OLPC category

Unleash Kids Hangout On Air: Enhancing Teaching and Learning with Appropriate Technologies at OLE Nepal

Monday, July 8, 2013, 9AM EDT, 1300 UTC, 18:45 NPT

The Unleash Kids Campaign, the volunteer-run project developing learning kits around the XO-4 Touch laptop, will host Rabi Karmacharya, Executive Director of OLE Nepal, live from Kathmandu. I’ll be producing the Google+ Hangout On Air show from my office in Washington, D.C. Christoph Derndorfer in Vienna, Austria will be interviewing our guest.

OLE Nepal (Open Learning Exchange Nepal) is a social benefit organization dedicated to enhancing teaching-learning in schools through the integration of technology and to provide uniform access to quality educational materials across different geographic areas and socio-economic strata.

OLE Nepal develops and distributes free educational content , trains teachers to integrate technology in classrooms, implements technology interventions in rural schools, and helps build local capacity in technology and education.

Bio: Rabi Karmacharya co-founded OLE Nepal in 2007 to implement OLPC program in partnership with Nepal Government. Since then OLE Nepal has completed two years of pilot, and the program is currently running in 27 schools scattered in seven districts in Nepal. OLE Nepal has also been developing local education content designed by curriculum experts that are loaded on the XOs and updated periodically through the school server. Teachers receive training on using the laptops and the content to teach subjects such as English, Nepali and mathematics. Currently heading a team of 27 staff comprising of educators, curriculum experts, content coordinators, software developers, graphic designers, network engineers, system administrators, and volunteers. Born and raised in Kathmandu. Received MEng and BSc in Electrical Engineering from MIT.

Here’s a recent interview with Rabi:

AirAsia Foundation Interview with Rabi Karmacharya
written by Mike Lee on 6 July 2013 Comments Off

April Meeting: Deployment Stories from Senegal and Zambia

Our first meeting in some time will focus on OLPC deployments in Africa.

Saturday, April 13, 2013, 10am-1pm, Room 208
Arlington Career Center
816 South Walter Reed Drive
Arlington, VA 22204
Contact PageGoogle MapAerial PhotoBus Info

First, Open International founder Khady Lusby, will talk about College Adja Penda Ba in Nioro, Senegal and their new program for children using Sugar and XO computers. Our meeting host, Jeff Elkner, of Sugar Labs DC, is supporting her deployment (see blog post) of HP and OLPC XO laptops and will help provide training to students who will visit the school as part of their senior experience. Brittany Windju of Yorktown High School is refurbishing laptops and maintaining a detailed project blog.

Following Khady, I will do a trip report on my USAID/Worldvision-funded workshop sessions for the Lubuto Library Project in Lusaka, Zambia, which ran last month from February 18 – 27. My time followed Christoph Derndorfer’s week there in late January repairing and refurbishing the 20+ XO laptops in use in two childrens’ libraries. My sessions, held at the newer library at Ngwerere Basic School in the Garden Compound, focused on training Lubuto staff and students basic and advanced Squeak Etoys and sound editing skills to enable them to enhance the 700 digital language literacy lessons they developed in 2011. For a peek at my odyssey, see this photo set on Flickr (and my detour to the incredible Victoria Falls!).

Lastly, we’ll have a beta version of the OLPC XO-4 Touch laptop, which goes into mass production soon, for you to try out.

written by Mike Lee on 18 March 2013 Comments Off

Next Club Meeting at DIY Fair, DC Library

With the recent OLPC Community Summit in San Francisco and news that my project developing digital literacy lessons in Etoys for street children in Zambia won a grant from USAID, I’ve arranged to have a club meeting as part of a display I’m setting up at the DC Library’s DIY Fair:

On Saturday, Nov. 17 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Sunday, Nov. 18 from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., the Adaptive Services Division of the DC Public Library will host a DIY (Do It Yourself) Fair in the Great Hall of Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library at 901 G St. NW. The DIY Fair will be a celebration of creativity for people with and without disabilities.

