Please Get Us Curricular Content: Part 1 of 2

   
   
   
   
   

Curricular content is the stuff teachers yap about and you are supposed to learn as you go through your mandated term in school.

There's "good" jobs and there's "bad" jobs.

It is natural and normal for people to want to get a "good" job, like becoming a lawyer, doctor, or at the very least a teacher or a policeman. Given actually having a choice, it is highly unlikely that any kid, anywhere in the world, willingly opts for a lifetime of digging holes, or cleaning latrines, or prostitution.

There is an established path to the "good" jobs. Beyond inherited wealth and power, race and outside of the vagaries of the life politic, some sort of a university degree is required and expected to be part of the entrance requirement to a life of higher income - especially if you were born in the wrong part of town, or continent.

UKhartoum.jpg
will a diploma from the Khartoum
University open the right doors for you?

Universities tend to be darn particular about setting up a quality obstacle course before they hand you that piece of heavy paper with curlicued lettering, especially those whose piece of paper is valued more highly than the pieces of paper given by others.

This involves following directions, memorizing, reading (a lot) what you were assigned and commenting on it, in writing. There may come a moment when your initiative and creativity is welcome, but that could take a big while, if ever. Even when they send you to do "research", that is actually a trick question, the expectation is that you will clearly end up with some pre-determined result.

You see, there is a sort of a hierarchy, a club, with certain requisites that become rites of passage that you better not miss or question. And you cannot even come to the university if you haven't gone through certain other hoops before. University comes as more years of hard labor, added "for good behavior" to the already 12 years of sitting inside a crowded room that you were sentenced to for being a kid.

Yes, certainly, many think this is not the best way to produce the managerial class for the 21st century. It is often said that decision makers should be flexible, open to new ideas, as much as possible outside the box, not following precedent except where that is what their boss wants them to do.

UT.jpg
do y'all want a University of
Texas diploma?

The OLPC executives and its Learning Team seem to see that it is time we were done with those hoops. Which is a fine idea, except that it won't work. At least for a couple generations, probably more.

Universities are changing, but this mostly means raising their fees out of all reason. They remain as vigilant as ever to what they expect of their students, regarding what they consider "performance".

They want reliability and results, and compliance. That is, once a student has been given a task, he will stick to it and complete it, in the given amount of time, and formatted in a specific way.

They want a certain basic level of what they call knowledge.

While they seem to be of one voice in complaining about the lowering quality of incoming students, it is somewhat obvious that Mandatory, one-size-fits-all elementary education is in the books pretty much everywhere... While educators and paedagogues everywhere are telling us that "teaching to the test" is evil.

No more exams for Rwanda?

Some volunteers, OLPC executives, the OLPC Learning Team and OLPCorps, as far as we know, say they support an educational model of individual exploration and creativity, using the XO laptop. There is no evidence they support curricular content.

Curricular content is what goes into tests and exams - tests and exams in most places couldn't care less about personal initiative.

Yes, it is possible to evaluate, measure and grade individual exploration, but usually this is sort of a contradiction - like, if any answer is valid, what is the point of having a test in the first place? of having grades? It also requires highly skilled teachers to build and develop initiative, the very kind we don't have enough. Will we change the rules, or will be in denial that those rules exist? The former is unlikely, the later is apparently the way we're going. What remains is facing reality, and doing the best we can while not lying to ourselves or to the kids.

Bottom line is that education using the XO, if done the OLPC official way, is at best designed to be marginally connected to curricular, classroom content and the actual expectations of teachers, parents, and the education system. To integrate the XO to the classroom, today, requires substantial investment and work, which has been available but routed elsewhere. Some exceptional teachers and volunteers are doing some of this effort, but so far with no official support, not from OLPC, not from those who follow OLPC's official party line, be it in Uruguay, Peru, Rwanda ...

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38 Comments

Negroponte, unlike most of his supporters, is well aware of the realities you describe in your post. He is not, however, about to address the need for curricular content or, in more general terms, how to successfully integrate the XO into classroom life. And the reason is quite simple: education is a very complex, serious endeavour that goes well beyond ownership of brand-new electronic gadget. In fact, Negroponte has tried his ideas before - using Apple computers in a New York City project - with disastrous results. He knows that computers are a very inneffective tool in the hands of elementary school kids, because they don't have the knowledge necessary to separate the good from the bad information, both of which are abundant in the online world.

