The next few posts will be about One Laptop per Child (OLPC) XO deployments in two South Pacific locations: two sites in Papua New Guinea and a third in The Solomon Islands.
I’m interested in the energy/power issues faced in these locations, and how each school is addressing it. Trainings, of both the technology itself, and for teachers, in how to incorporate this new technology into their teaching, are of great interest to me, as is the question of community involvement/buy-in. I also aim to find out what the goals of the projects are, and how they aim to measure and evaluate the outcomes and results of the projects—always easier said than done in an educational context.
These topics came to the forefront for me as I carried out fieldwork and visited OLPC deployments in Senegal last summer (August 2009) and in Haiti last fall (November, 2009).
(The top two pictures are from Senegal; bottom two from Haiti)
I’ll also be leading a team-driven, project-based course this fall, at Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago, where my class will be teaming up with the OLPC project team in Haiti, a group of students based at San Jose State University, a social enterprise San Francisco-based company, Green Wi-Fi, and a group of Haitian university engineering students. Our semester goal is to design and build two model schools in Lascahobas, in terms of solar power, laptop charging capabilities, and laptop content development, all of which can all be replicated and applied across other schools in the country as the OLPC project scales.
Scaling and replicability are big issues in this area—ICT4D, and I’m hoping to learn from these deployments in the South Pacific, not only what’s working and which challenges they’re facing, but also what may be carried over to other similar ICT-in-education deployments, in Haiti and elsewhere.
After spending two months in Macedonia last year (April-May, 2009) doing research on their groundbreaking nation-wide computers in the schools deployment, I gained a great deal of insight on how there is room for improvement even when a project has a clear plan and goals, an outstanding teacher-training program, and more-than-sufficient infrastructure and human capacity. Deployments that take place under severely constrained conditions—particularly in terms of infrastructural challenges—start off with even greater obstacles. However, there must be commonalities and similarities that can be learned from like-minded deployments, no matter the location. These posts will explore such possibilities: sharing lessons learned and good practices gleaned on-site, and then taking that next step: to apply this knowledge elsewhere, where it’s needed.