Deployment Guide 2011/Post Deployment Phase
OLPC Deployment Guide 2011: Post Deployment Phase
There is a tremendous tendency to think that the work is done once the laptops reach the children, but the laptop arrival really marks the commencement of the most critical phase in a deployment and its positive impact on the children.
Post deployment should focus on three key areas:
- Continued Teacher Training and Support
- Extracurricular Environments
- Maintenance and Repairs
Community support is also a key success factor for a project. Many projects establish web portals for students, parents and teachers where they can share information and see the progress of the students. Many projects also sponsor contests using the laptops which can be supported by private sector sponsors. An additional resource is the websites and portals of other OLPC projects around the world where additional ideas for community support are available.
Every project should have an ongoing public relations program to build community support, develop pride in the project and its results and possibly as a means to attract additional funding. Many projects have international public relations programs that attract academic interest in the local project and prompt visits from multi-lateral institutions interested in education and social projects. Through its public relations program Project Ceibal in Uruguay has garnered worldwide attention as one of the leading educational laboratories in the world.
Many projects benchmark their students and then periodically evaluate the student progress every six or twelve months. The UN uses six month evaluations and large federal projects typically evaluate students every year. The advantage of benchmarking is that it provides objective, transparent feedback on the success of the project and many multi-lateral financial institutions require it. OLPC leaves evaluation to the sponsor’s decision, but OLPC can provide resources to implement an evaluation program.
Continued Teacher Training and Support
Teachers are a key part to any successful deployment. As the teachers see the increased student enthusiasm for learning as a result of the laptops, the teachers naturally become more demanding for their own additional training; help to integrate Sugar into the curriculum and hands on assistance to develop lesson plans using the laptops. Every project should be designed to provide a minimum of once a month additional training to every teacher in the project. It should also be noted that the teacher trainers will need periodic additional training from OLPC to reinforce the OLPC pedagogy and expand their skill levels.
After initial teacher training has occurred, the local learning team must provide other support mechanisms for teachers in order to aid the process of integrating laptops to their daily teaching routine. In-class assistance, support for lesson plan development, are examples of strategies to be offered on a school level. Regular meetings with teachers can provide direct feedback for educational team to plan for additional learning workshops, which should be based on teachers and students needs. These meetings also provide an opportunity for teachers to share their experiences, learn different strategies, plan interdisciplinary projects, and create strong school ties.
Content Development is another area that core team needs to constantly work on. It is important for teachers to have access to updated and innovative resources. Examples of this content can include: Lesson plans, Guides, Case studies, assessment guides, online resources, and blogs.
Extracurricular programs where children can use the XO laptops outside of school settings are essential for meaningful learning experiences. When children are highly engaged in using the XO for activities they are interested in, not for contents limited to school curriculum, we allow them to fully explore their interests while appropriating new technological skills. It allows children to use self expression and creativity and consequently become fluent with the technology, while increasing their motivation, self empowerment, and impacting their lives in an extraordinary way.
We recommend designing and organizing After-school/ Weekend programs, clubs or camps with specific topics or activities at different schools or communities. These programs can involve teachers, students from different levels, as well as local partners and can provide an excellent experience where learners (teachers and students) create, collaborate and share projects and ideas.
Integrating the family through activities that allow parents to work with their children in specific projects related to their interests is another enriching experience for students and families. The objective is not only to enable parents to share knowledge and experience with their children, but also to understand the value of the computer and how it fits into the learning process. This is also important for the viability and sustainability of the project.
Maintenance and Repairs
The actual repair of the laptops may be handled in many ways. There are three popular methods:
- The students repair their own laptops and parts are delivered to the schools bi-monthly based on an order.
- The laptops are repaired by third party repair facilities located throughout the project area; this approach creates local jobs.
- The laptops are repaired by technicians who visit the schools on a bi-monthly basis and make the repairs.
The choice of a repair procedure depends on the educational, political and economic objectives of the project sponsor. Another issue with respect to repairs is who pays for the parts and labor involved in repairing the laptop. Some projects offer the first repair for free and subsequent repairs are paid by the child’s parents. Other projects offer all repairs for free because the families lack the money to pay even a small cost. The policy with respect to repairs and payment should be explained at the initial community event where the project is introduced to school administrators and parents. Laptops are shipped with an overstock of 1% of the order. These “extra” laptops should be used as replacements for failures in the field. Thus the “broken” laptops are a ready supply of spare parts for other components, such as the display, the wifi antennae, and the motherboard.
Most repairs, including replacement of the motherboard can be done in the field with just a screwdriver. The children can make these repairs themselves and are encouraged to do so by OLPC. Regional distribution of spare parts is something to consider, as well as the authorization of regional repair centers.
While commercial-grade support could be arranged, it is discouraged by OLPC both because it tends to raise costs and it adds a level of external dependency that is unnecessary. If you feel the need to invest in support, we encourage you to make that investment locally, the local community can be trained by technical team to do this themselves.