Deployment Guide/tips

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I. Simple Deployment Tips, Ideas, and Experiences

  • Provide activation codes and procedures in timely fashion to the deployment sites—at least 24 hours before the laptops are scheduled to arrive at the destination.
  • Use a spreadsheet to properly calculate the number of servers, antennas, access points, switches, meters of UTP Cat5 cable, crimping tools for 8-Pos. RJ45 plugs, connector (Cat5-RJ45), etc.
  • Most enterprise access points will work fine because they allow for fine control of WDS. It is recommended that you test any access points you plan to deploy before you go out into the field. See the http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Wireless_Access_Point_Compatibility webpage for appropriate access points.
  • Document a procedure that is easy to follow regarding how to set up and design the internal network infrastructure.
  • XO laptops should not be deployed to places without a primary source of electricity, unless there is provision for alternative power sources.
  • Proper selection of the initial schools in the deployment is of key importance: always adhere to OLPC’s principles of a focus on younger children and community saturation.
  • A support team (with specific individuals identified for software, content, connectivity, and logistics) should be assembled in advance.
  • A professional interpreter (if required) should be available throughout the implementation for the teacher and feedback sessions, infrastructure setup, etc.
  • The teacher-preparation sessions have to be adapted day-by-day, depending on the group dynamics, their concerns, their understanding of the OLPC “Learning Approach”.
  • A toolkit should be brought with the implementer, though acquisition of local tools and supplies is encouraged. The toolkit should include a soldering iron, screwdriver, solder, pliers, wire cutters, electrical tape, sensors, wires, USB connectors, and a multimeter.
  • For the technical session with volunteer teachers, parents and community members, have a magnetized screwdriver per participant, otherwise one screwdriver for two people to share.
  • Having the software and the keyboard in the local language adds to the comfort-level of the community.
  • The fewer servers to be installed per school the better, since usually they have to be placed in secure places and proper environments (not too humid, not too hot,...); finding one secure place may be feasible, but the greater the number of servers, the greater the complexity of the situation in some schools.
  • The mesh should ideally reach every corner of the school, from classrooms, to gym, to patios, to cafeteria, to teachers' rooms, etc.
  • It is a must to have a dedicated, willing and capable country team taking the lead of the project. The more they take over and the sooner they do it, the better.
  • The country team should understand the complexity of the OLPC project in order to implement it within the local context and therefore should be able to resolve the detailed challenges, which include detailed distribution plan, power and network setup, security strategy, content requirements, media strategy, Constructionist Learning approach.
  • Local customs, beliefs and ways of doing things should be incorporated within the implementation and the foreign implementors should be adaptive and aware of them.
  • The electrical set up of the schools has to be evaluated according to the demand of power that will be required to power the XO laptops, servers, and other devices. If it is not the proper one, then it has to be fixed.
  • The Internet connection should be as fast as possible, considering long-term affordability.
  • Upgrades must be as transparent as possible for the users.
  • The power adapters for the laptops should be the proper ones for the country.
  • Prior to the laptop arrivals, a technical team (or person) should be responsible for evaluating, setting up, testing and vouching for the network and power infrastructure.
  • Open communication with the country team and OLPC is essential to plan realistic implementations within the specified time frames.
  • Testing of the mesh and Internet connectivity through the OLPC server set up should be performed with different numbers of XO laptops: if we have a limited number, then schools should be chosen accordingly.
  • All the people involved in the OLPC country deployment should provide feedback to the team for improvements daily or every other day.
  • OLPC should point in-country teams towards possible sources of content and empower them to create and adapt their own content.
  • A deployment principle to always keep in mind is long-term self-sufficiency within the schools and the country.
  • Set up a maintenance structure starting from the schools to specialized support and procedures, so the children can have their laptops with them as long as possible.
  • Technical know-how should be passed on to school and country teams through a Constructionist Learning approach.

Next Section: Deployment checklist

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