Making a computer is the easy part - and Negroponte has failed at it (remember the features that were suppossed to distinguish the XO from the rest? none of them, with the exception of the display, ever materialized or worked flawlessly).

Can you see why he is so reluctant to even address the difficult part - education?

Irvin,

You definitely sound like you were involved in/burned by Negroponte's NYcity's Apple project.

Is that why you hate him enough to spend years slandering him on OLPCnews?

If you have such personal experiences it would be only "moral" to inform us about them.

Winter

Winter writes:

"You definitely sound like you were involved in/burned by Negroponte's NYcity's Apple project. Is that why you hate him enough to spend years slandering him on OLPCnews?"


wrong again, winter.

I was not burned by Negroponte. People like him can't burn people like me. That's why he is only selling his "laptop" to banana republics only.

Lastly, telling it like it is is not slander. It's called "telling the truth", a concept you're not very familiar with.

As always, I'll let you have the last word. :-)

@Irvin:
"I was not burned by Negroponte."

So you were indeed involved in the NYcity Apple project.

Please tell us of your experiences using computers in class.

Winter

Winter wrote:

"So you were indeed involved in the NYcity Apple project. Please tell us of your experiences using computers in class."

Wrong again, Winter.

I was not involved with any Negroponte Project, ever. As I said before, he can't fool people like me...

Wanna try some other childish argument? :-)

@Irvin:
"I was not involved with any Negroponte Project, ever."

So why didn't you say so earlier?

Winter

Yama,

For better or worse, education does have two (and a half) aims. The half is keeping children off the street. This day-care function is evident in the proliferation of "summer camps/schools" in times children have a vacation.

The other two, which do hold in the developing world are:
1 Teaching marketable skills
2 Socialization

The talk of many national educational institutions about "personal development" really is little more than propaganda in my eyes.

The socialization part is hardly ever more than "reliability and results, and compliance." It always includes political and religious compliance in one form or another.

The test-culture in education is as much testing marketable skills as compliance.

Looking at it this way immediately exposes the insoluble problem:
There is NO way at all, that a foreign entity can produce a curriculum that at the same time produces skills the local market requires AND instills the expected level of social, religious, and political compliance.

Take some village in the Andes. You would know about these people. I am speculating here:
- These people have Inca roots?
- Spanish is their second language?
- They are fiercely Catholic?
- With a lot of non-Spanish influences?
- The are subsistence farmers? (growing coca leaves?)

I simply cannot see how a Boston MA non-profit can write them a useful curriculum.

And, obviously, these people from the Andes differ in everything from people living in the Brazilian favelas. Or people from the Peruvian fisher villages. And then we did not even go into Nepal and Rwanda.

I think the only productive way to get content is for the local people (eg, their MoEdu) to compile it. And as the cost of a curriculum is all manual labor, this should be much less expensive than having some MIT post-graduate trying it.

Winter

You couldn't be right-er, Winter: "I simply cannot see how a Boston MA non-profit can write them a useful curriculum."

Now, if the said non-profit would actually encourage that such a curriculum is put together, we would all be in the same page.

As things stand, those Boston types and their hired consultants still believe the web 1.0 Internet will fill the gap - because (?) it *seems* it might obviate the actual hard work of put together localized, up-to-date, useful curriculum that is at least as good as what they have now, but actually could be even better.

It is not an easy task. But it is made all the harder because those who speak "officially" for this project do not seem to realize, yet, that, one, web 1.0 and its portals never worked for education, two, constructivism doesn't work, actual content is needed, and three, success of this project *is* possible, beyond everybody's dreams, if we listen to what people need.

Deep down the problem is there - listening, and responding. If that were part of the project, boy, we would be a force that could really transform the world, bring real sense of the power of the people, putting their effort together. Still has to happen, and you know far well that we are closer to get that done through our own independent efforts than by relying in those experts' opinions.

"Take some village in the Andes. You would know about these people. I am speculating here:
- These people have Inca roots?
- Spanish is their second language?
- They are fiercely Catholic?
- With a lot of non-Spanish influences?
- The are subsistence farmers? (growing coca leaves?)

