April 23, 2015

Juan Chacon Free Software & Education | El Salvador

Drawing My First Map with Python

I was able to use python to read data from a shapefile and generate a map of voter precincts in Arlington County, Virginia.

Arlington County, Virginia makes numerous maps available on-line here.  The specific shapefile I started with holds boundaries for voter precincts in the county, and is available here.

I used the Voter_Precinct shapefile and adapted what I learned about gdal and mapnik from Python Geospatial Development. Specifically, the following chapters contained the examples I needed for this first map:
  • Chapter 3 - Python Libraries for Geospatial Development
  • Chapter 5 - Working with Geospatial Data in Python
  • Chapter 8 - Using Python and Mapnik to Produce Maps
I also read through the ESRI Shapefile Technical Description.

The Scripts

I wrote the following two scripts, which are now located in my gis_front_and_back repo on github:
Since I use Python 3 whenever I can, the first script uses Python 3, while the 2nd, which requires mapnik, is written in Python 2.  Running the first script and redirecting the output to a file produces this.

Running the 2nd script generates this map:

Making this map by adapting the example scripts from the text was fairly trivial.  I've been unable to get filters to work thus far, however, which will enable me to vary the colors of the individual precincts based on rules.

I've been wanting to make a map ever since last November's election which will color code the results by precinct in the race between John Vihstadt and Alan Howze (see John Vihstadt beats Democrat Alan Howze in race for Arlington County Board seat).  The key issue in this race was the proposed Columbia Pike Streetcar, which was canceled soon after the election (see Arlington Cancels Streetcar Program).

I grabbed precinct election results from the elections.virginia.gov website and saved them in a PDF file which I still have here. I was struck by how the support for the streetcar was clearly visible near the communities most effected by it (along the Columbia Pike corridor), while opposition (assuming a direct correlation between opposition to the streetcar and support for Vihstadt) was strongest in North Arlington, furthest away from where the streetcar would have run. This kind of data cries out for a good map, so I've been wanting to make one ever since.

I just downloaded the complete election result data in CVS format from here.  My most immediate problem now is to figure out how to color individual precincts based on filters.  I'll also look further into how to manipulate shapefiles, perhaps using the pyshp library, which can be installed on Ubuntu through the python-pyshp and python3-pyshp debian packages for versions 2 and 3 of Python respectively.  Then I'm thinking I'll either figure out how to read the election result data from the CVS file, or use the PDF to read the election results for each precinct and to color code them on the map accordingly.

by jelkner (noreply@blogger.com) at April 23, 2015 10:38 PM

Project Rive: Reaching Students in Haiti

Our Big Idea

Our team’s entry for the student social innovation competition Big Ideas @ Berkeley was selected as one of three finalists for the Global Impact category of Grand Prize Pitch Day. Basically, that means we get to fly out to California … Continue reading

by Sora at April 23, 2015 11:55 AM

April 22, 2015

Juan Chacon Free Software & Education | El Salvador

The pyboards Have Arrived!

Arlington Tech, the name we have informally given to the new school being planed for the current Arlington Career Center, will have a focus on STEM ("green STEM" in particular).  Our carpentry instructor has both experience with and a big interest in high school robotics, and since robotics is an inherently interdisciplinary endeavor, I'll be working with him next year to help students learn to program the robots.

When I heard about the programmable microprocessor that runs Python 3 called the pyboard at Pycon a last week, I was naturally interested in investigating it as a possible tool for our robotics effort.

I ordered two pyboards, which arrived today.  Here is a picture of one of them:

Here is a screen shot of one of the example scripts from this tutorial, which prints out value from the accelerometer on the board:

I have to stay focused on GIS programming and Firefox OS, but I have a friend interested in microprocessors who plans to explore this further.

by jelkner (noreply@blogger.com) at April 22, 2015 07:00 PM

One Laptop per Child

Design for life. 99 projects for the real world #OLPC

Design is an activity that has become fully part of our lives. We live in a world that is shaped largely by human effort and in which design is so present that it often becomes invisible until it ceases to work. However, design enables us to constantly, consistently, solve problems that generate great social impact. In this show, the Museum of Design in Barcelona focused on design that is expressly aimed at improving the lives of the users it is intended for, the environment in which it operates and the society to which it belongs.

To demonstrate the key role that design can play in providing solutions to everyday problems of different types, improving the welfare of citizens, both in our immediate context and in more distant geographical regions.

This was the main purpose of this exhibition, which took place at the Museu del Disseny de Barcelona from February the 19th – May the 17th.

The XO Laptop was part of this exhibition of the 99 design for life projects.

Photo credit: Design Museum of Barcelona

Inauguration Photo credit: Design Museum of Barcelona

Find a list of all the pieces exhibited here and more details about this exhibition in the press dossier.

by mariana at April 22, 2015 01:15 AM

April 20, 2015

OLE Nepal

A fascinating case of Surya Joshi

I could not understand him speaking but he got me. Nonetheless, I spent ten days with him. During those days, we did many things together, like playing, fooling around and learning together, which was a funny struggle as I could hardly understand him. Surya is one of the five sons of Dharma Raj Joshi, who [...]

by Deepesh Thapa at April 20, 2015 08:52 AM

April 19, 2015

Path Education, Pakistan

Annual Audited Accounts of Path for 2014


Picture 1 of 6



In the Financial Year 2013-2014 we raised Donations  equal to Rs.4,075,941, a nominal fee from students of Rs. 220,140, and students share of Uniform and Stationary cost of Rs. 142,595. This gave us a Total Funds of Rs. 4,438,676 to spend on the education of nearly 300 children in this year.


We are happy to report that nearly all of this money went towards the direct educational expense of RS. 4,331,436. These  are made up of teachers and staff salaries, school building rent, food program, stationary and books purchased for the students, uniform subsidy provided to all children, and other day to day running expenses and utilities.

Administrative expense of Rs. 234,095 were mainly funds spent on getting certification from the Pakistan Centre of Philanthropy, previous year’s audit expenses, and other registration expenses.

We are also delighted to inform our patrons that this year’s audit was done on a Pro Bono basis by Usmani and Company Chartered Accountants.

The annual audited accounts are provided above for anyone who wishes to see these in more detail.


by kishwer at April 19, 2015 05:44 PM

Juan Chacon Free Software & Education | El Salvador

Installing Python GIS Libraries on Ubuntu 14.04

I'm working my way through Python Geospatial Development, which as good fortune would have it, is the book we are using in my Introduction to GIS Algorithms and Programming course at George Mason University.  At the beginning of the course we were given a VirtualBox image of Ubuntu 12.04 with all the software and data files we need for the course preloaded.  Since I'm already running Ubuntu 14.04 as my regular desktop OS, I preferred to just install the packages (all of which are in the standard debian repositories) onto my desktop machines.

Here are the libraries we are using:
  • GDAL - The Geospatial Data Abstraction Library (see Python GDAL/OGR Cookbook for Python specific "recipes") for reading and writing geospatial data (GDAL for raster, OGR for vector).
  • pyproj - Performs cartographic transformations and geodetic computations.
  • Shapely - Manipulation and analysis of geometric objects in the Cartesian plane.
  • Mapnik - Toolkit for building mapping applications.
To install them for Python 2 on Ubuntu 14.04, run the following in a unix shell:
  • $ sudo apt-get install python-gdal
  • $ sudo apt-get install python-pyproj
  • $ sudo apt-get install python-shapely
  • $ sudo apt-get install python-mapnik2
Even on Ubuntu 15.04 Mapnik is only available for Python 2.  The other three libraries (gdal, pyproj, and shapely) are all available for Python 3.  This means that I will unfortunately have to use Python 2 for my mapping project.

I've now read the first eight chapters of Python Geospatial Development, which contain all the information I'll need for my project:
  • Chapter 1 - Geospatial Development Using Python
  • Chapter 2 - GIS
  • Chapter 3 - Python Libraries for Geospatial Development
  • Chapter 4 - Sources of Geospatial Data
  • Chapter 5 - Working with Geospatial Data in Python
  • Chapter 6 - GIS in the Database
  • Chapter 7 - Working with Spatial Data
  • Chapter 8 - Using Python and Mapnik to Produce Maps
It is often quite difficult to find good books about rapidly developing technologies like this, but this book does a good job.  The material is relevant, the presentation clear, and the examples both engaging and illuminating.

With background reading done and infrastructure setup, it is time to dig into the project.

    by jelkner (noreply@blogger.com) at April 19, 2015 03:38 PM

    April 17, 2015

    Juan Chacon Free Software & Education | El Salvador

    Firefox OS and Lowering the Barrier to Entry into ICT

    I'm recently returned from Pycon 2015, and still feeling the energizing, rejuvenating effects of this annual pilgrimage to connect with a community I love.  The YouTube channel for the conference talks is here.

    Two of the keynotes were especially memorable.  The keynote by Catherine Bracy, Director of Community Organizing for Code for America, left me feeling fortunate indeed to be involved with our local Code for NOVA brigade.  Catherine laid out in clear terms Code for America's vision of transforming the way citizens relate to their government (and the increasing alienation many feel from government) by bringing the community together to work collaboratively to address local needs.

    The keynote by Jacob Kaplan-Moss discussed how sexism and the myth of the rock star / ninja programmer where keeping people from entering the programming field and driving women out of it after they do enter.  By describing the ninja programmer myth as an inverted normal distribution, he presented both a memorable image and a clear exposure of the absurdity of the myth.

    Lowering barriers to entry into programming is my raison d'être as an ICT/CS teacher in a school serving lower income, immigrant students.  If I can't find a way to lower the barrier to entry, there is really no good reason for me to come to work each day.  It is with that in mind that I have been continuously thrilled by the wonderful work the folks at Mozilla are doing with their development tools for Firefox OS.

    The following three files are from the first app introduced in chapter 2 of Firefox OS in Action:
    Here is what this code looks like running in a browser (with the widow suitably shrunk to a small size):

     adding one more file turns this into a Firefox OS app:
    Here is the app loaded in the WebIDE and running in the simulator:
    The deployment story here is simply amazing.  I've never seen anything like it.  The WebIDE comes with Firefox, so there is nothing to install.  Simply press <Cntrl>+<F8> to launch it.  A few clicks of the mouse and a simulator with your choice of version of Firefox OS is running, and deploying your app to the simulator is a matter of loading the app source into the WebIDE and clicking a single button!
    It can't get any better than that, right?  Wrong!  The best is yet to come.  What if you want to deploy your app to a real phone?
    To show you how amazingly simple this is, let me first introduce a more interesting app, the LibriFox audio book player that two of my students are working on:
    To deploy this app to my Firefox OS phone, I simply plug in the phone with the USB cable, and it now shows up in the list of available targets:
    Firefox OS(Flame) is my phone

    Clicking the same triangle button I used to deploy to the simulator loads the app onto my phone.  Wow!

    I've never seen a development environment that even approaches the simplicity and elegance of this one.  The Mozilla Foundation is delivering on its goal of "making the Web better and more accessible for everyone everywhere".  I'm an ICT teacher just getting started in mobile app development, but I'm hooked on Firefox OS already.  By lowering the barrier to entry into this important technology, Mozilla will surely attract new developers far and wide, promising great things for the future of this free software phone operating system.
    Thank you, Mozilla!

    by jelkner (noreply@blogger.com) at April 17, 2015 02:59 AM

    April 14, 2015

    OLPC Basecamp @ Malacca, Malaysia

    Insights into XO usage

    These are not assignments . Some work by children who shared XOs in a community. 

     English translation:

     " Thank you teacher because you gave us an opportunity to learn. We all wish you teacher ... thank you teacher"



    "Today I am very happy as I have a gathering of my friends. My friends name are ......and many more. I have forgotten their names. I wish them always healthy. bye2"

    How true.....

    "This is not just a matter of giving a laptop to each child, as if bestowing on them some magical charm. The magic lies within -- within each child, within each scientist, scholar, or just plain citizen in the making. This initiative is meant to bring it forth into the light of day." 
    —Kofi Annan

    by T.K. Kang (noreply@blogger.com) at April 14, 2015 02:51 AM

    April 11, 2015

    Nancie Severs

    Mid-Winter Musings & An Escape to the Sun — Palm Desert, CA

    Palm Desert, CA

    It's mid - winter and very snowy here in New Hampshire.  Our snowplow driver and the winter sports enthusiasts are ecstatic. The snowstorms don't bring us to a standstill like in the northeastern cities. I'm six weeks out from the last chemo and the February 9 snowstorm coincided with my Boston appointments. I was not about to miss seeing my oncologists, as I always leave their offices with new knowledge and reassurance. So I headed down to Boston during the thick of the storm. The afternoon Dartmouth Coach buses were canceled in the morning but the afternoon ones ran. We were just about the only vehicle on the road and I arrived to find the usually very busy South Station deserted. Even McDonalds was closed. The Massachusetts governor had just declared a state of emergency and told to taxis to stay home. My taxi driver said that he had bills to pay and he was grateful for the fare. The streets were deserted and the fresh white snow gave the city an eerie beauty. I stayed at the Copley Marriott so that I would have the attached indoor malls for exercise and easy access to healthy eats. From the 28th floor concierge lounge, I watched cold souls try to shovel snow laden roofs. The stores and restaurants in the mall and on Boylston Street were closed Monday night and all day Tuesday. It was weird. But for the Brigham, it was business as usual and I was reassured by my radiation oncologist that things are as expected. On Wednesday my appointment with my primary oncologist was also very helpful. I got a green light to fly as planned to California on the next day. I also fit in an acupuncture appointment. That seems to really help my tingling toes and I don't have a practitioner in New Hampshire yet. On Wednesday I stopped at Lululemon. I told my "friends" there that I missed their Sunday classes. I got some compression tights and they seem to help the discomfort I have with pelvic lymphedema. This problem is thought to be a side effect from both surgery where lymph nodes have been removed and radiation effects on those remaining. I've been working in New Hampshire with a PT that specializes in lymph drainage. But this issue is one that requires each of us to figure out what will work best for us. Unfortunately, there are not very effective resolutions for this problem. I mention this here, so that others who may be dealing with problems similar to mine can contact me for more information about what I find helpful and what's not. By Wednesday evening, Boston's traffic was back in full force. I had to share a taxi to the airport hotel where I was meeting Mark. It took 2 hours. But on Thursday morning, our flight to Los Angeles was right on time. We got out of town just before the next snowstorm that afternoon. I had planned a week to rendezvous with our family in Palm Desert, California. We loved this beautiful and easy to navigate vacation spot. This is a travel blog after all, so please indulge me as I share our family photos of our time in this stunning desert oasis.&lt;i&gt; Just click on any photo to scroll through all of them.&lt;/i&gt; I had been pretty tired all month. Frankly, that last chemo really dragged me down. Now, after a week of family and sunshine I feel much stronger. 10 months ago I started on this "unexpected journey" of surgery&gt;chemo&gt;radiation&gt;more chemo for Uterine Papillary Serous Carcinoma. We understand that this is a sneaky, fast growing, and aggressive type of cancer. It wasn't my best year, but it certainly wasn't the worst. Life is full of challenges. Overcoming them brings us strength. Should my life stop? Should it be all about having cancer? Should I try to cram everything in that I can? Should I change the way I live because I have cancer? I suppose that everyone in a similar situation asks themselves these questions. Stuart Scott, the ESPN anchor recently taken by cancer at age 49 after 7 years of treatment said "when you die, it does not mean you lose to cancer. You beat cancer by how you live, why you live and the manner in which you live." I'll try to do honor to his wise words.

