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#olpc-meeting, 2009-12-30

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All times shown according to UTC.

Time Nick Message
18:29 dogi OLPC Boston @ Cosi Meeting
18:50 presentationstarts soon
19:12 http://qik.com/carolinemeeks
19:13 CanoeBerry Is the video working for others?
19:14 dogi: Stalled for me..
19:14 dogi it was working 2min ago
19:35 CanoeBerry O well, video froze..i'll try to transcribe a bit :)
19:35 Beth Santos now presenting on Sao Tome deployment...
19:35 Arrive Oct 09 til Dec 09
19:35 Needed classroom space!
19:36 Started learning TurtleArt etc, teach teachers basics in 3hrs crash course...
19:36 Beth is not technical in her schooling, but they learned en route :)
19:36 Basic understanding sufficient in a lot of cases, 5 teachers involved with the 100 kids & 100 XOs.
19:37 500+ other kids in the school did not get access to the XOs.
19:37 dogi :P
19:37 CanoeBerry Kids begged to play games after class -- which was permitted.  Saturay attendance was extraodinary.
19:37 Kids arriving 1hr before the teachers, 8am Saturdays!
19:38 Teachers & Beth had long talks, knowing Beth would need to disappear back to the USA in Dec.
19:39 Beth pushed teachers to become completely independent week-by-week, not yet knowing Beth will (liekly) return summer 2010.
19:39 Meetings w/ teachers early Fri afternoon.
19:40 Days when energy works all day...
19:41 But often you lose power for 12hrs in a single day, or multiple days on end.
19:41 Stops you from using Internet for sure.
19:41 But XOs / basic mesh can still work til batteries die.
19:42 1st class period was a disaster, lacking power -- kids were asked to charge XOs at homes certain times.
19:42 Usually there's electricity at school or home, rarely was there outages across the whole country / island (Sao Tome)
19:42 Contructivist idea ;)
19:43 Kids great at helping out here / remembering to charge in future!
19:43 1st week: basic intro to computer.
19:43 After OLPCorps team went home to Illinois in August.
19:43 culseg CanoeBerry: ask Beth to generarlize about what kinds of repair issues are most prevalant?
19:43 CanoeBerry (Beth arrived in Oct 09, and her "native" Portuguese helped a ton!)
19:44 culseg: will do, remind us as we're getting bogged down in questions.
19:44 Computers were allocated randomly to the 100 lucky kids -- and not to the 500+ unlucky kids in the school :(
19:45 Some kids kept hoping later, but sadly no luck til next year, when the XOs will be reassigned to new kids in/after May 2010.
19:45 Kids wrote about their parents/families (class newspaper attempt too..)
19:46 Education articles about Malaria, campaign working out very well in Sao Tome (eliminating most all disease in under-5's using mosquito nets etc)
19:46 Beth was fixing computers all day, so missed some of the malaria storytelling action,.
19:46 Digital stories of kids acting cute, pretending they were their moms sleeping with newborns etc to avoid malaria.
19:46 Paint program used...
19:47 Write program...
19:47 Drawing/writing about their house.
19:47 7th week they went to the beach!
19:47 Lilke exam week, but no exams.  Half days allowed this field trip.
19:47 Reporter from Voice of America arrived..
19:47 Piece about kids preparing for Christmas?
19:48 But all the kids would talk about was their computers :)
19:48 Hoe this has/will be broadcast.
19:48 1 girl's screen failed the 1st week, due to dropping from window sill?
19:48 Her parents asked: should she still come to class?
19:48 Answer: yes, sharing with friends where possible..
19:49 Schools (mostly functional now) wireless drew in other citizens..
19:49 Including local rapper musician, hanging with local kids.
19:50 Young girl taught this older guy to shut down XOs properly!  He was totally embarassed, being lectured by 10yo..
19:50 Kids use their computers walking home and in the market, keeping them on while walking.
19:50 Quite a creative group of kids teaching themselves..
19:51 Kids asking to download music, teacher(s) did not know how, but kids figured out recording music from the radio on their own..
19:52 culseg: Beth Santos says she will address your question soon.
19:53 Beth will post her PDF / Powerpoint
19:53 Beth at slide 8 of 11 now.
19:53 Beth will discuss challenges soon/now.
19:55 CHALLENGES: not remembering to recharge, kids losing programs from home view, connecting to Internet, help program was in english but not Portuguese unfort, scratch-turtle art in english, unresolved HW probs (keys that didn't work, Kadema's story), language barrier!
19:55 Well-know mesh / network problems!
19:56 Beth spent lots of time with helpful OLPC volunteers online, struggling, but then reflash helped a ton "saving quite a number" of these computers.
19:56 Ongoing translation of documention helping a lot now, had been very problematic prior to this.