You can register for the DIY Fair through Eventbrite http://dcdiyfair2012.eventbrite.com/

The Learning Club meeting will take place Saturday Nov. 17 at 10am on the second floor of the east lobby of the DC Library during the Fair. I will give an update using the presentations I gave at the OLPC Summit on OLPC open hardware and Lubuto Library in Zambia, show off the new OLPC 15 watt solar panel with an XO-1.75 laptop, talk about the USAID grant and relay some significant news on the future of OLPC (much positive, some uncertain). I will have USB drives with the latest stable build of the XO-1 operating system for anyone who needs to upgrade their laptop. The upgrade will overwrite the contents of your laptop, so be sure to copy off important files. If you have any other special needs, please contact me in advance.

At around 12 noon, I will set up some displays I recently assembled for the local First Lego League Senior Solutions Science Expo and will be there until 3pm and during Sunday’s scheduled Fair hours. On display will be a Raspberry Pi computer running MIT Scratch and Lego WeDo, my exact replica of the Mars Curiosity Rover built entirely in Lego bricks designed by former NASA engineer Stephen Pakbaz and an XO-1.75 laptop with the digital literacy lessons developed for street children in Zambia.

This will be the last Learning Club meeting for 2012, so please use the meeting opportunity and display hours next weekend at the DC Library to bring your questions about OLPC, open source learning, open source hardware and informal digital learning.
written by Mike Lee on 12 November 2012 Comments Off

MaKey MaKey loves the OLPC XO laptop

My new MaKey Makey board sending input into the Write activity on an XO-1.75 C2 with OS 12.1.0.

My MaKey Makey kit from the insanely successful Kickstarter campaign arrived yesterday from Sparkfun! Today I got a chance to unbox it and do the initial test with my squirming XO Child on my lap holding the alligator clips to trigger the keyboard input and XO Mom taking the GIF animation frames. Success! Now we should be able to try the sample demos in Scratch on the HOWTO page and build the famous banana piano.

I can easily see larger OLPC deployments doing their own locally assembled batches of these open source hardware boards at cost. And it seems like C. Scott‘s XO Stick prototype (which I am preparing to assemble) should be able to offer some of the MaKey MaKey functionality at a substantially lower cost. Maybe we’ll see XO USB pianos around the world made from coconut, guava, mango, chinese pears and more.

written by Mike Lee on 19 August 2012 Comments Off

We’re immortalized in the new ‘Cult of LEGO’ book!

Thanks to a tip from Walter Bender, I discovered that wife Amy and I are featured in the new Cult of LEGO book from No Starch Press. My 2007 photo of Amy modeling a One Laptop per Child XO-1 laptop camera viewfinder made of LEGO bricks runs full bleed on page 41. The viewfinder is shown as an example of one of a wide variety of ingenious uses for LEGO bricks. The book itself is a broad survey of LEGO history, culture and fandom.

The Cult of LEGO is available in bookstores and online. No Starch Press offers an ebook or ebook/print bundle on their web site. The PDF ebook is pictured here on my iPad.

The LEGO viewfinder was discovered by design professor Phil Renato, who collaborated with me to create a custom design for 3D printing. We made a couple hundred of them for sale and gifting. The photo of Walter Bender looking through that viewfinder has been used far and wide. The viewfinder was even converted into a USB flash drive. Then Vik Olliver of RepRap fame came up with a simpler design that could be printed from an XO laptop to the DIY RepRap 3D printer.

My ongoing involvement with LEGO through the MIT Media Lab and the OLPC Learning Club of DC attracted a visit from producers of the LEGO Mindstorms Robotics products. I provided consulting on approaches to optimizing their low-cost WeDo robotics kit for the OLPC XO laptop. The discussions led to my introducing to LEGO the team of developers that did the port of the Win/Mac software to Linux that is now being deployed to 20,000 kids in Peru.

I’m looking forward to helping LEGO some more in 2012.