    April 11, 2015 10:54 PM

    Dancing on Thin Ice — Lebanon NH USA, NH

    Lebanon NH USA, NH

    This has been the winter that won't quit. And, it has been the year that I haven't been able to take my usual "sunny break trips." When we had another few inches of snow on April 8. I looked at the tracks left by early spring birds and comforted myself saying, it looks and feels like January but the "sunny break" is bound to be just days away.

    While I wait I've been reading Rachel Naomi Remen's book "Kitchen Table Wisdom." I restarted my gym membership April 1 and two RVC yoga friends recently gave me this book of "Stories that Heal." My first cancer symptom appeared a year ago this week. Then, after surgery, or even during treatment, I don't believe I could have found wisdom or encouragement in a book.

    Life is so much about the timing; the confluence of events. And now, with ice still covering both Occom Pond and the Connecticut River, I am reading yet another story about "living in the moment." Over the past few years "being mindful and being present" has become vogue. The teaching has utility and the practice gifts. But as Mark says, "living in the moment is a luxury. One of us has to think about the future and earn what's needed for it."

    Now as I begin life after treatment, or life during remission, or life with cancer as a chronic illness, I struggle with balance. Literally and figuratively. My toe neuropathy (a chemo side effect) challenges my balance physically. And my thoughts about what may be, because of what was or is, stir up fearful visions and life balance issues. Do I rush to plan to do things now while I can and when Mark can't because he is still working, enjoying it, and planning for Our Future? What's realistic? How do I balance that and the important positive belief that I am and can be well. How do I find freedom from the "nightmare fear scenario"?

    This brings us back to Dr. Remen's book. One of Dr Remen's stories is about a courageous uncle who after saving lives as a medic in a fierce WWII battle was awarded a Medal of Honor for bravery under fire. She quotes him saying you can be both brave and afraid at the same time. "[A]nyone who wasn't afraid in situations like war was a fool and they don't give medals to people for being fools. That being brave does not mean being unafraid. It often means being afraid and doing it anyway." (Emphasis added.)

    In a later chapter about "embracing life," the author quotes her patient saying: "When you are walking on thin ice, you might as well dance."

    Life with cancer means "doing it anyway." It means, finding freedom from the fear of both the journey and the outcome. It means seeking joy in each day. It's mid April and we still have ice in the Upper Valley. It's getting thinner; just perfect for dancing on.

    April 11, 2015 08:01 PM

    April 09, 2015

    Sugar Digest / Walter Bender

    Sugar Digest 2015-04-09

    Sugar Digest

    1. I just returned from India, where I had the pleasure of giving the keynote at BITs Pilani (my theme was how Sugar can provide the means for appropriate of knowledge) and then headed to Mumbai to give some Turtle Art workshops. At Pilani, which draws upon students from across all of India, I had a chance to spend time with students to discuss Sugar in greater detail and met with several GSoC candidates. In Mumbai, I was able to use the Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education as a base (thanks to G Nagarjuna). Turtle Art Day was split across two venues: first, a workshop for educators, where we put the new Javascript version through a workout, and then at a nearby school, where we worked with a fourth grade classroom using some XO-1 laptops. Both groups seemed to take to turtle — “hard fun” had by all. While in Mumbai, I also had a chance to visit with Tata Trusts, to discuss possible venues for collaboration, including a possible Sugar pilot in Assam. And I visited IIT Bombay, where I met with the IITB Tata Centre, which pursues education and development projects across the subcontinent. Many thanks to Harriet Vidyasagar, who both helped to organize the Mumbai visits and to provide insights into local culture and needs.

    2. At Monday’s Sugar Labs oversight board (SLOB) meeting, we voted to add two new members to the Sugar Labs Membership committee: Sebastian Silva and Caryl Bigenho. They have tasked themselves with getting the members list refreshed. We are looking to recruit another committee member (or two) to help with outreach. Someone connected to the community of youths contributing patches to Sugar would be ideal. Also, recruiting more educators who use Sugar in their classrooms would help round out the committee.

    3. 67 students have applied to work as interns for Sugar Labs as part of Google Summer of Code (GSoC) 2015. I’ve read through the applications and we have some very strong candidates. It will be a difficult decision as to how assign the slots we receive from Google — the number is still to be determined. I have already begun looking for other means of support we might offer to some of the qualified students who don’t make the cut. The mentors are meeting this evening to discuss the applications.

    In the community

    4. I’ll be doing a Turtle Art Day in Kingston, Jamaica, on 23 April. Details to follow. I’d love to reconnect with any Sugar users while I am in the area.

    Tech Talk

    5. James Cameron has been running performance tests on the XO-1 hardware, comparing boot and activity launch times across a number of builds. It is great to have some data to look at. The good news is that we have been making steady progress over the past few releases in terms of reducing boot and launch times. Those of you running old versions of Sugar/Fedora on XO-1 hardware should consider looking at Sugar 104. Many bug fixes, improved stability, etc., and as James has demonstrated, seemingly minimal impact on performance.

    6. Peter Robinson announced the availability of Release Candidate 1 of Sugar 104 on Fedora 22. Please help with testing. (The .iso files can be found at https://dl.fedoraproject.org/pub/alt/stage/22_Beta_RC1. Look for SoaS images for your preferred architecture.)

    7. We will be meeting on Saturday, 11 April, to continue discussing plans the 106 release. Please join Martin Abente Lahaye and the Developer team on irc.freenode.net (#sugar-meeting) at 22:00 UTC.

    Sugar Labs

    8. Please visit our planet.

    by Walter Bender at April 09, 2015 02:46 PM

    Tabitha Roder

    iMoot 2015

    If you use Moodle, don’t forget to register for the global online Moodle Conference iMoot15 and “come on a learning journey with us” Thursday 28 May to 1 June 2015 (you should totally check the local times for this) #iMoot15 Everyone Matters.

    If you haven’t attended before, you can listen to the Free Moodle podcast where Vinny Stocker is interviewed by Stuart Mealor from HRDNZ.

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    by tabitharoder at April 09, 2015 01:46 AM

    April 06, 2015

    Juan Chacon Free Software & Education | El Salvador

    Serendipitously Approaching GIS from Both Ends

    "Serendipity" is the word I think most fitting to describe how I ended in a Geographic Information Sciences Graduate Certificate program at George Mason University.  In brief, after getting involved with Code for NOVA with the aim of finding real world learning opportunities for my students and hearing the folks there talking enthusiastically about publicly available data sets, I decided to enroll in GGS 550: Geospatial Science Fundamentals during the Fall 2014 semester.  This course got me totally hooked on GIS!  It provides me with a way to apply my mathematics and computer science degrees to real problems.

    It seems like my timing has been wonderfully serendipitous as well.  A few years ago it appears I would have been limited to proprietary software and military industrial applications. Now it's free software and citizen science.  I mentioned last post how my current GIS course is a python programming course.  I'm beginning work on my final project for that course:

    Mapping Housing Affordability in Arlington Virginia

    Generate maps of Arlington Virginia which show the location of affordable housing units, both committed affordable (CAFs) and market rate affordable (MARKs).  If time permits, I'd like to be able to produce a map that shows changes in availablility over time (availability is rapidly declining), but that may be beyond what I can do in our available time.
    My goal is to do this using Python with the needed libraries.  Our Python Geospatial Development book addresses everything I would need for this project, but it will require finishing all of the book, since working with shape files isn't discussed until chapters 11 and 12.
    Since the project is due May 3rd, I will only be able to get started with the full map by that time, but if I begin to generate custom maps of Arlington and to place geospatial data on them (housing locations) together with relevant meta-data, I'll be confident from there that with time and can map whatever maps I want.

    We are using Python Geospatial Development as our text, and I'm working my way through all the examples, converting them from Python 2 to Python 3. I'll be documenting what I'm learning in posts over the next several weeks.

    With python libraries and things like GeoDjango to take care of the back end, I'm looking at Firefox OS for front end mobile application development.  With built-in GPS and other sensors, mobile devices are great tools for citizen scientists, and Firefox OS's mission of expanding access to information is just what I was looking for.  I've got several students working on Firefox OS projects this Spring.  I've started reading Firefox OS in Action with an eye toward both learning to program on the platform myself and to using this book as a resource with students.  I'll be documenting that as over the next several weeks as well.

    by jelkner (noreply@blogger.com) at April 06, 2015 11:08 PM

    April 04, 2015

    Juan Chacon Free Software & Education | El Salvador

    Python GIS and Firefox OS

    I haven't made a post since January, but all that is about to change.  A lot has happened in the past 3 months:
    1. After several false starts looking into app development for Ubuntu phones, I came across Firefox OS, with its supportive, community friendly staff and real focus on community building and education. Three of my current students are now working on Firefox OS related projects, and being mentored by Mozilla employees in the process.
    2. My Spring graduate GIS class at George Mason University, titled "Introduction to GIS Algorithms and Programming" turned out to basically be a Python programming class with a focus on GIS (how cool is that!? ;-) As a result, my love affair with GIS has only deepened.  I will be doing an independent research project over the Summer that will involve applying and extending what I am learning in this class to a project involving using LIDAR data to inform Northern Virginia residents about the viability of putting solar panels on their homes.  I will be spending a two month "retreat" with my 100 year old grandmother in New Jersey immersing myself in both this project and in developing curriculum materials for teaching mobile app development with Firefox OS.
    3. Our Code for NOVA brigade continues to grow and is reaching the size needed to provide multiple opportunities for real synergies between developers (both experienced and inexperienced), and local, regional, and national government agencies looking for help with IT tools to serve the public and conduct citizen science projects.  Our National Science Foundation host continues to make incredible learning opportunities available to Arlington Public Schools students.
    I'll begin posting to this blog much more regularly now, as I document progress on each of the above.  Stay tuned...

    by jelkner (noreply@blogger.com) at April 04, 2015 07:03 PM

    March 31, 2015

    Ghana Together

    Please, Books with More Words, Mum...

    Our readers know we’ve been focusing on the Public Library (APL) in Axim, Ghana, for some time now---since Feb 2010, in fact, when Maryanne Ward and Regina Lawler---personal friends, intrepid travelers, professional librarians, and Ghana Together volunteers---noticed a distinct lack of children’s books in the APL.

    We met with Library Director Mercy Ackah and Western Heritage Home Chair James Kainyiah, who asked for help with the APL children's program. They set up a children's room with help from us and the District Assembly.  But, we needed BOOKS---lots of books!

    By 2012 we had a network of dedicated people in place and were shipping children’s books.<o:p></o:p>

    By 2014, we had hundreds (thousands?) of books, but the motorcycle they were using to deliver to a few very nearby schools had failed beyond repair. More schools were asking for help. So Western Heritage Home and Ghana Together decided to buy a motor tricycle and outfit it as a mobile library. It was dedicated fall of 2014.<o:p></o:p>

    Mobile Library Ready to Launch!!
    By Jan 2015, the APL was ready to launch a Mobile Library Service to schools.
    Maryanne Ward visited in Jan-Feb 2015 and got a first-hand project update.<o:p></o:p>

    Library staffers Gaddiel Eyison (right) and James Amrado pack up boxes of books to deliver to schools, via the Mobile Library
    The Mobile Library visits seven government primary schools in Axim: Anglican, Catholic, Methodist, Beamish, Akyinim, Apewosika, and AhleSunna. (Yes, we know it's a bit confusing to Americans. The schools with religious names were founded by Christian missionaries or local Muslims in the early to mid-20th century, and although they are now "government" (public) schools, they retain their original names.)

    The Mobile Library also serves five private schools: Morning Star, Augustino, Manye, SADA, and CTK.<o:p></o:p>

    When the Mobile Library arrives at a school, the Headmaster/Mistress commandeers some strong JHS students to help carry in the boxes
    Students pay one Ghana cedi to register for one year (about 30 cents). This is affordable by all, although we’ve let the library staff know if even this is too much for a specific family, we will help.<o:p></o:p>

    Students giving their one-cedi bills to Mr. Eyison to register as library members for one year
    The registration fee helps the library pay for the cards, envelopes,  pens, glue markers, and other supplies.

    Students who are registered check out one book per Mobile Library visit. Students are allowed to swap books with other students who are registered (a little pressure here!).<o:p></o:p>

    By end of Feb 2015, 2,465 students had registered!!

    Students gather round to select their book for the week---big decision!!
    Library members are instructed to “take your book to the house and read it to your mother.” In this way, Moms not only can proudly see their child’s reading ability, but also may learn a little literacy themselves and be able to help younger children not yet in school.<o:p></o:p>

    What could be better than this???!!!
    So far, we have focused on the lower primary grades through about 4th grade, with “easy readers.” Remember, schools have no or very limited libraries. Kids mostly only read what their teacher writes on the board and what they copy into their notebooks. <o:p></o:p>

    Girls read...
    Boys read too...
    But Maryanne heard over and over from students that they want “books with more words.” The older children have pretty good reading skills now, and they want something besides “Picture Books.”<o:p></o:p>

    SO, DEAR READER… <o:p></o:p>
    If you have children/youth books around, you know who to contact!<o:p></o:p>

    The guidelines?
    If you would buy the book today for your child or grandchild, you hit the jackpot! It’s good to go! Think ANY good children's books, but especially story books or children's non-fiction.


    ...textbooks, computer books, old encyclopedias, overtly culturally “American”---zombies, religious tracts, American holidays, cookbooks, Disney, Superman, American literary “classics” (Emerson, Hawthorne, Mark Twain…)---you get the idea! Nothing but the BEST for our kids in Axim!! Fiction or non-fiction, both OK.<o:p></o:p>


    --Book donors---every one of you!!

