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Peruvian Teachers Begin OLPC Training 56

Posted by Zonk
from the tapping-into-something-bigger dept.
eldavojohn writes "Today was the first day that Peruvian teachers from remote villages began training to use the OLPC in their day-to-day activities. From the article: 'Success of OLPC now depends largely on frontline teachers and, of course, parents and kids. Peru's effort, if successful, would be a model for other nations. In the training now under way, teachers must become versed not only in how to operate and maintain the laptops, but also in how to do their jobs within a newly laptop-centric educational model. The laptops will contain some 115 books, including textbooks, novels, and poetry, as well as art and music programs, cameras, and other goodies. What many of these kids won't get is Internet access: about 90 percent of the villages lack it, and may not get it anytime soon.'"
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Peruvian Teachers Begin OLPC Training

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  • by wurp (51446) on Thursday March 27, 2008 @06:06PM (#22887116) Homepage
    I love how they pitch the term sneaker-net (to mean carrying thumb drives from somewhere that has internet access back to the school) as if Walter Bender invented the term:

    by what OLPC president Walter Bender calls "sneaker-net."
    • by geekoid (135745)
      "...thumb drives ..."

      I love how you think it was coined because of thumb drives.
      • by calebt3 (1098475)

        I love how you think it was coined because of thumb drives.
        Just because it didn't originate with flash drives that doesn't mean that they are not part of the current definition.
      • by wurp (51446)
        Uh, read the article. I was just pointing out the specific meaning Walter gave there...
  • get free wifi gear from Sebastopol?

    http://hardware.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=08/03/26/0118237 [slashdot.org]
  • by Joce640k (829181) on Thursday March 27, 2008 @06:28PM (#22887350) Homepage
    Before you start trashing OLPC, see it how it's meant to be used:

    http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/view/id/41 [ted.com]

  • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Thursday March 27, 2008 @06:29PM (#22887356)

    From the summary:

    What many of these kids won't get is Internet access: about 90 percent of the villages lack it, and may not get it anytime soon.'"

    This is a serious drawback as the internet is a great source of information as well as a way to commercialize the computing efforts of these kids and (potentially) give them some good old capitalist reasons to study hard. Even so, while the lack of internet access is not as big of a drawback as it might be. These laptops will presumably still form their own mesh networks and connect to the school's XO server. I bet a lot of Windows using American kids wish their computers would allow them to network with friends nearly as easily.

    Best of luck to these teachers. It is always hard being the guinea pig for a new technology and it will probably take a lot of dedication to alter their teaching methods to really take advantage of this new tool.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by westlake (615356)
      I bet a lot of Windows using American kids wish their computers would allow them to network with friends nearly as easily.

      The American kid with a Windows PC or a cell phone doesn't seem to having much trouble networking with anyone.

      • The American kid with a Windows PC or a cell phone doesn't seem to having much trouble networking with anyone.

        If only that were true. Do you know how much work it is to start a group chat with everyone in say, the coffee shop? Windows auto-discovery of local services/users sucks badly, especially compared to the XO laptop.

        • by tsa (15680)
          It's very easy to start a group chat with everyone in the coffee shop. Just raise your voice, and say: "May I have your attention please, ladies and gentlemen?"

          By the way, I thought coffee shops only existed here in NL. And though they do sell coffe it's not the most sold product there.
        • Only an engineer would be worried over the "problem" of how to allow people in a coffee shop to talk to one another.
          • Only an engineer would be worried over the "problem" of how to allow people in a coffee shop to talk to one another.

            I didn't say "talk" I said "chat." On Slashdot I should think most people would understand the difference. Reading aloud the characters in a URL you want everyone to visit is a lot less efficient than just sending a link to everyone via IM. Ditto for sending a file to everyone, or really any other local networking.

