I Want to Volunteer in Ger Districts for OLPC Mongolia

   
   
   
   
   
olpc Mongolia
I am ready to help

Hi, my name is Cris Anderson, I am an XO fan. My mom loves the OLPC initiative, and donated during the G1G1 stage. After it arrived, I started using it and figuring it out quite a bit. I also have the OLPC News Blog in my RSS feeds where I read it daily.

In the past couple days, I noticed all the news that is going on with OLPC Mongolia. I lived in Mongolia for two years as an English teacher and church missionary. About half of my time was in the capital city of Ulaanbaatar, and the other half was in various countryside areas. I learned to speak Mongolian very well, and really came to love the people and the country.

I can see how the OLPC will be helpful to children in that country. I am excited to see that the laptops have arrived and are being used as I write. Most kids only get a tiny bit of computer experience on a few school computers, and then in internet and gaming cafes where they can play Counter Strike. Educational computer experience will be a big help. Especially in their own language.

I have unique experience that allows me to help OLPC Mongolia in ways few others can. I have been in both the classrooms as an English teacher and in the ger districts as a missionary. I can use the XO laptop as well as speak fluent Mongolian.

Perhaps most importantly, I understand the situation of the people and the goal of the OLPC initiative. I have the rural connections, the cultural understanding, and the fluent Khalkha Mongolian to do it on their terms, in their homes. Where the Ministry of Education and OLPC will never go.

But I am willing to go. Want to go. And challenge each of you to think of how you can "go" too - be it in person or in action in your own community.

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13 Comments

While the desire to help is noble and something we're all working towards, I wonder whether the OLPC and evangelizing missionary work are that commensurable, specifically in terms of constructionism.

While constructionism is all fine and good, it is insulting to traditional/established education professionals -- pushing constructionism may have been one of the reasons that the large orders never appeared.

Open-standards-only computers in the hands of hundreds of thousands will mean that the internet can't be moved to closed media and closed document formats. I think this is, for many of us, about Freedom vs. Microsoft/Adobe/Apple/DCMA.

It is about GETTING TO KIDS BEFORE THEY fall into the learned helplessness that makes people ACCEPT THEIR SUBSERVIENCE to their commercial software and DRM-infested entertainment products.

Nathan wrote:

"While constructionism is all fine and good, it is insulting to traditional/established education professionals"


I believe that the ones being insulted are the true education professionals who have worked so hard on making Constructivism (or Constructionism) into a viable educational alternative to more traditional methodologies.

There is no trace of Constructivism in the XO or the OLPC Project. Unless, of course, you think that Constructivism is about handing elementary school students an underpowered laptop with assorted generic software.


"pushing constructionism may have been one of the reasons that the large orders never appeared."

Absolutely. Prof. Negroponte has, from the beginning, used the concept of "Constructivism" as the perfect excuse for not developing an implementation plan and not running the required pilot programs.

That's why every time somebody asks: "How are schools supposed to incorporate the XO into their curriculum?" the answers become vague and the talk turns to "exploration" and "collaboration' and "discovery", etc. Hey, you can collaborate, discover and explore with ANY computer that allows any type of networking - which is any computer today.

Intelligent people need a bit more than "kids will learn learning". Until then, orders will be few and far in between.

Since you know Monogolian, you can perhaps help out with the Monogolian localization efforts ? We are using a web basedsoftware called Pootle to manage the translation of the software interfaces, and you can register for Pootle at https://dev.laptop.org/translate/register.html

More information on Pootle in the wiki http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Pootle/FAQ

A guide to Pootle is also available at http://wiki.services.openoffice.org/wiki/Pootle_User_Guide

Jason,

I think Cris's past proselytizing activities make him perfectly suited to implementing OLPC. He will have to convert people to the ideas of Constructionist learning and Open Source Software , both of which have often been considered movements based on faith.

But I don't think Cris is going with the mindset of saving souls, just promoting education. Though there are those that say OLPC is a perfect way to spread the Gospel: http://www.olpcnews.com/use_cases/community/bible-thumping_child_village.html

Nathan: "While constructionism is all fine and good, it is insulting to traditional/established education professionals -- pushing constructionism may have been one of the reasons that the large orders never appeared."