CC Flickr photo by Mike Lee

written by Mike Lee on 31 December 2011 Comments Off

I’m going to the OLPC-SF Community Summit 2010…

…you should too!




written by Mike Lee on 23 September 2010 Comments Off

Turtle Art Day! Saturday, 8/7, 1pm, Arlington Career Center, VA


Sugar Labs DC presents Turtle Art Day as a celebration and learning opportunity for the amazingly versatile Turtle Blocks and Turtle Art Mini activities for OLPC XO laptop, Sugar on a Stick and Ubuntu operating system. Turtle Art incorporates many of the graphical capabilities of the seminal Logo programming language and has been championed in recent years by Walter Bender of Sugar Labs. Interested parents, students, and teachers can experience an introduction to Turtle Art at the Career Center. There will also be a sneak preview of the new Turtle Art Activity Portal where Turtle Artists of all ages can upload their works to share. The gallery has some sublimely beautiful pieces.

Saturday, August 7, 2010, 1-4pm
Arlington Career Center
816 South Walter Reed Drive
Arlington, VA 22204

Contact Page, Google Map, Aerial Photo, Bus Info

Download the poster artwork from Flickr.

NOTE: This event takes the place of the previously announced August 21st meeting. There will be no meeting on August 21st!

Eternal Snow

Eternal Snow by Jeff Elkner

written by Mike Lee on 18 July 2010 Comments Off

OLPC News Special Hardware Meet-up in DC


Demoing the litl webbook to Sugar Labs’ Sean Daly at a recent impromptu meet-up.

 *** Note new time for August meeting. See end of this post. A new blog post will have more details.

This month, we’re doing a weeknight meet-up to look at a bunch of cool new OLPC-related hardware and another new release of the Sugar Learning Platform.

OLPC News July DC Meetup: See the Pixel Qi screen
Tuesday, July 13 at 6:30pm – 10:00pm
Looking Glass Lounge
3634 Georgia Ave NW in DC
1 block south of Georgia/Petworth Metro Station
RSVP on Facebook if you do the social networking thing…

The star of the evening will be a working example of the long awaited daylight-readable Pixel Qi 3Qi netbook screen recently offered as a DIY kit to swap into several models of off-the-shelf netbooks. The screen is the breakthrough technology originally developed by Mary Lou Jepsen for the OLPC XO that is now deployed on close to 2 million machines in developing countries. This technology is not only available now as a kit for hobbyists from Maker Shed, but will also soon be built into some major brands of consumer netbooks. See our previous blog post about this impressive DIY screen replacement kit.

We will also have the latest major milestone 10.1.1 build of  the Sugar Learning Platform on Fedora for BOTH the OLPC XO-1 and XO-1.5. More details on the release notes page. This is a must-have if you own a G1G1 XO laptop. It’ll be like you have a new machine after this upgrade and the Learning Club can advise you on the process at this and future meet-ups and meetings.

Hot off the UPS truck after a big (and much needed) price drop is Mike’s “litl webbook,” which is a large digital picture frame that flips around to become a web-only laptop that also connects to your flat screen TV.  The litl is significant to the OLPC movement in that it was designed by the same firms that worked on the original OLPC XO. Pentagram NY designed the user interface, and fuseproject the industrial design. The litl’s radically simple new user interface even contains software coded by several former OLPC employees. The litl is the closest embodiment to a consumer oriented XO laptop, except that it’s meant for your comfy broadband-connected living room or kitchen.

Jon Camfield will have the current incarnation of FrontlineSMS installed on his GSM modem-equipped OLPC XO-1. FrontlineSMS can send text message blasts out to groups, and manage replies, using only cellphone service. The system has proven invaluable for effecting agile communications in remote areas that do not have standard internet connectivity.

The Learning Club’s next meeting will be back at the Arlington Career Center on Saturday August 21 August 7, 2010*** at 1pm. Sugar Labs DC will present a much-anticipated workshop on TurtleArt as well as provide a peek at the social networking site they are building to support the software. Check back on the blog the week before or in your email inbox for meeting updates.

Hope to see you soon!

Flickr photo by Wayan Vota.

written by Mike Lee on 8 July 2010 Comments Off

Sugar Labs DC to release its TimeLapse Activity

TimeLapse Activity

TimeLapse is computer software for the Sugar Learning Platform used to gather periodic data (sound and images).  It is the first software activity developed by Sugar Labs DC and runs on the OLPC XO-1 laptop. The idea for TimeLapse grew out of the exciting, eclectic, interdisciplinary meeting of scientists, computer programmers, pedagogues, and hardware hobbyists originally brought together by the OLPC Learning Club DC.

