[Olpc-open] Olpc-open Digest, Vol 18, Issue 3

Donna Auguste donna at leavealittleroom.org
Sun Dec 2 11:50:27 EST 2007

We'll be using the XO in villages (Ethiopia and Tanzania) with middle
school children.  We have selected the XO after evaluating several ebook
readers, since our original initiative was to provide ebooks.  (We have
shipped tens of thousands of recycled U.S. schoolbooks to Africa over
the past five years, and decided last year that it's time to go digital
and align the content with each country's Ministry of Education approved
curriculum.)  The individual children in these particular village
schools do not have schoolbooks.  Schoolbooks cost more than the
schools, government, and families can afford.  The teachers have
schoolbooks (sometimes), and classrooms sometimes have a few shared
books, but there are far from enough schoolbooks for all of the children
in the classroom and there are no books to take home.  There are no
books in the homes of most of these children -- the suggestion that
parents should read age-appropriate books to their children, etc etc is
not relevant in many village situations I have experienced first-hand.
There is a wonderful oral tradition of storytelling, and the children
learn multiple languages at a very young age, and when the families have
not been ravaged by HIV/AIDS there are multiple generations in each
family.  We are going to augment the children's education with one
laptop for every student in these two middle schools, core and auxiliary
educational content pre-loaded on the memory cards, and language study.
Perhaps interesting educational dynamics will emerge as these laptops
travel home each evening and weekend for use within the family

Yes, we could choose instead to buy a classroom count of core curriculum
schoolbooks and encourage the school to allow the children to take the
books home.  We think that the wide array of auxiliary content we can
include with each XO, and the skills the children will develop as they
learn to use this computer, are a better investment than a single stack
of core-curriculum schoolbooks.  I'll let you know how it goes...

-- Donna Auguste, donna at leavealittleroom.org

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