishments: the Butia would say “ouch” or “that tickles” when the button was pushed; and we had it take a picture of the child who pushed the button. We saved the files so we could use them to make an animation in Turtle Art.

Of note: One child approached me to say he is teaching himself to program Python. I showed him how to export Python from his Turtle Art projects. I’ll be curious how he uses that feature. I am making a new set to Turtle Cards to demonstrate the steps we took in explaining Turtle to the children.

Photos: [1] [2] [3] [4]

2. While I was in Kathmandu, I had a chance to meet with the Nepali FOSS community, thanks to Shankar Pokharel, Ankur Sharma, and Subir Pradhanang. We had a nice talk about the challenges and opportunities facing FOSS in Nepal.

3. Just before my trip to Nepal, I was in Mexico DF attending Aldea Digital. The central plaza in Centro Historico is turned into the world’s largest free Internet cafe for two weeks. I gave a lecture about Sugar and ran an impromptu Turtle Art session. (We installed Sugar in a VM on twenty Windows 8 machines and ran a session.) I also had a chance to meet Ian, the 9-month old baby of Carla Gomez: a future Turtle Artist.

In the Community

4. Mike Dawson, formally of OLPC Afghanistan, wrote a nice commentary on the Keepod in which he mentions Sugar on a Stick.

5. Google Summer of Code begins on the 19th of May. We’ll be meeting every week in IRC on Fridays at 2PM EST.

6. There is still time to enter the Sugar Background Image Contest.

Tech Talk

7. Daniel Narvaez has been building F20 images for XO: The XO-1 image boots into Sugar (latest from git) and wifi works. He has also built XO-4 images.

8. Daniel also built tarballs for 0.101.5 (sugar-0.101.7.tar.xz and sugar-toolkit-gtk3-0.101.5.tar.xz). We are now in string, API and UI freeze.

9. Please help us with testing of Sugar 102.

Sugar Labs

10. Please visit our planet.

by Walter Bender at May 15, 2014 05:45 PM

May 14, 2014

Honduras: The Owen Project

A Remembrance of Things Past

As you might notice by the date of this post, I never did conclude the posts from last summer once I returned to the US. Actually, I originally wanted to postpone these last posts until I was back teaching in Texas. I suspect that anyone reading this who has actually done work in rural areas in the Third World  feels something of a let-down, a sense of moral deflation,when returning to the United States. I teach in the public school system in Texas and my interactions with students here are often in such contrast to those experienced in Honduras that I have sometimes felt disoriented and professionally conflicted. For the first few years I took this to be an indictment of American schools. Now I realize that it is an indictment of me, that I had romanticized the Hondurans to a point where I could see neither them nor my students in Texas.

As I mentioned before, we actually handed out the XOs ourselves this past summer and that made for a wonderful day. Many of the students just couldn’t believe that the computers were theirs to take home. Many parents came and crowded around the door and windows; there was air of expectation and solemnity. We had written the names of each student on their laptops and these names were often quite long and involved. When called to come forward, the students stood proudly and respectfully. Village elders and school officials all made formal speeches. This has happened each year we’ve been in Honduras and I have come to anticipate this formality. This year I wrote my own speech and had it translated it into Spanish. Perhaps because it is a common element in their culture the students listened intently and I felt of one mind and heart with them. I now realize that the real miracles started after we left, when they took the laptops home. I realize now that the real impact will come in the everyday use of the laptops, in the lamplight in a humble house at night, in a classroom during a lesson, in a connection made or a subject explored. It is in all, of these moments, moments I will never see, that the magic will transpire and not in the festival-like atmosphere of our intense trips.

Of course the daily magic of education is what I am privileged to witness every day here in Texas. My students are just as proud, just as full of wonder, just as receptive as those in Honduras. Oddly enough. I had to travel into the mountains of Central America to discover what was right in front of me!!

With care,

Mark


by mkeddal at May 14, 2014 02:57 PM

May 09, 2014

Juan Chacon Free Software & Education | El Salvador

Python 3 Django 1.7 on Ubuntu 14.04 - Day 1

It's time to dive into learning Django.  I've been waiting until I could use Django with Python 3, and that time has now come. I'll be working on Ubuntu 14.04.  There is no python3-django package yet, so I'll give pip a try.  I also want to start with Django 1.7, so that I can learn the new built-in migrations instead of using South to update the data model.

