Waveplace Foundation Brings XO Spark To Caribbean Children

olpc Caribbean
Haitian kids ♥ XO laptops

We're told the first twenty laptops off the OLPC production line went to 4th graders in the US Virgin Islands. These lucky kids are taking part in a ten week pilot program conducted by Waveplace Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to bringing digital media skills to Caribbean children.

One month into our first pilot, we're starting another pilot in Haiti next week. I am Timothy Falconer of Waveplace, and I ask for your help.

Waveplace is all about mentoring. While OLPC's notion of "pick up and learn" has appeal, we find that mentors make all the difference. You wouldn't expect a child to learn music or baseball on their own. A kid might noodle around a bit, but the real magic, what we call "spark", can only come from an experienced guide, someone whose love for learning shows through as they teach.

Waveplace works with local Caribbean groups to find motivated mentors, then trains them to teach Squeak Etoys on the XO. From our pilots, we'll develop a textbook and DVD set, which we'll make freely available to the world this summer. You can get a taste on our website where five hours of video tutorial can be found.

We're also making a documentary of our experiences, since books and screencasts only get you so far. There's no substitute for actually seeing a mentor engage a group of kids. It's inspiring.

Anyone can teach the basics of word processing and web browsing, but we're after much more. Our goal is transform how each child views their own education, for them to feel a new ownership and interest in exploring their world. We've seen this spark again and again in the work of Papert, Resnick, and Kay, but we've also seen this approach fail without proper tending.

olpc Caribbean
Finding an XO laptop spark

Alan Kay, who's on our board of advisors, has said,

"Logo was a great idea and it failed. It didn't fail because computers couldn't do Logo, and it didn't fail because Logo software was bad. It failed because the second and third waves of teachers were not interested in it as a new thing."
We're afraid the same thing could happen with OLPC, which is why Waveplace puts so much emphasis on courseware development and first-hand experience with Waveplace mentors. Our goal is not only to spark imagination, but to tend the fire well into the future.

As I said, we need your help. We've raised only half the money needed this Spring for our pilots, courseware, and documentary. If you believe in what we're doing, then please donate some money on our website, however little.

More immediately, we need donated XO laptops, since OLPC said there are none till May. This is a problem, since we're flying to Haiti next weekend to start our pilot there. If you'd like to "Give Two, Keep None", please contact us through our website.

We need eight more laptops before leaving next Saturday, and another twenty for Saint Vincent next month. To see the Haitian children who'll get your laptop, watch our video:

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Unfortunately I don't have an XO to donate. However, I did notice in the last week's support group meeting that 300-500 XOs are sitting in a warehouse in Chicago and will be given to a couple of colleges for repair/analysis. They estimate 1/2 the machines just need a quick reflash. Perhaps some of these are in fact usable and might be available for your foundations?

source: http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Support_meetings
Adam Holt: ...Moving forward, want to talk about repair? We had a full house of six or seven arguing passionately in this room [at 1 Cambridge Center] Friday. Wed didn't nail all the issues. SJ and I had an all-too-radical proposal that Kim and Walter were not too happy about. We wanted them to directly feed into the developer program so they'd get free laptops from Chicago and repair them. It was decided that SJ and I were too radical; they want to keep it separate. It'll use a new database request system that OLPC Austria is putting together. They're organized much better. Triage and requests go to four people. Nikki looked Walter in the eye and said "why weren't my emails responded to?" and he didn't have a response. If we have more eyes on it, like volunteer, like RT but not ... we'll get up to 250 development machines per month, once we have them on the production lines again. Until then, I guess if there was a conclusion we'll start with two large repair centers, one in Chicago and one at Olin [the Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering]. There's a desire from Kim's side for very basic legal agreement, stuff like no selling on eBay. If you're getting seed stock of initial machines, you might wanna update OLPC on how they were broken. They were in Chicago sitting there, 500? 300 today? I think Kim is going to make a trip to Chicago with me and find machines that are fine and just need a quick reflashing. That's probably around half of the machines there ... who knows? But there's a great number that are A-okay; ones that need more than 5 to 10 minutes of work will go to repair centers.

Richard Smith: When you say they need updates, is that the repair centers, they need to report back--that should be a requirement, not a suggestion. The only way we know something's chronic is to get it from these repairs ... if 15% of the laptops getting returned have sticky keyboards, we need to know.

Adam Holt: That's the dream. There was supposed to be something yesterday, a rudimentary agreement, a standard social contract, not signed in blood or anything. Each repair center is going to report to a standard website how they fixed each machine they got. In a sense it's a gift that you're getting a machine worth $200, but the deal is that you've got to do something in return. As a side story, these two universities, this may climb up to 200? Maybe just ten. They will act like businesses or nonprofits and we don't know just what they're going up to. But shipping the laptops, not upsetting the donors, is important. As we all know, there's lots of enthusiasm, but it's hard to ship and track large numbers of machines. Mel Chua is drafting those contracts later tonight with Nikki [Lee]. I don't want to have Olin take all 500, that'd be a big responsibility.