        • by Ed Avis (5917)

          Do you know how much work it is to start a group chat with everyone in say, the coffee shop?
          Um, not so hard, you just walk over to their table and talk to them?
    • by gsyswerda (550684) *
      I received my XO about a week ago, live in the US, and I can't connect it to the internet reliably. Googling around, I found a lot of discussion about how poorly the XO laptops work with wireless access points. This weekend, I'll try setting my home access point to channel 1, 6 or 11, something OLPC recommends trying. This problem certainly took some shine off an otherwise cool little computer for kids.
      • I received my XO about a week ago, live in the US, and I can't connect it to the internet reliably. Googling around, I found a lot of discussion about how poorly the XO laptops work with wireless access points.

        The XO was designed and tested to work in conjunction with other XO laptops and with the XO server. Connecting to generic wireless in the states is nice, but you must admit not at all what it was designed for.

        This problem certainly took some shine off an otherwise cool little computer for kids.

        I've heard a lot of stories about people buying XO laptops for their own kid or to play with. I certainly don't have a problem with that, but I do worry that a lot of opinions about the XO will be formed from this type of use, which is not the use for which it was designed. If all the kids in a gr

  • fingers crossed (Score:3, Interesting)

    by spacefiddle (620205) <spacefiddle.gmail@com> on Thursday March 27, 2008 @06:54PM (#22887616) Homepage Journal

    of course, while we all greatly enjoyed following the speccing out and design of these machines, the tech was the easy part. I sincerely hope there's the right follow-thru in training, and not one-shot "here's your crash course in the 21st century g'luck buhbye," but ongoing support and training.

    I worked at a "high tech" charter school for a while; from laying the cable in the new building, to several months after it opened and class started. It was a mess. All too typical "let's throw technology at a problem and it will Magically Solve Everything By Itself!" Good intentions, poor execution. Hardly anyone on the *staff* had any technical ability. Infrastructure and purchasing decisions were made from political standpoint and funder's/administrations ego trip, not what might be best to introduce people to a completely new world for them. You've seen it all before...

    I'm privileged to be teaching nowadays in a similar mission; un- or underemployed adults trying to retrain, at-risk youth, most with little or no technical background or even experience beyond webmail and IM. We take so much of our know-how for granted, it's easy to forget how arcane this is to most people. I guess i'm just saying, i hope the approach doesn't fall into "teach the same stuff the same way but we're reading off a screen instead of paper," y'know?

    But here's hoping. And pretty darn cool. That pic of those two kids on those funky green plastic laptops gave me a sudden image of A Young Lady's Illustrated Primer [wikipedia.org] [wikipedia.org] :D

  • by Ricin (236107) on Thursday March 27, 2008 @07:05PM (#22887740)
    while being read charges of orchestrating death squads, that godforsaken SOB, I'd like to say good morning Peru!

    I know there's pros and cons VAV the OLPC, but overall it's a win-win if this can get kids access to tech that they otherwise wouldn't, and be (eventually) able to communicate with other kids at the other side of the globe and be able to learn to use a computer much in the same way as kids in the "developed" world do, and it likely gives them an economical advantage in the long run, but certainly and immediately the advantage of having broaded their horizon, which is always a treat to a young mind I think.

  • Intranets? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by PC and Sony Fanboy (1248258) on Thursday March 27, 2008 @07:11PM (#22887804) Journal
    Sure, lack of internet sucks. But the intranet created with all these XO laptops would be neat... especially when someone gets a new piece of code (read:game). And ... it would encourage innovation, right? RIGHT?
  • by Itninja (937614) on Thursday March 27, 2008 @07:29PM (#22888008) Homepage
    ....even without Internet access. There are quite a few applications built in that communicate directly with other XO laptops (ad hoc). My 7 y/o has one and get quite a bit of use out of it - no Internet there either....
    • by pembo13 (770295)
      Hmm... how did you post that comment then? Manipulating electrons from a far are you?
      • by QuantumG (50515) *
        Yes, it's a shame Magneto wasn't around during the Internet era.
      • by Changa_MC (827317)
        He said "no internet there." Not "no internet here." That implies he is somewhere his 7-year old is not, and he (obviously) does have internet.
      • by Itninja (937614)
        My son doesn't have Internet access. But I do. But yes, I do have have super powers. Thanks for asking.
  • OLPC lookin' good (Score:4, Informative)