Here is what I did to get started:
  • $ sudo aptitude install python3-pip
  • $ pip3 install --user https://www.djangoproject.com/download/1.7b3/tarball/
This created .local/lib/python3.4/site-packages and .local/bin directories in my $HOME and installed the Django egg in the .local site-packages directory and django-admin and django-admin.py in the .local/bin directory (see PEP 370).

Next I did:
  • $ python3
  • >>> import django
  • >>> print(django.get_version())
When the last statement returned 1.7b3 I knew I was in business. Trying to run django-admin, I realized that .local/bin was not in my PATH, so I added the following to the bottom of my .bashrc file:

PATH=$HOME/.local/bin:$PATH

export PATH

I also added the following to my .bash_aliases:

alias python='python3'

since Python 3 is what I use all the time now.

Starting a Django Project 

  • $ django-admin startproject checkitout
  • $ cd checkitout 
  • $ python3 manage.py runserver 0.0.0.0:8080
Running this last step created a db.sqlite3 file in the checkitout directory - something new in Django 1.7 I believe.

At this point I created a bzr repository of this so that each step in the process from here on out can be easily rewound.  Each of these commands were run inside the top level checkitout directory:
  • bzr init
  • bzr add *
  • bzr ci -m "initial commit"
Next I setup a project on launchpad: https://launchpad.net/checkitout, and pushed up the initial commit:
  • bzr push lp:~jelkner/checkitout/trunk

Next Steps

  • $ django-admin startapp cioapp
  • edit cioapp/models.py
  • bzr add *
  • bzr ci -m "added app and first models"
  • bzr push lp:checkitout
  • edit checkitout/settings.py and added cioapp to INSTALLED_APPS
  • edit cioapp/admin.py and import and register models
  •  python3 manage.py migrate
This created the database tables and setup a superuser. I started the server again with:
  •  $ python3 manage.py runserver 0.0.0.0:8080
pointed my browser at localhost:8080/admin and was able to login and see the tables. This brought me back to the point where my Django tutor, Chris Hedrick, left me off this afternoon, only now I've got Django 1.7 instead of the 1.6 we used earlier and I ran migrate instead of the syncdb from South. I'll finish by checking these last changes in, but I wonder what needs to get ignored by bzr to keep the database superuser info from being part of the repo? I'll have to start by asking Chris that tomorrow. A fine and productive day!

    by jelkner (noreply@blogger.com) at May 09, 2014 05:47 PM

    May 05, 2014

    OLPC Basecamp @ Malacca, Malaysia

    mobile Class Project: 40 years later


    SPOT the three us (2 boys and 1 girl in coat)  in  this April 2014 OLPC deployment picture 40 years later!  Three class members of Malacca U6Sc5 (1976) with the help of OLPC Asia conducted its 1st mobile lesson with the XOs to a group Orang Asli indigenous children of Malaysia. 

    This is a start and we look forward to an evolution of the project when the right people and resources are in place. It was an exciting start to kickoff the mobile Open Learning Chest (mOLC) in Malaysia.


    Here are sample of the deployment videos of the mOLC and children in action:

    Part 1: SD card and XO distribution of the 1st mobile Open Learning Chest
    Part 2: Opening the XO
    Part 3: Booting and personlization of SD boot card
    Part 4: Playing to purposeful play
    Part 5: Recording with the XO samples
    Part 6: Debriefing 2 hours later
    Part 7: Feedback on what they like
    Part 8: Shutting down the XO and retriving the inserted SD card
    Part 9: Group photo and outside debriefing on the future


    by T.K. Kang (noreply@blogger.com) at May 05, 2014 01:20 AM

    May 02, 2014

    ICT4D Views from the Field

    Tablets at Romanum Elementary School in Chuuk, FSM

    The following is a guest post, written by Melody Alvarez, who is volunteering with the Peace Corps and is stationed in Chuuk, in the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM). We’ve been working with Melody and other Peace Corps volunteers working in schools across Chuuk State, to introduce tablet-based technology into the classrooms. Melody’s school, Romanum Elementary, on Romanum Island in the Chuuk Lagoon, has no electricity or Internet connectivity at present. Thus, we sent a Ready-Set Solar Kit to accompany the tablets and enable them to be charged.

