There's a New XO Teacher in Cambodia!

Trip Start Oct 14, 2009
Trip End Dec 31, 2016

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Flag of Cambodia  ,
Saturday, August 10, 2013

Last year, OLPC received an email inquiry from a young man in Phnom Penh. He wrote:

"Hi! I'm Ratha.I live in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. I'm 17 years old. I like the XO laptop. I just know a little bit about it, because it has a lot of English. I don't know English a lot, so I need Khmer language to read  to learn about this. I want to learn about it. What can I do? Please tell me! Thanks....."

Because I try to help answer inquiries that OLPC receives from SE Asia, Ratha’s email inquiry found its way to me. I wrote Ratha to try and help him, and learned that he was a student at EYC, Empowered Youth Cambodia. Ratha describes EYC as follows:

"It’s difficult to tell you about EYC, but I can tell you a little bit.EYC ( Empowering Youth In Cambodia ) is kind Organization that help poor people(adult and children) in Cambodia to study English and Computer. EYC has lots of subject for study such as Leader Ship, Low Attitude forum......etc. They also have sports such as soccer, Frisbee, bike race......etc. EYC has four schools. My school is the third schools in EYC. XO Laptops have supported to EYC since 2008, and it is kind of laptop that can help children in EYC to improve their knowledge about good design(good imaginative). EYC has a lot children that study with this laptop."

Cambodia Pride supplied XO-1s to EYC and Cambodia Pride’s Director Elaine N. is very familiar with their program. She was surprised and perplexed by this inquiry. She wondered if learning & figuring out the XO was a school assignment and she wasn’t sure how much help we should provide.

But I thought that Ratha was very resourceful to write to OLPC for help. Using computers successfully often requires figuring out a “workaround” to a problem. I thought Ratha’s letter was a good “workaround”. And, I understood his frustration at trying to learn to use the XO Activities/Apps on his own. He explained that his English “is not so good” and that he is a student also, and is also very busy (working?). He said that searching the OLPC Wiki, and trying to translate the English to figure out the Apps was too time consuming. Any of us that use the OLPC Wiki know that this is true, even for those of us who are native English speakers! I decided to help Ratha, and boy am I glad I did!

Ratha asked for help with the English words, about how to use the Activities; I gave him a free dictionary here:
I explained basics for using Activities, and later, when he asked about Scratch, I pointed him here:

He says he learned a lot and then asked for help planning a class for teaching children. I made suggestions for Introducing the Laptop, the First Lesson, a 2nd Lesson, and suggestions for a few more. (I saved my text - just contact me if you need a copy of the suggestions.)

I am thrilled to share the photos Ratha sent me. He is clearly very good at computers and this work is improving his English. He is conscientious and wants very much to learn how to “teach the children just right.”

I would like to see the young computer teachers in Cambodia to encourage the children to experiment and not be afraid to make mistakes. There are many effective ways to learn. Our 21st century technology changes so very quickly, that the most important skill a child or adult can have, is learning how to learn...learning to figure things out.

A picture really is worth “a thousands words.” Ratha has sent photos of his class, and this summer, he sent me photos of his students and their Turtle Art projects! The Turtle Art Activity teaches basic Logo Programming skills. To use it, the children pull down “blocks” that look like puzzle pieces and tell the Turtle on the screen how to move to draw a picture. Children use blocks that like forward 100, right 90 (degrees), arc, pen up, pen down, and it gets more complicated from there.

To teach the children this Activity, Ratha had to first teach them the English words for the needed commands. Even then, to produce what we can see on these photos, requires lots of critical thinking and planning. When I tried to program Turtle to write my first name. It took me 2 hours of trial and mostly error, to figure it out.

I can see that Ratha has figured out how to learn the XO and more.  Congratulations on your class, Ratha. I hope you will continue to teach, and continue to learn, how to learn new things! I am very proud of you. You'll be a very fine teacher!
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elaine negroponte on

When I gave the XO's to EYC they had sent their teacher to us and he was
trained by our Computer Learning teacher Chen Channa. Unfortunately what
happens again and again in Cambodia the person we train moves on and leaves
in this case EYC without someone to help the students. In others words -- we
have trained 2 people and the last person was suppose to be in charge and be
with EYC for ever. When you were approached by the student -- he had not come to us but -- he should! We can train and help him -- our organization does
this for free.


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