I took yesterday off after 10 days of working from 8 am to 10 pm. No e-mail, no computer besides listening to LUG Radio and LinuxActionShow.
Some reflections. Teacher training was amazing. The excitement, enthusiasm, and commitment of the teachers was inspiring. The next time I hear someone put down Nepali teachers I will be hard pressed not to smack them upside the head. Teaching is not a well-paying job in Nepal and these teachers chose teaching over better-paying options, such as emigrating to the West or the Gulf Region.
We saw many elements of constructionism, experiential-learning, whatever you want to call it in the teacher training. We introduced topics and gave some brief training and then left ample time for Peer-to-Peer interaction where the more advanced teachers trained others. Once a few teachers understood how something worked, they taught their colleagues. I can see how this works among “peers” and I don’t think it will work so well among non-peers. I can’t see the kids training the teachers how to use the XO. That is why it was essential to have teacher training well in advance of the actual deployment.
Schools are not blank slates where we can go in and impose a completely new way of doing things. We have to work with the existing system. OLPC is about getting education the masses, not to set up special laboratory schools that experiment with methods that never make it to the mainstream. That means we have to work within the existing systems.
It is key to incorporate school leadership and community leadership in the training program. The School Supervisor for the District, two District Education officials, the school principals, and members of both communities participated. If school management doesn’t support this project, it will be difficult for the teachers to muster sufficient resources to maintain it.
The teachers had the most difficulty learning how to use the touchpad, many were just learning how to “drag-and-drop” by the end of training. The extremely small size of the mouse icon in EToys, EPaati, and Scratch made this more difficult.
The most consistent technical problem was a jumpy cursor. We were able to solve this by regularly pushing down the keys in the four corners of the keyboard. This was more of a problem on some XO’s than others.Â I need to better understand this issue.
Problems with the Active Antenna: The active antenna couldn’t handle large downloads. It started generating timeout errors when students downloaded files larger than 3 MB. We will have a 1 Mbps connection between the schools and the E-Library and we don’t want to the local wireless router to be the weakest link. Many items in the E-Library are full color pdfs that are quite large.
The teachers consistently said that they wanted sound, animation, and competitive elements in the learning activities. We need to apply these more to our English activities.