Dr. Frank Linton, who has an observation bee hive in his house, was interested in studying the relationship between the sound made by the hive and the health and well being of the bees inside.  He wondered if he could use his XO laptop to gather periodic sound sampling from the hive.  This real world need became the seed for the development of TimeLapse.

Over the past two years, with Dr. Linton acting as customer, Jeff Elkner, and a group of young programmers from Sugar Labs, DC have made steady improvements to TimeLapse.  The current release is the first one that is installable through the Browse Activity in Sugar, making TimeLapse easily available to Sugar users all over the world.

Come celebrate the accomplishment of these talented young programmers.  Bring your XO and try out TimeLapse for yourself.

Update: TimeLapse is now available for download on the Sugar  Labs activities site.

Note time change!!!
When: Saturday, January 16th, 2010, 1 pm to 4 pm

Arlington Career Center
816 South Walter Reed Drive,
Arlington, VA 22204
Contact Page, Map, Aerial Photo, Bus Info)

Walter Bender of Sugar Labs will join in by video conference from Cambridge, MA.

We’ll also raffle off an original copy of the new XtraOrdinary 2010 SD card!

written by Mike Lee on 6 January 2010 Comments Off

Sugar Labs Goes Into Orbit!

Cici with Sugar on a Stick on netbooks

What: Family XO Mesh Meetup
When: Saturday, March 21st, 2009, 1 pm to 4 pm
*** Note time change ***

816 South Walter Reed Drive,
Arlington, VA 22204
Contact Page, Map, Bus Info)

Our March meeting is upon us this Saturday at the Arlington Career Center, but at 1pm instead. At the meeting, we’ll review this month’s OLPC/Sugar Labs headline news starting with the relaunch of the Sugar Labs web site to coincide with a new release of the Sugar user interface, now dubbed Sucrose 0.84. Not only is this new version ready to install on the OLPC XO-1, it can be tried out as “Sugar on a Stick” (SoaS) on USB flash drive (as demonstrated last month and pictured above) as well as a “live” CD-ROM. We’ll review the new features and help those who want to have it installed on their XO or want a USB drive configured. You must request a developer’s key from OLPC to install this update, and a 2GB USB drive is recommended for the SoaS. As you may have seen at the last meeting, Sugar runs on many netbooks now as well as desktop PCs and Macs using Virtual Box.

I visited OLPC Headquarters at the beginning of the month and I’ll report on what’s new there including a new Contributor’s Program. Work is beginning on the XO 1.5 with updated hardware specs and a release date of late 2009/early 2010. We may also have a special guest from Boston.

Randall Caton, Professor Emeritus of Physics and Computer Science at Christopher Newport University in the Department of Physics, Computer Science and Engineering, will speak about his work at NASA developing Etoys lessons and his hopes for the future of learning. At the January meeting, we some of us participated in a Jam session to review and collect feedback on his existing Etoys activities. We’ll be presenting our preliminary findings to Randall.

And I finally bought a replacement for the $149 Alpha 400 netbook that was smashed by some kids slamming into me on the subway. I’ll bring it to the meeting.

If you aren’t already subscribed, our monthly email update is the best way to find out about meetings. April’s meeting should be back at Gallaudet, and our confirmed guest speaker will be our very own Kim Toufectis, who will speak on using the OLPC XO to access web-based productivity tools–or what techies call “cloud computing.” Kim published some of his intial thoughts and discoveries in a post on OLPC News last month.

The photo is of my 5-year-old daughter Cici posing with two netbooks running Sugar on a Stick. The shot is from a set I created and donated to Sugar Labs.

written by Mike Lee on 15 March 2009 Comments Off

The OLPC Learning Club DC and Sugar Labs DC are independent grassroots organizations supporting the missions of One Laptop per Child and Sugar Labs.

contact us

mike lee -
curiouslee at gmail.com

jeff elkner -
jeff at elkner.net

kevin cole -
dcloco at gmail.com

luke faraone -
luke at faraone.cc

wayan vota -
wayan at olpcnews.com


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