XO Teachers in Cambodia Meet & Learn Together!
Trip Start Oct 14, 2009
60Trip End Jul 01, 2014
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After one day of sightseeing and one day of workshop preparation, outlined in the previous Blog Entry, Elaine’s driver and “right hand man”, Vanny picked us up at 7:00 AM for the early morning trip out to FLOW, The Future Light Orphanage of Worldmate graciously hosted our group
There were 11 participants in all, plus Channa & Mala, the teachers from the Reaksmy Primary school and the Roveing Chung Family Junior High School. And Adam and I, Elaine & Vanny. 6 Groups that had received XO laptops from Cambodia PRIDE at one tine or another were represented. Sopheak and one other FLOW Teacher participated for FLOW. Pepy’s Group sent 2 a teacher and a high school principal who came all the way from near Siem Reap. Two teachers came from Seamtrey, Moy’s Montessori School in Phnom Penh. Two Teachers came from Aziza’s Place which works with slum children in Phnom Penh, Empowered Youth Cambodia had one attendee representing one of it’s other locations. And TSF sent 2 Teachers also.
I thought that it would be fun and also look professional, to have CambodiaPRIDE tee shirts for the attendees. I am not good at graphic design but while in Bangkok, I contacted Nina Stawski, an active OLPC-SF volunteer. Nina had designed a great tee shirt for the OLPC-SF Summit a few years back and I asked her if we could use/convert her design for CambodiaPRIDE’s first ever tee shirt
After introductions, the first formal workshop classes began with Channa teaching Scratch. Scratch is by far one of the most popular activities that come pre-loaded in the standard Sugar OS especially designed for children's learning on the XO. In Scratch children learn to program simple characters called Sprites, to create drawings, videos, with music, games etc. and learning basic computer programming, graphic arts skills, math skills and more, while having fun. In my home town in NH, Scratch which is open source and free to anyone, is taught in Hanover's Ray School, and also as an extra-curricular class (pricier) at the AVA Gallery. CambodiaPRIDE's kids are learning along with their western world counterpartshttp://learnscratch.org/ for more information.
We had a break at 11 and worked until lunchtime at about 1. During the delicious & relaxing lunch, cooked and served by FLOW staff, we all had a chance to get to know one another. I asked about what problems if any folks are having with their XO-1's and asked those who were commuting home that night to bring in some of the problem machines for the repair workshop on Sunday.
After lunch and before resuming our Scratch hands on work, Mala, CP's lovely teacher at the Chung Family Junior High School in Roveing, presented a portfolio of Scratch Projects made by her students. I was amazed. Some of her students have made very sophisticated computer programs in Scratch. Those were mst likely the graduates of Channa's English & Computer classes at the Reaksmy Primary School. But some of the showcased projects were from students brand new to the XOs also. Next Channa presented a group of projects made by his Primary School students up to Grade 6. WOW. I am stunned at what the kids are doing and the skills they reflect.
We all worked until late in the day, as the skies broke open with torrential rains, thunder and lightening
We started early the next morning, with bright sunshine and eager Teachers and Learners. I had prepared some learning aids and "goodies" for my software update and repair workshop, and each participating school/program received a nice 16 GB USB Flash Drive with working files for Build 12.1.0 for the XO Laptop on it. I recommended that each group back up the files on desktop or laptop computers, because in Cambodia, it is still rare to have enough Internet bandwidth to download a working copy of the XO software. But the files I gave everyone each work, and they can be easily copied and re-used.
We learned to transfer files back and forth between USB Drives and the Journal, to save the student's work, or transfer it for printing, & to add Activities. Then we reflashed a few XOs, everyone learned how to do it. I demonstrated how to use Mr. Clean Magic Erasers to safely clean dirty XO laptops, especially the ears.They are melamine and should be used by adults with care, but they are MAGIC
Everyone also wanted to know how to make the XO faster, and how to deal with a full Journal. I can't solve the problem of slow speed or inability to handle very large projects.:( Frankly, the XO-1 Laptops are circa 2007 with only 1 GB of Flash Memory and they are not expandable like the later, quicker, and even lower power XO models. It is testimony to the excellent rugged hardware design, that they have outlived the predicted 4 year lifespan, even in the most rugged of environments. It's still a great little laptop for certain locations, and children will get used to using and learn to work with what they have
This is exactly the conversation that OLPC-Asia Pacific has embarked upon, calling it OLPC 2.0 - The Next Journey. Can we get Sugar Software working for an Android Tablet? Is there a Tablet rugged enough for rural deployments in developing countries? Who will carry this mission forward? We hope that Adam, and "his army" of OLPC 1.0 Volunteers, & the new Unleash Kids https://www.facebook.com/UnleashKids will play a role in this.
After break and lunch, the Scratch workshop resumed, along with some individual tutorials on other Activities that can be used for teaching; e.g., Fototoons. We stopped mid-afternoon for a group photo and I said goodbye. Vanny took me to the airport where I could get a taxi back to Phnom Penh, to free up space in the already full car at the workshop end. Adam and Elaine report that the rest of the day was great, and by Monday morning, I got an email from Sopheak with a great Slide Show of weekend photos, and the email contact list for everyone who came
Kudos to Elaine N, and CambodiaPRIDE once again, for your huge accomplishments! The November CambodiaPRIDE FLOW workshop was well planned & a great success!