    P1040251P1040313

    In addition, our team had worked on a 10-lesson “Technology Training” curriculum to assist with instruction for those who have never used such technology before. The tablets also came pre-loaded with approximately 10 educational apps, so that the they could be used for school-related purposes despite the lack of connectivity at the school(s).

    P1130403P1130428

    Below, Melody relays her initial experiences introducing this technology to Romanum’s 8th graders, none of whom had ever used a tablet prior to this experience.

    Hi Laura,

    I wanted to give you some feedback on how my 8th graders have been
    doing. We use the tablets in Special Class, which is basically an elective class; it is not a mandatory class, however, all the 8th grade students attend. The first part of this class we spend about an hour/hour and a half on English and Math test prep. The second part of class is when we use the tablets.

    Day 1
    I wrote “What is technology?” on the board.

    No answers from the class. I wrote the definition (which I realize is not technically accurate but I had to make it at a level my students would understand) “something that needs a battery or generator to work.” Then I gave them some examples: Computers, cell phones, MP3 players and DVD players.

    Then I wrote “What technology is on Romanum?” I divided all the students in to groups and they worked together to come up with a list. After 10 minutes the groups took turns making a list on the board.

    Then I wrote: “What is a tablet?”

    Students answer: “A writing notebook”  “the yellow paper”

    (we have writing tablets with yellow lined paper at our school)

    I explained that I was talking about a type of computer, not the writing paper.

    Next I wrote: “What can you use a tablet for?”

    Student answers: playing games, Math-Calculator, listening to music, watching movies, writing (I explained that on a computer we call it typing) and camera.

    Then I asked my class “Why did I teach you about technology and tablets?”

    Student answers: To understand, to be smart, because you want us to know what technology is.

    I ended class by telling the students to be on time to school on Monday or I would lock them outside. I did not tell them that I had tablets for them to use because it was a surprise. The reason for locking the classroom door is because I knew that the tablets would be a distraction to the other students.

    Day 2
    Monday was a rainy day so I gave them 15 extra minutes to arrive and then I locked the door. There were 9 students inside and I gave them the tablets and let the students figure out how to turn them on and it was only a matter of minutes. Then they had to figure out how to unlock the screen and that held them up too, but not for long.

    After a few days, I made a schedule of pairs to rotate whose turn it would be to use the tablets, since I have 17 students and only 3 tablets. I plan on changing their partners after about a month so that they can change up who they play with.

    So far each student has had 3 turns with the tablet. (We only have special class 3 days a week.) Mostly they like the camera, but they are also playing the games and they are learning how to edit their pictures.

    Here are some pictures of the students using the tablets, and some that they took of themselves.

     

    20140214185749_IMG_20140210_095903IMAG0557

    IMAG0554IMG_20140114_102032

    IMAG0551IMAG0550IMAG0556

    IMG_20140205_151140IMG_20140205_152603

    It looks like Melody’s students have already mastered the art of taking selfies! I look forward to receiving much more information from Melody when I return to Chuuk in August, 2014! Stay tuned…


    by ljhosman at May 02, 2014 07:26 PM

    OLPC Learning Club

    Two D.C. area Scratch Day 2014 events coming up!

    While we are no longer meeting as the OLPC Learning Club (I have a personal and club update nearly ready to post), there are two Scratch Day celebrations coming up in the D.C. area on Saturday May 17, 2014 that were jumpstarted by club members.

    Jeff Elkner, who hosted many club meetings at the Arlington (Virginia) Career Center, has engaged with the staff of Hoffman-Boston Elementary School in Arlington to help them stage their first Scratch Day. They are calling it the All Star Computer Programming Party. I’ve enlisted Michael Badger, author of the new book Scratch 2.0: A Beginner’s Guide (Second Edition), to make a guest appearance. The school’s STEM team will showcase a number of other fun coding tools. Dell Computer and George Mason University are also sponsoring. For more information, visit this link:

    Hoffman-Boston Elementary School All Star Computer Programming Party
    http://day.scratch.mit.edu/event/1046

    In D.C., our amazing friend Leshell Hatley of Uplift, Inc., is doing her third Scratch Day, moving this year to Howard University’s Computer Learning & Design Center (CLDC). Kevin Cole, who has hosted many, many club meetings at Gallaudet University, helped Leshell get her first event going. Uplift, Inc. is a 501c3 nonprofit immersing students in STEAM and CS education. For more on Uplift’s Scratch Day, visit this link:

    Uplift / Howard University Scratch Day
    http://day.scratch.mit.edu/event/1986

    Both events are open to the public, but the Uplift / Howard University Scratch Day asks for an RSVP.

