First Videos From OLPC Test Schools

   
   
   
   
   

I'm Charbax. During the past year and a half, I was updating a page at the official wiki whenever I would find a video on the Internet about the OLPC. Since the past few months, now I am adding every OLPC related video I find or that are submitted to my video-blog site at olpc.tv.

I also filmed 5 OLPC videos myself at CES and WCIT which you can see here, and I also filmed the first interview with a Classmate (then codename Eduwise) representative at WCIT in May of 2006 the day Paul Otellini, Intel's CEO, announced its OLPC-copy to the IT representatives from all countries in Austin Texas. The theme of that WCIT was the closing of the digital divide, you can also see my video of Nicholas Negroponte's keynote at that event here.

For a non-profit organization like OLPC, that has a policy not to spend any money on marketing other than to send Nicholas Negroponte around the world, non stop, so that he can convince as many heads of state as possible to buy into the mass production of the XO-1, I think that an effort to publish more videos of all OLPC events on the Internet would be a very cheap and effective way for the OLPC foundation to communicate the status of the project around the world.

Show us a bit more of the ambiance of the engineers fixing bugs at the OLPC headquarters in Boston, show some of the latest from Quanta's factories and production finalisations in Taiwan and China and especially, which we are all most eager to see, is the reaction of the children and teachers in the first schools that are the first to try the OLPC in real classrooms.

This is a recent video from the test school in Porto Allegre, Brazil. The kids have been using the XO-1 for nearly two months at this point:

I think that the OLPC foundation just needs to make sure that a few more of these fascinating videos from the actual OLPC test schools are filmed by the local reployment staff and then that those awesome videos be put on the Internet for us to have an idea how it is like to use the OLPC in the actual classrooms. This should be impressive enough to convince most of the sceptics around the Internet, about the awesome potential that is in embracing the mass deployment of XO-1 laptops all over the world as soon as possible.

This is an earlier video from the same school, at the time of that video, the kids have had the laptops for 3 weeks:

This is a video from Uruguayan TV showing the event at the OLPC test school in Ceibal, Uruguay, when the president of Uruguay gives the XO-1 laptops to all the students of the village (Spanish without subtitles):
This is a Jornal Nacional broadcast on Brazilian TV from a OLPC test school in Brazil, this one seems to be the same school where Nicholas Negroponte and Leslie Stahl were filming their segment for the recent 60 Minutes show (Portuguese without subtitles):
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18 Comments

Charbax, that last one is in Portuguese, not Spanish. Jornal Nacional, the main newscast by Globo, the dominant National TV network in Brazil.

Yup sorry about the errors in the text. Wayan will fix those hopefully when he gets the time..

So don't you think that those kinds of videos are the proof that OLPC is only able to succeed and that it's totally in another league compared to the one from Intel?

All Intel has released is some photo opp from Mexico and also some staged video from lucky Nigerian kids in one class in a larger school in Nigeria also edited to look like a tv commercial. I'd say so far the evidence in terms of video on the Internet goes largely in the favour of the OLPC approach. Maybe someone should write a long text on the "Problems with the Intel Classmate approach". I can name a few:

- Expensive,
- easy target for theft and black market,
- non customizable by local software developpers,
- non hackable by the students,
- 5 times lower battery life,
- non impressive old-fashioned LCD useless for reading books,
- power consuming Wi-Fi without Mesh,
- unsustainable model since not mass producable by anyone else than Intel who opens nothing of eigther hardware nor software,
- impossible to use networking among students and teachers since based on Windows Samba file-sharing that is not a one-click way to share files and collaborate on projects,

Basically the Intel Classmate is not suitable for education since it's just a normal laptop with flash memory instead of a HDD and with a small 7" LCD screen (probably TFT backlit) that we know from research is not the kind of platform that suits for an educational IT revolution.

Charbax,

I didn't see anything in the videos that negated any of my criticisms. It was clear that the students were using prepared educational software - where can kids find software on their own to model a virus? The teachers had been prepared, as they should be, and were able to direct the kids in their studies. This is how education should be done using computers, and it is diametrically opposite to Negroponte's proclaimed "constructionist" methodology.

What aspect of the videos proves that the Classmate couldn't work? I didn't see any.

