Introduction to the Boston pilot system
The Boston pilot system is based on a coalition of local support teams, independently functioning groups dedicated to performing a particular role (for example, laptop repair, server administration, or curriculum consulting) for deployment in a given geographic area. These teams work with deployment schools through a loop team (short for in-the-loop team) which coordinates and facilitates projects, contracts, and contact between loop teams and the deployment classrooms under the direction of the deployment leader (a teacher at the deployment school).
Local support teams
Local support teams are similar to small businesses (in fact, in some cases they may be small businesses) in that they offer a particular kind of product or service to pilots in a given geographic area; in this case, Boston and surrounding towns and suburbs. They work with deployment schools with the help and facilitation of that deployment school's loop team.
Local support teams tend to follow particular interest groups within the global OLPC volunteer community; for example, the Boston-area server support team would follow the school server mailing lists and talk with OLPC community members from New Zealand, Nepal, etc. who are also working on and deploying the XS. Local support teams allow these global interest groups to utilize their skills, time, and expertise to assist with (or even do) on-the-ground work in actual physical deployments.
Like small businesses, local support teams are free to choose which deployments and loop teams they want to work with as well as at kind of volunteers (or employees) they want and how to train and direct them. Similarly, loop teams and deployments are free to choose which local support teams they want to utilize the services of.
Examples of local support teams include (but are not limited to): translation teams, content creation / writing teams, peripheral design teams, fundraising teams, teacher training teams, museum exhibition teams, and so on.
Loop teams act as the gateway between deployments and the local volunteer community around them. Just as local support teams tap into the global OLPC (and other) resource pools to implement solutions in their area of interest (for instance, an off-grid power setup) at a particular geographic area, loop teams tap into local support teams to implement solutions in their particular deployment school.
Loop teams also keep the local volunteer community (including the deployment school's parents and students, and local media) "in the loop" (hence the name) on what is happening with their deployment, along with volunteer opportunities to get involved with that particular school.
Deployments are fundamentally based at schools (or, more properly, educational institutions). Deployments are led by a teacher or teachers at the deployment school - they set the direction of the relationship between a deployment and its loop team, and ultimately determine what and how will actually happen in classrooms.
Fermi Middle School has deployed XOs across its 5th and 6th grade classrooms. One of the deployment leaders is Enrico, the Italian teacher for the school, and he wants to use the XO for his language classes. He talks with the loop team about the possibility of doing a unit on Italian opera, and the loop team connects him with the local curriculum team, which helps him flesh out a lesson plan based on Cosi Fan Tutte.
The lesson plan calls for a field trip to the opera, so the loop team connects Enrico with the local workshops team, who finds a showing of the opera that students can go to and persuades several members of the chorus to give the children a backstage tour before the show. The loop team then recruits parents to help with a bakesale to raise money for the bus ride and the opera tickets, and finds several more parents to act as chaperones for the field trip.
Enrico and his class go out and have a wonderful time at the opera; the children come back and compose their own Italian arias, and stage a mini-opera of their own. The day of the performance, the local media team (a group of high school students interested in journalism, mentored by an editor from the town newspaper) comes to cover it, having been clued into the performance date by the loop team beforehand. A few days later, Enrico's class gets an email from a theatre company in Venice sending them pictures of their production of Cosi Fan Tutte; one of the actors has a sister who is a Fedora developer and saw photos of the production in the weekly report from OLPC...
Preparing to deploy within a year
If you are from a school that is interested in running a Boston-area deployment, please join the OLPC Boston mailing list and introduce yourself and how you plan to make it happen (think "grant proposal" or "business plan" format, in miniature and less formal). How many computers do you need, what kind of students are you planning on giving them to, how are you going to train the teachers, how will you find the funding? What help do you need? It is important that somebody from the school itself commit to leading the deployment; deployments are fundamentally based at schools and led by teachers. Everybody else is here to help, but the leadership has to come from the deployment schools.
Local support teams
Contact your area support teams to get involved!
- Repairs: Olin's repair center, led by User:Andreatl is acting as a pro bono Boston area Repairs shop.
- Deployment: The IMSA chapter deployment team is available to help with Boston-area deployments; they will be in Boston this January during the first week of the 2nd semester to help setup, flash, customize, and distribute XOs, setup/configure networking, server, and power infrastructures, and hold various orientation sessions for students, teachers, parents, and the local community, and will be available during this time to train and consult with local groups who want to form deployment teams. Yifan Sun is the Boston-area liason for the team; Scott Swanson is the IMSA staff liaison for the team. Check the chapter page for contact details.
- Curriculum: Olin's chapter, led by User:slammy has formed a consulting team to work with local teachers on designing and creating curricular resources to integrate the XO into their existing curriculum (including how to meet state standards). Also involved in the Curriculum team are people from the upcoming Sugar Labs Boston pilots. Contact information needed.
- Fundraising: The Boston University (Lauren O'Hanlon) and Harvard (Katelyn Foley, MacKenzie Sigalos) groups are organizing a fundraising team to help interested local schools get matching funding for their XO pilots. Contact information needed.
Are you or your group interested in taking on one of these local support roles? Email the OLPC Boston mailing list with interest and a plan of execution and we'll help you get into the local pilot scene.
- Build: XO customization team to work with local teachers on choosing, testing, and customizing a set of software and activities to install on all their classroom laptops by default every school year (or semester); syncs up regularly with the OLPC development team in the Cambridge office to stay abreast of the latest software changes
- Media: Getting the word out about local Boston-area pilots to the media community and the OLPC community - and working with students from the pilot schools to get the teachers, parents, and students themselves to contribute to such media.
- Impact: Working with local schools to measure and document the impact of XOs in their classrooms (education/ethnographic studies, do test scores rise, student engagement, etc.)
- Activities: Python programming team that can take requests for Activity development of simple games/activities and give teachers a 2-3 week turnaround time in building them (monthly code sprints?)
- Workshops: Facilitating workshops at schools and around the Boston area around OLPC; helping pilot students start and run their own community outreach programs for younger children at their school and other kids around the area, museum exhibits, festivals, etc.
- Server: We need volunteers to set up, configure, and help maintain school servers (and possibly networking infrastructure) for Boston-area pilots.
Meetings and events
Upcoming meetings and events
Notes from past meetings and events
- 2008 Oct 10 - Boston area pilots structure discussion