In our last post, Deploying XO Laptops in USA Classrooms, we discussed the founding of OLPCsb last December, and provided a quick overview of our mission and objectives. In this post, we would like to share with the OLPC News Community how things have progressed over the past several months in regards to integrating the XOs into our local classroom!
- Bringing the XOs to Classrooms:
In just one short month, with the incredible dedication of our faculty members and a local elementary school, we launched our first pilot program on December 14th, 2008. We were truly fortunate to have Nicholas Negroponte show up for a quick visit to the classroom and give an "inaugural speech" to the school. You can check out the video here:
Our classroom is a small 3rd grade classroom at Kellogg Elementary School, in Goleta, CA. We had 14 XOs graciously donated to the classroom by various individuals, enough to gain some traction and get an idea of how they could/would be used, yet not enough to fully fill the classroom (so students couldn't take them home yet). We were happy with that, because our aim was to slowly integrate the XOs into the classroom and see what could be done, to prepare for a full and comprehensive pilot program in the upcoming school year.
Fortunately for us, the teacher we have been working with is an exceptionally experienced educator, and a firm believer in bringing technology to classrooms. He was familiar with OLPC and the XO before we brought them into the classroom, and already had several ideas of how to use the XO and its activities to engage his students and apply it to the curriculum (will discuss further in next section). While the classroom already had a few Mac computers that students were using, as everyone reading this probably knows XOs provide a very different learning experience, and we were interested in understanding the difference in usages between the Macs and the XOs
Having the full support and enthusiasm of an experienced teacher, as well as the schools Principle and Board, has been very valuable. You cannot force this technology upon anyone- it must be a ground up, collaborative effort involving input from all parties. We have worked very closely with everyone involved, and have constantly shifted focus and priorities to accommodate the needs of the classroom, the school, and our resources.
Aside from minor technical difficulties (wireless router initially not working properly, occasional sticky mouse pads,) things have moved along smoothly in our single classroom. We have been taking everything very slowly to ensure no slip ups, and so far this strategy has proved very useful. For this reason, we have not yet pursued any other schools or classrooms, although we have perked interest. We want to continue working with this specific classroom and this specific teacher for the next year, to develop a solid and functional pilot program that we can then use as a comprehensive model for future expansions.
Thanks for reading, and check back soon! Next post- Integrating the XO's into the classroom!