    While Scratch 1.4 is still in wide use, many are adopting the new web-based version, Scratch 2.0, which has been completely rebuilt from “scratch” and substantially enhanced. Just in the last few weeks, support for the Lego WeDo robotics kit was added to Scratch 2.0 and a touch tablet version called ScratchJr. was announced. Exciting times lie ahead for Scratchers of all ages!

    Mike (Twitter: @curiouslee, Instagram, Flickr, Facebook)

    by Mike Lee at May 02, 2014 01:55 AM

    May 01, 2014

    Juan Chacon Free Software & Education | El Salvador

    End of Course Reflection

    Throughout my Higher Education in the Digital Age course I have maintained that a useful evaluation of the role technology plays in higher education can not be removed from the broader social and political context in which the technology is used. Without critical evaluation of the goals behind introducing any new technology into what we call "Higher Ed", no meaningful conclusions can be drawn as to the new technology's effectiveness and social impact.  At its root, this is a discussion about what role higher education plays in our society.  Who is it for and what are its aims? I see two contrasting goals for higher education with very different uses for new technologies associated with each.  In one view, associated with quest for a more egalitarian society with a broader and deeper role for democratic participation of its members, the World Wide Web offers a promise of greatly expanded access to information, communication, and participation.  In an opposing view, the new technologies will be used as a weapon by the Corporatocracy for increased social control and enforcement of labor discipline in the service of maximizing corporate profits. The outcome of the struggle between these two positions is no small matter, since only the former offers humanity a way out of the self-destructive morass in which it finds itself in the 21st century.

    A dear friend of mine from Porto Alegre, who is involved in progressive politics with me, related recently what brought her "into the struggle".  In Brazil the national public universities are free.  Students who attend them don't pay tuition, but entrance into the universities requires scoring high on a competitive entrance exam.  In practice, this means the available seats in the public universities are mostly taken up by the well-to-do, who have the resources to out compete their lower income compatriots in preparing for the exam.  This leads to the ironic situation where the free, public, and highest quality opportunities for higher education go to the rich, while the poor are limited to paying for private, lower quality education.  When my friend was in high school, Porto Alegre was engaged in pioneering a wonderful new "technology" - a participatory budgeting process through which the members of her community worked to create a new, public university that was specifically targetted at and open to local community folks with limited access to financial resources.  My friend attended this new unversity and became active in the struggle to defend it from continual right wing attack.  The new technology in this story, the participatory budgeting process, has since been taken away from the citizens of Porto Alegre, but the educational institution that it birthed is still in existance and still serving those who would not otherwise be served.

    So, what about the many new technologies we studied this semester -- the moocs, games, social networking apps, etc.?  Which of the two futures for higher education do they serve? While I optimistically like to imagine that the massive peer-to-peer communication enabled by the Internet points toward participation and democracy, nothing inherent in any of the new tech tools leads inevitably that way.  Instead, it will depend on the outcomes of the struggles for social control of our collective future, and whether the decisions about that future are going to be made by the many or the few.

    by jelkner (noreply@blogger.com) at May 01, 2014 12:47 AM

    April 27, 2014

    Fargo to Sudan XO

    Big Educational Laptop and Tablet Projects: Looking at Ten Countries

    Originally posted on Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice:

    Michael Trucano is the World Bank’s Senior ICT and Education Policy Specialist, serving as the organization’s focal point on issues at the intersection of technology use and education in middle- and low-income countries and emerging markets around the world.
    At a practical working level, Mike provides policy advice, research and technical assistance to governments seeking to utilize new information and communication technologies (ICTs) in their education systems.