I simply cannot see how a Boston MA non-profit can benefit them by selling them an under-powered, expensive computer that does not work as advertised and cannot, in any way, improve their education.

These people need what every other person needs in more advanced nations: schools and teachers. That's how they do it the world's leading nations: USA, Israel, Germany, Canada, Switzerland, Sweden, Singapore, China, india, Japan, etc., etc.

That's how it gets done: with schools and teachers.

Leave the experiments to Negroponte and his students. Real people need real solutions.

This article is a _disaster_ and is heavily inaccurate.

"There is no evidence they support curricular content."

Exactly _what_ research have you done Yama? Please show us.

The line above is the heart of your article and you have shown _no evidence whatsoever_ to back it.

Yes, we support, encourage and promote social constructivism. No doubt about it.

But we also make sure a wide range of types of activity and of content is available. We make sure a wide range of approaches are possible with the XO. There is a huge effort in getting conventional curriculum content on the XO -- a good part of the non-technical team @ olpc is involved in this, and you often see related discusison in the olpc-library list.

JG did a lot for us on that track and SJ is definitely a key actor there. I am often involved in it, as it is hosted or served by Moodle or other components in the XS. Some of those efforts aren't complete yet, but there is a lot of work put into it.

"if done the OLPC official way"

There is _no_ such thing. There are things we propose, promote, encourage. And we work with countries to help them build somthing that works for them.

If you did a minimum of research and looked for example at the Peru images, or the Uruguay OS images, you would see local content. And the local MoE has it very easy to make more curricular content available for the XOs -- in XO-targetted ebooks, actixities, or just websites/webpages tested to work well on the XO.

Yama:

-Do you care if what you write is correct, factual, accurate? How exactly have you fact-checked this article?

- Do you care if you misinform? You are accusing OLPC of lots of things _that are just in your imagination_.

Most of your readers will take your article at face value -- you are doing a lot of damage with this. Please do the right thing: add a note to the main article, indicating that the author is _mistaken_ and does not consider pretty important facts, and has not bothered to check with anyone who actually knows.

So for example, to show you a _very basic_ technique in research, we'll try searching google for "curricular content" within wiki.laptop.org

Try this link:
http://www.google.be/search?q=site%3Awiki.laptop.org+curricular+content

As of today, the 2nd and 3rd links are to the Ulanbataar deployment page, and the Arahuay deployment page.

If you open the search a bit, like this:
http://www.google.be/search?hl=en&q=site%3Alaptop.org+curricular+content

you'll find some further bits of content.

Other strategies you can try is

- Checking the materials from the deployments. Hey, is that a ton of curricular content in the Ceibal website?
http://ceibalflorida.blogspot.com/2008/11/trabajando-con-contenidos-del-portal.html

- Checkign the OS images we build for each country. Do they have content? Umm!

- Asking the relevant people, if people are busy, ask nicely on a mailing list.

Just some ideas. Do what is right: stop the FUD about OLPC.

OLPCNews editors -- you should be ashamed of yourselves: every time I read the headlines here there is an article FUDding to death with stupidities that take just one quick search to debunk.

It's not even hard.

Martin,

You should be ashamed of your rebuttal. You say search the OLPC wiki. Yama has done that, I just did it. The first result for "curricular content" gives us this opening line:

"OLPC is in the process of compiling an educational Content repository-- that is, a collection of software, texts, and other materials that will be available to users of OLPC laptops."

In the process? Three years in? Really now! You want us to be satisfied that you're willing to "offer ideas and suggestions for materials to be included in the repository" rather than having a full, thought out repository already?

It is OLPC that should be ashamed that they did not start with content, then think about hardware, software and everything else. For an empty laptop is useless, no matter how hot the technology or great its intentions.

What ever happened to a Library of Alexandria of content and curriculum? Or was that too FUD?

Wayan,

in your reply you indicate that there _is_ evidence of ourwork on curriculum. Maybe not successful yet. Back to the heart of Yama's article:

"There is no evidence they support curricular content."

_The article is FUD_. You guys may think it's fun to collect ad impressions while smearing the work of others. This is damaging.

Martin,

Saying "we'll work on something" is not the same as "we've worked on something, here it is".

I had a couple meetings this evening, and while going and coming I got time to reflect.

