A fantastic two part interview with Ian Thomson (works for the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, and is in charge of the OLPC deployments in the Pacific) and Michael Hutak (OLPC Director, Oceania). OLPC Friends supports all the awesome work happening in the Pacific and hopes to be able to assist with knowledge, volunteers, support and more.
They talk about what is happening in the various countries, and the challenges of meeting the needs of the Pacific, specifically PNG where the country has committed to every child receiving an OLPC. Awesome work Michael and Ian!
And another Sydney-based champion is Pia Waugh, an expert on open source who has just launched a local organisation called OLPC Friends which is focussing on community development in the region and building a community of practice for tech developers, users, and teachers
I think this describes OLPC Friends quite nicely. Thanks Ian and Michael!
This is a general call for anyone interested in volunteering to help with OLPC deployments to remote areas in PNG (Papua New Guinea). There is a lot of information on the progress of trials throughout the Pacific including PNG here. Flights and accommodation are intended on being provided and volunteers should be prepared to work hard and also have an amazing experience! I personally volunteered for a week in Niue (Pacific) and had an incredible time that was also really satisfying to help all the children there.
You would be working with David Leeming and Ian Thomson from SPC, who are wonderful, and they have a lot of experience rolling out OLPC throughout the Pacific in line with the cultural, education and other needs of the communities there.
You can also get more OLPC related resources including forums and mailing lists from the OLPC Friends website. Remember, it is a growing community driven organisation, so put your boots on and help out 🙂
In late July I was very privileged to help roll out the world’s first 100% saturation of OLPC XOs to the country of Niue, in the Pacific near New Zealand. There are around 400 students, and every single one got a laptop! I was in charge of the server/wireless infrastructure, and the imaging of the laptops as well as technical training for the people there on the ground. I worked closely with Ian Thomson who coordinated it (from SPC) and Grisel Carriera, a education specialist from Australia. Grisel and I were volunteers for the project, and Ian/Grisel between them basically coordinated the teacher training.
I thought I’d write up a few notes about the project, although most of the details are on the OLPC Niue wiki page. Basically I spent a week setting up the (currently) fairly beta XS software on the server, setting up a WDS wireless network (to get network connectivity for the XOs throughout the entire two schools without an extensive wired LAN) and a few additions to the XS software such as Moodle (which will soon be integrated) and some great locally relevant education resources pulled together by David Leeming who is working with Ian in the Pacific OLPC deployments. I used the XO 703 image with about 30 applications including Speak, Cartoon Builder, Flipsticks, Colors, Scratch, Ruler, Stopwatch, Wikibrowse (v9 as v10 is all Spanish!) and Sudoku, as well as all the default applications in the activity pack. They worked really well!
Check out some photos below! One of the schools was a primary school, and one a high school, and I believe the primary school will gain the most benefit, but it will be an interesting experiment how the high school goes with them. Ultimately in Australia we will only be looking at primary schools, because they aren’t really made for high schools.
If anyone wants to volunteer for these kinds of projects specifically in the next month or two, please drop me an email at pia dot waugh at olpc dot org dot au with when you are available, your interests and skills, as Ian and David need more volunteers for Pacific based projects 🙂 For people able to volunteer in the medium to long term, there will soon be a rego system available.