     This post appeared at: http://blogs.worldbank.org/edutech/big-educational-laptop-and-tablet-projects-ten-countries on July 31, 2013

     Big educational laptop and tablet projects: Ten countries to learn from

    1. USA
    Reflexively, many countries look to, and hope to compare themselves against, the United States when considering educational technology initiatives. (Whether or not this is a good or useful practice, especially for many less affluent countries, or for countries with decidedly different educational contexts and socio-economic circumstances, is perhaps fodder for another discussion.) The United States is of course a very big and…

    View original 1,997 more words


    by kab13 at April 27, 2014 06:29 PM

    Nancie Severs

    The SEMOA Malaysia Easter Follow-up Deployment — Raub, Malaysia


    Raub, Malaysia

    Last November, 2013 I attended the Asia Pacific Base Camp OLPC 2.0 “The Journey Forward” conference in Malaysia. The organizer, TK Kang lives and works in Hong Kong. But he was born and raised in Malacca, Malaysia and has a soft spot for Malaysia and its children in his heart. TK has been working with XO projects in Hong Kong for several years. He has also been working with his Malacca high school classmates to orchestrate a gift of brand new, fast, rugged, low power XO-1.75s for a project sponsored by a non-profit called SEMOA.

    SEMOA http://semoamalaysia.blogspot.com/ = Stategic Education Methods &amp; Ongoing Advancement. is a non-profit charitable NGO whose mission is to improve the plight of the Orang Asli, the original Malaysian aboriginal people. There are 18 tribes and traditionally these lovely people are traditionally jungle hunters &amp; gatherers. Their non Muslim religion deprives this population of many services and education opportunities and SEMOA’s goal is to improve the plight of these people by encouraging education for the children.

    In November, 20 XOs were donated to The SEMOA Farm, a children’s project in Raub, Malaysia. I was privileged to visit and to see the children when they saw the XO laptops for the first time. The Farm is a residential campus for about 40 children currently in residence, ages 5-17. Most of the children come from their rainforest villages far away so that they can go to school. Some have only one parent, or none, or are from families that can’t care for them. Others have parents who want their children to have the opportunity to study and to succeed in school. The children study in the local government Chinese school and learn Mandarin in addition to other subjects. This project sets a lovely example of what a well organized non profit can do to change children’s lives.

    TK’s Malacca high school colleagues are getting excited about this project. TK says that his own class of U6Sc5 Malacca High School (MHS),1976 is comprised of brilliant teachers, principals, and academics among others. With enthusiasm &amp; continued logistical support from retired pharmacist, Yong Seng, and donations and support from U6Sc5 classmates, and other schoolmates of MHS 1976, 40 XOs were physically delivered to the SEMOA farm/hostel. With extra financial support from Victoria Ho Tso, additional XO’s have been purchased so that a mobile Open Learning Chest consisting of 10 XOs, and an XO powered schoolserver could be deployed to other new sites. At the "mobile" sites, the laptops are shared and each child who participates will have an 8G SD card to boot Sugar into the XO! This creates a portable model where the child's work and projects can be saved and then opened for more work, on any XO laptop, when the mobile deployment (XO courier) visits the site again. With this "flipped OLPC model of deployment".we were able to start projects in 2 new sites and reach more children.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hQPahr0 ooDU&amp;list=UUHtyG_O0qicFamc9Fzd4ZEw< br> Thanks You Malacca High School Class of 1976! What a generous gift this group has made!

    After teacher training sessions and some planning, the children began using the XOs in February, 2014. This week, in April 2014, OLPC Asia volunteers Victoria Tso,TK Kang, Haggan So, Weida Zhang, Georgette Tso and Kevin Poon traveled together from Hong Kong to Malaysia to deliver the new XOs and to do some more teaching. They called it the Easter Mobile Open Learning Chest (mOLC) Deployment. Kevin and TK have been posting the story of this week’s work on Facebook, and I have taken the photos you see here from there. Thank you Kevin for sharing this most wonderful story in pictures!

    At the SEMOA Farm, Georgette conducted a session using newly loaded videos s to talk about environmental issues including pollution and global warming. You’ll see the SEMOA Farm kids creating graphic designs with an Activity (App) called Turtle Art. Originated at MIT (Massachusetts Institute for Technology) in Cambridge, Turtle Art teaches children basic Logo computer programming skills. Using commands like, forward, back, right, left, arc, pen up, pen down, repeat etc., the children program the Turtle to draw pictures. Since English is not the first language of the Orang Asli kids, to use this program, the children must first learn the English words for the commands. You can imagine how stunned and impressed I am to see what the SEMOA kids are doing with their XOs!