Let me put a couple things on the record again. I admire the OLPC project. The XO is a brilliant piece of hardware. The people that put this together are brilliant. Martin Langhoff has shown many times how much he cares.
I wish hard-core supporters of the OLPC, be they current or former employees, also saw the good intentions that people in this blog have, even Irvin, who might be nasty at times but is still with us, and we need him. And we need Martin, and whether he likes me, he needs me and people like me who will see things differently.

While we all are thankful to those who sent millions of dollars to OLPC, we should be also thankful to those who "look under the hood", who see this as what it is really: still an experiment, still VERY much to be improved, and not just in terms of hardware. People who see the problems, and hopefully also see solutions, and move, and get solutions going. A herd of cats sometimes, but then the rats gotta be taken care of.
I personally am among the few who do not think that the XO 1.5 or the XO 2 are the kind of improvement we need. In my opinion, côté hardware, let's iron out all the bugs and kinks out of the XO 1, let's lower its price so that it can be given away with Happy Meals, but more than anything, let's make it useful, actually, in the classroom and outside.

That is where the "curriculum content" comes in - more details in part 2 of this saga. Yes, some great people, Walter Bender, Ed Cherlin among them, people I have a lot of respect for, also believe that constructivism is the way. I respectfully disagree. We have debated it more than once. We have each our decent chance to gather support for our views. And I am not sure about them, but as to myself I see our visions as complementary, maybe theirs is the higher road and the best long term - I submit it is not what we need NOW, what Uruguay, Peru or Mongolia needs NOW. that we should worry about what teachers want, we should listen to them, we should observe them as they use the XO - or not use it, which seems more the reality so far. Maybe some people think that the way it is being used, disconnected with the classroom, for games and MP3 and such, is OK. I say, let them be allowed their opinion. It is not the way this thing is being "sold" and advertised. Parents, governments, teachers are being told that this will be used in the classroom, but facts are that there is a lack of a vision toward curriculum content, a priority given to what can be used daily in the classroom in a painless way. Please, don't think that you or anybody can get away with *adding* work to the teacher's already overworked schedule.
A Library of Resources? even if it existed, it won't work. Teachers need stuff they can use off the bat, key-in-hand, grade-appropriate, localized, which includes it being culturally appropriate as well as translated. Not the jungle of the internet or wikipedia. Those are fine reference materials, enrichment, etc, but they are not curriculum content.

Easy? no. Expensive? Maybe, if done the usual way, consultants, etc. Actually, it can be chicken feed, the entire curricula of K-12 lesson materials could be developed for any single locale at an initial cost of about $800.000 dollars. After that, adapting it to other locales would be a fraction. Stuff that actually would get both Winter and Irvin happy, and who knows, even Martin might like it. The centerpiece, though, is non-negotiable. It is to listen and hear what the parents and teachers want, and act accordingly. That is what has mostly been missing so far. Yes, we all have great intentions, but reality starts with doing what people want done, maybe, hopefully, better than they thought it could be, so we have added value, not just more of the same, and we can really go back to call this the greatest educational project of out generation.

"Or maybe you can proclaim with pride that I am right in what I say, you are not doing curricular content, and that is a Good Thing because you are doing social constructivism instead."

Yama, you are not reading my reply. We may encourage people to try social constructivism but we embrace lots of practices.

Lots of instructional, curricular based practices.

Did you notice that one of the _central elements of the XO is the ebook reader_? And that there are talks of making it support interactive content? What would that be for?

You might admire the project, but you don't stop one second before claiming random things that are not backed by fact.

Facts:

- We don't dictate social constructivism, we encourage it as part of a mix of teaching strategies. As rule, it is safe to assume we do not dictate anything :-)

- We don't create local curriculum materials, we provide tools and encourage local deployments to include existing materials, and to create new materials.

it might be the links you have point to different stuff when used outside of BE, I don't see Ulanbataar or Arahuay among the early Goolge results, sorry. Could you provide direct links, please?

