After spending three months volunteering at OLE Nepal in Kathmandu, I got an opportunity to participate in a field trip to visit program schools participating in OLE Nepal’s laptop program. Long-awaited time has come! Even though I missed an earlier trip to Baglung as I was bedridden with bronchitis, I recovered in time to join the technical support team headed to Banke, a region in southwestern Nepal, where OLE Nepal has introduced E-Paath and E-Pustakalaya in four public schools in the vicinity of Nepalgunj.
Besides providing me with more insights into how young Nepali kids learn with the XOs, this trip also presented me the first chance to deploy XOvis, a data visualization application which I’ve been developing since my arrival to Nepal. What does XOvis do? It shows teachers and administrators graph visualization of data gathered on the schoolserver from XO laptops used in their school. The data shown is retrieved from Sugar Journals, which serve as a log of activities students use on their laptops.
Why should teachers and school administrators pay attention to those graphs? First and foremost, they get to see how often students use various activities. Based on data gathered since the initial deployment, which in the case of Banke happened roughly two years ago, they can see which activities are most popular. Since the students use laptops for a few hours every day, the schoolservers in Banke have collected considerable amount data since the XO program began (901 MB in Gyanodaya and 504 MB in Kumdi). With this much data, one gets to see a very comprehensive picture of activity use. This data can inform the choices teachers make in class to better relate to students’ interests and better engage them in the learning process. For example, if teachers see that many students often use Offline Wikipedia activty, they can design projects where students get to use Wikipedia as a tool for research. Here is a capture of the ‘Activity Frequency’ graph from Gyanodaya:
So that’s an obvious statistic to visualize. What else does the visualization show? It also gives an idea about which activities kids use in creative ways by examining the number of files created by different activities:
In schools which deployment organizations like OLE Nepal get to visit very sporadically interesting questions arise about when and how often students use activities. For answering these questions, XOvis implements a graph displaying the time of day when students use activities, color-coded based on the frequency:
Finally, in the ‘Use by Month’ and ‘Use by Year’ visualizations the user can also specify the time range from which data is displayed. One can, for example, examine data from the current school year and compare it with data from the previous year:
This visualization tool is not only useful for teachers and school administrators, but also to organizations like OLE Nepal as it can visualize data from different deployments brought from the field. In this way, our data analysts at OLE Nepal can compare and contrast the use of activities in various schools. Based on those, OLE Nepal can then formulate recommendations to those schools about how to make the laptop program more effective in engaging students in the learning process as well as make improvements to the teacher training program.