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Education Hardware

OLPC a Hit in Remote Peruvian Village 187

mrcgran writes "The Chicago Tribune is running a feel-good story about the effects of OLPC on a remote village in Peru. 'Doubts about whether poor, rural children really can benefit from quirky little computers evaporate as quickly as the morning dew in this hilltop Andean village, where 50 primary school children got machines from the One Laptop Per Child project six months ago. At breakfast, they're already powering up the combination library/videocam/audio recorder/music maker/drawing kits. At night, they're dozing off in front of them — if they've managed to keep older siblings from waylaying the coveted machines. Peru made the single biggest order to date — more than 272,000 machines — in its quest to turn around a primary education system that the World Economic Forum recently ranked last among 131 countries surveyed.'"
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OLPC a Hit in Remote Peruvian Village

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  • by TrippTDF ( 513419 ) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (dnalih)> on Monday December 24, 2007 @05:56PM (#21809724)
    and I think your comment gets to the heart of what the OLPC is supposed to be- a liberating device that can bring the internet to everyone, regardless of geographic location... what if one of these kids turns out to have the brainpower of an Einstein or a Hawking? If they have internet access, the world may be able to recognize them in ways that it couldn't before.
  • A nice rebuttal (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 24, 2007 @05:58PM (#21809748)
    Some mean spirited folks have been praying the OLPC is a disaster. Yes the OLPC has competition now from Intel and ASUS, but those programs wouldn't have existed without the OLPC. I hope in years to come OLPC is a huge success. Negroponte deserves karma for trying something that can help many lives. The naysayers meanwhile can should back to their Plasma TVs watching American Idol.
  • Re:Too early? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by HaloZero ( 610207 ) <protodeka@nOSPam.gmail.com> on Monday December 24, 2007 @06:03PM (#21809792) Homepage
    And in this we'll see the XO version of a 'geek' - the power user who is more apt at correcting an outstanding issue with the OLPC than his or her peers. He has a problem, and it's fixed. His buddy has the same problem. 'Hey, let me look at that for you.' Fixed. Social skills on the up-and-coming, hopefully more successful than the rest of us.

    Christmas eve and I'm in the office. What a fucking loser.
  • Re:Too early? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Frosty Piss ( 770223 ) on Monday December 24, 2007 @06:10PM (#21809844)

    Let's see a story in a few months or so about the Peruvian XOs and their educational benefits once the novelty wears off and the laptops start having problems that the kids will have to fix.
    From the article you didn't read...

    50 primary school children got machines from the One Laptop Per Child project six months ago.

    For every 100 units it will distribute to students, Peru is buying one extra for parts. But there is no tech support program. Students and teachers will have to do it. "What you want is for the kids to do the repairs," said Negroponte, who believes such tinkering is itself a valuable lesson. "I think the kids can repair 95 percent of the laptops."
    Like most computers these days, looks like repairs are "remove and replace".
  • by jg ( 16880 ) on Monday December 24, 2007 @06:12PM (#21809860) Homepage
    Carla Gomez's trip report had prepared me intellectually for what I would find when I visited in mid-October, but nothing can really convey the emotional impact. Here are some of the notes I took talking with the teachers. This was about 4-5 months after the trial started, using our B2 systems which were much slower and much inferior software. Sometime, maybe I'll have a few minutes to blog about it.

    Impact on students and teachers in Arahuay

    I took as complete notes as I could talking with each of the teachers in turn (unfortunately, I forgot to get their names); translation slowed things enough that I believe the notes are pretty complete, though it may have also introduced errors. They echo Carla's excellent report, but are now months later:

    Two children have come to the Arahuay school specifically because of the laptops who would not have previously attended.

    The children are sharing much more: they take pictures and videos and share them.

    The children are teachers too.

    The teachers see much improved conduct. One child (who often arrives hungry) who has been sad and aggressive now loves to work on the OLPC. He is working more with other children and his behavior has improved.

    One of the children has vision problems; is cross eyed and has one damaged eye (Carla will remember the child, I'm sure). Using the laptop has improved the child's ability to focus her eyes and work.

    Another teacher noted that small children, ages 6-7, are learning much faster. The web browser is the most popular/important activity, followed by the camera.

    The activities they use most are the browser, paint, calculator, write.

    The children use the internet to find information of interest.

    One child, who is from Lima, has learned much in Arahuay and is very happy about the OLPC.

    Another teacher said the children have changed: they have more concentration, mental ability.

    The children's concept reception is much better than before. Despite the use of US keyboards (all we had at the time), the children have had little problem adapting, and have figured out all they keys.

    A third teacher said the internet is the most interesting.

    The children are showing more abilities, are more creative, their behavior is better.

    The children were selfish about the computers at first, but now share and discover with them, showing the teachers and other students what they have discovered.

    Children who had previously been interested in power (bully?) have forgotten power and are sharing.

    The children are showing better attention and organization.

    Students are learning about the world, and now feel part of it. They are now interested in learning other languages, which they had not wanted to do before. Creating a web site on Arahuay has made them feel part of the world. Impact on the teachers:

    They have started to research topics on the internet and have practiced to use the computer.