Well done Chabax

We have some videos recorded about olpc and classmate pc including a two-weeks old (in English) with a high-rank Intel executive.
http://ucpn.cl/wp-content/uploads/2007/03/pudu_lizette_greco_videos.jpg

I would love to have videos from the Peruvian pilot.See the great pics here
http://ucpn.cl/2007/05/24/ninos-peruanos-conocen-por-primera-vez-el-olpc/

Lee, 'Negroponte's proclaimed "constructionist" methodology' is not a mandatory educational model that the OLPC says must be used. The OLPC can suggest educational models to countries but in the end its up to education departments and ultimately the teachers as to how the laptops are used.

I'd personally like to see GCompris used as an early education tool as it seems to offer some great learning features. Going by the posted messages of thanks on the GCompris website there are many early education success stories around the World.

Get over the Negroponte bashing and look at the big picture.

Hi, it’s me again. Sorry but I have to say it.
I’m really touched by these images. You don’t even need to understand all the words. You just need to be sensible enough to capture the ‘big picture’. And let me tell you what my favourite moment was. The most striking moment for me was when that Uruguayan kid stands in front of the head of his nation telling him ‘Mister President, let me tell you something…’

A kid addressing a President as a peer? Wow, what a powerful scene!

OLPC usual critiques can repeat once again what we already know about the project flaws and weaknesses (most of them surely need to be corrected ASAP) . Yet, what we see in these videos compensate all the problems we have identified with the XO. What we see in the videos is something well-beyond formal education. It has to do with a change of mentality. I’ve been trying to explain this before, but somehow it is difficult to convey with words something that is rooted in the history and culture of the Latin American region. What the videos show is how the kids use this tool (this instrument) to break some of the heavy burden most of us carry on our shoulders. I saw freedom in their eyes. I saw dignity and self-respect. I saw a lot of happiness and hope. That, for me, is the force that keeps moving all the people that believe in this cause.

Thanks again for sharing this with us

I think there are many different issues here that are somewhat crammed into one post. Let me explain my point of view:

1. The Intel criticism by Charbax.
2. The debate about "what should be inside the computers (any computers).
3. The "freedom factor" stressed by Luis.

Regarding no. 1, I agree that the XO is significantly better as a technological platform than the Classmate. Then again, there may be room for both, especially under specific circumstances. I wouldn't say right off that the Classmate is not suitable or fit for purpose. This does not agree with or deny the criticism about Intel recent actions, or Mr. Negroponte comments. That's another discussion. What cannot be denied is that the Classmate is essentially a conventional, "business" computer so to speak, the result of a specific technological ecology, so if we accept the premise that we need a different approach, separated from the "business" ecology, the Classmate is no more.

Regarding 2, I find difficult to separate the XO from the intended end-result as stated by the heads of the OLPC program. But that's where the crux of the debate lies, and all the countries potentially involved should be discussing precisely that: how to incorporate technology in the educational process. Up till now, the OLPC has not convinced as sound or adequate for the realities on the ground, but the purpose of this site is to discuss the advantages and shortcomings of OLPC. A running debate that is the very beauty of OLPC news.

And finally 3, I feel like there you are reading too much into one specific instance, Luis. I've seen many times presidents being faced by students under carefully controlled circumstances to get too worked up by this. Who knows, may be it's just that I'm jaded, but it may just be that I'm well aware of our common history; or that the way this is being conducted in my country points me towards the opposite direction: manipulation of hopes, overt hyping of a tool to convert it into a snake's oil solution for all societal evils, lack of transparency. So maybe it's a matter of implementation, of political will and disposition.

Luis says: "I saw freedom in their eyes. I saw dignity and self-respect. I saw a lot of happiness and hope."

Wouldn't you expect that in every child's eye on the first day if the President of a country went to any under appreciated school and handed out digital cameras or Speak and Spells or... laptops? Its called hype, photo op, and PR, and presidents have been doing that for years.

What really matters is the look in the child's eye six months, one, five years from now. Will it be excitement still, or will it be dullness because the OLPC broke or was taken away by teacher or parent, or simply a cheerful youth who had a visit from press and fun toy for a month before it was discarded in boredom?

This is the question you have to ask yourself with your brain, your logic, your taxpayer wallet, not be lost in the warm and fuzzies from your heart.