19:57 Beth apologized for her lack of Hardware knowledge, saying her ignorance here hurt the project.
19:57 EG. letter 'c' was broken on one XO.
19:57 EG. strange colors appeared on one kid's screens.
19:58 "Elvis" colleague helped taking apart some XOs.
19:58 He's continuing to help here, so kids aren't "screwed for life" :)
19:59 Losing access to their only PC forever :(
19:59 Screwdrivers not nec the problem.
19:59 But there was apprehension and lack of time on the teachers' part.
19:59 Broken screen -- Beth and others did not know it was replaceable.
20:01 Paul from Illinois will return to Sao Tome to help soon.
20:01 Beth will arrange some broken/parts machines via OLPC's Contributors Program soon.
20:02 Beth not completely fluent in Portuguese -- she's humble -- her "computerese" in Portuguese lacked :)
20:02 90 XOs to kids, ~5 to teachers, others parts/broken?
20:03 Beth showing us photos of her great autumn experience -- eg. fun photos now of kids waiting for electricity to turn back on :)
20:03 Challenge: bringing computers home.
20:03 3hr battery life got kids thru class periods.
20:04 Challenge: teaching kids to take care of computers, not allowing sibling to break them -- computer that broke 1st week was a great lesson warning the other kids.
20:04 Kids took great care after this!
20:05 Some kids took this too far, keeping XOs in cardboard boxes to protect them obsessively :)
20:05 No computers stolen?
20:05 Indeed: none stolen.
20:05 Big issue at first--
20:05 But Beth insisted kids take XOs home to improve their computer literacy etc.
20:05 culseg when Internet does work, do teachers and students access web sites in Brasil for support in Portuguese documents and stuff?
20:06 CanoeBerry Beth living w/ Ned & cook-- concern that a cellphone had been hawked/sold earlier, but no theft problems.
20:07 Parents & kids had been asked to sign contracts earlier (July 2009?) protecting the computers and taking the educ experience seriously etc.
20:07 That prob helped!
20:07 Kids required to come Saturdays...
20:07 Sibling using computers at home was fine of course.
20:07 Sao Tome & Principe is a very special country, with very little crime/theft problems.
20:07 Paradise!
20:08 Goal: Introducing computer to families & friends as often as possible.
20:08 Avoid: keeping computers locked in director's office.
20:08 (Beth takes OLPC mission to heart)
20:09 Beth came up with this on her own.
20:10 Had heard a bit about 'child ownership' but insisted on her own..
20:11 Kids lose class if they don't take the computers home to recharge!
20:11 (Cause school so often was missing electricity, whereas homes typically retained power)
20:12 Kids were asked to pay $1.40 for field trip.
20:12 No US Embassy in Sao Tome & Principe!
20:12 But they (Step Up program) asked the US Embassy in nearby Gabon.
20:12 They were rejected.
20:12 Still hoping..
20:13 Question from audience in Cambridge, MA: how much involvement from the govt?
20:13 Beth: Govt was very interested at the outset, ongoing interest we shall see?
20:13 Beth: teach payment is an issue
20:14 (teacher payment for Saturday work)
20:14 Beth hadn't thought about it--she was devoting herself free on Saturdays..
20:14 Ministry of Educ paying teachers for class periods, weekdays.
20:16 Beth asks about countries funding ongoing larger deployments..
20:16 Sao Tome has no money.
20:16 612 students need computers in this school
20:16 PC's not frivolous.
20:17 Using them in-class every day of week.
20:17 Their question: how can they buy 512 more computers?
20:17 Should they scale down and get a Dell Lab instead?
20:17 Beth's conclusion: computers should not just be used from computer literacy.
20:18 24x7 strongly prefered.
20:18 Their ongoing discussions -- they need a stronger boost than parttime computer literacy.
20:18 Seems Beth's preaching to the choir!
20:19 kevix1 (I am not sure who the presentation is being present to-- missed opening of meeting)
20:19 CanoeBerry 10 ppl in room here at OLPC.
20:20 Beth recap'ing Step Up.
20:20 Mr Sullivan was director of Peace Corps in Sao Tome until they pulled out 10+ yrs back.
20:20 culseg a small group at OLPC in a once-monthly Boston XO user's group
20:20 CanoeBerry Step Up - "Sao Tome e Principe  Union for Promotion"
20:21 Sign up here if you want to join the Boston-area community: http://wiki.laptop.org/go/OLPC_Boston
20:21 Ned Sullivan?
20:21 Beth used to work at Voice of America.
20:21 She met Ed, kicking this all into gear by a marvelous coincidence..
20:22 Sorry "Ned Sullivan" not "Ed"
20:22 Volunteers come from US and other places.  In exchange they get free room & board.
20:22 OLPC & Unic of Illinois contacted Step Up.
20:23 Beth not sure exactly how they identified this very large middle school in the capital city, but it seems to make sense.