    by Merdalors (677723) on Thursday March 27, 2008 @07:45PM (#22888188)
    What a coincidence... I'm reading this on the XO I just received today. I'm piggybacking on a neighbour's WiFi. It's a well-built, quality machine. It has a built-in Python interpreter called Pippy, with numerous examples and help to train tomorrow's programmers. It has a command-line terminal, which also provides a Python interprreter. 20 hrs battery life on one charge, I think I'll bring it with me on business trips.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by s4ltyd0g (452701)
      ha ha I hope you have the suit and tie to go with it... I brought mine into the office and let me tell you, it's a sure fire attention getter when you flip those big ole green ears.
    • by calebt3 (1098475)
      Out of curiosity, how long does it take you to charge it manually? What about AC?
      • by Changa_MC (827317)

        Out of curiosity, how long does it take you to charge it manually? What about AC?

        Are you aware that the OLPC does not have a hand-crank?
        That was dropped during early prototypes, as it's just asking too much of a laptop casing.

        You can charge one on any input ranging between 5-20volts, so hand charging is possible, but not standard. It'll charge off a car battery, and those are bought and sold as commodities (sans car) all over Africa. You pay to have your battery charged, carry it home and run your lights and radio off of it. Now you'll run a laptop off of it as well.

        You can ch

        • Out of curiosity, how long does it take you to charge it manually? What about AC?

          Are you aware that the OLPC does not have a hand-crank?
          That was dropped during early prototypes, as it's just asking too much of a laptop casing.

          They're still working on making hand-chargers.
          I think the latest design was the "yo-yo".

          But that always makes me think of a project I heard of in the 90s, a guy from Canada or somethig was making gravity-powered radios for the developing world (the same principle as a cuckoo clock, you lift a weight and it turns the gears for hours as it goes down, generating power as it goes).
          That sounds like tech that *should* exist and be widely available, but isn't.

          • by Changa_MC (827317)

            But that always makes me think of a project I heard of in the 90s, a guy from Canada or somewhere was making gravity-powered radios for the developing world (the same principle as a cuckoo clock, you lift a weight and it turns the gears for hours as it goes down, generating power as it goes).
            That sounds like tech that *should* exist and be widely available, but isn't.

            That definitely is tech that should exist if it doesn't. A 25Kg weight, raised one meter, dropping slowly and spinning a fly wheel for, say, 10 hours...

            How much voltage could it generate at 10cm an hour? How many serial setups like that would it take to charge an olpc? I could personally see lifting 5 of those in order to charge my laptop and feel good about it, although probably I'd rather lift twenty 15kg weight 0.5meters... A very clean use of human power, because humans are better at bursts of ene

            • A disadvantage is that it obviously lacks the portability of a spring-loaded crank (a la portable radios).
              In the report I remember he was using buckets filled with sand/rocks/water/whatever is available at the scene.
            • by amorsen (7485)

              How much voltage could it generate at 10cm an hour?
              Voltage? As much as you want. Either energy or power would probably be more useful. So anyway, 25 kg lifted 10cm has a potential energy of 25kg*0.1m*9.82m/s^2, or 25J. If it dropped in one second, that would be 25J/s or 25W, a very useful amount of power. If it dropped in one hour, it would be 7mW.
              • by Changa_MC (827317)
                So to run the OLPC in realtime, (without backlight) we'd have to set the weight to drop in 4 minutes, or maybe 5 weights to 20 minutes. With backlight, it'd be 10 weights for 2 minutes of use, which is really not practical.
      • Given that we all know that Anonymous Coward is a spineless wimp, I expect it would take him two to three times as long as a normal person to charge the laptop manually.

