What Do We Know About OLPC Pilots Worldwide?

   
   
   
   
   

I am Roxana Bassi, ICT Specialist of Global e-Schools and Communities Initiative (GeSCI). I have been following the OLPC experiences in various countries, and participating in some others, and I am still surprised abut the limited number of documentation that is available on the results of the trials and pilots that have been taking place in the countries in the last two years.

OLPC says that as of October 2008, XOs have been deployed - or soon will be - in 31 countries: Afghanistan, Brazil, Cambodia, Colombia, Ethiopia, Ghana, Haiti, India, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Lebanon, Mali, Mexico, Mongolia, Mozambique, Nepal, Nigeria, Niue, Pakistan, Palestine, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Russia, Rwanda, Senegal, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Thailand, United States and Uruguay. The total number of machines deployed (as of February 2009) is 750,000.

olpc ethiopia
Photos of XO + kids are not enough

So I wonder what is happening in all these countries, in all these realities, with OLPC deployments? And I don't want to see the happy faces of children operating the devices in the most incredible settings, or videos, I want facts.

I want to know how teachers are feeling about it. How kids are feeling. How parents are feeling. How are the class dynamics changing? How were the kids test results compared with others in similar conditions without devices? What is happening with electricity consumption? What is the hardware failure rate? How is support being provided? What are the software problems faced? What implementations are using servers and how? How are they managing the content filtering (if any)? What tools did the kids develop? What tools the teachers dream of. What is the total cost of ownership (TCO) of the deployments? How were teachers trained? How were kids trained? And so many other questions that are critical to evaluate the success factors of 1:1 technologies...

I carry a list of OLPC pilot documents and I am organizing a resource list to share with you soon. But the information I find in the official websites is little, or is old, or has been collected in a period of a few months. What has, for example, happened with the Brazilian pilots? We haven't heard from them anymore, their sites are down or outdated. Uruguay has deployed 170,000 machines and there is very little we know about what is happening. Only Ethiopia and Nepal have produced some kind of relevant and documented analysis of their pilots.

There is critical a issue here: unless the countries and organizations executing pilots take the work of documenting and sharing lessons learned and experiences, we'll be repeating mistakes, we'll continue to fail (or to succeed and nobody will know). So this is a call to all of you participating in pilots or organizing them: make sure you develop a monitoring and evaluation framework and then share the results of it with the world. And if, by any chance, you know a link to good documentation, please add it as a comment here.

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15 Comments

For your information, OLPC France is maintaining a press review, including french & non-french speaking media (the archives may be consulted here: http://olpc-france.org/wiki/index.php?title=Archives_Revue_de_Presse ).
So, we have a lot of reports related to deployments around the world. Maybe some are of interest for you and give you first hand and actual informations...

I got frustrated by the same thing, and decided to try providing the sort of info on pilots in my area that I'd like to see from other deployments.

So we have a weekly update of Boston grassroots pilots news on the mailing list as well as meeting notes from the Cambridge Friends School deployment, the first one to actually go live to students (2 days ago, in fact).

How can we do better?

I think that it is a language / communication barrier more than anything.

Looking at the Ministry of Education in Peru's website, their last published Education report was in 2004.

http://escale.minedu.gob.pe/escale/publicaciones/inicio.do

I don't think that your expectations are on the same time frames as the nations that are rolling out OLPC programs.

What is needed is more conversation and offers to help and move forward. This isn't just about OLPC, this is an issue for olpc, for everyone involved.

OLPC news is the right place to ask these questions, but who's job is it to answer them? How can the community reach out to these Ministries of Education? They are the ones with the answers.

So, I've spent a good portion of the evening going over some of the Peru and Uruguay XO websites. My Spanish is pretty bad generally, but improving.

I had completely missed the existence of FotoAdventura:

http://www.uruguaynatural.com/fotoaventura/xo/index.html

Which is a way for Uruguayan children to learn about they country's landmarks and wildlife.

Information is a bit spread out, but there seems to be a lot of educational resources, feedback and examples of implementation.

( http://74.125.91.132/translate_c?hl=en&sl=es&tl=en&u=http://blogedu-rosamel.blogspot.com/&prev=hp&usg=ALkJrhjhf7yXTo5Ute40Wtb0bSp1HPFvcQ ) for instance.

Roxana, you bring out some good points. I work on a Nepal's OLPC deployment and what keeps me from reporting progress is simply lack of time. Localizing the XO, creating local content, training teachers, etc. has left precious little time to report our findings. We are conducting an evaluation and it should be finished late 2009.

Dear Roxana,

I think you bring a very relevant point to the discussion. I totally agree with the need of good and relevant documentation about the pilots/projects which tries to look to what is going on not a 'feels good' stand point, but in a more scientific way.

However, as someone that participated on the ground in the Porto Alegre (Brazil) pilot, and had chance to visit several deployments in the world, I must admit the challenges in this task.

The first challenge is usually financing. Doing such kind of documentation, even in only one school, requires a relatively substantial amount of money. Of course, we are talking about a high quality research that aims to goes deep looking for answers to the questions that you raised and many others. However, in the countries that OLPC has started deployments, financing is always an issue. In the case of Brazil, we asked a grant to IADB to do such kind of documentation in the five 1:1 pilots that happened in Brazil from 2007 up to now. However, we are struggling for 2 years to get the money available due to bureaucracy. Talking about Porto Alegre specifically, in this meanwhile, we produced 2 Masters dissertations and 1 Phd thesis related to 1:1. However, even the work of translating such works to english, requires resources (time and money).

