One Laptop Per XO'ing Child with OLPNC

   
   
   
   
   

I am Anders Mogensen, co-founder of Seismonaut - a Danish idea and innovation consultancy. At Seismonaut we map emerging technologies, new media and user trends in the changing global landscape.

A few weeks ago I was in Nigeria taking a closer look at the OLPNC (One Laptop Per Nigerian Child) initiative. During my five day visit I had the opportunity to meet with the key stakeholders in Abuja, and pay a couple of visits to L.E.A School Galadima. Over the next three days, I will share some of my findings in short write-ups.

olpnc nigeria
The OLPNC physical environment

Visiting the school

Before meeting with the stakeholders I decided to pay an unannounced visit to the L.E.A. School Galadima, to get a personal first hand impression of the project. This was a few days before the school would resume after the summer holiday.

As we got closer to Galadima the setting surrounding us started looking as what I had mentally visualized. Small villages, cows and goats running along the road side and small market stalls set up selling locally grown fruits and vegetables. So I was rather confused when our driver suddenly turned off the main road and entered a gate that read: "Welcome to Abuja Model City".

The road led us into an estate area with a large number of newly built villas all with green grass lawns, electricity, running water, satellite dishes on the roofs of the houses, and security guards standing outside each house. These villas were so big I guess only the wealthiest Nigerians could afford to stay here.

A few hundred meters further down the road we suddenly saw the old school building located on a large plot that was not in any way as fancy as the housing estate. This was L.E.A School Galadima. The school was locked up, but we could see the solar panels on the roof that are used for the "gang chargers" (multi laptop battery chargers) in the classrooms, and noticed the satellite dish providing the internet connection.

Some workers on the site were building two new classrooms which would double the total number of available classrooms. With about 350 students in total this was a much needed improvement.

The surroundings confused me a bit, and I wondered were rich kids attending this old and dusty public school? I asked the workers if this was the case. They laughed and said that not a single child attending the school came from the estate area, rather they all walked several kilometers to school from villages behind the housing estate. However they knew of one kid, Ola, who lived with his grandmother very close to the school.

They pointed us in a direction to area and we set out to find Ola. The story turned out to be that some relatives of Ola owned an empty housing plot and to ensure that nobody would suddenly come and claim ownership over this plot they had built a shabby shed and offered this to Ola's grandmother. In order for somebody to look after and assist the grandmother, Ola was sent to her, as Nigerian culture prescribes it.

Ola was a wonderful chap. He was 10 years old and attended primary 2. He had received his laptop just a few weeks before the summer holiday, and with no form of forehand knowledge on using technology I was amazed at how confidently he used the laptop. He told me that he had watched the older boys using their laptop, so when he received his own, he was quick to catch up.

His favourite program was "camera" - as he said with his distinctive Nigerian accent. He showed me drawings he had made, video clips he had filmed and also demonstrated the use of the tam-tam music program.

The main challenge for Ola was where to charge his laptop, as there was no electricity in his house. He told me that he found somebody in one of the big villas that let him charge his laptop. This is not a viable solution, but as Potenco are yet to release their interesting invention the human power generator designed for the XO, and OLPC seem not to have any ready alternative, electricity is one of the big challenges of this implementation.

In the next report I will turn to looking closer at the stakeholders of the project in Nigeria. Clearly if Nigeria is to succeed with the OLPNC project the process must engage a number of stakeholders - governments, the private sector and civil society organizations and donors.

Who are involved and how do they contribute?

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13 Comments

I know kids were fast with computers. I have seen them. But it is still great to see one in action again.

This also lies to rest again all criticism that Sugar and the XO are too complex for 9 year olds.

Winter

I was quite amazed with Ola, he really seemed to knew how to navigate the user interface of the XO.

The kid was funny and really made me laugh, with comments like: "I don snap" - pidgin english for - "I have taken the picture of you allready", or the comment he came with when showing us the ports hiding under the "ears"- "dis where i go chuk hearphone - dey don giv am to me I wan buy earphone - I need earphone."


Please if you have any questions I would be happy to answer them here...
Any comments thoughts or areas of interest

Hello Anders, thanks a lot for your posting, it was really good to get a first-hand impression of what's going in Nigeria. Can't wait to read your future installments!

One thing that I would like to know is whether there's any formal and academic evaluation going on in L.E.A. School Galadima? So does an indepedant institute, a university or the Nigerian Ministry of Education evaluate and study the impact of the pilot on student and teacher performance.

Also, note that the boy is demoing the XO outside in the daylight. The screen looked pretty bright. A lot better than my iBook would. Nice.

So Ola gets to charge his laptop from a neighbors house, while they wait for Potenco to come to the party.

How do other children fare that are living in areas with no power? Their laptop lies in a corner waiting for the summer holidays to finish so it can be gang charged at school. Seems to me that the pull charger should have been built in to the side of the laptop at the very least (rather than the hand crank).

Whats the delay with the Potenco team? Maybe they need some pushing? How hard can it be to make an electric yoyo?

congratulations to wayan and Anders: this is the kind of first hand unique reporting that I come to this site for.

Regarding ChristophD comment on whether there's any formal and academic evaluation going on in L.E.A. School Galadima?


This is a very important area, however it unfortunately seemed not to be fully outlined. I will be looking closer into this as I hope to be involved in another Nigerian initiative later this year.

Well one alternative is to be able to charge the laptop while at school using quite cheap solar panels, such technologies as http://nanosolar.com/ and other solar panels shown by Nicholas Negroponte cost in the tens of dollars only and can charge XOs at school and after school at home.

Also the Potenco can be connected to a bicycle to use energys from the legs to generate power 20-30 times faster then real-time usage of the laptop in 2-watts mode and even 50-100 times real-time when using the black and white ebook mode.

It's kind of a chicken and egg problem this one of electricity. If OLPC can bring electricity to families where the children want to be able to recharge their laptops, then that's just great, it pushes forward that improvement in peoples life standards.

Thanks for your positive comment Robert!

Regarding Charbax comment - there are solar panels on the main building and these panels provide power for the "gang chargers" that are used to charge 8? or 10? batteries in each. However there was not alternative power supply in place for the kids to use at home. Also the internet connection required a generator to work :(.

Thanks for the fantastic video. This would be great to show off the XO for the buy-one/give-one program as well. I certainly am now thinking of doing it for my kids, whereas I wouldn't have before.

Anders said "This is a very important area, however it unfortunately seemed not to be fully outlined."

That's exactly what I was afraid of hearing... I can't understand why on earth an academic bunch of folks from the M I of T can display such an utter ignorance towards having independant research done when it comes to the effects of the X0s on student and teacher performance. And why doesn't any of the Ministries of Education involved seem to be interested in conducting such research (at least not openly)?

Definitely something to keep in mind while we think about local trial runs with the XOs in primary schools here in Austria!

This program "One Laptop Per Child" will share opportunities with those most in need to learn. This first-step training tool will help.

I will share this website information with my 7th grade science students while they create electrical circuit designs for using solar energy to recharge batteries in whatever their inventions. (I will also share this with my high school Biology students.) Could apply to an OX for other less fortunate students (XO)power!

Now by viewing this "You Tube" of Ola, my students will realize their own opportunities and learn why it is very important to create and share with those who have much less. This is the secret for world peace on earth. The "have not's" should have too.
Respectfully submitted for this cause by
a Massachusetts Science and Biology Teacher @ Jr. Sr. High School

i think it is awesome to provide cheep laptops,but how do americans get the laptop?

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