    --Ebeneezer Mienza who lives in Maryland, receives our US Postal mailed books, knows a shipper...<o:p></o:p>

    --Shipper, whoever you are...<o:p></o:p>

    --Ghanaians George Hayford and Ismael Baidoo who live in Accra and go to the port at Tema to pick up the books and drive them in their van to their own hometown, Axim...<o:p></o:p>

    --Ghana Library Authority Regional Director Mercy Ackah who launched the project in Axim in 2010 and continues to lead the effort...<o:p></o:p>

    --Gaddiel Eyison, James Amrado, and National Service worker Frederick Aman who staff the library, ride the motor tricycle, do all the hard work of packing and unpacking and checking in and checking out...

    --Axim Municipal Assembly for fuel for the motor tricycle...

    --James Kainyiah and Western Heritage Home for having the Mobile Library idea in the first place and staying on top of everything month by month...

    --All the headmistresses/masters and teachers who make it work at the schools!

    And, if you are reading this and have connections with other Ghanaian Nzema East/Western Region towns that have libraries, you know who to contact for some ideas on how you can replicate this model. They are asking for some help, but we can’t really expand to their areas.
    To contact us: info@ghanatogether.org

    by Ghana Together (noreply@blogger.com) at March 31, 2015 01:57 AM

    March 30, 2015



    At the May 15th, 2014 meeting of olpcSF.org (I believe this was the meeting hosted by Bruce Baikie at Inveneo, 972 Mission St., San Franciso,) Bruce introduced us to the Rachel Pi project: a content server developed by WorldPossible.org.  It provides a Server/Service combination using the Rasberry Pi along with system software and content compiled by the WorldPossible team. (The "Three-Minute World Possible Intro", accessible from their home page, is well worth viewing.)

    A system was soon up and running but unfortunately the video material comes in a format (mp4) that can not be rendered by the XO OLPC laptop. The most straight forward solution seemed to be to convert the mp4 files to ogv and make the corresponding edits in the html files.  Scripts were developed to do this and we had a version usable by the XOs within a short time.

    At the February 2015 meeting, a consensus was reached that webm would be a better choice and so now the scripts were re-written to support conversion of mp4 files to either format (ogv or webm.) These Python scripts are available on github:

    $ git clone git@github.com:alexKleider/Convert.git

    In the mean time the Banana Pi has become available and WorldPossible has released a version of Rachel for it.  The Banana Pi is based on a dual core ARM processor and should therefore support more clients than the single core ARM of the Raspberry Pi B model.  A version 2 of the Raspberry Pi with a quad core ARM processor has also appeared on the market.  Both of these platforms are under study and it is hoped that we can have a version of Rachel running on all three.

    There is a project planned for Tanzania, spear headed by Camille Harris with help from Hilary Naylor, and that's where our modified Rachel running on one (or more) of the Pi platforms will go; The primary school is in Nyamagongo.

    by akleider at March 30, 2015 02:55 AM

    March 26, 2015

    OLE Nepal

    Our duties teaches us more than what we expect!

    The afternoon of January 18, saw me and Peter seated in a Buddha Air Flight to Dhangadhi. Our final destination was Chainpur, Bajhang. We had to deploy XO laptops and E-Pustakalaya server in 4 schools and subsequently, provide support to the schools. Since we were there primarily for support, I would be talking solely about [...]

    by Sawal Acharya at March 26, 2015 10:54 AM

    March 17, 2015

    OLE Nepal

    Solukhumbu Visit: photo series

    When the Phaplu airport finally opened after a year-long closure for repair, our team immediately planned a visit to five of our program schools in Solukhumbu last November. We were glad to find the schools and the teachers remain ever enthusiastic about using laptops in classrooms. Our team provided essential technical support at Dudhkunda Lower [...]

    by Dovan Rai at March 17, 2015 04:39 AM

    ICT4D Views from the Field

    Romanum Update: Peace Corps Volunteer Incentivizes with Tablets, Students Achieve Highest English Competency Scores in State!

    Fantastic news from Romanum, Chuuk, FSM! Last summer, we provided Melody, a Peace Corps Volunteer, with some tablets and a charger, for her to bring back to the school where she was serving, on Romanum Island in the Chuuk Lagoon. Romanum Elementary currently does not have electricity or Internet connectivity. I posted a few months ago about Melody’s early interactions with the 8th graders with whom she was working.P1130400P1130406

    I recently received a message from Greg Keeble, letting me know that the 8th Graders at Romanum ES, with whom Melody worked intensively, received the highest competency scores in reading on the national NMCT test amongst all the public schools in Chuuk!!!!

    Congratulations to Romanum’s 8th Graders and to Melody!!! That’s truly wonderful news.


    Greg went on to ask whether this outcome is “because of the better teaching of reading from Melody or is it the learning from the tablets?”

    Those of you familiar with my point of view on this (shared in multiple other posts) wouldn’t be surprised to read my own response: In education, technology is a tool that can enable good teachers to be more effective, but it’s really all about the teachers!!!

    IMAG0550 IMAG0556

    However, I wanted to let Melody speak for herself, so I contacted her and shared the good news. She was very happy to learn of the students’ success—this was the first she had heard of it. She also provided an update on the remainder of her school year with Romanum’s 8th Graders, which I believe provides a very clear answer to Greg’s question:

    “I do believe that technology can have a positive impact on the students. I held an optional class after school. It was for two and a half hours. The deal was if we spent an hour or an hour and a half on test taking skills focusing on English (writing, grammar rules, reading and oral) and Math then they could “play” with the tablets. I said this was an optional class but almost every 8th grader attended the class. They also had to go to their regular classes in the morning or they couldn’t come to the afternoon class. Needless to say 8th grade had the least amount of absences. I tried to show the students and the teachers that the better a student’s attendance, the better their grade will be. My 8th graders worked really hard to learn how to use those tablets.”


    by ljhosman at March 17, 2015 12:27 AM

    March 15, 2015

    Nancie Severs

    Finding Strength to Heal — Woodstock, VT

    Woodstock, VT

    I have a lot to say this week and not so many photos. I hope each of you will find something that speaks to you in this entry.

    Our California family trip was wonderful, but I returned home with a miserable cold &amp; infection. While the trip was worth it to see my grandson, for 3 weeks I was sicker than with either chemo or radiation. I feared I was not strong enough to recover. This weekend I am much better. It was only 3 weeks. So much for useless worrying!

    I had been too sick to do much at all at home. Thank you Karen &amp; Lindsay for the delicious soups. It was a treat and such a help. We all know someone who is ill or struggling from time to time. Many of you asked what you could do to help more times than once. I'm not good at saying please bring over some vegetarian soup or a treat (like Morano gelato - thanks Gloria:)) or can you pick up some fresh cut up fruit for me from the grocery store. What was touching and helpful were the times when friends just called and said" I made soup today and I'm dropping off a quart." Or I have something to bring by, I won’t come in - just drop it off. Thanks Judy &amp; Grace for the gorgeous orchids you brought this week!

    To those of you with friends undergoing treatment similar to mine, I can tell you that any vegetarian soup (like Karen's protein packed lentil or Lindsay's butternut squash with apple and ginger) will be appreciated and eaten. If you are ambitious you can make a lot and freeze it in quart or pint containers. When we are too tired to cook and need to eat, these jewels can easily be thawed and warmed on the stove. If you have an idea, for your friend, just do it. The greater gift is knowing that we are being thought of.

    I have to include a plug for the new ClearChoiceMD Urgent Care Center on the Miracle Mile in Lebanon NH. When I got a fever and my cheekbones throbbed I knew I needed to be seen and treated. I called GIM at DHMC &amp; left a message that I was a cancer patient &amp; that I needed to be seen. I was told a nurse would call me back. By 4:30 P M, I'd heard nothing so I headed over to the newly opened first in the Upper Valley urgent care center. I saw a very calm and kind experienced doctor, was diagnosed, and I left with an antibiotic in my hand all within an hour. It was a pleasant and reassuring experience. A week later, I returned, saw the same physician and had an on site chest x ray to rule out pneumonia. Again efficient, competent and very reassuring care.

    GIM at DHMC operates like a "fortress." When I could not get anyone helpful, I used MyDH online to leave a message for my PCP/internist to call me. The person that called me back was downright unhelpful. She told me that my doctor would not want to see me until I finished my antibiotics. She said if I went to another facility that I could not come there because I couldn't play one against the other. I finally spoke with my doctor but only after I had another doctor friend of his call him personally. Something's definitely wrong at the big house. They need reminding that their raison d'être is to show care as they provide care. I certainly did not need that extra stress.

    The happy ending is that ClearChoiceMD open 7 days a week from 8:00AM to 8:00PM is a great option. Don't hesitate to use them. http://ccmdcenters.com/

    I'm relieved to be feeling better. But my mood had definitely hit a funk. I was tired of the many months of being "sick". I wasn't sleeping well because of the respiratory symptoms. The lack of exercise and yoga did not help. We all need effective strategies to break a low mood less it persist and worsen.

    I set an intention to recover. There has been a lot of research about the effects of a positive attitude and the mind-body connection on prognoses in cancer patients (and other illnesses too; e.g., autoimmune illnesses). A low mood, and an attitude distrustful of a good prognosis can lad to worsening illness. I share what’s working for me.

    I forced myself to walk each day. A few minutes out and a few minutes back. And then a little farther. Deep breaths and one step at a time. By Monday, I met a friend &amp; walked an hour at the indoor rink. Thanks Joyce. I had to rest afterwards but I slept better that night and felt stronger afterwards!
    In California I had met "Ashley" while waiting in a line. My headscarf, hat, &amp; sparse hair declares my status as a cancer patient. Ashley asked me about it. And then she was insistent that I need to visualize myself healthy. I said, "that's hard when I look in the mirror. For many months I've seen a bald head and sallow skin and dark circles around my eyes.” And Ashley replied, "then you need to post photos of yourself healthy on your mirrors and look at them many times a day and visualize yourself as you were in those photos." Sometimes "healers" just appear in your life. The photos are up and it's really helping. Share this tip with your friends. I think it's great.

    Mark was on a business trip and I decided to give myself an early birthday gift. I turn 62 this week. Last year 60 was the new 40. This year I've felt it was more like 75. A serious pick me up was needed. Thursday, I spent the day at the Woodstock (Vermont) Inn Spa. I booked only the day before as the weather assured a cold but bright sunny day. I had never been there. Pardon the review this is a travel blog after all.:)

    The spa is lovely. It was built about 5 years ago and the architects did an amazing job with the site and light and sun. The spacious locker room was spotless. Breathing the camphor in the women's wet steam room helped clear my chest. The coed lounge was comfy and sunny with snacks &amp; teas and a room service menu to order lunch if desired. The staff was there when needed but not omnipresent. I didn’t try the hot tub on the full sun outdoor patio or dry sauna just beside it as I’d done the steam and I didn’t want to get dehydrated. But if you go, do bring a swimsuit.

    I turned off my cell phone and swore off the computer for the entire day. I should do that more often. I brought a book I've been wanting to read. I had the "Signature Service" to rehydrate my post treatment - winter heat stressed skin and to relax some very tight irradiated muscles. Carlene was great. Massage plays an important role in my physical and mental health. But I rarely go the "top notch" route. This day turned out to be just what I needed. I can highly recommend the Woodstock Inn Spa. http://www.woodstockinn.com/spa
    Tip for locals: Sign up for their emails to see the Wednesday specials. Each week a different treatment is offered at a discount. They've got me.:)

    On Saturday, I went to "Yoga for a Cause."
    I was pleased at what I was able to do and I felt great afterwards! Carole Petrillo offered this special class to benefit Vital Communities of the Upper Valley. Vital Communities is a White River Junction, Vermont based regional nonprofit that works to engage citizens, organizations, and communities in creating solutions to challenges in the Upper Valley.
    http://www.vitalcommunities.org/about.h tm
    Our class which filled the studio to the brim, included wonderful partner work fitting of the community theme. I’m enjoying the thoughtful handout Carole prepared for the class. I share this poem from it.

    “After a While” author unknown:

    After a while you learn
    The subtle difference
    Between holding a hand
    And chaining a soul.
    And you learn
    That love doesn’t mean leaning
    And company doesn’t mean security.
    And you begin to learn
    That kisses aren’t compromises
    And presents aren’t promises.
    And you begin to accept your defeats
    With your head up and your eyes ahead
    With the grace of a woman or man
    Not the grief of a child.
    And you learn to build all your loads on today
    Because tomorrow’s ground is too uncertain for plans
    And futures have a way of falling down in midflight.
    After a while you learn
    That even sunshine burns if you ask too much.
    So you plant your own garden
    And decorate your own soul
    Instead of waiting for someone to buy you flowers.
    And you learn
    That you can really endure
    That you are really strong
    And you really do have worth.
    And you learn.

    For me, the healing power of yoga is magic. It’s not just my conviction. The word is out. Kevin Pearce, the Upper Valley snowboard athlete had a snowboard accident that almost killed him. He has struggled to recover from a severe brain injury. In a split second, at 24 years old, he went from an athlete performing at the world-class level to re-learning how to talk, stand, and walk. Kevin now counts his yoga as an integral part of his healing process. “It’s been huge for me,” he says speaking about the importance of slowing down and staying present. The healing potential of yoga is physical, not just spiritual or emotional. In a recent LuluLemon blog, Kevin says: “I’ve worn glasses the last four-and-a-half years and have been doing eye therapies and had surgeries. I drove 45 minutes to a yoga class the other day—it was hands down the most amazing class I’ve ever taken—and I walked out of the studio and drove home without glasses on.” He was surprised by the dramatic improvement in his vision and apparently, from more recent news reports, it has continued. http://blog.lululemon.com/kevin-pearce- love-your-brain/ Kevin and his family started the Love Your Brain Foundation. http://www.loveyourbrain.org/ The first Love Your Brain Friendly Yoga Classes started at the RVC in Lebanon, NH in October (while I was practicing and getting treatment in Boston.) The classes continue and the program is now rolling out to other locations.

    My regular yoga practice and the yoga wisdom (philosophy) it brings has healed me in the past. It steels me through times of stress, and enables me to find inner strength and wisdom when difficult decisions present. Because of yoga, I was physically strong when cancer struck. It has kept my body (relatively) strong throughout the treatment. My practice makes me resilient. It helps me access the inner strength needed to face life challenges. My yoga community provides healing, caring thoughts and brings happiness. This week, it has helped again to lift my dreary mood.

    If we think that we can make plans and life will follow obediently, we will surely be disappointed. Living a full life means we each will ultimately be called upon to find strength we didn't know we had. I am strong and I am grateful. I intend to remain so.

    Thank you all for your healing thoughts!
    Love, Nancie

    March 15, 2015 10:59 PM


    Harmonic Effect

    One of my old-time hobbies has been the open reel tape recorder. I'm a big fan!

