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OLPC Summit SF 2012 October 29, 2012

OLPC Community Summit took place in SF in October 19-21. Read Nancie’s blog post about it:

G1G1, Change Lives & Change Your Life“We were staying out in Bolinas at the Kleider’s lovely home. When I say we, I mention that there were 8 of us spending the weekend there and 15 or more staying over on Sunday night after the lovely and lively End of Summit Party. 15 house guests and who knows how many party attendees? That’s a lot of food and a lot of work! June and Alex, & Tanya and Mike’s gracious hospitality included comfy accommodations and gourmet meals in a gorgeous relaxing setting. And Alex, the van “captain” for the 1 hour commute to downtown SF, took us on some of the most scenic roads in the area. For the Kleider’s, this was their 3rd year hosting. I know we all share in my sincere thanks.

This is the third year of the Summit. OLPC-SF http://wiki.sugarlabs.org/go/Sugarcamp_SF_2012#Photos  OLPC San Francisco, a volunteer group, dreamed up, planned and sponsored this event, partnering with San Francisco State University which generously hosted our event. The work of Professor Sameer Verma of the SFSU Business School enables the continued sponsorship of this event by SFSU and its student volunteers. Together with members of OLPC-SF, they ran a top-notch event.

The conference began on Friday evening with a meet and greet. Saturday and Sunday there were full days of sessions presented in one of three tracks, Education, Outreach and Technology, and included presentations from OLPC Boston and Miami folks also. Sameer - Thanks for all you do!

A highlight was on Sunday when we heard about the latest stories and data from “The Reading Project.” This is the famous recent “helicopter tablet drop” project in Ethiopia. Nicholas Negroponte still posits that children can figure everything out and learn how to learn without teachers. His plan to drop tablets into a community without prior exposure to any technology, and without instruction on how to use them, to see whether the kids in an illiterate village can learn to read on their own is a bold one. For its experiment, OLPC chose the Motorola Xoom Android Tablet (a touch screen) and loaded it with apps, both free and proprietary. 20 kids each in 2 remote Ethiopian villages received Xoom Tablets. One of the interesting things  about this project is that the tablets have an SD data card included and the “sneakernet” team of 2 visits the sites once a week to swap out the data cards. The cards are Fed Ex’d to the Cambridge office team for analysis. How much arer the tablets being used? Constantly. What are the children doing with them? Are they learning to read upside down or right side up? We had a fascinating glimpse and we await the rest of the story as it plays out.

The OLPC XO-4 About The Learning Project, Ethiopiawith the touchscreen was available to see. We hear that it will be available perhaps in January, 2013. We learned that the Sugar Activities need to be modified to work with touch, but it has an on screen keyboard that pops up for use when text boxes appear.

I have a better understanding of how a school server can be designed and installed, and how content can be customized for installation on multiple XOs, very useful in larger projects and in projects localized in languages other than English. We heard about things that work well on all fronts, and we thoughtfully discuss obstacles and problem solving. Always in the forefront is discussion of the future of OLPC, the future of olpc, e.g., the role of the global grassroots volunteer community, and the mission to provide access to education to the millions of children worldwide who are still without any schools, teachers or formal learning means. With very few exceptions, this incredible global and usually online community works tirelessly without pay and we each pay our own expenses for equipment to improve the XO as a learning tool, and for travel to meetings and for our site work.

On Monday the Sugar Hacking Sprint began and continued through Wednesday. The list of topics to be addressed was ambitious and I am anxious to see the products of the continued volunteer efforts this week.  As always, the story is in the photos! Huge thanks to Sameer, June and Alex and family, SFSU, and the members of OLPC-SF for all of your hard work and for the wonderful OLPC-SF Summit 2012!”

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