Phil Bordelon: Mel said that she's going to work on it later tonight.

Adam Holt: Good.

Are these computers the same as or in addition to the ones funded by G1G1?

CAMBRIDGE, Mass.--(Business Wire)--One Laptop per Child (OLPC), a non-profit organization focused on providing educational tools to help children in developing countries
"learn learning," announced today the results of its Give One Get One
campaign that ran from November 12 through December 31, 2007 in the
United States and Canada. In total, the campaign raised $35 million
and more than 100,000 XO laptops are already in the process of being
distributed to children in Afghanistan, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Haiti,
Mongolia and Rwanda.

"We are extremely grateful to everyone who participated in our
giving campaign," said Nicholas Negroponte, founder and chairman of
One Laptop per Child. "The generous response was overwhelming and
significantly helps us move forward our mission of getting laptops
into the hands of as many underprivileged children as possible. Give
One Get One also quickly broadened the global community of XO laptop
users and we're already getting lots of feedback and creative input
about ways to improve the laptop even further."

In addition to making it possible to seed the launch of programs
in a number of countries, the Give One Get One campaign greatly
expanded community participation in the project. The community has
already jumped in to help: the level of activity in OLPC forums, chat
rooms, email lists and wiki has risen dramatically. Give One Get One
participants have asked lots of questions - and have uncovered some
new bugs - but they also have lots of answers and have submitted some
new software patches. The community model is scaling.

I would like to forward this page to a friend who sits with her young grandson. Or if I can't, maybe you could: wdougherty@indy.rr.com
I have already written to you for an address where I can mail my G1G1 XO.
I have discussed this enterprise with my friend, as she is a retired teacher herself. Best wishes to all the children in the Carribean.

Hi folks,

Many are asking whether these Haitian laptops were supposed to be G1G1 donation laptops. FYI, we didn't have a hard commitment from them on Haiti.

Haiti came up very quickly for us. We were there in January, and afterwards, we had talks with OLPC to potentially receive some the 1000 laptops allocated for Haiti in February, but then they went to Haiti and we haven't heard back yet. Our trip was already scheduled before our talks with OLPC, which is why we're proceeding with the pilot anyway.


May I suggest you contact some of the ebay sellers-you would likely have to overbid the highest bid to date but the ones that are 6 or so days put might be willing to sell their's at cost if they were part of your program. There is also a feature on ebay where you can post something you are looking for and what you are willing to pay. This might allow you to buy them at cost!

Just to clarify Tim's explanation, when he says "but then they went to Haiti and we haven't heard back yet," he is referring to OLPC staff who he talked with and who went to Haiti independent of Waveplace, not a separate thousand laptop shipment.

spt on: children doesn't need "teachers", they need true mentors, ones that will teach and inspire. And OLPC should not be in the business of creating or finding those mentors, but on providing tools for foundations like waveplace with big ideas and energy.

Hi everyone,

An update on our quest ... over the weekend, we've received eleven donated laptops (three from OLPC News readers) from G1G1 recipients and have managed to buy twelve on Ebay.

If we get one more donated laptop, we'll reach our goal of 24 for our trip this weekend. Even better, the donated laptops even out the Ebay prices to make each laptop cost an even $200 apiece.

If you have a laptop you'd like to donate, contact us at http://waveplace.com/contact. Any past the 24 will go towards our pilot in St Vincent next month.

Thanks again,

p.s. Alexandre, I agree with you!

Hay! I see what you did there, "Thomas". You are a spambot! No cookie for you!

Hi Everyone,

We are from Dawis Kinderhome, Inc., an NGO here in Bacolod City, Philippines. We are currently catering 100 less fortunate children from the remote areas in the city every year at the same time help their respective families uplift them from poverty level.

But we believe that education could help this children attain their aspirations in life however, we are facing difficulty in providing needed education because of lack of educational materials.

We believe that this children are academically competitive but only lack of logistics to rely on.

We are hoping that we could be partners to help this children attain a brighter future.

May God continue to bless your organization and those people who continue to help the needing children.

Thank you very much and more power.

(sgd) Jerome S. Galunan Jr.
DKI-Project Administrator

We now have a Haiti Waveplace Foundation update:

The next day we handed out seventeen XOs to students in the John Branchizio School (including Jessie, the little girl in the first video). Once I started shooting and Emile began teaching the introductory lesson, everyone was on their own, especially as I don't speak French or Creole.

It was amazing watching the kids boot up their laptops and name them, knowing that for most of them, this was the first time they'd even seen a computer. It was also quite inspiring watching the adults working with the kids, themselves also with very limited computer experience.


Are you people coming to Jamaica soon?

We have a few XO's that kind of buzz out. Sometimes the keypad goes quirky. Still rebooting works most of the time. When the cursor gets a mind of it's own it's a diff
errent story. We work within the parameters we perceive. Thank you all for your unfailing work. At the end of the day it makes real hearts smile. Thank you.