As to the Ceibal link, man, you got me by where it hurts. A memorize activity to associate definitions for geometry with corresponding clues, definitely qualifies as curriculum content. That is, indeed, proof of age-appropriate, classroom stuff (though silly for real life, but we agree that is not the point, yes? - how many regular polyhedrons there are is sort of the yap yap we're talking about). OK, le'ssee, 200 school days per year, 5 classes per day, hmmm, a thousand per grade. 6 grades. 6 thousand class periods. We got ready-to-use content for how many of those?
10? maybe in our wildest imaginations, 50? 1%, best case scenario? Once every two weeks, a school class subject actually has a ready-to-use activity?

Yes, I am following with great cariño (love) every time I hear of some valiant, out-of-the-box teacher somewhere who, against precedent and in spite of the lack of support for it, does achieve a snippet in this sense. A few are doing it.

So, to be precise in this age of precision, folks, there *is*, indeed, "too little of, if any" curriculum content out there. "none" is a big word, easy to misuse. I apologise. I would edit it but then we would have missed this exchange of opinions.

At this rate, we'll be done ca. 2020.

Happy now, Martin?

:-(

Unless, of course, policies from up high do change, or we manage to get this running differently. More about this, in part 2.

Thanks! It does make me a bit happier. As you say, nothing is a big word to use.

Our progress has been modest on some front? Sure! Are we rowing hard? Hell yeah.

"At this rate, we'll be done ca. 2020"

Exactly, but you write that as if it were defeat. If we get content, laptops/ebooks/whatever, connectivity and sw designed for education (and foss), to say 10% of the children by 2020, I'd call that a huge success.

My quick numbers (based on Wikipedia page on world population) are that of 6 Billion, 27% are below 15 years of age, so that is 1.6 Billion ("US Billions", that is -- thousands of millions, unlike in Spanish). So a 10% would be... 160 Million.

Wow. We've built over 1 million laptops -- logistics are hard so most but not all are in the hands of kids. In 10 years, that's pretty doable, and sure makes me happy today.

And it will get easier (and probably progress faster) with time. But yes, a lot of what we do is measured in decades.

And even if we "fail" and work at a smaller scale... do we really fail? Do you fail as a teacher because your class size is not thousands? Of course you don't. If you are an inspiring teacher, if they learn about curricula and about life with you, you can be happy that your time with them has been a success.

"Yes, we support, encourage and promote social constructivism. No doubt about it."

tell us, Martin, what does "social constructivism" have to do with curricular content?

Curricular content, Martin, is "the stuff teachers yap about and you are supposed to learn as you go through your mandated term in school", first line of the article. A lot of blah blah, I agree with you, maybe no good. *But that is what they grade kids on.* That is what opens doors to the University, and scholarships. Maybe social constructivism is better - no way to know, as there seems to be an agreement that no one has seen s.c. in action yet.

If you want to criticize my article as inaccurate, do prove, please, that y'all are doing curricular content (which I am saying that you are not).
Give us a couple links or curricular content. Show us actual classroom activities that actual, real flesh-and-blood teachers that are using in their real, solid-matter classrooms with children that are not just present in some well-intentioned Boston academic group imagination.

Or maybe you can proclaim with pride that I am right in what I say, you are not doing curricular content, and that is a Good Thing because you are doing social constructivism instead.

But saying that s.c is a.c, I'm sorry, ain't the same. I'm talking there's no apples, and you say there's plenty herrings.

BTW, it's Profesor de Geografía IPA, Maestro Yamandú, Diplômé Superieur de Langue et Littérature, if we're going to go into background, over 15 years teaching, do I /know/ curricular content when I see it, or in this case, when I don't.

Ah, I love the smell of a heated argument in the morning... ;-)

If OLPC is involved with developing curricular content then it's indeed doing an extremely bad job of making that work known.

Martin, you point to the library mailing-list and the work done by the learning team which is apparently involved in these efforts. Yet, in the past 6 months the library mailing list has hardly seen more than a handful of e-mails per month and none of them were too noteworthy IMHO.

As far as the learning team is concerned it's by no means easy to find out just what exactly it's working on, trust me, I've tried.

[Educators] (http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Educators) which I'd consider the entry-page for anyone interested has seen some activity in mid-July as part of OLPCorps efforts but otherwise the site is pretty quiet and the content there leaves much to be desired. Oh, and I can't really find any curricula content there.