20:23 Lots of folks affiliated w/ "Step Up" had strong loyalty.
20:24 Country exceptional in its can-do trusting atmosphere, despite extreme poverty.
20:24 About $1000/yr annual average income.
20:24 culseg a round of applause for the speaker, let's plan for the wider OLPC community to "step up to the plate" and help this project
20:24 CanoeBerry Beth's interest?
20:24 She had no job!
20:24 Wanted to help a Portuguese-speaking country!
20:24 She has an Art History degree, and can use Scratch and Paint :)
20:25 Both her bros & dad in technology/engineers, but not her.
20:25 2 more slides to go.
20:26 Slide 10: Evolution of the Teacher Role
20:26 kevix1 (were the xos part of a contrib. prog. effort?)
20:26 CanoeBerry 100 XO's were from OLPCorps, the Illinois team that left in Aug: http://xomike.blogspot.com
20:26 kevix1 ah. cool.
20:26 CanoeBerry Beth (by an extraordinary coincidence) adopted the program 2 months later in Oct.
20:27 Beth's 5 phases of Teacher Role..............
20:27 Phase 1: Not knowing what the hell they were doing
20:27 kevix1 I chatted with someone from Sao Tome a few times on #olpc-help
20:27 CanoeBerry Phase 2: Equal excitement and interest as the kids; Beth is primary teacher
20:28 Phase 3: Beth splits teaching role with teachers
20:28 Phase 4: Beth hids in teachers' lounge fixing computers while teachers hold class
20:28 -Culture clash during slow passing of the torch-
20:29 Phase 5: Teachers receive guidebook and are instructed to keep in regular touch. Beth prays (current phase!)
20:29 kevix1: when did you speak to Sao Tome person on #olpc-help , this autumn?
20:30 Apologies #olpc-meeting cannot accomodate Beth's really great photos.
20:30 kevix1 over the past 6 months, maybe 3 times
20:30 CanoeBerry PDF should be posted later tonight.
20:30 kevis1: likely you talked to Beth if it was Oct-Dec
20:31 kevix1 I assume so too
20:31 it was about reflashing
20:31 CanoeBerry kevix1: and/or the quite organized Univ of Illinois group if earlier this summer
20:31 kevix1: Beth bragged about you across the country
20:31 kevix1 and IIRC a missing activity
20:32 CanoeBerry She says you are her guardian angel, literally.
20:32 "Saved her life!"
20:32 kevix1 oh, goodies, I can double my pay ;)
20:32 CanoeBerry Quadruple.
20:32 She'd like to meet someday.
20:32 kevix1 even better
20:32 CanoeBerry FYI http://www.linkedin.com/pub/beth-santos/7/810/33a
20:34 Culture allegory: Teachers insisted "class then field trip" impossible -- Beth had very diff attitude.  Leading to Phase 4 above..
20:34 Tech tricks saved the day many times.
20:34 Beth gave a very long class at the end, writing her short manual she gave these 5 teachers at the end.
20:35 Several questions from the audience her in Cambridge, Massachusetts, from a Botsawana man very interested in exploring similar in his home country.
20:35 Question from Caroline Meeks: other Portuguese deployments elsewhere?
20:35 Beth: Brazil, Mozambique..
20:36 kevix1 I wish there was an indexed list of deployments by location and by language?
20:36 CanoeBerry Brazil emails did not deliver so far..
20:36 Beth discusses Portugal's own "Magellan" project
20:37 Those really expensive..
20:37 Final Slide: Plans for the Future
20:37 kevix1 well at this rate, the cherrypy africa pc is $99.
20:38 CanoeBerry Teachers vested in DOING ANYTHING to make this program work.
20:38 Beth askes teachers Not to say "program is a success" (b/c they want more computers donated!)
20:38 CMeeks asks: did mesh work here/there?
20:39 Beth responds: peer-editing didn't fully take off -- so many kids at once
20:39 Chatting etc interrupted.  Wrong mesh.
20:39 Smaller groups'd be more manageable.
20:39 Kids have shared stuff over mesh for sure.
20:40 Plans for future:
20:40 * getting the teachers to take personal ownership of the project (ongoing!)
20:40 Headed by Miguel
20:40 Guia de Problemas
20:40 Teachers will email Beth every week with updates
20:41 * pedal-powered desks
20:41 need pedal-powered martyr needed to power wireless internet!
20:41 Step Up gets funding, they are hopeful..
20:41 using Sao Tomeans to create desks
20:41 kevix1 the video mentioned that the island, the parents, teachers and kids dont have a strong desire to complete the educational process if kids have to redo grades and this is not stigmatized (or that was my impression)
20:42 CanoeBerry boost local economy making Afghan-style pedal-powered desks
20:42 * need: 500 computers
20:42 idea of program is not to learn HOW to use computers but to actually USE them in all disciplines
20:42 DC friend experienced in fundraising may help her
20:43 * fundraising thru http://bethstepsup.blogspot.com -- selling kids photography!