        Seriously, this sounds like such a great project, I just hope that they do a good job of implementation and make it work.
    • What a coincidence... I'm reading this on the XO I just received today.
      I'm piggybacking on a neighbour's WiFi.

      I got mine yesterday and I spent hours trying to get on wi-fi networks I had passwords to (oh. my. GODS the WAP implementation sucks!), I finally had to make my own, without a password, to get access.
      I'm frustrated, disappointed, and kinda worried about the security-less wireless access into my machine. I only activate it when I need, and I granted only the basic rights I could to get on the web, but still.

      Aside from that, it's a cool machine. I hope my anonymous kiddy recipient uses it well.

      • Re:OLPC lookin' good (Score:5, Informative)

        by PaintyThePirate (682047) on Thursday March 27, 2008 @09:49PM (#22889246) Homepage
        Open up a terminal, su -, olpc-update 656 It was a bug on build G1G1s shipped with.
        • Open up a terminal, su -, olpc-update 656
          It was a bug on build G1G1s shipped with.
          Thanks for the tip, but even though the browser has no trouble accessing the net, "olpc-update" tells me it thinks I'm not connected to the internet.
          I wish it told me what port it considers to be "the internet".

          OLPC: The "sink or swim" way to learn computing!
          • Re:OLPC lookin' good (Score:5, Informative)

            by PaintyThePirate (682047) on Thursday March 27, 2008 @11:21PM (#22889808) Homepage
            http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Olpc-update [laptop.org] It uses rsync, but you can do it other ways. With OLPC, everyone has had the same set of problems, so they are all very well documented on the wiki. Read up before complaining.
            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by Scrameustache (459504)

              http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Olpc-update [laptop.org]

              It uses rsync, but you can do it other ways. With OLPC, everyone has had the same set of problems, so they are all very well documented on the wiki. Read up before complaining.

              I'd been there, thanks for the "rsync" tip though, I went and opened up port 873.
              But don't be mean, I've been scouring the wiki since yesterday trying to find the bits of info I need. Things are documented, but "very well" is not something I'd say about it.

              Now... to test this out before I hit [Submit]

              W00t! Thanks!
              Now, see, if it had said "port 873" instead of "the internet", I'd say it was "very well" documented ;-)

              But, thanks again, you do slashdot proud, Mr Informative, you.

        • Mine shipped with build 656, and I've been having plenty of troubles with the WAP access too. The network with WEP worked well enough, but with I was only able to connect to our WPA2-PSK network once; it hasn't worked since then. I've tried all the wiki help, including the manual and script setup, but it keeps just asking for the pass phrase. No idea why it stopped working.
    • That's funny. Have you actually tried measuring yours? Mine only gets about four. A friend of mine also gets about four hours. He recently hacked up some code to make it easier to shut off WiFi for travelling in airliners, and he says shutting off WiFi only extends battery life to about five hours.

      There were great plans for power management that were intended to give a twenty-hour battery life, but apparently they haven't been implemented yet.

      So, are you describing the real XO you actually have, or the XO o
      • The documentation says "3.5 hours" of "average use"... and it promises software battery management updates for "early 2008".

        Have you tried seeing how long it'll go in "ebook" mode, without back lighting?
    • by vga_init (589198)
      How long the battery lasts depends on what you are doing with the Laptop. When I'm chatting online over the wifi with the backlight on, the battery lasts about 4 hours.
  • Arahuay (Score:3, Informative)

    by loconet (415875) on Friday March 28, 2008 @12:08AM (#22890078) Homepage
    It is also worth checking out the OLPC wiki entry on Arahuay, Peru [laptop.org], where the first pilot project was set up. Very interesting account of the successes and obstacles the project has gone through there.

I tell them to turn to the study of mathematics, for it is only there that they might escape the lusts of the flesh. -- Thomas Mann, "The Magic Mountain"

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