    Magnetic tape adds a certain "warmth" to the music. It seems this effect comes from the harmonic effect generated as the tape slides past the tape head. People like this effect so much, that modern-day digital music editors come with "tape effect plugins" for popular tape and decks.

    So, I ran an experiment. I took the OLPC XO laptop and used Pippy Activity to generate a sine wave (6 beeps) and recorded it on tape. I should see one peak at 1000Hz.

    Then, I played it back from tape, and looked at the signal on Measure Activity. We see a major peak at 1000Hz, but smaller peaks at 3000Hz and 5000Hz.


    Very exciting! Definitely some harmonic effect going on here. Will have to investigate more to see what else happens on tape, and how it differs across brands and machines.

    by sverma at March 15, 2015 06:03 AM

    March 14, 2015

    OLPC Basecamp @ Malacca, Malaysia

    XOs in Deployment

    Packing (NOW in Malaysia and posting this) up for another trip to Malaysia. This time for a small urban micro-deployment in my hometown Malacca. It will serve children who are underprivileged  - a mix of refugees children and indigenous OA children. Again this is made possible through donations from my past Malaccan classmates. dLEAP2 will be launched on March 16-17. Getting help from the first dLEAP deployment - 4 children will be driven all the way down (4-5 hours) from their hostel in Tras, Pahang by their warden. They will bring extra XOs  to help in out for the 2 days training.

    As much as I love the XO laptops there are two drawbacks. One is weight. In deployments be-careful not to break your back :-( if you have to transport them yourself. 

    The other  issue is video playing. While tablets and smartphones are multimedia ready out of the box, the  XO  need some technical intervention for it to work right. Licensing issues with Flash and Codec make distribution of an integrated solution harder.

    The "endless spin" is frustrating when children, teacher and end users expect pictures that moves.    

    Issue two can change if we recognized that working video streaming capability in a laptop is MUST and not an addon. Let's unleash what the XO can do as it celebrate its 10 years in 2015.


    Now off to Malacca by car!

    by T.K. Kang (noreply@blogger.com) at March 14, 2015 12:42 AM

    March 13, 2015

    Fargo to Sudan XO

    Book chapter on building smarter computing cultures.

    Chris, Matt, and Kevin have a chapter in Rhetoric and the Digital Humanities.  The chapter is a white paper that comes out of our three-year work on Sugar Labs @ NDSU; it isn’t an academic study but instead some thoughts on how a community could tie initiatives together in order to build their smarter (as well as more equitable and just) computing cultures.

    by kab13 at March 13, 2015 02:16 PM

    March 11, 2015

    Tabitha Roder


    This week I joined MOSOMELT. I meant to join last week (or was it the week before?) but this week a prompt from a colleague reminded me to actually leap in and signup.

    What am I talking about? I’m talking about a cMOOC designed by some lovelies at AUT as a professional development strategy that takes on a distributed communities of practice approach. Over 24 weeks MOSOMELT will take us on a journey of Mobile Learning Technologies (with some friendly global experts) designed to develop both our personal eportfolios and pedagogical practice. There is an option for validation by external CMALT accreditation too.

    Why? I think this can provide a valid and effective way to offer and receive professional development. Enrolling in a cMOOC with some work colleagues means we have strengthened the likelihood of successful completion as we can motivate each other to stay engaged (a common problem with online only courses). There is also a great community of practice involved, with many members I know and respect for their contributions, so I can imagine this can be a robust course with some excellent opportunities to develop my portfolio, and my practice.

    See you there!

    by tabitharoder at March 11, 2015 09:26 PM

    March 05, 2015

    Ghana Together


    As of 2014, The Axim Girls Senior High School (AGSHS) has computers---lots of computers---thanks to the Ghana Education Service! AND, they have an ICT (information/computer technology) lab! This is no small miracle and is testimony to Ghana’s commitment to education, especially girls’ education.<o:p></o:p>

    BUT, in spite of all that, Axim is still woefully short on internet access, especially to an entire high school computer lab. And now they have all these nice shiny new desktops and laptops with wireless capability. What to do??<o:p></o:p>

    Enter Adam Holt and the computer wizards of Unleash Kids (http://www.unleashkids.org/). They knew about Ghana Together, because in their earlier days they were the folks who helped create the One Laptop Per Child XO computers. We have a nice XO collection in the Children’s Lab in Axim, right next the Public Library.<o:p></o:p>

    Adam asked if we’d like them to set up the first “Internet-In-A-Box” in Ghana! Well, YES, we certainly would!

    And so, we learned that IIAB is a very small “server”, about 6” square, which contains:   

    --all of Wikipedia through 2013, plus simpler versions in English, French, Arabic, and Swahili

    --hundreds of Khan Academy math and science videos<o:p></o:p>

    --dictionaries, maps, books, medical info<o:p></o:p>

    --and much more…  

    How could so much fit into such a small box??? (We read recently that Wikipedia, printed out, would take at least 1000 volumes!)

    Adam's team took over Maryanne's internet connection for about twelve hours and "loaded" the server from Toronto...
    See the little square silver-colored "box" on the small table? That's it!! Impossibly small.
    We contacted James Kainyiah, our Western Heritage Home associate and, conveniently (!), current Chair of the AAGHS Board, and also Headmistress Stella Adjei, who has been transferred.  They were enthusiastic, and current Headmistress Theodora Appiah was no less so.

    They connected us with Jerry Kwofie, ICT teacher, who gave us enough technical information about computers and had the technical savvy to give us confidence to go forward.

    So Adam and Maryanne Ward were off to Ghana with about 35 lbs. of cables and connectors and lots of other “stuff”. With the help of our wonderful friends George Hayford and Ishmael Baidoo in Accra, found the right solar panels and a 12-volt battery. In Axim, we found the all-important soldering iron.
    Ishmael Baidoo, George Hayford, and Adam Holt, at an electronics store in Accra, Ghana

    And so, with about $2000 worth of equipment, we were ALL SET!<o:p></o:p>

    Maryanne with about 35 lbs of components
    At the AGSHS, with the total support of Western Heritage Home leaders, and wonderful help of Headmistress Appiah, Jerry Kwofie, Eric Jim (science teacher), and Evans Arloo (WHH Operations Mgr), plus the other teachers and the students themselves, somehow we got it all to work!!<o:p></o:p>

    The President of the Nzema Youth Association (left), James Kainyiah, and Headmistress Theodora Appiah discussing the IIAB project
    We used solar power technology as part of the girls’ science training. They can see, on the computers, a screen that graphs the solar power.

    They helped set it up and have at least a rudimentary understanding of how it works. Because of the frequent power outages from the grid, we had to have solar power to make it work.<o:p></o:p>

    Eric Jim (science), Evans Arloo (WHH Operations Mgr), Adam Holt, Jerry Kwofie (computer teacher) and Maryanne Ward with the solar panels
    The science class sets up the panels
    Adam helps them verify that the panels are working!
    Another class checks...YES, WE DID IT!!!
    Thanks to the Vodafone staff in Axim who helped set up a minimal internet connection to one computer (plus the amazing skills of Adam and Jerry), we were able to connect with Unleash Kids experts Tim and George. From the East Coast of the United States, these two guys could “see” (literally with Skype) what was going on at the AGSHS and give technical support at every juncture.
    Teachers were trained

    Over two weeks, we tried to train every teacher and all 120 students. The girls were amazed to read about the history of Axim! One girl learned what menstruation really is. The literature teacher found the biographies of the African authors she was teaching. The Social Studies teacher had a class on “gender” the very next day, and got more information than she knew what to do with. One girl looked up her friend’s town on the map application....just a few examples...

    The computers access the Internet-In-A-Box in much the same way that they access the actual internet---wirelessly, and with protocols common to typical internet use. This is an educational project, for study, and research. One interesting feature is the ability of teachers to post their handouts on the server.

    Teacher Jerry Kwofie and Adam train the students

    The school staff will move the ICT lab with the IIAB into the new two-story classroom building probably in mid-April. They will mount the solar panels on the south side of the roof, where the sun shines the most and where they'll be the safest.
    New classroom building thanks to the efforts of Chief Awulae Attibrukusu III and the Ghana National Petroleum Council

    Adam and his team will continue to give technical support, from the US via a real internet connection on one of the computers, if needed. Ghana Together will stay in contact with Headmistress Appiah and others.

    It will take time for this resource to be fully integrated into the school's normal operations, both for teachers and for students. It’s hard to imagine the vast amount of information in this little box. <o:p></o:p>

    In 2003, a survey found that only about 7% of women in Nzema East District had a senior high school education. The Axim community founded the AGSHS as a direct response. Started in 2007, the school now has 120 students and is growing rapidly with girls attending from various parts of the country.
    This is our 4th project at the school in the past few years. At their request, we provided about 50 scientific non-graphing calculators (we always need more!). We installed a hands-on science room. This year we renovated and furnished a run-down building on campus that is now an assembly/dining/study hall.

    And no, Ghanaians don't speak Swahili, but since it was the ONLY African language offered, we took it just for fun!!!

    We can’t think of a better investment! We give all our thanks to all you “investors”, both here in the US and in Ghana. Good work!
    For more info and prior News Updates, see http://ghanatogether.org

    by Ghana Together (noreply@blogger.com) at March 05, 2015 06:39 AM

    February 26, 2015

    Bhagmalpur XO

    Bossa Nova in Banaras

    In my previous post, I had written about unencumbered codecs that ship on the OLPC XO, versus the popular demand for video in MP4 container (usually H.264 video). This post has a strange twist with another container: WebM.

    WebM is a container put forth by Google. They also proceeded to embed the codec support within Chromium/Chrome. Firefox supports it natively as well. So, videos in WebM will play in Chromium/Chrome and Firefox without a plug-in.

    When I travel, I download my favorite tunes from YouTube by using the “FlashGot” plugin. I prefer to download these in WebM (the irony!). Perhaps I am violating some “Terms of Service” somewhere, but that’s a rant for another day.

    After my Bhagmalpur visit in Jan 2015, I headed back to Hyderabad. I took a train from Shahganj to Varanasi (aka Banaras) and then after a short stop, I was scheduled to take a flight out of the Varanasi airport in Babatpur (rural Banaras). As fate would have it, or rather as Indigo airlines would have it, their pilot wasn’t experienced enough to land the aircraft in the fog, and so, we had no return aircraft. I was stranded at Varanasi airport with no way to take another flight. Long story short, I ended up spending the night at the airport (usually a No No, but we had special permission!) along with two other travelers. They turned out to be visitors from Brazil and Italy. We had a great conversation that evening and the next day, hanging out at a small airport, eating stale cheese sandwiches. I got reminded of the Langoliers!

    Waiting for the Langoliers at Varanasi airport!

    Waiting for the Langoliers at Varanasi airport!

    Towards the afternoon, I recalled that I had a copy of some “Bossa Nova” tunes downloaded in WebM format. What luck! Here were two people who spoke [Brazilian] Portuguese, stranded in the thick of rural India, and I had “Desafinado” and “Girl from Ipanema” on my laptop! We sat down and listened to a somewhat strange rendition of “Desafinado” by

    1) Nova Music LA and

    2)  an interesting version of Girl (actually Boy) from Ipanema by Dionne Warwick and Sacha Distel

    (with appropriate apologies to Vinícius de Moraes, Antônio Carlos Jobim and João Gilberto).

    Such great coincidence, or perhaps I’m just cool like that :-) Shortly after that, we thankfully got onto our respective flights and headed our different ways. After keeping in touch with my new friends, it turns out they are biodiversity researchers. I hope they’ll come visit us in California to see the Redwoods for themselves! I hope the Langoliers will enjoy the Bossa Nova when they get to the Varanasi airport ;-)

    <iframe allowfullscreen="true" class="youtube-player" frameborder="0" height="312" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/FolEno814Gk?version=3&amp;rel=1&amp;fs=1&amp;showsearch=0&amp;showinfo=1&amp;iv_load_policy=1&amp;wmode=transparent" type="text/html" width="500"></iframe>


    <iframe allowfullscreen="true" class="youtube-player" frameborder="0" height="312" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/iRIxByKzIJE?version=3&amp;rel=1&amp;fs=1&amp;showsearch=0&amp;showinfo=1&amp;iv_load_policy=1&amp;wmode=transparent" type="text/html" width="500"></iframe>


    Desafinado on the OLPC XO-4 in HTML5

    Desafinado on the OLPC XO-4 playing natively on YouTube in HTML5

    by sv3rma at February 26, 2015 02:39 AM

    February 23, 2015

    Nancie Severs

    Mind Over Matter & Boston Attractions/Distractions — Boston, MA

    Boston, MA

    "And the Seasons, They Are A Changin." Autumn has turned to early winter. Yesterday, Boston was cold, windy &amp; pouring rain. Today we even saw snow flurries. Daylight Savings Time has ended &amp; today, the sun set at 5:00 PM. Luckily, Boston is rich with attractions and distractions both indoors and out. To see some of what I've been doing, just click through my Iphone photos posted here. I can hardly believe that I have completed six weeks of my radiation protocol already. I'll be here two more weeks and then resume commuting for the remaining chemotherapy. Side effects have gotten very unpleasant but only intermittently so and I can see the end this part of the treatments. I don't yet have the schedule for the last 3 chemos yet. But maybe I'll be through by the end of January and start to heal. I have read that chemo and radiation actually wounds the body. Not unlike surgery wounds, I will need to heal from these treatments too. It can take 6 months to 1 year to heal from the treatments and rebuild strength.  I'm grateful that I was strong coming into this, and I have been able to keep a minimal level of fitness up. I read this very interesting recent New York Times article: &lt;a target="_blank" href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/26 /magazine/what-if-age-is-nothing-but-a- mind-set.html" rel="nofollow"&gt; http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/26/magaz ine/what-if-age-is-nothing-but-a-mind-s et.html&lt;/a&gt; It's principally about mind over matter. There are some older non traditional studies profiled that show that folks can trick themselves into feeling younger than their years both physically and mentally. It points out that when we are diagnosed with a medical (or emotional) problem or illness, we think we are sick and we act sick, becoming sicker than we need be, because of our mindset. The approach I am taking with this bump in the road is to not view myself as sick. It just so happens I need to show up for treatment as part of my day. No matter what symptoms I might have, is dealing with it much different than dealing with my cranky knee which is spent from years of skiing? By not letting anyone treat me as ill, I mostly don't feel ill. The NYT's article puts what my practice does for me into words.  I think that the well meaning actions and reactions of our loved ones to diagnoses of major illnesses like Alzheimer's or cancer can exacerbate illness by treating us as "patients," especially as needy and ill patients.  I don't always feel great, and believe me, I would prefer to not have needed these toxic cancer treatments. But life IS what it is and I'm practicing making lemonade out of lemons! I continue to enjoy my impromptu Boston vacation. The many lessons of my yoga teachers help. Yoga is safe exercise when properly taught and practiced. When I take a class with other yogis, I feel strong, not ill. It keeps me very much in the present and I even forget that I have cancer. The lessons of yoga are to observe with awareness and to honor our bodies without doing harm. Even if I don't do all of the class poses, I benefit from the normalcy of being in class. My teachers' teacher, BKS Iyengar says: " Fear and fatigue block the mind. Confront both squarely, then courage and confidence will flow into you." I strive to follow his wise advice.  Thank you for your thoughts and continued encouragement.  Love, Nancie

    February 23, 2015 07:06 PM

    Unleash Kids: Unsung Heroes of OLPC, Interviewed Live

    Our Booth @SCaLE 13x

    We had a great time this weekend at the Southern California Linux Expo! We met some cool Edutech volunteers like Kids On Computers and Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team. The XO laptops were as popular as ever, especially with the younger crowd. It was so much fun, I’m already looking forward to next year’s conference!

