Pilot Projects

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Parallel (to large deployments) there should be small pilot projects. The hardware is cheap it shouldn't be a problem to offer a small number of free hardware to all countries.

In every country, language, culture, climate, age, political system, ... are different pitfalls for this project. (Perhaps these are more of niches - special needs that find some equivalence in other places - that will need some customization of any or all of hardware, software and services. - Raffy, May 24, 2006)

Contents

Diversity Matrix

  • Languages and literature
  • Cultures
  • Climate (rain, dust)
  • Environment (primary forest, desert, destroyed nature,..)
  • Age (6-18)
  • Political system
  • Village size
  • Availability of electrical power
  • Transport System
  • Internet access
  • Distance to the next internet access point
  • Teachers knowledge
  • Literacy
  • Migration and making of the textbook into eBook format
  • Level of support
  • Tribe language
  • Religions
  • Distance to road
  • Economy (agicultural, tourism, industry,...)
  • Size of school

Where to do these pilot projects

  • Define the matrix.
  • Choose villages/schools/classes at random, to avoid hidden selection bias.

Evaluation of these projects

Conduct a baseline survey prior to the introduction of the laptops that includes both schools that will receive the laptop and other schools that will serve a control group. Periodically conduct follow-up surveys.

  • Benefit: Education, literacy, health, income
  • Alternative usage
  • Hardware problems
  • Software problems
  • Special ideas
  • Needs

Prior efforts like OLPC

What can we learn from previous projects using computers in the classroom?

Can we understand anything from the last five or six years in Maine?

Another great initiative out of MIT, the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab, organizes many randomized trials in developing countries.

PROGRESA in Mexico is an example of a very successful randomized controlled trial that was later scaled up. It involves paying parents if they sent their children to school and to medical clinics.

Alphasmart Deployment

USAID implemented a classroom technology component in schools in both rural and urban Jamaica with goals of increased numeracy and literacy, using a child-centric keyboarding device called the AlphaSmart, based on Palm OS software, with mixed but overall positive results. There's some documentation of this project at the USAID Clearinghouse

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