    The teachers have more ways to plan and improve the class.

    Another teacher said the computer was wonderful for her. Information on the internet had improved both her and the children.

    Their jobs are easier now.

    One of the teachers asked for mind-mapper software, which they have used. We should install freemind on the servers and explore how feasible it is for packaging as an activity (it is Java based).

    But the high point was the eight year old girl who came up to me shyly and gave me a kiss....

    BTW, if anyone speaks Quechua or Aymara (or other languages), please help at: https://dev.laptop.org/translate/.

    Please come help!

    - Jim Gettys, OLPC

  • by fv ( 95460 ) * <fyodor@insecure.org> on Monday December 24, 2007 @06:29PM (#21809966) Homepage

    Thanks for the notes, and I'm delighted to hear about the successes that OLPC is having (even if you haven't yet met your initial distribution goals). It is great to read articles like this one about improving the lives of thousands of kids in Peru.

    Given the network capabilities of this machine, we are working to ensure that the Nmap Security Scanner [insecure.org] continues to work well on the OLPC. Maybe someday it can be included, though that raises the issue of kids using it responsibly. Still, it can be quite useful for debugging network connectivity issues as well as testing that their own machines are secure. A side effect of this work is that keeps Nmap lean and working well on low-resource PCs, phones, and PDAs besides the OLPC.

    On Friday we received the three units we ordered through give-one-get-one and I've been playing with mine ever since! Yesterday I took and posted a bunch of pictures of the device [insecure.org].

    Keep up the good work!
    Fyodor [insecure.org]

  • by Catbeller ( 118204 ) on Monday December 24, 2007 @06:40PM (#21810042) Homepage
    Right back atcha: Flamebait was the original poster implying that OLPC would open up the students' world to let them learn about the commies and leftists that rule their world.

    The real lessons are about the IMF loans, US historical interventionism, and a vicious right-wing establishment trying to manhandle the world into their control. When we control the horizontal and vertical, we filter out our nasty little secrets. The OLPC is much more likely to open people's world into how we mess with them, not how Che Guevarra was Satan's puppy. Hence my laundry list of questions, for the sarcasm impaired, of a child who actually reads about modern world history. Our hands are on most nastiness kids are experiencing in a lot of countries. A little light on the cockroaches won't hurt. But man, does it make the rightists squawk.
  • XO display vs. e-ink (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mbrubeck ( 73587 ) on Monday December 24, 2007 @06:41PM (#21810064) Homepage
    The XO screen has a 200dpi grayscale reflective mode that's a lot like e-ink. Comparing my XO to my friend's Kindle, the XO has lower contrast but much higher resolution. Both are quite easy on the eyes.
  • by supersat ( 639745 ) on Monday December 24, 2007 @07:10PM (#21810262)
    While I'm a fan of the OLPC project (I'm writing this on my own XO laptop), and think it has the potential to improve education dramatically, the article didn't say much about how the laptop has affected learning. Sure, the kids love them, but aside from mentioning that many of them aspire to be something other than farmers, there wasn't much evidence presented that the laptop improved education.
  • Re:Too early? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DrSkwid ( 118965 ) on Monday December 24, 2007 @07:24PM (#21810348) Homepage Journal
    One interesting feature of Mumbai life I recently witnessed is the pavement mobile phone fixing shop; soldering iron, some manuals, a few broken phones and it's a working handset from a box of scrap.

  • by An Onerous Coward ( 222037 ) on Monday December 24, 2007 @09:37PM (#21811170) Homepage
    I was impressed too. The first time I installed and fired up emacs, it popped up with this impossibly tiny text. I leaned in really close, and lo and behold, the text was perfectly sharp.

    This little guy just blows me away.

    Nah, I couldn't wait for Christmas.
  • Re:Too early? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ConanG ( 699649 ) on Tuesday December 25, 2007 @12:55AM (#21812326)
    I made a visit to Africa on a U.S. Aid ship this year. One of the microwaves died during the voyage (wasn't a fuse, I checked). I was up there waiting for a shipmate so we could go out and get a drink. As soon as we pulled in, the cook dropped the microwave off at the gangway for one of the apprentices to throw out. Before he took five steps, one of the Benin dock workers asked for it and he sold it for I think five dollars.

    We thought I had seen the last of that microwave, but I was wrong. Shortly after, my buddy and I caught a taxi and after a harrowing ride through the city, we ended up at a cool little bar. A few minutes after we got to the bar, a moped vroomed up the street and stopped at the place next to the bar (we were outdoors). The guy on the moped had our microwave! An old lady came out, took it from the guy, and proceeded to disassemble it on an old wooden table about ten feet from us. I wasn't paying too much attention to her, but she had it put back together and working in under 15 minutes.

    The guy took it back from her, walked next door to the bar we were at, and sold it to the owner for $20! The guy who bought it from the cook said he made double his pay that day by skipping out of work and getting it fixed.

    I guess, "one man's junk is another man's treasure" is really true....

A quarrel is quickly settled when deserted by one party; there is no battle unless there be two. -- Seneca