The video from Porto Allegre shows that principles of constructionism were put to action which resulted in high student motivation, joy of learning and inspired teachers. Great. By the way the XOs were used in schools with teachers.
Now this experience raises three main areas if questions:
1.) Will this positive change of attitude towards learning also translate in measurable learning success? I believe yes, but it should be shown as hard facts. Then this positive facts would become strong arguments for convincing the decision makers. Is the new method of learning not too time consuming in order to cover a similar range of learning goals like traditional style in the same time? Or is it even more time efficient?
2.) Obviously the teachers in this example were familiar with principles of constructionism and could make good use of the XO and its software.
How can be made sure that this familiarity is spreading everywhere along with the XOs? Should there be learning software about constructionism on the XO for teachers (and also for students)?
3.) Is it possible to have similarly promising results from XOs exclusively used without schools and teachers as OLPC claims? Are there already experiences? How does this usage mode translate into measurable learning success? What differences in results btw. teacher guided and teacherless learning do you have to expect?

I find no fault in the OLPC hardware or even in the good will behind Negroponte's vision. Where I do find fault is in the most basic premise behind this whole boondoggle...

It's naive to believe that computers will magically create a more efficient or well-rounded learning environment for children - impoverished or otherwise. Has the introduction of technology has been a catalyst for educational reform for children in America? Where's the evidence that giving children access to the vast repositories of information on the Internet has boosted the learning potential of children in first-world countries? In fact, there are studies that indicate just the contrary - many U.S. schools that had launched programs to provide computers to students are now reconsidering because they seem to have no impact on academic achievement.

Are notebook PCs really the key to a better life (or even better learning) for children? Countless genuises — people whose ideas changed the world — existed long before the advent of semiconductors, so it hardly seems likely that the lack of a computer will truly hamper any child’s learning ability or intellectual potential.

Do third-world children need computers? Or would they be more likely to benefit from potable water, sustainable farming techniques, vaccines, or basic book-based educational resources? And just imagine how many lives could be not just enriched but SAVED altogether by providing sexually-transmitted disease prevention education. There are far better uses for that "$150 per child" than a hunk of brightly-colored plastic & semiconductors.

No doubt, the brainiacs at MIT have their hearts in the right place in seeking to help children in third-world countries. Would that their heads also be in the right place...

Rob O.
you bring up two frequent questions about OLPC that can easily be answered. Some others connot however.

1)"Where's the evidence that giving children access to the vast repositories of information on the Internet has boosted the learning potential of children in first-world countries? In fact, there are studies that indicate just the contrary..."

It is indeed naive to believe that just the availability of computers and internet would do wonders to education. However if there is a good implementation of computer usage in education then there is the possibility for a considerable improvement. That's what constructionism is about. That many computer projects in the 1st world have not brought about a break through has definitely much more to do with wrong implementation rather than having computers being wrong. The tool cannot be blamed for its usage.

2)"Do third-world children need computers? Or would they be more likely to benefit from potable water, sustainable farming techniques, vaccines, or basic book-based educational resources?"

This is not a "either-or"-decision. It is a "not-only-but-also"-issue. It is about short term and long term help.
In the short term threats to life and health of kids in the 3rd world need to be addressed of course. This is already being done by many organizations as good as they can.
In the long term education is the most effective way out of poverty. "Give a man a fish and you feed him for one day. Teach him to fish and you feed him for a lifetime."

Then there is also another distinction. The countries with the most serious starvation problems cannot afford computers anyway. So computer will definitely not interfere with aid programs there. These countries could hardly even afford to be given computers for free because they first would need to build schools, train teachers, install electricity etc.

"Do third-world children need computers? Or would they be more likely to benefit from potable water, sustainable farming techniques, vaccines, or basic book-based educational resources? And just imagine how many lives could be not just enriched but SAVED altogether by providing sexually-transmitted disease prevention education. There are far better uses for that "$150 per child" than a hunk of brightly-colored plastic & semiconductors."

This is really a set of very old misunderstandings.

The XO goes to regions where the most pressing problem is lack of education. Not to regions where the problems you mention are there.

Should we really prevent Brazillian children from getting an XO because Haitian children have no drinking water?

Winter

""Where's the evidence that giving children access to the vast repositories of information on the Internet has boosted the learning potential of children in first-world countries? In fact, there are studies that indicate just the contrary...""

In the Netherlands the whole high school educational system was based on computers and the internet. Massive savings were realized. It helped to cope with an alarming shortage of teachers caused by misdirected employment policies in the past.