20:43 Finally: http://www.stepup.st
20:45 kevix1: just asked yr question to Beth
20:45 She says here it's different in the US.
20:45 College-oriented drive defines US.
20:45 Different in Sao Tome.
20:46 That track does not exist in Sao Tome.
20:46 This country does not have colleges apparently!
20:46 Unless you leave the country -- and don't come back commonly.
20:47 Exports: Fish, chocolote, coffee
20:47 kevix1 yeah, I figured no college.
20:47 CanoeBerry Education's important to a certain extent -- deeply appreciated, but different.
20:47 kevix1 I would assume folks would not seek higher ed unless it lead to a job requireing it which may be lacking on an island
20:47 CanoeBerry Repeating a grade is normal there, not horrible stigmatization.
20:47 Absence policy.
20:48 Kids don't show for class - or final exam.
20:48 So Beth instituted a "lose her XO permanently if you don't show up" policy.
20:48 Everybody showed up every time after that.
20:49 "Push-push-push to college" culture does not exist.
20:49 kevix1 exactly, with motivation, the kids will come to school, with the XO itself being the motivation
20:50 in an island with few jobs needing a college education, why seek to go to college.
20:50 CanoeBerry Botsawana guest here agrees.
20:51 Kids culture / motivation different.
20:51 Repeating class not fatal.
20:51 Not perceived as "dumb kids"
20:51 kevix1 sure. thank goodness for that.
20:51 CanoeBerry Normal often, if parents pulled kids away or such.
20:52 Many different reasons for kids to miss class in developing countries!
20:52 kevix1 indeed. until they reach a higher stage of development.
20:52 CanoeBerry Yeah students failed -- but Beth believes this is As We View Retaking An Exam!
20:53 kevix1 wondering if there are a few really inquiring minds amongst the bunch -- something like a 'mel chua' :)
20:53 CanoeBerry Teacher Miguel studied in Portugal, and then began in Brazil.
20:53 kevix1 or that boy in Africa who built a windmill from a book
20:55 CanoeBerry kevix1: i asked yr question
20:55 Beth answers: perhaps no Nobel Prize candidates just yet, but PLENTY of kids who mastered programs far before teachers.
20:55 Kids teaching the teacjers.
20:55 Home views w/ 70 icons..
20:56 Quite a few of these students who were very good at figuring these things out.
20:56 Are artsy too.
20:56 kevix1 maybe the news of the computers will spead by word of mouth to the rest of the island
20:56 CanoeBerry OK: We'll wrap up soon here now after 3hrs at last!!
20:57 Final questions?
20:57 cjb sad he couldn't be there
20:57 in an airport :)
20:57 CanoeBerry ~137000 ppl on the island.
20:58 Everybody in the town wanted to be involved.
20:58 The 100 kids were like "All Stars" in the community.
20:58 "Step Up" needs to update their site!
20:58 CMeeks question: are there computer cafes in Sao TOme?
20:58 Beth: outdoors, affiliated w. hotels.
20:59 85degree direct sun, but you can't plug in.
20:59 No real internet cafes that Beth saw.
20:59 Only real city on the island.
20:59 50,000 ppl in this capital city.
20:59 kevix1 where ever westerners go, there will be cybercafes
20:59 CanoeBerry Beth couldn't find a cyber cafe in this tiny country.
21:00 No real newspapers.
21:00 But folks understand current events.
21:00 B/c they listen to radio and talk (both obsessively!)
21:01 kevix1 they could build a local island internet and setup their own news website
21:01 a few linux servers, apache, drupal and a few 1,000 ft of cables :)
21:02 CanoeBerry We sent Beth to Mike Lee as she moves back to DC: http://olpclearningclub.org
21:03 CMeeks question: what's next in Beth Santos' life?
21:03 Answer: Lots of questions / possibilities!
21:03 Step Up trying to developer a program LIKE the Peace Corps, but using Sao Tomeans, as Peace Corps types tend to disappear (after 2 yrs especially)
21:04 She might work at Sao Tome embassy in DC perhaps?
21:04 Beth was in art & media so she could go anywhere...
21:13 Beth wants to repeat-- for the love of God volunteers helped save her deployment.
21:14 And volunteers' enthusiasm (Alex's joke: even if nothing else!)
21:14 Signing off now-- thanks all online and in the room.
21:16 kevix1 any activities that might be useful
21:17 culseg a round of applause for the speaker, let's plan for the wider OLPC community to "step up to the plate" and help this project!
21:17 CanoeBerry Recap video: http://qik.com/carolinemeeks
22:35 dogi #endmeeting

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