The other challenge that usually deployments face, is that there are hundreds of issues that need to be solved to really make a laptop project starts. Solving such issues requires a lot of resources, and the managers become overwhelmed by the amount of work. We must remember, that a laptop project, differently from others computers in education projects, doesn't have institutional, legal, political and financial instruments in place. Everything is very new in most places and the people who are working in such projects, don't have many references. This causes the typical egg chicken problem. OLPC tries to help with this issues with many initiatives, such us connecting the Project Coordinators in different countries so they can share their experiences in person and through Internet.

Lastly, I think that some of the questions you proposed are easy to be answered. However, the most interesting ones, can't be answered right now. They can't be answered because the necessary theoretical frameworks to do that, doesn't exist yet. I say that, after the many discussions I had within the group that worked in the Porto Alegre deployment and with other groups around the world. I think that more than never, we need discussion spaces where researchers share their perspectives (that I'm totally sure will be contradictories) and discuss about how to access this experiments. As you know, such spaces still don't exist.

Finally, I hope that with many countries getting started with their 1:1 initiatives, will make more research grants available for proper studies in this area. I hope that both international and national financing agencies become aware of the importance of such studies and open call for grants applications in the near future.

Regards

@Juliano:

I think it would help tremendously if you would even just write out this reply as a new post (article) with links.

You obviously have experience with this problem and have discussed it with those involved. This is probably more than anybody else in the world.

Even better would be if you could convince the new PhD and Graduate students to write down a summary of their research in English and post it on OLPCnews or anywhere else where we can read it.

Winter

I think what we are seeing is typically what happens in Pilots.
In Oceania, we have 5 pilots with one starting an evaluation.
We are now moving to a trial mode and will include M&E in the initial planning. More on this later.

Our Evaluation partner, the Australian Council of Education Research, has recently completed a literature review on evaluation of OLPC. It is available at
http://wiki.laptop.org/go/OLPC_Oceania/Evaluation
Look in the Evaluation section

I have recently seen quite an extensive review of the Uruguay project (not a formal evaluation). It is available at http://www.flordeceibo.edu.uy
in Spanish. I have an English translation of the Exec summary provided by Gabriel Eirea [[email protected]]
Hope this helps and looking forward to your input

Thats the clear and important point, didnt go through the all comments yet, but as the project seems to be maturing, and going beyond (i.e. drop of education in the name of project), there is some serious need to have the mechanism to summarize the past and guide the future (possibly helping not to repeat some of the mistakes, and possibly allow to extend the scope of the project in future implementations). Plenty of kudos to the poster.

Roxana, you are making a very good point. We are a small Russian community interested in the ideas of educational constructionism and we feel very serious lack of communication with other OLPC educators. Unfortunately we have just a small number of XOs and can not do a full scale deployment. We did an OLPC summer camp in Russia last year and are planning a new one this summer (this time international). Knowing about what is happening with XOs in other parts of the world is very important and can be useful for convincing our government to look at the OLPC initiative seriously.

I can identify with your frustrations Roxana, and everyone else's. We here in Mali have put together a report documenting our experience with the 30 laptops we used over the summer in a village in Mali.

I think the report is somewhat useful, eventhough there were only 30 computers and a small number of people involved. You can find it here at www.olpcmali.org in both English and French.

Salimata

Hello everyone!
thanks for all the input and valuable comments. I will be preparing a summary of references to be shared with you soon. Please do send references to documents in whatever language they are. As for uruguay, I found this link that has manuals and brochures, very interesting (in Spanish) http://rapceibal.blogspot.com/
Juliano: if you have links to the docs in Portuguese please publish them, as well as the links to the pilots that seem not to work anymore (ie the school Luciana de Abreu)

For those interested Id like to share some of our useful tools on 1:1 models:

- Case studies: These case studies demonstrate how different countries in 4 continents set about preparing and implementing their 1:1 projects. http://www.gesci.org/files/docman/OLPC_Case-Studies.pdf
- 1:1 Technologies/Computing in the Developing World - Challenging the Digital Divide" http://www.gesci.org/files/docman/1_to_1_Technologies_Computing_in_the_Developing_World_by_M._Hooker_GeSCI.doc by Mary Hooker, GeSCI (2008). This paper has been developed by GeSCI to spark a discussion on the issues and challenges related to introducing 1 to 1 devices (laptops, PDAs ) initiatives in educational systems in development contexts.
- GeSCI TCO tool for large scale deployments "Deploying 1:1 educational models in large scale: a practical budgeting tool based on TCO". This is the regional and national large scale TCO module. It has been specifically designed with examples for 1:1 educational models, but can be used for any ICT4E deployment. http://www.gesci.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=37&Itemid=43.


Thanks and lets keep the momentum of this debate
Regards

There is hope for Peru - just look at this Primary Data Collection RFP for recolectar datos primarios de la iniciativa Una Laptop por Niño

FYI I posted a follow-up entry on the World Bank EduTech blog to Roxana's very useful blog article here:

http://blogs.worldbank.org/edutech/what-have-we-learned-from-olpc-pilots-to-date

-Mike

For OLPC projects in Greece / Europe pls have a look

OLPC Deployment in the Greek village of Sminthi
http://xpapad.wordpress.com/2009/08/30/olpc-deployment-in-the-greek-village-of-sminthi/

and

http://www.re-public.gr/if/ (Greek)

Thanks

Thanasis

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