Some of the improvements in education:
- Students can write more papers as information is easier to get
- Class schedules are now flexible as students can read them from the internet. This helps in more efficient use of teacher hours.
- More high quality information is available. Student now have access to primary sources, wheras they had to use tertiary sources in the past.
- Students have structured interchange with foreign students in language classes
- Students can train using automated tests

Winter

There are more videos from Ceibal in Uruguay here:

http://olpc.tv/2007/05/18/proyecto-ceibal/

If someone who understands Spanish would like to post roughly translated transcripts that would be great..

About constructivim:
You can't bash on negroponte because of a "lack of curriculum" and then bash him again when he proposes a contructivist curriculum. I'll try ti be as short as I can:

1-Contructivism is a consequence. Give children a tool where they can build games, interact with stars and etc and they will be more interested and will be learning problem solving skills.

2-Education always needs teachers. The role of the teacher in a laptop environment might change, but they will not, probably never, become useless. Some teachers might not adapt to the transition from "talk about stuff until kids memorize" to "teaching kids to think". But those teachers were already boring teachers before the laptop.

Alexandre,
Would you please enlighten me as to the definition of a "contstructivist curriculum"? A simple URL would suffice, providing that the material it directs me to is germane and sufficient.

I have been objecting to the use of words like "constructivist" to cover for a simple lack of curriculum. If you look back to the original claims for the OLPC machine (whatever it was called at the time) you will find some rather outrageous claims to the effect that teachers would be made obsolete by these devices.

"Constructivism" can apparently be given any definition that happens to be convenient. The sooner OLPC abandons use of the term the better for all concerned. Let us hope that they continue to learn the lesson that curricula are a necessary part of a society's educational structure.

Alexandre and Lee,

This is an interesting point about education.
The traditional education uses very elaborate and rigid curricula and derives even more detailed lesson plans from them. In education instructionism or constructionism are METHODS of learning whereas curricula are the learning GOALS that should be achieved using those methods.

Prof. Negroponte has indicated repeatedly that he does not like curricula in context with constructionism.

I could still agree with his position for constructionistic learning/playing outside school. But inside school I agree with Lee that there has to be some direction for what kids should learn. Maybe such curricula should be made more flexible with compulsory and optional parts to choose from perhaps similar to many universities with a credit point system where different goals have different credits that should add up to a certain sum at the end of each period. This would allow to better nurture individual talents.

Let me tell some things from a brazilian guy, bornt in a middle to poor family, and who did the studys in public schools.
First: its really a hard situation for a kid to born in a poor family. He didnt choose that, but he has to deal with the situation of having not much food at home, to have a father that comes drunk at night, and theats her wife and kids with violence. Its hard to go to school just to lunch, and have to medicate the rest of the day to dinner. Its hard not to quit studying and try to work somewhere, earning about two or three dollars for a day work. I say that because I saw all of that. I saw childrens in my primary school searching the trash looking for rests of candies. Its really a broken heart situation.
So, what have "first world" coutries to contribute with poor countries like Brazil? Many can think that the better would be to send some money. How many "Live 8", "We are the world", donations, been made till today? What that money did to make a difference in that countries? We can think that, for example, if countries like Brazil had the chance to stop sending every year a HUGE amount of money to pay the bills that Brazil has with USA (in fact, paying just the interest) would make a huge difference, but no government would do that. So, what you have to offer?
Information. Cheap information. Simple like that.
For example: hwo do you stop the AIDS proliferation? By making people using condoms. And how do you do that? By teching her.
So, when somebody says: inst it better to offer good water instead of computers, I say: yes, it is. But who will offer that? How much money is needed? More money that people wants to give. How much time that solution will be suficient, based on the growth rates of population? Not much.
Whats the better solution? To teach people how to do that. Its really simple to collect water from rain, its really hard to teach people how to do that, thats a fact.
In Brazil the only source of information is ONE channel TV that shows only crap the entire day. Really. That channel TV elects the president he wants, and take him out when he wants. That TV channel doenst teach anything, but people things they learn a lot watching his news. Its really amazing to see childrens researching on Wikipedia using OLPC.
Many will say: what about books? The public schools have really small libraries, most of the book are donated and outdated. The is no library today like the internet.
So, poor countries needs laptops? Yes, they need. Those laptops can bring a better life for them? Yes, like no other way I can see imagine for my poor country.
I really really wish someday my sons can use a loptop at her class.

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