Just another weblog

Open Source Educator (Part Four: Grassroots) March 2, 2011

<mchua> But the community stuff was always where my heart was.

<mchua> I love working with open source communities because they’re where the passion is – these are people who are in a project for the love of it, for the most part – not because they’re being forced to do it for a living; it’s wonderful to work with people who love what they do and really believe in it.

<polyachka> and how long did you work for OLPC?

<mchua> … complicated question. ūüôā As a full-timer, just under 4 months. Combined full-timer and intern, maybe… 8-9 months? It wasn’t continuous.

<polyachka> and after that?

<mchua> I think I still hold the record for “person who’s held the most number of official titles at OLPC.” I was a content intern, then a grassroots intern, then a QA/Support engineer…(but I also worked other places in-between my OLPC internships – I wanted to see more of the world.)

<polyachka> did you go to Red Hast right after?

<mchua> My next job after OLPC was Red Hat, yes.

<polyachka> what is grassroots intern?

<mchua> Grassroots was community-building, basically. Encouraging groups in different areas of the world to start their own little OLPC projects. You’re a student? Great, start a campus club and get some classmates to help you repair broken XO’s, that sort of thing.

<polyachka> was it hard?

<mchua> Oh, it was hard work – but again, easiest thing in the world to get people who want to do work, to do work.

<mchua> Getting things out of their way so they could do that work – that’s challenging sometimes, but everyone’s always so excited that it always feels worthwhile.

<polyachka> in what cities/countries did you do it?

<mchua> For OLPC… let’s see. A lot more happened remotely than I was able to travel to in person – I did almost all of it online.

<mchua> But physically, within the US… Bellingham and Seattle, WA – Aurora and Chicago, IL (where myself and a number of other students started up an actual office downtown – that was an adventure)

<mchua> was the Chicago office, and if you imagine a bunch of 13-22 year old kids getting together an office on their own, running community events from it, and such – that’s what we did all summer.

<mchua> Washington DC, New York, Rochester, and of course Boston.¬†Taipei, Manila… I really didn’t go to places specifically to do Sugar/OLPC stuff, I just did stuff wherever I happened to be.

<mchua> ILXO was fun; that was myself and Nikki Lee, Andrea Lai, Chris Carrick, Melanie Kim, and Mia Kato. It was a real learning experience. For us and for the local community.

<polyachka> what was it?

<mchua> That was the Chicago grassroots office.

<mchua> Well, there were all these teachers and parents who were interested – all these adults who wanted to learn about OLPC and Sugar and the XO …and we’d show up, and – for instance, once we were asked to do a workshop at a library, and Mia and Melanie volunteered to do that. So I dropped them off at the library, and they walked into the middle of this room of parents, and they started presenting.

<mchua> “Wait, how old are you?”

<mchua> “I’m 13, she’s 12.”

<mchua> It was a big role reversal for most of us, since we were used to being students taught by adults like that.

<polyachka> so right now your connection to OLPC/Sugar is projects that you get professors involved into, right?

<mchua> And yes, right now my main contribution to these projects is getting professors and their students involved in them.


Invite to E-Toys Training and Teacher Volunteer Project Boston/Haiti February 14, 2011

Dear Boston OLPC Community,

What: Class to train adults to train teachers/create content with E-Toys

E-Toys is a childrens’ programming environment used extensively around the world including Haiti with

Who:  Techies interested in education, Educators interested in technology.

We are working on a project at the Haitian Coalitian and the Clarendon Hill Apartments housing project in Somerville, and we need your help! Read on if you’re a techie, teacher, Haitian translator, or anyone else who’s interested in educational software.

The focus of this class is an educational program called eToys – I’m sure many of you have heard of it. For those of you who haven’t: eToys is a multifaceted program that is currently being used in courses in Haiti on XO laptops. With it, kids can learn basics of programming, animation, and logic, but it’s so much more than that. Waveplace has created an innovative curriculum that extends eToys to virtually every subject…math, science, social studies, even language arts.