    XOs were next bought to a second site. After SEMOA, The Volunteer Team visited The Kuala Gandah Elephant Orphanage Sanctuary and posted some photos from there also. This is the second elephant sanctuary in the world that we know of that has XOs for the kids living there. Boon Lott's Elephant Sanctuary, www.blesele.org in rural Si Satchenalai Thailand also has XOs for computer learning opportunities for the children there.

    Another day, another deployment.... The third site this trip was with the Semelai people at Kampung Bukit Rok. This was the first time that these kids ever laid their little hands on the XO laptops. It was a very interesting experience to witness how kids react and learn from the XO laptops.

    The last day was to be busy too. "While we have finished all 3 site visits, the work is far from over. The technical team must troubleshoot the school server issues at the SEMOA site." They will be going back to SEMOA to iron out issues with the school server that has been installed.

    At the week's conclusion, TK writes: "We hope Malaysian volunteers will move things ahead with some continuity. They will be the first to deploy a basic mOLC . The idea of the mOLC chest is here: http://www.scribd.com/doc/219619484/mob ile-Open-Learning-Chest-mOLC-Project
    We hope to spark some local educational initiatives. Ms Joyce Tay will be the U6Sc5-76 class representative that will manage/monitors its usage. Thanks to Victoria Ho Tso we have made this a reality in Malaysia for local eduvolunteers there. This "giving chest" is beautifully illustrated by Loretta Chang in this slide presentation: http://www.scribd.com/doc/219625593/mOL C-givingchest

    TK says: huge thanks all who helped make the week a success. "Again we could do so much because we had the wonderful 7 star hotels for resting and our preparation work, sponsored by Victoria and Kelvin. Plus easy and comfortable transportation shuttles to all of the various sites:-)"

    I could not go back to Asia this month, to join my friends on this trip. I share this entry for dual purposes. Our OLPC Volunteer Contributors Program is seeding a new XO-1 Project in Haiti, soon. The Haiti Hope Quilt Project is a non-profit philanthropic group that has been working to establish a self-sustaining sewing cooperative in Bois D'Avril, Haiti for several years. Community members there have been provided treadle sewing machines and were taught to sew, making quilts that are beautiful, useful and marketable. Most recently, this group has supported the renovation of a small elementary school and a full-time schoolteacher has been employed.

    This new Haiti XO Project objective is to teach local elementary school children who attend the small mountain village school (it has no electricity or running water), basic skills in the operation of computers (including beginning with basic keyboard skills) that will eventually enable them to access and use Internet-based educational programs. The computers will be used for math skills, language development, English speaking skills, as well as skills communicating in Spanish, French, and Creole.

    A stated goal is for the Haitian children to learn to use the computers to design quilts that can be produced by the villagers in the self-sustaining sign cooperative.

    Today I saw Kevin’s photos from Malaysia and I thought, this is perfect. The pictures of what the SEMOA kids are doing with Turtle Art, make it easy to visualize the possibilities for quilt design by rural mountain Haitian children also using Turtle Art. By sharing the photos here, the newest Haiti group and other XO projects can see what's happening in Malaysia, and maybe get some good ideas.

    And by sharing photos from the first time experiences of children in Malaysia, people introducing XOs at other sites around the country or around the world can find good resources and ideas. When some of us started we were all "inventing the same wheel (and sometimes, it was a flat tire.:) The OLPC Global Volunteer Community has learned that when we share ideas, collaborate and work together, success comes more quickly!

    Congratulations &amp; thanks to Victoria, Georgette, TK, Haggen, Weida, and Kevin on a successful “Easter” endeavor! Photo credits to the participants. I hope you enjoy this entry. As always, the story is in the pictures!






    April 27, 2014 02:24 AM

    April 26, 2014

    XOs in Honduras

    Where to now?

    I saw this video about Plan Ceibal in Uruguay yesterday.  Plan Ceibal 2014
    It is very interesting to see the progression of the project and to think about what this small country has accomplished.  Where are the visionaries in the United States?  I know of no plans to equip every public school student with a laptop and internet access.  I hope that other initiatives around the world are encouraged by Plan Ceibal.  I think Uruguay is blazing a trail that others can follow when they wonder which way to go.

    by Becky Young (noreply@blogger.com) at April 26, 2014 05:06 AM