Friday, December 5, 2008

OSDC liveblogging: OLPC in Australia

Presentation by Pia Waugh, OLPC

To clarify:
- project is not the KR thing
- not paid by OLPC, voluntary talk

Great FOSS project
Opportunity to create a regional approach
- connected classroom
- shared resources
- supplementing poorer countries
- do have great need in our regions, despite relative advantage overall
- create community of educators etc

Imagine if many people's education were based on an open source platform

Child takes a sense of ownership / responsibility for OLPC device
Better for each to have their own rather than to share for this reason
Target group is 6-12 years old

Important tenet is connectivity
- Can visualise mesh network of who is nearby
- FOSS, building blocks, building blocks for creativity

Some of the technology

Antennae takes 5V in, can be used independently for mesh range estension
School server version
- jabber, other pooling tech, security tech, alerts if laptops leaves it will shut down unless it can reconnect to school server after some period of time
- backs up other laptops, allows teacher monitoring etc
- mic jack doubles as voltmeter

Regional Vision
- Great need in the region
- Build a strong developer and educator community
- e.g. indigenous communities and children in impoverished areas

5000 laptops donated to regional project, trials include many pacific island communities
Providing sat networking to some of the most remote areas
Some potential to travel with OLPC and contribute in the community, volunteers needed

Consideration of cultural values

When rolling out, most pacific culture has healthy respect for teacher as the leader

Try to make sure teachers get the device early, extensive trainining, teacher is the person that gives the children the resource rather than from random externals.

Fit with what groups are already trying to achieve with their schools

Australia's first trial is happening

A single laptop by itself doesn't have so much value, need classroom environment
e.g. spelling tests, collaborative writing activity

World's first remote-connected classroom. That is, the local teacher is connected to remote classrooms, video chat etc.

Video demo of remote classroom showing flashcard spelling exercises with student

Observed benefits to children
- Literacy improvements
- ICT skills -- typing, programming, games
- Maths
- Collaboration

- Engagement of troubled children
- Reduced truancy

Example of Python shell where you just run demo code then change it yourself as an exercise

Example of a particular troubled kid from a very disadvantaged background who engaged through the laptop environment, partly because he could engage with his interest area, partly because the laptop was his, that he could use according to his own preferences and progress in his own time.

Benefits of a regional process:
Funding, support, access to volunteers, knowledge xfer