Teach Kids in Somerville: Our goal is to run our own eToys classes for children here in Somerville. For the kids of all ethnicities at the Clarendon Hill Apartments, we want to run an eToys course on storytelling that will use a similar curriculum to that being taught in Haiti.  We have donated computers for the students to use.

Teach volunteers who will be going to Haiti this Summer: We would also like to run a series of classes for those interested in traveling to Haiti to do their own training – namely adults at CHA and possibly local high school students. That’s where Sprout comes in – we need your help to run these “train the trainer” sessions! These trainers would then bring their knowledge to Haiti to enrich childrens’ education.

Create Curriculum for Haiti: There are a good number of curriculum units available and being used in Haiti with E-Toys, but the need is extensive!  Curriculum needs to be written, turned into interactive E-Toys projects, and translated into Haitian Creole.  Somerville has a wealth of people with each of these skills. We would like your help bringing them together to provide free educational materials for children in Haiti.  All content will be under open licence and will also be available to be translated for use in other countries, and of course here in Somerville!

Learn More about E-Toys and the Existing Curriculum: ¬†You can find examples of existing curriculum and students’ projects at an Illinois school here: or some tutorials from Waveplace here:

We will be running an eToys training class soon for anyone interested in learning more about eToys or working with us and the Haitian Coalitian. You’ll get to learn how to use basic eToys functions, from creating sketches to animating them by using scripts. You can even create your own games – eToys is LOTS of fun! You will also learn more about education work in Haiti through organizations like Waveplace and locally with the Haitian Coalition.

When and Where? Soon and in Somerville! We will be working with interested people to figure that out. ¬†Please contact me at or Caroline at if you’re interested.

Thanks for your help!

Derek Redfern/Caroline Meeks

Caroline Meeks
Solution Grove


olpcMap Sprint is officially announced! December 2, 2010

From Adam Holt:

So where are those almost 2 million OLPC Laptops? After 3 years, in dozens of countries, we challenge the world to put the story of OLPC accomplishment on the map. Photographically, telephonically, viscerally — the passionate doers of our community movement now have the chance to connect more intimately than ever before. No matter their deployment size, their age, their creed.

implementor¬†gurus and connected social cartographers & implementors across our global community of One Laptop per Child ( and Sugar (¬† will fly to Boston Dec 27-31 — to physically map our geo-social fabric of small/medium/large deployments worldwide. In completely new and different ways — on and around CMU/Nick Doiron’s rapidly evolving deployment/adoption/volunteering map:

Just like a Book Sprint (writing an entire book within a week, like we’ll¬†beautify, rigorize and publish this community product within 5 business days!

We’re looking for the very best talent globally to join us, to lay critical seeds Connecting-The-Dots of OLPC/Sugar/ICT4Education around learning, support and content knowledge. Globally uncovering accomplishments unspoken. Starting with one single student’s eye-opening social visualization — that’s already powerfully captured our popular imagination, since its alpha-launch in October 2010 at the OLPC San Francisco Community Summit.

Boston schedule, attendee-list, venue & volunteer-based housing details are below.


Mon Dec 27 11AM – 7PM Work session at OLPC: like a real book sprint, we’ll (re)finalize the “style guide” and “table of contents” (eg. who is cultivating each continent / ocean) enunciating Clear Tasks for all eager volunteers arriving Tuesday — depending on their skillsets — even where appropriate telephoning actual deployments and interviewing them on map. Cultivating photographic experiences, most important…
7PM – 9PM Boston exploration, led by volunteers like yourself (bring your toboggan & pray for snow!)
Tue Dec 28 11AM – 7PM Work session at OLPC – Share 3 Cups of Tea with OLPC Staff
7PM – 9PM TENTATIVE HEADLINERS: Peru film presentation thanks to filmmakers Audubon McKoewn and/or Mark Battley, presenting in person!
Wed Dec 29 11AM – 7PM Work session at OLPC – Cartography Focus, inviting Boston’s exceptional Open Source Geospatial Community to expand on new mapping ideas
7PM Р9PM Evening social event organized by Marina Zdobnova (Russia) & Benaja Antoine (Haiti), around the power of intl volunteer exchanges in general, as the 21st century rearranges the possibilities (and the limits) around what meaningful ecotourism/voluntourism CAN really be.
Thu Dec 30 11AM – 7PM Work til you drop, with free dinner of your choosing, for those who’ve mapped & beautified a major deployment or entire country/continent!
7PM – 9PM Skating on Frog Pond, for those new to Boston, especially if you miss our lunchtime skating earlier in the week!
Fri Dec 31
(National Years Eve!)
11AM – 7PM olpcMAP will be declared V1.0 at ***5PM*** and the MAP BEAUTY CONTEST WINNER ANNOUNCED. Skype Video call to the winner, no matter what country they’re in.
7PM – MIDNIGHT? Party thru the night!!!