    IMG_2041 IMG_2057

    by curt at February 23, 2015 03:41 PM

    February 20, 2015

    Mike Fletcher

    Say What is still pretty popular

    So of all the Web Toys, the only one that seems to have staying power so far is the trivial wrapper around espeak Say What. Something about having a robotic voice parrot back whatever you type is really exciting for kids.

    by Mike C. Fletcher (mcfletch@vrplumber.com) at February 20, 2015 10:14 PM

    February 17, 2015

    OLE Nepal

    While deploying XO laptops in the far west

    I was quite excited from early on. Our team of two (Basanta Dai and myself) were heading towards far-west Nepal on January 12th. It was my first visit to far-west – Bajhang to be specific, and my first experiences of deploying XO (E-paati) laptops. I had my bags ready with necessary stuffs for two weeks [...]

    by Bishnu at February 17, 2015 07:40 AM

    OLPC Basecamp @ Malacca, Malaysia

    olpc 2.015: Year of the RAM

    The XO has come a long way since its inception in November 2005 thanks to the hundreds of volunteers. This year 2015, will be 10 years since the 1st protoype was shown to the world. Let us celebrate how far we have come and not forget why we participated:

    "This is not just a matter of giving a laptop to each child, as if bestowing on them some magical charm. The magic lies within -- within each child, within each scientist, scholar, or just plain citizen in the making. This initiative is meant to bring it forth into the light of day." 
    —Kofi Annan

    This is my first posting in 2015. Hope 2015 will bring another round of momentum to keep the spirit alive for olpc 2.015 and beyond. Perhaps a world-wide reunion and celebration!

    Personally, it has been an incredible journey of learning for me when I got my G4G4 XOs and celebrated the Year of the OX in 2008. We had fun taking the XOs for rides in the Year of the Ox,Tiger, etc. The Year of the Dragon and Snake  followed.

    olpc 2.015 will kickstart in the Year of the RAM.

     I still dream that XO4All will become a reality as I remained optimistic after all these years! 

    by T.K. Kang (noreply@blogger.com) at February 17, 2015 05:44 AM

    February 13, 2015

    Sugar Digest / Walter Bender

    Sugar Digest 2015-02-12

    Sugar Digest

    1. A few weeks ago there was a guest op-ed piece, “Can students have too much tech?”, in the NY Times arguing among other things that Internet access was undermining programs like One Laptop per Child. I found it surprising that Susan Pinker would cite One Laptop per Child as the principle example of the children using computers to chat and play games on the Internet (which she soundly criticized), since almost none of the children who received laptop computers through OLPC programs have ready access to the Internet (at school or at home).  The exception of course being Uruguay, where every child has both a laptop and Internet access. Indeed, as a 2010 survey showed, the children in Uruguay play games – they are children after all – but they also use email, search for information, chat (also known as reading and writing), make music, artwork, and videos, program, and, in general, use the computer as a tool for problem solving. Contrary to the assertion that the program is “drive-by” education, a continuing effort is put into teacher training, community support, and outreach.

    That said, some people associated with OLPC —  including my former colleague Mr. Negroponte — are outspoken advocates for solutions that mitigate the need for teachers in elementary education. The X Prize for Education is designed around that approach and further requires that any proposed solutions be Android-tablet based. Not to say that it may be possible to engineer such a solution, to constrain the contest to an unproven pedagogical framework seems ill-advised. (Many tablet-based solutions have begun to distribute physical keyboards in acknowledgment that no one serious about writing or programming works exclusively with an on-screen keyboard. And while it is theoretically possible to exercise Software Freedoms on an Android tablet, in practice it is still well beyond most of us.) Meanwhile, here at Sugar Labs, we encourage open collaboration among students, teachers, and our community.

    2. Martin Abente, our Sugar Release Manager, is pleased to announce the release of Sugar (sucrose) 0.104.0. This release includes new features and a multitude of bug fixes from Google Code-In and Summer of Code students, deployments and community members.

    We are compiling detailed release notes at 0.104/Notes.

    Thanks to everyone who contributed to this release and special thanks to Martin for shepherding the process.

    3. Sugar Labs is applying to Google Summer of Code (GSoC) 2015. The application to Google has been submitted and we are in the process of building the associated wiki pages Summer_of_Code/2015. We often use GSoC as a way of exploring new ideas and future directions; for example, last summer we had projects on extending Turtle Blocks into three-dimensions and porting Sugar to Python 3, among others. This year we are going to take a more focused approach, concentrating on fleshing out and making more robust the Javascript support within Sugar. Sample projects will be added to the wiki over the next few days. We can always use more project ideas (please add them to the wiki) and more mentors (if you are interested, please contact me over the next few weeks).

    In the community

    4. Tony Anderson reports that he has finally has most of the Project Bernie website completed. This website shows what content is available on the School Server. (The School Server is a repository of content and services for Sugar deployments.) Tony reports that there are about 200 Sugar activities available to be installed from the school server; digital textbooks from Siyavula, and courses on Python, Web technology, and the Command Line Interpreter (Terminal activity).

    Tech Talk

    5. Peter Robinson, who has been coordinating the Sugar on a Stick releases (most recently for Fedora 21 [x86_64], [i686]) is looking for help coordinating testing and general community communications and facilitation. Peter is a great mentor, so it would be a nice opportunity for someone(s) to both contribute to the project and to learn more about packaging. Please contact Peter (pbrobinson AT gmail DOT com) if you are interested.

    Sugar Labs

    6. Please visit our planet.

    by Walter Bender at February 13, 2015 03:09 PM

    February 06, 2015

    Unleash Kids: Unsung Heroes of OLPC, Interviewed Live

    Unleash Kids Selected As All Children Reading Finalist

    Screenshot from the Haitian Creole version of iloominate, available here: http://iloominate-haiti.herokuapp.com/edit

    Screenshot from the Haitian Creole version of iloominate, available here: http://iloominate-haiti.herokuapp.com/edit

    Pleased to announce that the book-making software we piloted a few weeks ago has been recognized as one of three finalists in the All Children Reading – Enabling Writers competition. The credit goes to Nick Doiron for stepping up as the lead guy on this, and to everyone who offered their help, including Adam Holt, Caryl Bigenho, and Jennifer Shotwell. Keep an eye out here for some exciting updates as we build on this success!

    by Sora Edwards-Thro at February 06, 2015 02:05 AM

    February 05, 2015

    Project Rive: Reaching Students in Haiti

    Big News

    Pleased to announce that the book-making software we piloted a few weeks ago has been awarded $12,000 as one of three finalists in the All Children Reading – Enabling Writers competition. The credit goes to Nick Doiron for stepping up … Continue reading

    by Sora at February 05, 2015 07:56 PM

    OLE Nepal

    From field assistant to a programmer

    Transition must have been boring!! Most of you must be guessing the above statement by the title of my blog. But, I am here to surprise you all. As a passionate explorer, I am hooked with the anxiety and the butterfly effect I get when setting out for a journey. The feeling of a vicious [...]

    by Sabrina at February 05, 2015 09:38 AM

    February 03, 2015

    Sugar Digest / Walter Bender

    Sugar Digest 2015-02-03

    Sugar Digest

    1. Congratulations to Ignacio Rodríguez and Sam Parkinson, the grand-prize winners from Sugar Labs in Google Code-in. Our finalists are Cristian Garcia,
    Daksh Shah, and Jae Eun (Jasmine) Park.

    All five did great work, fixing bugs, writing documentation, and taking us to new places.

    2. Since the contest finished, Ignacio and Sam have continued to contribute patches almost daily to Turtle Blocks JS. Jasmine has written some beginner guides (See TurtleBlocksIntroductoryManual.pdf] and TurtleBlocksAdvancedBlocksManual.pdf). If you haven’t checked it out, please give it a try (feedback most welcome).

    Sugar Labs

    3. Please visit our planet.

    by Walter Bender at February 03, 2015 08:22 PM

    February 02, 2015

    OLE Nepal

    Pustakalaya in our hands

    It is very hard to tell when and how the idea to create a mobile application for our E-Pustakalaya started. However, it certainly was the advantage of applications alike these being handy, easy and accessible that attracted us towards creating one for our E-Pustakalaya. This application would give direct and free access to the massive [...]

    by Roshan Poudyal at February 02, 2015 10:25 AM

    ICT4D Views from the Field

    LeMaker Provides Banana Pi’s and Generous Support for Solar Digital Library all-in-one Kit Project—and for Maker Spaces


    This past summer (July 2014), I became aware of LeMaker, a company that makes and provides support for open source technology. More specifically for the purposes of this post, I was interested in their Banana Pi, which is an open source, single board computer just about the size of a credit card, that can run Android or Linux. With an ARM based dual core processor and 1 GB memory, it offers more computing power than the Raspberry Pi, its famous cousin. (With even more features added, LeMaker’s newest version is called the Banana Pro.)

    banana pi frontbanana pi back

    This organization came to my attention because they were sponsoring in-kind grants of Banana Pi’s for multiple different kinds of projects—of which education was one. We’ve been working for some time now to bring educational content to remote schools with no Internet connectivity, and the Banana Pi sparked an idea: How about developing a simple-to-use, all-in-one, solar-powered kit to enable the use of this content at remote schools with no electricity or Internet? The idea of our Digital Library all-in-one Kit was born.

    Screen Shot 2015-02-01 at 4.24.20 PM

    I applied for an in-kind grant on LeMaker’s webpage, describing the project: 50 Banana Pis to Remote Pacific Island Schools, and in the next month, I found out that they were interested, and were going to support the project! They sent me the hardware (Banana Pi’s, as well as cases), and I set about brainstorming how to make this project a reality at Cal Poly, where I would start working in the next month. The previous post showcases the initial steps we’ve taken on the project, and I’ll be reporting on the ongoing work in future posts.


    In December 2014, we had the opportunity to meet two of the Founders, Leo Liu and Ivy Yao from LeMaker, while in Hong Kong. They were kind enough to travel from their office in Shenzhen to meet with us. (Here’s a picture of breathtakingly beautiful Hong Kong.)


    We spoke about the project and our (mutual) excitement for it, but what really struck me was our mutual passion for harnessing technology to improve opportunities for children around the world who happen to have been born into resource-constrained conditions.

    During our conversation, I learned how passionate they are about the “Maker” movement, and their belief—with which I wholeheartedly agree—that having technology and physical spaces that promote creativity and innovation is one of the best ways to promote this mindset among (young) people across the globe. In many places around the world, education emphasizes rote learning and memorization and is not an experience that promotes creativity, innovation, teamwork, or all the skills and mindsets we believe will be the hallmarks of successful economies and “information and innovation societies” in the future. Maker spaces can be places that do promote such activities. So, even though we work toward making the educational experience more modernized around the world, this process won’t be easy and will take time.

    Images below: Here are some fun things that can be done with a Banana Pi or Banana Pro: It can be used as a traditional computer; as a server, as the “brains” for a remote controlled car…endless possibilities!


    banana pi server

    banana pi car maze

    In a similar way, we know about the benefits that access to information and the ability to communicate, via the Internet, can have in the educational context, yet Internet connectivity will not become a reality for a long time for many, many resource-constrained schools around the globe, even though we may be working toward that reality. In the meantime therefore, we are working towards ways to develop the “skills of the future” related to information (searching, acquiring, assessing) and knowledge creation and sharing: in other words, cultivating Internet-ready skills before the Internet arrives.


    So, we’re working to develop an offline solution that provides educational content in an environment that replicates an online environment. We’re working to deploy this first iteration of our Solar Powered Digital Library all-in-one Kit at 50 remote, unconnected Pacific Island schools. I’ll be writing more about that exciting work in future posts, so stay tuned!

    by ljhosman at February 02, 2015 12:43 AM

    January 31, 2015

    Bhagmalpur XO

    To Ogg or not to Ogg, that is the question

    In this recent trip to Bhagmalpur, Anish Mangal and I discovered something interesting. We’ve strived hard to keep the content available through unencumbered formats such as Ogg Vorbis for audio and Ogg Theora for video. Unsurprisingly, the OLPC XO laptop supports these out of the box, but will not run MPEG 4 videos.

    Some kids were upset. How would they watch Shah Rukh Khan on their XOs? These kids go to a repair shop nearby and get videos copied over to a USB stick for a small sum of money. However, the videos are in MP4, and they don’t play on the XO.

    Yet, we found a Shah Rukh Khan song number on a XO. How did that happen? Did they install the MP4 codec on the laptop? Some conversations later, we found out. They first figured out that the TED videos that do play on the XO are in OGV format. Next, they asked the guy at the shop to convert the Shah Rukh Khan MP4 to OGV. That’s it. Simple as a samosa. Now Shah Rukh Khan lives in OGV! Richard M. Stallman and Shah Rukh Khan are happy together in some universe :-)

    SRK in OGV

    SRK in OGV

    by sv3rma at January 31, 2015 04:49 AM

    January 30, 2015

    Hinche Haiti Partners for Education

    A Mission for Health

    Did you know Haiti is ranked Number 1 in the Western Hemisphere, and Number 21 in the world…for infant deaths in children under the age of five? With these dismal statistics in mind, I headed to Haiti in November...

    by hinchehaitipartnersforeducation at January 30, 2015 09:11 PM

    January 26, 2015

    OLPC School Server | George Hunt

    A Solar System for Silar’s Orphanage, Port Au Prince Haiti

    soraSora Edwards-Thro, a college freshman, used her 2014 Christmas break to install a solar system which she designed, funded, purchased, and installed.  60 full time residents, and perhaps 200 additional day students will benefit from 24/7 access to “Internet In a Box” wikipedia, and various online resources provided by 3G internet access which she installed. These instructional resources are now available via 20 XO laptops, which can now be charged by  via her new solar system, and a low voltage distribution system which she manufactured on site.

    For additional information, and a case study of all facets of a successful solar installation see: https://schoolserver.wordpress.com/power/solar-power-for-silars-orphanage-a-case-study/

    by George Hunt at January 26, 2015 12:45 AM

    January 25, 2015

    ICT4D Views from the Field

    Cal Poly students launch Pacific Islands ICT4D efforts with creation of three new videos

    In the fall quarter of 2014, three student teams at Cal Poly worked to create videos that will help spread awareness of bringing information and communications technology (ICT) into schools in remote and resource-challenged Pacific Islands locations. (Scroll down to watch the videos!)

    The teams worked in collaboration with partners Ian Thomson and Shikha Raturi, who co-direct the Teacher’s Educational Resource and E-Learning Center at the University of the South Pacific in Suva, Fiji. Ian and Shikha work closely with Ministries of Education, development organizations, schools and individual teachers across the Pacific Islands. They also conduct national, regional, and local conferences and workshops that support teacher training and skills-building to promote e-learning across the Pacific. In this context, they often make use of videos to illustrate points or to stimulate creativity and/or discussion, yet none of the videos they use were focused specifically on the challenges and opportunities ICTs present for schools and education in the Pacific Islands.


    Creating some targeted, to-the-point videos on these precise topics, which could be useful for our partners in Fiji, became our team’s goal. This project took place in the context of a Technology and Public Policy class, and the challenge I issued to the students was to undertake a Learn-by-Doing public policy project that would have an impact in the real world, despite the fact that we were not able to leave our campus setting during the five weeks we worked on the project this quarter. In this case, we chose the policy-relevant activity of awareness-raising, of the public and of teachers, all the way up to policymakers, while also using the very technologies we were advocating for and demonstrating the use of. P1150690

    The teams set out to understand the appropriate and desired messages to convey, the cultural contexts into which the videos would be introduced and of which the videos would attempt be representative, and the specific challenges and opportunities ICT presents for education in the Pacific Islands. Three groups were formed to further refine the videos’ content, each with a distinct target audience and message.


    Although there was variation and creativity in all of the videos, all three teams did agree on using a stop-motion whiteboard framework within the videos, to keep the continuation of the theme, visually, across all of the videos, but also because the writing out of words in a visual manner (while combining this act with the use of technology) tends to help get a message across—especially to teachers!

    Screen Shot 2014-12-28 at 2.11.42 PM Screen Shot 2014-12-28 at 2.14.45 PM

    The first group set its focus on policymakers, emphasizing the point that ICT in the schools can bring about significant benefits, even (and especially) in resource- and infrastructure-constrained locations, through the use of simple and robust technology.

    <iframe allowfullscreen="true" class="youtube-player" frameborder="0" height="390" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/alB9SeEYF_I?version=3&amp;rel=1&amp;fs=1&amp;showsearch=0&amp;showinfo=1&amp;iv_load_policy=1&amp;wmode=transparent" type="text/html" width="640"></iframe>

    The second group’s video focused on the educators themselves, demonstrating through examples some simple and straightforward, yet creative, methods for using ICT in the schools.

    <iframe allowfullscreen="true" class="youtube-player" frameborder="0" height="390" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/5Il4omMNB1g?version=3&amp;rel=1&amp;fs=1&amp;showsearch=0&amp;showinfo=1&amp;iv_load_policy=1&amp;wmode=transparent" type="text/html" width="640"></iframe>

    The third video’s target audience is the general public, with the goal of raising awareness of the next stage of our work: Designing, Developing, and Deploying 50 Solar-Powered All-in-One Digital Library Kits to schools across the Pacific Islands.
    Please watch the video and stay tuned for updates on this exciting project!

    <iframe allowfullscreen="true" class="youtube-player" frameborder="0" height="390" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/UDU4SCnwMCo?version=3&amp;rel=1&amp;fs=1&amp;showsearch=0&amp;showinfo=1&amp;iv_load_policy=1&amp;wmode=transparent" type="text/html" width="640"></iframe>

    On the final day of class, the students debuted their videos, over a Skype-connected call, to our partners in Fiji. Happily, our partners were quite enthusiastic about the videos, and provided very positive responses to all 3 videos – for example: “Blown away,” “Fantastic,” and “Very impressed” were repeated phrases. We hope they will prove useful!


    by ljhosman at January 25, 2015 10:37 PM

    January 24, 2015

    Haiti Dreams!

    Update on Ghana Trip

    Adam Holt is with Unleash Kids in western Ghana these days. He has been sharing photos when he gets the chance.

    Buying solar panelsDSCN1910 IMG_20150118_231624 IMG_20150118_232017 IMG_20150118_234435 IMG_20150118_093629235 IMG_20150118_094239819 IMG_20150118_123147350 IMG_20150118_124552747 IMG_20150118_151850443 IMG_20150118_152209235 IMG_20150118_155413572 IMG_20150122_235214 IMG_20150122_235256 IMG_20150122_235350 IMG_20150122_235507 IMG_20150122_235800 IMG_20150123_033215 IMG_20150123_033420 IMG_20150123_033625

    IMG_20150123_033526 IMG_20150123_032951 IMG_20150123_033104


    by buildingaschool at January 24, 2015 03:52 AM

    Nancie Severs

    Cabin Fever Combat! — Lebanon, NH

    Lebanon, NH

    Wow! I looked up at the Calendar and it is January 17 already. How can that be? Spring came and went, summer turned to autumn in Boston, I was home by Thanksgiving, and now in mid-winter, I have completed my last cycle of chemo.

    I was scheduled for chemo on December 31. Mark and I celebrated our anniversary the Sunday evening before with a quiet dinner at a favorite Inn. And then we got a New Year’s Eve reprieve. My platelets were too low to safely have the chemo. I was feeling mostly fine and we had a lovely holiday after all.

    I had the chemo on January 7. Noah had come from Bangkok for a visit and his perfect timing enabled him to be with me in Boston for the last treatment cycle. He was there for the very first one on July 7 and for the last one on January 7. We all know that 7 is a lucky number. I am DONE!

    Medical professionals agree that the treatment protocol I had, chemo&gt;radiation&gt;more chemo, was a tough one. My white counts and red blood cells and platelets have been chronically low&gt;affecting my energy. And it’s mid-winter in New Hampshire. The temperature hovers below freezing. Often it’s below 0 F. The days are short and we count the ones with bright sunshine. If it’s too cold, sleeting, freezing rain or slick and icy, we can’t always exercise outside. Everyone I meet has a touch of winter “low energy.” We call it Cabin Fever.
    Is winter Cabin Fever so different from "cancer cabin fever?"

    Ways to Combat Cabin Fever:
    Dress for the weather, &amp; when dry, get outside and exercise. Ski or snowshoe or take a walk. It was -8 degrees F the other day. I still bundle up and hike out for our newspaper &amp; mail. I haven’t done much more than that yet. But after a snowstorm, you can be sure that I’ll be out in the sun for a walk in fresh fluffy snow.

    Find your favorite gym or yoga studio. Going is the hard part. Show up and magic happens.

    Attend the art, music or film events around the Upper Valley. Dartmouth College has a full array of Performing Arts &amp; Films. Last week there was a classical South Indian Dance Performance, a master dance class and a dance talk about “Gods in Motion.” The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center was here last Wednesday, followed by Argentinean Theater on Thursday &amp; Friday. And the Hop Winter Film Schedule has showings on Fridays, Saturdays &amp; Sundays. Every week that Dartmouth is in session there are similar reasonably priced things to do:

    https://hop.dartmouth.edu/Online/perfor mances?menu_id=B8310665-E8E3-44EB-8210- 4EAB593E4BEE&amp;sToken=1%2C3ff060d0%2C 54bada71%2C1A033874-9F29-468B-A9F2-2F41 8130DC12%2CJd88p1Llz54wojSXH9AEp92F38I% 3D

    Elsewhere in the Upper Valley, Check out the Canoe Club’s schedule here:
    http://www.canoeclub.us/calendar or any of the other restaurant venues that have entertainment.

    Northern Stage in White River Junction (Vermont) has its second annual New Play Festival with 2 readings and a musical this weekend. http://northernstage.org/buy-now/2014-2 015-season/
    Pentangle Arts in Woodstock, VT has a community theater performance of Fiddler on the Roof. http://www.pentanglearts.org/

    Yes, winter can be hard up here. But it has its gifts. We notice the lengthening daylight and appreciate the beauty nature brings. The lack of big city traffic &amp; commuting = &lt; stress. When there’s a storm, everything is cancelled and we stay home. And then eventually, spring comes.

    Friends wonder &amp; some ask now what? I’m addressing the symptoms &amp; side effects of the chemo and radiation with the best professionals and practices I can conveniently access. I’ll have regular checkups with scans and labs and physicals to watch for signs of recurrence. Cathy my DF nurse practitioner, advised me: “Go live. Return to traveling around the world or whatever it is you do or want to do. Think of yourself as living with a chronic illness. We are here for you when you have symptoms that rear up. We’ll treat them again and again as needed and you’ll go on with your life.”

    I am grateful I have not stopped "living” through this 9 month blip. When the cold winter wind hits me in the face I feel alive. And when the warm sun returns to shines on me, I'll feel alive then too. Treasure each day, right here, right now.

    January 24, 2015 01:26 AM

    January 22, 2015

    Sugar Digest / Walter Bender

    Sugar Digest 2015-01-21

    Sugar Digest

    In schools, all hardware and software bestow agency on one of three parties: the system, the teacher, or the learner. Typically, two of these actors lose their power as the technology benefits the third. Ask a group of colleagues to create a three-column table and brainstorm the hardware or software in your school and who is granted agency by each. Management software, school-wide grade-book programs, integrated learning systems, school-to-home communication packages, massive open online courses (MOOCs), and other cost-cutting technologies grant maximum benefit to the system. Interactive whiteboards, worksheet generators, projectors, whole-class simulations, plagiarism software, and so on, benefit the teacher. Personal laptops, programming languages, creativity software, cameras, MIDI keyboards, microcontrollers, fabrication equipment, and personal web space primarily benefit (bestow agency to) the
    learner. — Gary Stager

    1. Google Code-In. Wow. Finally a chance to catch my breath. Seven intense weeks: 60 students completed more than 300 tasks for Sugar Labs. The impact on Sugar Labs was even greater this year than in the previous years we have participated: more diversity among the participants, the mentors, the tasks, and a spirit of collaboration while striving for excellence prevailed throughout the contest. Thanks to Google and Stephanie Taylor for giving us this opportunity, to the contestants who not only did great work but taught me a thing or two along the way, and the mentors and community members who manned the IRC channel 24/7.

    I want to acknowledge the Top Ten+ from whom we will be selecting our finalists this week (results announce in early February):

    Ignacio Rodríguez, Daksh, samdroid, cristian99garcia, Ezequiel Pereira, svineet, Gtrinidad, Jas Park, Rafael Cordano, Richar, Sergio Britos, Aishmita Kakkar, Gabriel Lee, et al.

    Also, some mentors (and community members) deserve special recognition: Andrés Aguirre, Daniel Francis, Gary Servin, Gonzalo Odiard, James Cameron, Jorge Ramirez, Mariah Villarreal, Rajul, Rodrigo Parra, and Martin Abente Lahaye.

    Finally, a few projects worth mentioning:

    * Turtle Blocks JS plugins (Ignacio, samDroid, Daksh)
    * Turtle Blocks guides (Jas Park) TurtleBlocksIntroductoryManual and TurtleBlocksAdvancedBlocksManual
    * Activity reviews (Gabriel Lee)
    * Dasher app (Cristian Garcia)
    * Enhancements to Physics (Svineet)
    * Sugar bugs squashed (Ezequiel)
    * Butia Measure (Gtrinidad)
    * Simple scrolling interface for Sugar (Rafael)
    and much much more.

    2. As mentioned above, we have a number of new Turtle Blocks plugins (for both the Python and Javascript versions) as a result of Google Code-in. One of the more interesting inspirations for plugins comes from mashape.com, a repository of APIs for everything from translation services to a bicycle theft alert system. As Sugar becomes more web-friendly, we can take advantage of web services and also facilitate our users to craft their own tools and services. It is fun and empowering.

    In the community

    3. The Free Software Foundation has put together a nice video on the core ideas behind Free Software.

    Tech Talk

    4. Xevents is a TurtleBlocks plugin that makes it easy to design different types of accessibility interfaces through a variery of physical sensors types. It is being developed at FING by Andrés Aguirre and Alan Aguiar and was the focus of some of the Google Code-in work of Rafael Cordano.

    5. For you OLPC XO 4 users, James Cameron has been working on enabling the second processor. He reports “about 38% improvement. For CPU tasks like rendering, alt/tab, kernel compiles, the improvement is somewhat more than 38%. For single threaded tasks that rely on memory bandwidth, performance is lower because the memory controller is shared between two cores.” When asked how it impacts Sugar, he said “it feels faster and more responsive.”

    6. Martin has announced the tarballs for the last 0.103.x UNSTABLE release of Sugar before 0.104 STABLE. (We delayed the release a few weeks in order to take advantage of all of the bug fixes coming in from Google Code-in.) With this release we reach the API, UI and String freeze (See 0.104/Roadmap.

    * http://download.sugarlabs.org/sources/sucrose/glucose/sugar/sugar-0.103.2.tar.xz
    * http://download.sugarlabs.org/sources/sucrose/glucose/sugar-toolkit-gtk3/sugar-toolkit-gtk3-0.103.2.tar.xz
    * http://download.sugarlabs.org/sources/sucrose/glucose/sugar-artwork/sugar-artwork-0.103.2.tar.xz
    * http://download.sugarlabs.org/sources/sucrose/glucose/sugar-datastore/sugar-datastore-0.103.2.tar.xz
    * http://download.sugarlabs.org/sources/sucrose/glucose/sugar-runner/sugar-runner-0.103.2.tar.xz

    It’s time to switch focus on updating translations, everyone can contribute through or new Pootle instance. We have time until February 13, before the 0.104.0 STABLE release.

    Sugar Labs

    7. Please visit our planet at http://planet.sugarlab.org.

    by Walter Bender at January 22, 2015 01:14 AM

    January 20, 2015

    OLE Nepal

    Connecting local writers to read-aloud books

    Children enjoy listening to stories. During our childhood, we remember asking our parents, grandparents or anyone elder to us, for amusing and interesting stories, simply because we enjoyed immersing ourselves in the world of fantasy. Besides providing pleasure, hearing stories has several benefits. It stimulates children’s minds, cultivates reading habits and increases their ability to [...]

    by Sawal Acharya at January 20, 2015 03:42 AM

    January 18, 2015

    Haiti Dreams!

    Unleash Kids is off to Ghana

    (This is written by the parents of Adam Holt. It is exactly 50 years since we taught school in West Africa and travelled in these countries. Very exciting to see these updates!)

    Photos being shared from Coastal Ghana. There have been travel glitches, but all in all, an eye opening exciting experience. Some of the early photos from Accra: people, architecture, market crafts, train tracks, casino lights.IMG_20150112_110125490b IMG_20150112_112152442b IMG_20150112_113012427b IMG_20150112_114559659b IMG_20150112_154020619_HDRb IMG_20150112_155501227b IMG_20150112_155829652b IMG_20150112_221025407bAnd then a few more….kites, little people, hardware and food for sale,  point to what ailes you, masks, fabric, letter writers (typewriters!) and more.IMG_20150114_151643838 IMG_20150114_162502509_HDR IMG_20150114_165933846 IMG_20150114_174231904_HDR IMG_20150114_175619511 IMG_20150114_182552842 IMG_20150115_101456173 IMG_20150115_101521481B IMG_20150115_110450857


    IMG_20150115_112656736_HDR IMG_20150115_115131474_HDR  IMG_20150116_155204537B

    Today was a shopping day for our son in Accra, Ghana, for electronic materials for a girls school nearby:
    [Solar/battery/wire supplies acquired here in town today after much scrambling/research over past 36 hrs especially to piece together a Girls High School’s digital library they’re calling Internet-in-a-Box.
    Representing 6 months of procurement, coming to a close, or very close..Ghana strangely has very little clue about solar energy for now.
    This store’s actually called “DEVICE: tech addiction”]



    “Thanks to George & Ishmael who took time to drive us around and make calls from their old van Thur/Fri. Since they were both raised in the town where we’re headed, they hope these education ventures lead the dying slave port town in some more hopeful directions.
    In this photo, George is just counting the small notes with Maryanne, paying 1000 GH₵ for two 100W solar panels, at a huge/empty engineering supplier “Deng Ltd” who service generators / inverters etc all around the region including Liberia etc.This is about US $300.”


    by buildingaschool at January 18, 2015 01:44 AM

    January 14, 2015

    Juan Chacon Free Software & Education | El Salvador

    Cambell's Law

    I've had a gut feeling that the data driven decision making that has become the mantra guiding our educational practice in US schools these days is actually harmful to students and education.  I can sense that the problem is related in some way to the erroneous assumption that you can separate the observer from the observed - that the educational system can both gather data on itself and use this data to effectively improve its own practice.

    In the case of a political, bureaucratic system like a public school system, relying on data points to determine the effectiveness of our efforts, and then doling out rewards and punishments based on these data points guarantees that it is the data points that will soon take on primary value, regardless of what they actually mean regarding student growth and development.

    It is with great delight that I came across this entry on Wikipedia on Cambell's law.  I take comfort in finding a statement by a well known and respected personage of what I was trying to say stated much better than I could say it:
    The more any quantitative social indicator is used for social decision-making, the more subject it will be to corruption pressures and the more apt it will be to distort and corrupt the social processes it is intended to monitor.
    Donald T. Cambell

    by jelkner (noreply@blogger.com) at January 14, 2015 04:25 PM

    January 10, 2015

    Nancie Severs

    Pain is Inevitable; Suffering is Optional. — Lebanon, NH

    Lebanon, NH

    I’m finally home from Boston. I went to Boston with a suitcase. After 2 months, I somehow had a full car to move home. My sister Lynn was a huge help. I woke up feeling like I could make the move; we rented a car, she packed it and drove me home. Thank you Lynn!

    My Update: I’ve completed 4 cycles of chemo, 6 weeks of daily external pelvic radiation, &amp; some brachytherapy. 2 more chemo cycles to go and my Boston oncologist will re-evaluate things. After the last chemo &amp; Neulasta shot to boost my white counts, I was again under the weather for about 6 days. Now I can pretty much plan on a “sick” week, and then I feel better until the next chemo. Before I started treatment, a Dartmouth doctor told me "those last 3 chemos will be BRUTAL because your bone marrow will be so depleted by then." So I began this round of treatment with trepidation. Frankly, I was ready to quit, and just say I've done enough already. That was not a helpful thought to put into my head. But I trudged forward and guess what? Not "brutal." It's not so bad. Mind over matter does work and as long as I prioritize my exercise and yoga, I'll get through this part too. I am avoiding crowds as my white counts have been low for months. I have to be extra careful not to be exposed to illness or infection. That could cause a serious setback. So if you see me around, please greet me with an "elbow bump" or a "virtual hug" instead of a handshake, kiss or hug.

    Thanksgiving week: Fall has quickly turned to winter in New Hampshire. We already have a foot of snow. Lynn left to meet Elana and friends in the Chicago/Michigan area. After much debate Mark and I decided on a quiet Thanksgiving at home with home-cooked turkey. It was quite a bit of work to cook for just the two of us &amp; we had enough food for company. But we enjoyed the day and we are enjoying the leftovers.

    Last year I was in Bangkok for Thanksgiving. I recall fond memories of Noah’s friend, Josh’s beautiful and delicious Thanksgiving party. As you can see from my other Travelpod blogs, I love to travel, and have done so often in the past 8 years. My need for cancer treatment now has altered the vehicle. Now I’m traveling in a comfy chair.:)

    Over the past few weeks I have enjoyed following the blog of my friend's Craig &amp; Jeri's trip to Japan &amp; SE Asia here: http://seasiajeriandcraig.blogspot.com/

    And, I have been reading the famous travel writer, Paul Theroux, again. This time I chose his “Ghost Train to the Eastern Star.” when I found the delicious hardback copy at a local used bookstore. 30 years ago, the author traveled overland &amp; water from London through Europe and Eastern Europe, through Turkey, Georgia and the Russian “Stans” all the way to India. From India, Sri Lanka, through Burma, Thailand, Vietnam, China, Japan and back to London via Russia, and then Germany and France. Hundreds of thousands of readers have been privileged to travel with him on “The Great Railway Bazaar.” In 2006, 30 years later, Paul wonders “how has the world changed? and recreates the trip in the “Ghost Train to the Eastern Star: On the Tracks of the Great Railway Bazaar”

    I have been reading it slowly over the past couple of months, accompanying Paul on one or two trip legs at a time. It’s colorful and moody evoking all of the emotions that seasoned travelers well understand. I have enjoyed the visions he creates of places I have never been and his global cast of characters. When “we” arrived in Burma, now Myanmar, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia (this was his first visit there as Cambodia was at war during his first trip) and Vietnam, I “came home with him.” In Vietnam where Paul had been during the “American War,” he is often asked what he thinks about that. Eloquently, he says something like “I am glad to see Vietnam prospering and I am sad about the bombings.” I’ll have to remember that one.

    Now we are in Japan where I have never been. Thank you Craig (see link above) for your wonderful photos of Japan. They dovetail with my reading. I have been savoring each leg of the journey. We are touring Tokyo. Paul’s friend, the famous author, Haruki Murakami (Underground) takes us on a city tour. I’m hungry for noodles in the “old shop” on a small back street near the Kappa Bashi, where traditional Japanese kitchen tools are sold. Old is relative. All the shops, and every building are post WWII of course.

    We went Underground and find contrast to what “seems to be a world of order and decency and restraint.” At one point, Paul observed that “someone said pain is inevitable; suffering is optional.”

    That’s my thought for the day. I might have pain but I refuse to suffer. I know that as long as I keep myself moving, walking and practicing yoga, I can do this! Reminiscing on my past trips, and the ones to come will keep me smiling. I've chosen "a few" of my favorite photos from my trips for "this travelogue." Enjoy them.

    Wishing you lovely holidays with family and friends! Nancie:)

    P.S. Click any photo to scroll through all of the photos in larger images. And please respect my "copyrights." If you would like to share or use one, please ask first and give a photo credit.

    January 10, 2015 11:01 PM

    Hands of Charity XO Project | Kenya

    Vacation Science Camp


    Children gather for the holiday break Science Camp activities.  (left), Team leader, and students collecting plastic trash for examination, recycling, reuse and education.

    “The participants went through the streets collecting waste plastic materials that are non-biodegradable. They carried the collected materials for recycling as best way of avoiding pollution.We found market dwellers burning trash including the plastics which perpetuates pollution. We did otherwise.”


    Jiggers are small bugs that are in dry soil and dirt in homes and school yards.  The crawl into skin breaks in children’s feet and cause infections.  This year the Hands of Charity Vacation Science Camp visited  families affected by jiggers.

    “Thanks a lot to sponsors,youths took time as prepared by teachers and facilitators to visit victims of jigger infestation in remote villages. They really felt for them. The objective was to teach our children to observe hygiene, keep a clean environment  and learn how to take care of others.They were really moved.”




    Thank you New England Biolabs for funding this project and thank you  Bonaventure, Fred, Rose, Shallie, Nellie, Dorcas and all the others who made this activity possible for these students.

    by smallsolutionsbigideas at January 10, 2015 10:02 PM

    January 09, 2015

    OLE Nepal

    Preparing XO-4 Laptops For Bajhang Phase II

    I enjoy watching Factory Made. I have always been keen in understanding and knowing the effort behind creation of products I use. They fascinate me. I got a chance to understand  similar creation of a product at OLE Nepal. It was to test 53 boxes of newly arrived XO-4 laptops. It all started with an [...]

    by Peter Kayastha at January 09, 2015 08:46 AM

    January 08, 2015

    Juan Chacon Free Software & Education | El Salvador

    Apache Cordova Development Environment Setup on Ubuntu 14.04

    This is my "Happy New Year" post.  I had a goal over Winter break to find a process my students could use to setup an Apache Cordova development environment on their Ubuntu 14.04 laptops (I'm actually using Peppermint OS 5, which is a great light weight version of Ubuntu 14.04).

    After several days of false starts and dead ends, I finally came up with something that works. I never succeeded in getting an Ubuntu environment working, and decided to give up on that for now until things settle down and the Ubuntu development team makes the process easier for beginners.  Firefox OS was wonderfully simple, and will definitely be my preferred choice of target system when introducing this to my students.  Android was only a bit more troublesome, since it involved the dreaded Oracle Java, but thankfully Cordova will shield us from having to deal with that directly once we have it setup.

    Setup for Building Firefox OS Apps


    Install Apache Cordova CLI And Create Hello App

    $ sudo apt-add-repository -y ppa:cordova-ubuntu/ppa
    $ sudo apt-get update
    $ sudo apt-get install cordova-cli
    Everything else we need to develop for Firefox OS is now built into the browser (how cool is that!? ;-) To make and run the Hello App, choose a good location for the project code, and:
    $ cordova create hello
    $ cd hello
    $ cordova platform add firefoxos
    $ cordova build
    That's all there is to building the app for Firefox OS.  We now have a ./platforms/firefoxos/www directory that contains our app.  What we need now is an emulator to run it on.  The latest Firefox makes this a snap:
    • Open WebIDE in Firefox by pressing Shift+F8.
    •  Click Select Runtime and select Install Simulator, then choose a simulator (I choose the latest one marked "stable", 2.0 at the time I'm writing this) and click install.
    • Click Select Runtime again and click on your simulator. An emulator is launched running Firefox OS (if only life could always be this easy! ;-)
    • Back in the WebIDE window, click on Open App, then select Open Packaged App ... and navigate to the./platforms/firefoxos/www directory inside the hello directory and click Open.
    • The previous step will load the source directory into WebIDE.  Click the run button in the top center of the WebIDE window (it is a triangle next to a square), and we are rewarded with a running app.

    Granted, it doesn't do much yet, but this was by far the most pain free process I experienced in my several days of trying to get cordova apps running on emulators.

    Setup for Building Android Apps

    To build for Android will require dealing with the evil Oracle Java environment and setting up the Android SDK, but the fine folks at the webupd8team and ubuntu-desktop teams have made this easy to do, and cordova will then permit us to develop with HTML, CSS and JavaScript and take care of the rest for us:

    Install the Oracle Java 7 JDK 

    $ sudo add-apt-repository -y ppa:webupd8team/java 
    $ sudo apt-get update 
    $ sudo apt-get install oracle-java7-installer oracle-java7-set-default

    Install Ubuntu Make 

    $ sudo add-apt-repository -y ppa:ubuntu-desktop/ubuntu-make 
    $ sudo apt-get update 
    $ sudo apt-get install ubuntu-make ant

    Install Android Studio and SDK

    • $ umake android
    • Choose the installation path (I choose /home/<username>/.local/tools/android/android-studio to keep things from cluttering my home directory).
    • [I Accept (a)/I don't accept (N)] a
    • Wait while Android Studio downloads and installs… Installation done
    • Start Android Studio from menu (Programming -> Android Studio on Peppermint or use the Dash on regular Ubuntu).
    • [I do not have previous version…] OK [Setup Wizard - Welcome] Next [Custom] Next
    • Android SDK Location: /home/<username>/.local/android/sdk (again, I put things in .local to avoid clutter).
    • Next [Accept] Finish … Long wait while everything installs … Finish
    • Create a .bashrc file (or add to the one you already have) with the following: 

    • Start the Android SDK Manager with $ android
    • Select Android 4.4.2 (API 19) and click Install 16 packages… [Accept License] Install
    We now have the Android development environment setup.  Cordova CLI integrates nicely with this.  All we need to do to add Android as a target platform for our Hello App is to run the following from inside our hello directory:
    $ cordova platform add android
    $ cordova build
    $ cordova run android

    Developing for mobile platforms is becoming a compelling thing for me to do as an IT/CS teacher to maintain student interest in learning.  Cordova makes it possible to use the tools we have already been learning, HTML, CSS and JavaScript, to start working on mobile platforms.

    Next: Find good tutorials for learning cordova.

    by jelkner (noreply@blogger.com) at January 08, 2015 02:15 AM

    January 06, 2015

    OLE Nepal

    Balancing the act of duty and wanderlust

    It was 5 a.m. and the sound of an alarm clock woke me up. I got up, got ready, grabbed my bags, and headed to the OLE Nepal office where my colleague Deepa was waiting for me. For a head start, we had packed all the necessary equipments, laptops, stationeries and other documents properly a [...]

    by Sabrina at January 06, 2015 07:40 AM

    January 04, 2015

    Sean Collins' Haitian Voyage

    Final Reflection

                Sean Collins<o:p></o:p>
    ML 390<o:p></o:p>
    Professor Law-Sullivan <o:p></o:p>
    January 4, 2015<o:p></o:p>
    I have for a long time been fascinated with technology.  Computer and information technology has brought with it tremendous potential.  A child with a smart phone in Africa has greater access to information than the president did 30 years ago.  My fascination with technology and my desire to become a teacher lead me to contact One Laptop per Child.  The organizations mission was just that. To give a piece of technological hardware to each kid in the developing world. They distributed close to 3 million units worldwide.  OLPC failed to provide much follow up though.  Their distribution was a roaring success, but they failed to provide the necessary tech and educational support to make the project sustainable.  OLPC put me in contact with an organization called Unleash Kids.  Unleash Kids was set up by former OLPC people to be the support team.  The non-profit works in countries all around the world updating software and providing education using the laptops as tools.    I started my Haitian voyage in February of 2014 when I began learning Haitian Creole, and studying the XO laptops’ hardware and software.  I continued to educate myself on Haitian history, culture and current events throughout the spring and summer.  Fall came and I flew down to Haiti to start my three month journey.  <o:p></o:p>
                 I began my voyage in the country’s capital, Port-au-Prince.    Landing in the airport you are thrown right into the chaos that is the city.  Taxi drivers line the exit reaching for your bags and telling you that they are there to pick you up.  I had arranged a ride beforehand and informed them that I did not need their services.  I got in contact with my driver and he drove me to my first location, Haiti Communitere.  It became my home base whenever I was in the city.  The next 10 days were spent bouncing around the city teaching at various schools.  My first day was spent visiting with a cellphone company to get myself a SIM card.  I was met by Haitian translator named Jeanide and we ventured into the city.   My first impression of the city was overwhelming.  I first noted the condition of the road leading up to the intersection, it was run down and riddled with holes.  We got to the main road and crossed the path that ran over the drainage ditch.  I was taken aback by the amount of trash that lined the sidewalk, road, and ditch. Plastic bags, Styrofoam take out containers, plastic and glass bottles, everywhere I looked I saw trash.  I watched my step as we walked toward the intersection.  As we grew closer it got more and more crowded, and the street vendors started to pop up.  Not many white people live in or visit Haiti, and out of the ones that do, very few roam the city.  I drew a lot of attention from the street vendors anxious to make a sale.  These vendors sell anything from computer parts, to shoes, to shampoo.  Haiti has super markets, but the traditional style market place environment still thrives.  <o:p></o:p>
    We crossed the street and climbed into the back of a brightly colored truck with benches on either sides.  I received intrigued looks from all the passengers and greeted them in Creole. We drove a while up the road and I was able to see more and more of the city outside truck.  The country is still struggling five years after the quake, and still many live in temporary shelters.  Internally Displaced Person’s (IDP) camps are set up right off of the main roads.  The shelters are nothing more than tarps draped over crude frames, and still today they house thousands of people.  We continued up road and drew closer and closer to Petionville, an upper class community just outside of Port-au-Prince.  The city of Petionville houses delegates, government officials, and majority of the wealthy elite.  The shacks slowly turned into building and the building slowly grew nicer and nicer.  The disparity was quite obvious, and I did not need to be told when we made it to our destination.  The buildings became more and more industrial, and the streets became cleaner.  The cars became more luxurious, as did the style of the average person.  There were far less street vendors, and far more shops.  We had only traveled a few miles, but it seemed a world away.  <o:p></o:p>
    Upper level education in Haiti is done in French. There is very little creole resources for learning so the emphasis is understandable.  In Port-au-Prince the signs are in Creole. “Pa bwe li w’ap kondi” “Don’t drink and drive” is a sign in creole that you see in the capital.  When you get to Petionville the signs switch to French. “J’ (heart) PV” Is a clear play on the “I (heart) NYC” concept. The creole way to do so would be Mwen (heart) PV.  But the advertiser chose to use French instead of creole.  It seems strange, but it is an accurate reflection on the correlation between language, education, and social status.  Whites and Mullatos (half white half black), are more often than not members of the wealthy elite, which is a product of the country’s imperial history.  As a result of this, more often than not I was greeted in French rather than Creole.  “Como sa va?” is how the French ask “how are you?”  In Creole the way to ask is “Koman ou ye?” I came to learn both and how to respond to either, but it was an interesting assumption being made.<o:p></o:p>
    We arrived at our destination in Petionville and Jeanide and I walked into the air conditioned 15 story building. We waited around for a while, but eventually my questions were answered and I was able to get what I needed.  I was set up with 10 GBs of data a month to keep me connected.  We journeyed back to Communitere and began to lesson plan for the week ahead.  I set up a series of science related lessons that would use the laptops to teach the kids the scientific method, while exploring different concepts.  I plan to eventually become a high school physics teacher, so it was good to get a sneak preview of what I will be doing.  The younger kids especially are always excited to have a guest teacher.  The Haitian education system is 90% private. The emphasis at these private schools are almost always on test scores, and fact based retention.  I fundamentally disagree that this is an effective model for education, and was happy to bring some hands on learning.  With the kids in Port-au-Prince, we did sound experiments, played music, and built rockets using the XOs as tools.  The classes and the kids in them helped me form amazing memories that I will cherish forever.  <o:p></o:p>
    After my stay in Port-au-Prince I headed west to Grand Goave.  There I stayed with Pastor Lexidan Edime, and his wife Renee.  The couple helps run a school of around 300 kids from the surrounding town. Grand Goave is a beach community, and it is an even more laid back atmosphere than Port-au-Prince.  My first day there was Sunday and I joined the pastor and his wife on their trip to church. I am not religious by any means, but I can appreciate what it means for a lot of people.  I was raised catholic and have been to church plenty of times, but Haitian church is unlike any other.  The people pulled out their nicest clothes, and piled in one by one.  The service began and the music got the congregation on their feet moving to the rhythm.  The people were more engaged than any church goers I have ever seen.  So many Haitians really seem to rely on their faith.  I assume because of the hope that it brings.  Life in Haiti is unfortunately difficult.  A kid born in Haiti does not have nearly the same chance at social mobility that a kid in the states does.  I was fortunate enough to have the chance pursue my dream on teaching, but for a lot of the kids in Haiti, they do not have the resources to follow their dreams.  Religion gives people hope, and purpose.  The hard life is forgotten and instead it is replaced by faith.  I remain agnostic, but I definitely have a new found appreciation for what religion can mean to people.  <o:p></o:p>
    During my three weeks in Grand Goave I taught two classes a day every day.  This gave me the chance to develop relationships with my students, and teach them to be self-reliant with technology.  It was amazing to see the transformation with each kid start to finish.  The shy older kids slowly came out of their shells and began to explore the laptops more and more.  The preloaded Wikipedia software sparked their imagination and I was happy to explain any questions that arose.  My time in the beach community was well spent.  I will hold onto the relationships I formed there for a long time.  There were some truly inspiring kids and I think of them often.  <o:p></o:p>
    From Grand Goave I headed northeast to Hinche.  There I did a lot of technical work repairing the school server.  The bureaucracy that exists at the school was extremely difficult to work through, but eventually I was able to get things squared away.  The weekend before I left I went to a tourist attraction in Hinche called Bassin Zim.  The park is home to a brilliant waterfall and a few caves. The local kids serve as tour guides on the weekend.  A group of 5th graders took me up the path and helped me along showing me the sights.  Between my Creole and their English we were able to talk and we had a fun time climbing, running, and swimming.  The kids were happy to have me and I was happy to see them.  After we finished our adventure I said my goodbyes, I went back and got some rest.  The next day it was back to the city for a few days.   <o:p></o:p>
    Back in Port-au-Prince I had to do some more technical work repairing school servers.  We unloaded from our van and hoped into a truck.  I remember this moment distinctly because as we loaded in a woman with a three year old child and a sack of potatoes climbed in.  She was worried about her small child sitting at the back of the truck, so she simply passed him forward to a complete stranger.  The Haitian community really is looking out for each other. The woman got off at her stop and we passed the kid along to her.  She thanked us and was on her way. <o:p></o:p>
    My final stop on my trip was Bois D’Avril.  It is an extremely small village in the mountains, and it is unlike any place in Haiti, or the world that I have ever been.  There I stayed with a Baha’I couple John and Deb.  The two moved there 35 years ago and raised their three kids there.  Their house sits on the top of a hill at 6000 feet elevation.  The house is less than 10 miles from Port-au-Prince, but the elevation and seclusion makes it seem like you are in a place more like the Upper Peninsula.  Pine trees and open fields are everywhere. The village sits just below John and Deb’s house, and is home to about 25 people.    I took my brother here and he agreed that it truly is paradise.  The people do not see much outsiders but were extremely welcoming. Whenever I decide to visit Haiti again, I will for sure be paying the village a visit.  <o:p></o:p>

    My Haitian voyage was a long journey full of plenty of adventure.  I was nervous going in, but I was fortunate to meet some great people who put my mind at ease. The support I received from people on the ground and back home was extremely valuable, and I am grateful for it.  The people I got to know and the experiences I have had will last me for a life time.  I went in wishing to fulfill a dream and I could not be happier with the result. I hope that I have impacted the lives of those kids as much as they have impacted me.  For most, it is a tough road ahead. I just hope that I sparked their imaginations and gave them some hope.                   <o:p></o:p>

    by Sean Collins (noreply@blogger.com) at January 04, 2015 10:48 PM

    January 03, 2015

    Sugar Labs Argentina

    2014 at work

    Time to do a balance, at least related to the work I did in the year.
    As I found difficult remember all I did in the year, and we moved to GitHub,did a few scripts and used the statistics provided by the site.

    First, a disclaimer. Measure work in commits as any other way of measure,have a very relative value. Different work have difficult than can't be compared. In my case, work in activities usually is much easier and fast than work in the toolkit or Sugar. At times reviews and testing the work of other takes a lot of time, and so. But these are the numbers I have, then, let's play with that.

    This is a distribution of the commits in the different repositories I maintain:

    Of course, many hackers contributed to these projects. From the logs I can find to: Aneesh Dogra, Cristian García,Daksh Shah,gauravp94, Goutam, Guillermo Trinidad,Ignacio Rodríguez, James Cameron, Martin Abente Lahaye, Sai Vineet, Sam Parkinson and Sebastian Silva. Paul Cotton provided improved designs for many activities.

    My Open Source Report Card say I am one of the 8% most active Python users... I suppose that is pretty good, but more than nothing, could be because I have the fortune of do all my work in the open.

    This year, I released a version of art4apps module, and new versions of Develop, Domino, Finance, FotoToon, Help, ImageViewer, Log, Maze, Memorize, Poll and Read. Many improvements in these activities were developed by students participating in Google Summer of Code and Google Code In contests.

    I was lucky to of participate in the Young Hackers Summit in Montevideo, and travel to San Francisco to represent SugarLabs in the Google CodeIn Summit with the contest winners Ignacio Rodríguez and  Jorge Gomez.

    Finally, I am happy to note we organized with the help of Manuel Quiñones and Martin Abente the first SugarLabs Backgrounds Contest and that backgrounds will be available in the next version of Sugar.

    by Gonzalo Odiard (noreply@blogger.com) at January 03, 2015 06:52 AM

    December 29, 2014

    Haiti Dreams!

    Reaching Students in Haiti

    <header class="entry-header">

    Solar for Silar


    A little awhile ago, we plugged in the final component to the solar power system here at the orphanage. There’s still some tweaks to be made over the coming week, but I can officially report that everything is actually working. We’ll be able to provide 24/7 power to the server, charge 25 laptops, and light 10 rooms during the evening hours. Before, the city was only giving 5 hours of power a day, on a good day. Now, the 65 kids here don’t have to wait for the grid to switch on. As long as there’s sun, they’ll have access whenever they want to computers and Internet. And there’s plenty of sun here.

    I want to take this opportunity to thank three groups that made this possible: Oyster Point Rotary Club, the Rotary Club of City Center, and the Office of Community Engagement at William & Mary. We’ve installed a pretty ambitious set-up here, and we would never have been able to dream so big without their support.

    Unloading panels from the truck.

    Unloading the panel off the truck.

    Heading up the stairs with one of the panels.

    Heading up the stairs with one of the panels.

    Silar talking about the right angle for the sun to hit things.

    Silar talking about the right angle for the sun to hit things.

    Passing wire through the window to the battery room.

    Passing wire through the window to the battery room.

    Hooking up the panels.

    Hooking up the panels.

    Of course, none of this would be possible without people also contributing their energy and expertise. Thanks to the Unleash Kids team – this is the fourth solar installation our members have worked on in Haiti, and they’re getting bigger and better every time. Also, shout out to Ben and Shuyan, who stepped in at the last moment to build some charging set-ups for the school they support and then generously let us borrow one to use at the orphanage instead. Finally, Silar himself, the pastor in charge of the orphanage here, used to be an electrician. In the end, when I say “we”, I actually mean “Silar did it while I watched and Adam and George advised on the phone.” Of course, I’m learning a lot through this whole process too, and gradually getting to the point where I can do a little more.

    When I went to the hardware store here in Haiti to buy the last pieces, there were some other foreigners also looking at panels. They turned out to be a solar installation group from a university. They asked what I came here for, and the list was a little longer: “Well, we do solar, but we also work with servers and Internet. Plus laptops. And, you know, education.” Sometimes, all those pieces really do feel overwhelming. Often, at least one of them is getting to be extremely frustrating, at any given moment. But, at the end of the day, I’m glad our group is looking at the whole picture. Our volunteers don’t just address half of the problem. We look at it all, and we keep coming back, making improvements, and moving forward.


    I am a proud friend of the Unleash Kids team. I have visited Silar and am thrilled with this project. This system is quite revolutionary using only 24V Direct Current across the buildings to save energy: The goal will be to help Silar month-by-month graphing his different kinds of electrical usages (and internet usages) to better enable his 70+ kids.

    by buildingaschool at December 29, 2014 03:20 PM

    December 27, 2014

    Project Rive: Reaching Students in Haiti

    Solar for Silar

    A little awhile ago, we plugged in the final component to the solar power system here at the orphanage. There’s still some tweaks to be made over the coming week, but I can officially report that everything is actually working. … Continue reading

    by Sora at December 27, 2014 03:17 AM

    Lascahobas Workshops: Final Review

    After five pretty intense days, it’s worth considering how much was accomplished and how much farther we have to go. In terms of the actual writing process, I was pretty impressed with what the teachers produced. Many had never used … Continue reading

    by Sora at December 27, 2014 02:55 AM

    Fifth Workshop Day: Last Session!

    This was the last full day of the workshop, and I’m pleased to report that in many ways it was also the best. Although it was Saturday, people left behind their friends and families in order to get together one … Continue reading

    by Sora at December 27, 2014 02:53 AM