Furthermore, looking at the "OLPC Learning Guide" (http://wiki.laptop.org/images/9/9a/Learning_Manual.pdf), and in particular page 3 of it, it seems pretty clear to me that OLPC is focused on learning with the help of (a) activities and (b) digital libraries of books. I don't see any mention of interactive, digital learning content there.

Last but not least the learning team's official Web presence at http://learning.laptop.org is pretty anemic when you look at the number of "stories", "documents" and "projects" available there.

To cut a long story short: I think Yama's got a good point here because from where I'm standing it's indeed very hard to tell whether OLPC supports curricula content (as opposed to random collections of freely available materials such as listed on http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Educational_content_ideas) in any meaningful way.

One of the points Yama makes is that OLPC could be creating curriculum materials.

What experience in creating curriculum materials for primary schools do you have? Have you spoken with people familiar with the process?

I have worked in that exact field, working closely with teachers, graphic artists and writers. Done this in various countries, and in fact, in two notable projects that tried to build the same curricular content for more than one locale.

In one project, the locales were very related -- states of the same country. In the other, very different ethnic groups within the same country (that coexist very happily, but have different language, identity and stories).

Won't bore you with a long story. But you must know: it is a _very_ complex subject.

Just as a hint: if you think it through, you will realise that the first headline right here in OLPCNews if OLPC tried to do what you are proposing would include the term "cultural imperialism".

*Think*. Be responsible when you write. Edit your articles. Stop the FUD.

Just as a hint: if you think it through, you will realise that the first headline right here in OLPCNews if OLPC tried to do what you are proposing would include the term "cultural imperialism".

I am usually the first to yell Cultural Imperialism - and believe me - if OLPC actually put its muscle on projects like Karma, e-paath, etc - I would be really happy.

I reserve my Cultural Imperialism shouts to the times when non-free contents are proposed.

"because from where I'm standing it's indeed very hard to tell..."

You didn't do any research, you are uneducated public. So Yama writes an article, so for that he has the option: he researches or he writes from the gut.

If he writes from the gut, he is spreading misinformation. This is what we got here and now.

If he researches, he will write an informative, balanced piece. *This* is the one I want. It won't have outlandish outrageous claims. Less spectacular, sure.

But you guys are about information about OLPC, not about uninformed opinion, right?

Martin, with all due respect, calling people who have been involved with OLPC for two years "uneducated public" isn't the world's greatest argument to begin with.

Also, if you look at my comment you will see that I did do research and my conclusion based on it is that OLPC according to the learning team's own documentation is pushing constructivism (with the use of Sugar's activities) and pointing out available (mostly online) materials.

And while I agree that OLPC itself can't (and maybe even shouldn't - "cultural imperialism") be developing that content for schools around the globe I believe that the importance of curriculum supporting content should be emphasized and provisions made to develop, distribute and use such content within the context of OLPC. I don't really see that happening at this point.

Also please note that our "about" page clearly states that "the editors behind OLPC News are not objective reporters of the latest news. We are most definitely biased." :-)

I mean "uneducated public" in not in a negative sense (though I see how it can be read so). I mean "not having researched it yet", not informed in the topic at hand.

Actually, I probably should have written "uninformed public". Apologies.

"I don't really see that happening at this point."

Ok, right, so knowing what you know about OLPC, what could it do?

- Encourage deployments to include content? We do: proof of this is that all our major deployments _do include curricular content_. Just _check_ please. Ask the teachers. It is probably of varied quality, but that is pride or shame of each local team.

- Provide tools? We do: ebook reader, we even made a special format for "library bundles" _years_ ago. Our wiki has a page on how to make library bundles.

- Provide samples? We do: Wikipedia activity, sample 'library bundles'.

- Help the countries when building their first "library bundles", their first ebooks? Yes we do. Please ask the countries about our efforts.

Could we do more on all of these angles? Yes! But remember, we're just a very small team.

Is there evidence of our efforts? See items right above.

Do we talk about this in public? Most interviews with NN, Walter Bender and various OLPC'ers past and present talk about the ebook aspects of the XO. For easy distribution of (amongst other things) curriculum content, you'd think?

Those are all _facts_. Not opinion. Facts.

Is there anything else you would like us to do for content? That is 100% fair game -- "OLPC does a, b and c on the content front, and could do 'z' which would be a tremendous improvement because of...". Sure.