  1. David Farning ( Executive Director, Wisconsin, Dec 27-31)
  2. Nick Doiron (Carnegie Mellon University, founder, Dec 27-31)
  3. Kurt Maier (OLPC Support Gang founding member, Indiana, Dec 27-31)
  4. Benaja Antoine (Haiti Partners Program Coordinator, Port-au-Prince, Dec 27-31)
  5. Adam Holt (OLPC Community Support Manager, Sugar Labs Oversight Board, Dec 27-31)
  6. Walter Bender (Sugar Labs Executive Director, partial attendance)
  7. Caroline Meeks ( Executive Director, partial attendance)
  8. Marina Zdobnova (management consultant, ChebVolunteer community organizer, Russia, evenings only)
  9. George Hunt (OLPC NYC, programmer of XoPhoto (blog, Dec 27-30)
  10. Jessica CurtisTwitterer (OLPC NYC, Dec 27-30)
  11. Claudia Urrea (OLPC learning coordinator for Latin America, partial attendance)
  12. SJ Klein (OLPC Director of Outreach, Dec 27-28 especially)
  13. Reuben Caron (OLPC global deployment support, partial attendance)
  14. Matthew Tarditi (Univ of Pennsylvania, Grad School of Education, Dec 27-29?)
  15. Paul Fox (OLPC hardware/software engineer, partial attendance)
  16. Chris Ball (OLPC software lead, partial attendance)

For more info got to and follow the map on Twitter!


OLE Nepal, Vietnam and Boston: Part Four June 8, 2010

Filed under: Vietnam — polyachka @ 9:06 am
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

I asked Rabi several questions:

What do you do every day?

(He looked surprised. I know he is the Executive Director, but  want to know what exactly he does daily.) Sometimes I work up to 16 hours a day, but have to cut down my work hours to not burn out. I lead groups and make sure they all have the capabilities and resources… I manage those groups and resolve problems, work with the government officials.

Why are you doing it?

Because I care about education and  believe that you can’t just drop computers off, you have to show how to handle them, how to teach ICT (Information and communication technology), how to communicate. (I guess, miracles do not just happen, they are made by people.)

Are you happy?

Yes, even though there are always ups and downs. (Find something you love to do and never work a day in your life.)

Do you have a volunteer program?

Yes, we have a program for locals 18-19 year old, who in their gap year after high school. They get trained, and then go to schools and help teachers in April for three weeks. They get technical plus teaching experience at the same time.

What issues do you foresee?

If OLPC switches to a tablet for good, and will not support old models, that will be hard for the existing deployments. Who then gets to decide which school gets new model and which gets old model of XO? Fairness factor will be in question. Then where to get spare parts: batteries, screens, etc. for old models? OLPC should focus on making hardware and improving current model of XO, not necessary creating content or education plans. The other problem is that OLPC does not sell XOs to the public directly in small quantities. Should they? What if a private school wants to buy only 100 computers?

Where do you see yourself in two years?

I will still be in Nepal, running our deployment. There is still a lot of work to be done, especially on getting the government on board. You have to explain what kind of benefits come from the use of computers in schools. We are also thinking about providing consulting services to those who need help with getting XOs and implementing them in their schools.

