The little town of Arahuay, Peru must feel like a ugly duckling suddenly becoming a beautiful swan - one day it was a Peruvian backwater and the next it's the center of global technology attention with a OLPC Peru pilot in its midst..
First there was Carla Gomez Monroy's detailed write up of her experience at Institución Educativa Apóstol Santiago in Arahuay. Then the AP wrote a sweet Christmas story on how OLPC was inspiring children:
"Some tell me that they don't want to be like their parents, working in the fields," first-grade teacher Erica Velasco says of her pupils. She had just sent them to the Internet to seek out photos of invertebrates -- animals without backbones.After a near-death experience at the school, Ivan Krstić let us know he was astounded in Arahuay with the impact that One Laptop Per Child has on the entire community - children, parents, teachers, and school administrators. He found three key changes brought by the technology.
"What they work with most is the (built-in) camera. They love to record," says Maria Antonieta Mendoza, an Education Ministry psychologist studying the Arahuay pilot to devise strategies for the big rollout when the new school year begins in March.
First, children started communicating more in and out of class, using the XO as a means to eclipse physical barriers and as a way to break down social barriers. Then, since each child had the exact same laptop, they started to share ideas instead of being selfish with things. Last, but not least, there was a change in family perception of school:
"Children’s fathers used to seethe with fury when the laptops were passed out, because the kids no longer wanted to help work in the field all day," he continued.OLPC's Peruvian Honeymoon". While the title referred to Mary Lou Jepsen's belated honeymoon with her husband in Peru, it is apropos to this stage of OLPC Peru development.
"I didn’t know how we’d stop the fathers from revolting and making the kids return their XOs," he says, shaking his head slightly. "The kids solved the dilemma for me: they taught their fathers how to use the Internet and a search engine."
"Then they started showing them the work they were doing for school. The reports they wrote, the pictures they took, the notes they compiled. And the fathers had actual proof that their kids were learning," he concluded.
So far, we've been awed by the picturesque pilot progress and very shortly there will be 240,000 XO laptops headed towards Peru as One laptop Per Child ramps up its largest deployment ever attempted. Now OLPC is in a mad dash to refine its deployment approach, and just completed its first deployment guide:
With input from the Tech Team, the Learning Team, Brightstar, and the Deployment Team, we now have a Deployment Guide. The guide covers planning, execution, and support, along with some tips based upon our experience in trial deployments around the world; a sample deployment schedule; a sample workshop schedule; a check list to guide you through the deployment process; and a glossary of OLPC terms.Here's to wishing all the OLPC teams luck in implementation, the hardest, messiest, and most time and resource intensive aspect of any technology project, exponentially compounded by each distance, language, and culture barrier. Or as MIT Review says:
[Mary Lou] Jepsen acknowledged that the challenges Peru faces in reforming its educational system dwarf those of actually designing the pint-sized green-and-white gadgets. "Laptops are easy; education is hard to transform," she told ministry staff..