"definitely biased"

Not nice. Inform with facts, balanced writing seems a much healthier mission for OLPCNews. The way you put it sounds a bit like "regardless of fact, smear OLPC" -- I am not sure if that's what you meant.

Martin,

I am really tired of your anti-OLPCNews tirades. Once every 3-6 months you come out of the woodwork calling us FUD and misinformed, but what have you done to inform anyone, anywhere? An email now and again on a listserv ain't enough.

Why don't actually write a blog post - on any site - and let us know what you're doing.

As it is, between Yama, Christoph, and I, you have three of most informed OLPC followers outside of OLPC. If we're clueless to what you might be doing, the problem is with OLPC's lack of communication, not us.

Wayan,

this is specifically about the article ignoring facts, and stating things that are plainly wrong.

In this article I have posted several comments outlining what OLPC _does_ about content. Yama cannot say we don't do anything (but it is fair to say, we could do more).

I did the same with the article about power usage.

I would _really_ appreciate a comment in the article indicating that OLPC _does_ things about curricular content (maybe not enough, maybe not the things Yama wants us to do, etc).

Are you tired? Me too.

Here's a solution I can propose: while writing and editing, search a bit around, inform yourself on the topic you are writing about, check the facts, and make sure the article is reasonably factual (if opinionated).

The projects you write about (OLPC and others) are putting serious efforts in whatever it is they are doing. Show some respect for their efforts by doing a reasonable job reporting them.

About me writing, thanks for the invite. I write a lot on the mailing lists. And sometimes on the OLPC blog. Not much time left with all the work I have to do :-/

Martin,

For every post on OLPC News, each of us puts in several hours of research over several days. We do look around, inform ourselves and write from what we can find - a serious effort to get our story right.

However, we will always fail your knowledge test if you don't share what you're doing in a way we can understand your efforts. Just saying "look around" when you don't provide content for us to find is a cop-out.

You need to provide a more direct understanding of what you're working on. That's detailed blog posts on laptop.org, structured & current wiki pages, etc.

Unless you put effort into helping us know more and be more informed, we will continue to have these comment exchanges.

As it is, I see no need to change this post. The comments themselves point out what OLPC may or may not be doing on this topic. The whole reason we have comments open to all on this blog.

Wayan, you don't understand how OLPC and SugarLabs are handling documenting their curricular content efforts. You see they are taking a constructivist approach. The information is out there somewhere and it's your job to find it. Making it easy to find with specific instructions on how to do things would be antithetical to their theories of education.

No, it's really not that bad; but it sometimes seems that way to a (relative) outsider.
i.e. a G1G1 owner and long time reader of internal OLPC and SugarLabs mailing lists.
Which is pretty much the situation (at best) in which your average or even involved teacher would find themselves.

"Making it easy to find with specific instructions on how to do things would be antithetical to their theories of education."

:-) That's a good one! I had also assumed (in jest) that putting together the first G1G1 was another demonstration of constructivism in action. (later on I learned to my surprise that it indeed was not so far off)

Just for the record: I wish we could actually rely on constructivism. I myself am sort of highly trained in Experiential Education, but I gave up that career when I realized that it has terrible ROI and enormous training expense, thus making it unthinkable for developing countries. Besides, of course, not being something that can get people to the MIT, or even the IPA or UMSA.

I think Winter makes a good point that "the only productive way to get content is for the local people (eg, their MoEdu) to compile it" and Yama, who said, "deep down the problem is there - listening, and responding". The question then becomes, if we 'listen' to their needs, want them to 'compile it" themselves, then how do we 'respond' to that need.

I'm not sure the answer is large scale curriculum development as much as large scale development of mechanisms for professional and collegial development.
I think the problem with developing curricular content for the OLPC in the developing world is not that different from the problem of developing it on conventional machines here at home.

Every year, especially at the beginning of September, teachers are inundated by pre-packaged curriculum offers (films, software, games, etc). Most of the teachers I know just toss it out without ever reading it. Or, they go to big PD sessions where an 'expert' tells them what they should be doing, and they leave grumbling that all the suggestions were to general, and there was nothing they could "really use" in their class.