(Rabi’s picture courtesy of Nancie Severs,


Not your typical Sunday meeting… February 24, 2010

Filed under: Vietnam — polyachka @ 3:49 am
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Adam went well beyond my Sunday afternoon Book Club meetings at Starbucks. More people attend his meetings, which are famous for great speakers, topics, special bonus features, surprise appearances; and all of it is for our XO/Sugar community:

“All Welcome, but advance RSVP REQUIRED (holt @¬† You will have the choice of attending in person¬†(across the street from MIT’s campus)¬†or by telephone —¬†via our US phone number (free if you have a full Skype account) for conference-call access to live Q&A. Complemented by our Live Chat back-channel at

Sorry, OLPC Radio’s tower isn’t fully erected yet for worldwide live public broadcasts just yet, but stay tuned…

Jan 24, 4PM EST: Tim Falconer, Waveplace Founder
How WE can help Haitians help THEMSELVES: Structuring Sustainable

Haiti Grassroots OLPC Projects
Jan 31, 4PM EST: Jim Blossom, President, Senior Analyst Shore

Solar electricity mass-deployment thinker. 

Author of “Content Nation: Surviving and Thriving as Social Media

Changes Our Work, Our Lives and Our Future‚ÄĚ 

Feb 7, 12PM EST: Nancie Severs in person.

¬†‚ÄúFresh off the boat from Vietnam” discussing her innovative

microdeployment and ongoing community-building in VIETNAM:

Feb 14, 4PM EST: Bangladesh
Volunteer George Hunt currently in Bangladesh will present his OLPC
discussions & photos from the past 3 weeks, immediately this wkd upon
returning to NYC.  While George returns with as many questions than
answers, he’s gone far beyond the stereotypical “voluntourist” and will
explain how he made it happen — reaching deep into Bangladeshi Society
asking the tough questions about who is being shut out from the 21st
century and why.

Feb 21, 4PM EST: Nicaragua
Tiffany & Steve of the Digital Literacy Project (
will describe how their 7-person volunteer group just deployed XOs in
Managua January 2010.  In person at OLPC in Cambridge, MA and by phone. 

Feb 28, TIME TBA: Improving the XO as a Sahana/HADR Platform
TENTATIVE: Lessons in disaster relief, from the Founder of Sahana and
Naval Postgrad School — how the XO can (and cannot) be further prepared

for future catastrophes:

March 7, Time TBA:
OPEN/suggest a speaker!”

Adam, what about Bernie doing his Sugar deployment work in Paraguay?


Helping Haiti: Part 7 February 2, 2010

Filed under: Vietnam — polyachka @ 12:58 am
Tags: , , , , ,

On Feb 1 Adam sent the following update:

1) Hi and a Warm Welcome to the ~20 new people who signed up for OLPC-HAITI yesterday and today!¬† Get oriented around our volunteer community’s intense hour-by-hour progress/planning happening “live” here:¬†

(Creole fluency is *not* required, , all welcome to register and then help!)

2) Hans: might a draft/scan of your Creole XO coloring book be possible tomorrow?

3) I just uploaded Educa¬†Vision, Inc’s 164 book(lets) catalog of Creole materials they’ve offered Geradline/us (listeducaforzephirin.xls) to the BOOKS WE WANT section here:

4) Congrats to Carmina whose blog now appears on the official OLPC community blog aggregator:¬†Even if her Speaking-From-The-Haitian-Heart title (LAPTOPS?!?) was accidentally chopped by our server’s “planet” software ūüėČ

5) Please all keep our Garden Growing here (click EDIT just below) supporting those doing the much harder work translating thru the night!!

Haiti’s Educ Infrastructure is now on the front pages:

Snapshot video from DC’s Crisis Camp(s):

BBC/CNN/NPR/etc coverage explaining Crisis Commons for Tabitha & all:

15+ cities currently involved in the US, UK and Canada:

Follow Here:

Maps created by volunteers already used on the ground in Haiti:

Interested in the next step?

Say hello on Live Chat at in channel: #haitiboston


%d bloggers like this: