Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Back Across the Pond

Just as I wrote at the onset of our project, I am not entirely sure how it will end up. When we were leaving JFK airport at the beginning of June, I suppose there were different uncertainties. Minor things like which country we would be spending the next two months in, which school the project would go to and who exactly James and I would be working with were the questions then. It may sound ironic, but these are the secondary questions now.

Moments ago I read an e-mail about the price of power strips and how Stephanie and Justin plan to completely finish the installation that we began several weeks ago. The maker came in over budget on the first one, so Stephanie, Justin and Devon are planning to look into other options for the remaining strips. This is unusual as we were accustomed to having the first piece of work up to our expectations and seeing the quality decline after the full order was placed.

I am confident that the power strip situation will work out and the charging cabinet construction will finish. The bigger question is how the charging cabinets along with all the material infrastructure in combination with the intangible knowledge transfer take shape in Ecole Notre Dame this coming year. With regard to this we have much to be confident about. Not only did we successfully lead a workshop that instructed teachers on the integration of the laptop into their curriculum, but also instructed students in computer and educational skills. Additionally we ran demonstration learning projects, which illustrated the practical advantages of using the XO in education.

As we administered an exam on the last day of teacher training we were impressed with the progress of many of the teachers and encouraged about the prospect of successful usage next year. One of my major priorities with this project has been making sure that the computers are used. During our orientation in Rwanda we saw hundreds of laptops at different schools not being used. There were several reasons for this and OLPC is working to remedy the problem there. The greatest assurance that this will be far different from our deployment is the already scheduled computer time in next year's schedule.

While we cannot guarantee success, I am confident about the prospects of our project working out into the future. We have teachers that are no longer afraid of the laptop, we have a school that is receptive and supportive of the project, we have enthusiastic kids, and we have time allotted for its use. All of these factors working together make me comfortable that these laptops will not only be out of their boxes, but will be used in a valuable way for the students and teachers of Ecole Notre Dame.

1 comment:

  1. This is fantastic! I am a contributor to the OLPC Give a Laptop, Get a Laptop program and a Cornell alum so doubly happy by the incredible work you (and the other teams) are doing. What a fabulous way to spend a summer and leverage your knowledge by sharing with the rest of the world. It would be even better if universities made projects like this mandatory to graduate (like swimming those 3 laps :-) so we'd get a lot more social responsibility embedded in everybody...