The reason is simple. Teachers aren't a blank slate. They already have full curricula, and tests/assignments they have to give. The time it takes to understand a new curricular enhancement - especially using technology - and the difficulty of fitting it into an already overloaded schedule is just too difficult. Add to that the fact that pre-fab units are rarely customized to local needs.

Then, there's also the natural inertia of teachers who are loathe to change something that is already working. Why fix it if it isn't broken?

That said, I have spent the last ten years doing exactly that kind of work: Helping teachers, especially those who are not tech savvy, incorporate digital media into their classrooms, their curriculum, and their practice. But it isn't easy or instant, and the path to new curricular development is different at each school, and with each teacher.

What does work, in my experience, is professional, collegial partnerships and initiatives that guide teachers' development. And it always seems to adhere to some basic principles:
1) Teachers need to be given an idea of the kinds of things that might be possible.
2) Participating teachers have to have a real need, either in terms of their curricular or personal professional development.
3) Teachers need ongoing support and help as they co-develop curriculum with a mentor/facilitator.

Now, this isn't always the case - obviously there are always tech whizzes and self-starters, but most teachers need a lot of collegial support and training wheels as they try something new, and in the high pressured schedule of the curriculum, risky.

That's why I think that exchanges, co-developed curriculum, blogs and one-on-one sharing is so important. Even within the state mandated curriculum that every school must adhere to, the real development of new creative lessons and units always comes down to a group of colleagues getting excited and hashing out new ideas over coffee, dinner, or a beer. The problem in development work is that very often the two parties collaborating are geographically remote from one another.

I think the challenge for OLPC, and for all of us involved in OLPC projects, is not to "provide" curriculum as much as provide and support a means to develop it. To find duplicatable structures and communication platforms (twinning schools, shared blogs, teacher exchanges, etc) that allow teachers from two diverse backgrounds and regions who, nevertheless, are excited about the idea of refreshing their curriculum, to learn from one another and to develop something new and exciting.

Hi,

This is a really interesting debate around the problem that Teachable.net is addressing - how can teachers access high-quality curriculum content to use on a laptop/netbook which takes into account varied teaching styles and cultural perspectives.

At Teachable, we believe the simple answer is 'encourage teachers to share and improve the digital resources they are already producing'. We do that through a unique system of contributor rewards, which means that teachers that bother to share (and that really is the barrier) earn money every time their file is downloaded. Plus a system of peer review and rating.

Most of the content is currently from UK science teachers, but we firmly believe the content has global relevance.

Reading through, you have all come up with points that I thoroughly agree with
1. "I think the only productive way to get content is for the local people (eg, their MoEdu) to compile it" (Winter)
2. "Teachers aren't a blank slate. They already have full curricula" (Mark)
3. "Teachers need stuff they can use off the bat, key-in-hand, grade-appropriate, localized, which includes it being culturally appropriate as well as translated. Not the jungle of the internet or wikipedia." (Yada)

You can't just point pupils to the internet and say "go learn"; teachers and home educators do need digital learning materials and they don't have the time or necessary skills (Mark's point) to make it all from scratch.

I know that this kind of initiative has been tried many times before in various countries, but I really feel that using some clever content management (i.e. allowing people to filter content by locality, style and curriculum) and more detailed reviewing (in progress) Teachable could be a cost effective way to deliver content for the OLPC project.

I'd welcome any ideas of how we can integrate our service more with your initiatives.

Edward Upton
Founder, Teachable.net

To Whom It May Concern:

My sister bought a little green laptop through the One Laptop Per Child Program for my granddaughter. We are not able to hook it up as we have misplaced the instructions for hooking to our wireless internet.

Is there a way to download the directions or receive a copy?

Thanks for your assistance.

Betty, try going to Neighborhood view (a black circle with a circle of dots inside in the top row on the laptop keyboard). This shows all wireless networks in your area. Wireless internet networks should appear as a solid circle in this view. Put the mouse over a circle to read its name. When you find the right network, click and wait for the laptop to connect. You may need to enter your network password.

El buen amigo icarito ha publicado en castellano este artículo en su blog

http://blog.fuentelibre.org/2009/08/porfavor-dennos-contenido-curricular.html

El buen amigo icarito ha publicado en castellano este artículo en su blog

http://blog.fuentelibre.org/2009/08/porfavor-dennos-contenido-curricular.html

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