True, and the problem is that the traditional educational establishment will never be able to solve the education problems of the developing world. One reson is chronic corruption. Regarding, for instance, India:

"The source of the problem, in a nation of 1.1 billion, is the corruption in the primary school system. Teaching jobs in many parts of the country are considered political patronage. These teaching assignments are handed out to political activists, with the understanding that they are no-show jobs. So, despite a lot of money being put into primary education over the last half century, the illiteracy rate is still 39 percent."

http://www.strategypage.com/htmw/htatrit/articles/20080124.aspx

Olpc may offer the solution here, because, with the Constructivist approach and laptops that will ultimately cost %50, students could just learn basic skills without classroom instruction.

ALL:

Children's fingers develop bent and twisted finger deformities from using computers...see our web site at miketomich dot com (left side). No joke!

@Mike Tomich:
"Children's fingers develop bent and twisted finger deformities from using computers..."

Stretch your index fingers along each other and compare them. See what writing does to your fingers?

@Irvin:
"I believe that the ones being insulted are the true education professionals who have worked so hard on making Constructivism (or Constructionism) into a viable educational alternative to more traditional methodologies."

So why don't we hear from them? I have yet to see a flaming refutation of the OLPC from a "Classical" constructionist. The only flaming refutations I see are from people who fight Constructionism tooth and nail.

@Irvin:
"There is no trace of Constructivism in the XO or the OLPC Project. Unless, of course, you think that Constructivism is about handing elementary school students an underpowered laptop with assorted generic software."

I have a nice quote related to the USA (nice article btw):
[[
For computer-based learning to transform schools into child-centric learning environments, schools must implement the instructional software disruptively, by letting it compete where the alternative is no teacher at all. There is evidence this is happening in several places--from helping small, rural or low-wealth schools where specialized courses would not otherwise be available to serving students who need special tutoring, or for whom attending the normal school day is not an option.
]]
http://www.forbes.com/2008/01/22/solutions-education-christensen-oped-cx_dme_0123christensen.html?partner=yahootix

And now please explain why the XO doesn't qualify.

@Irvin:
"That's why every time somebody asks: "How are schools supposed to incorporate the XO into their curriculum?" the answers become vague and the talk turns to "exploration" and "collaboration' and "discovery", etc. Hey, you can collaborate, discover and explore with ANY computer that allows any type of networking - which is any computer today."

The OLPC is based on the ideas of Alan Kay, the "father" of Squeak, Etoys, and Croquet. If Alan is anything, he is clear. He has written several book about his ideas and how to implement them.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_Kay
So if the marketting speak of NN is so confusing to you, I would advice you to read the works of Alan Kay. Reading the blog and speeches of Ivan Krsti─ç will help too. They are discussed on OLPCnews, eg:
http://www.olpcnews.com/use_cases/education/olpc_xo_improve_teachers.html

Irvin, your sole solution to the world's educational problems seems to be "More teachers, better curricula", which is just the way USA politics looks at their educational woes. It hasn't worked in the devloping world for half a century, it won't work in the near future.

So that won't help the children that need education NOW. But I have yet to catch you at expressing any interest in the fate of children in poor countries. Please, surprise me fro once Irvin!

Winter

Hi,

Just wanted to let you know that I am raising money for Gemin-i, a UK based charity who is going to donate XO laptops to schools in Mongolia and get them online using their sate of the art software, rafi.ki, already used in schools in over 85 countries.

To raise money I and my team (Not yet a Triumph) will be driving a 1970 Triumph Herald 13/60 from Coventry UK, to UlaanBaatar Mongolia. You can read more about it here: www.TriumphRally.org

keep up the good work!

Hey John - I think you're idea is great - are you in Mongolia now? Are you asking for help getting there or for your project there?

Sorry, Cris - I mean "Hey, Cris, I think your idea is great." How can I help?

Richard, I was in Mongolia about 9 months ago. I haven't been back since. I would love help getting there, until then, I will just have to work more on the translations on Pootle and I want to do some on the Wiki as well. I wish I could work with the implementation team in Mongolia, and I've tried to contact the people who worked on that, but I haven't got anything back yet.

Hello Cris.

Thank you very much for your letter. My name is Yanjaa, 27 years old, Mongolian. Now I'm in Taipei, Taiwan.
We are established one of NGO, our main activity focused on children education. We love kids very much. We want to do something good and give more chances especially for ger district children. So we are looking for some English volunteer teacher. How about you ?

Thank you. Best wishes, Yanja

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