Projects/Offline Lessons

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Project Title


Project Name: Offline Lessons for Lesotho Deployments

Project Leader: Janissa Balcomb, Laptops to Lesotho Inc.

Number of Laptops Requested to Borrow: 8 XO-1 laptops.

Loan Length: 24 months


Objectives

Project Objectives: Our goal is to provide a complete collection of offline lessons for XO laptop deployments in Lesotho without internet access.

Our deployments in Lesotho are in remote areas that have no internet service, so the vast resources found online are not available to them. We will collect, adapt, and/or develop a full school year’s worth of lessons for all grades 1-7, starting with math and English. Some lessons will be provided in both English and Sesotho, the local language.

The purpose of these lessons is to supplement Lesotho’s national primary school curriculum and textbooks. However, these lessons will not only impart informational content consistent with existing textbooks. They will be designed in a way that enables students to learn more effectively, fosters further exploration and learning, and develops the more advanced cognitive skills not currently acquired under the traditional educational system in Lesotho.

Our lessons will be designed primarily to be self-taught by the student or a group of students working together. Using the Learn Activity, students will be able to work through the lessons at their own pace.

Currently, the school uses Khan Academy videos and Siyavula lesson plans from South Africa on the XOs, but these are not interactive offline. We want to adapt these lessons to make them interactive. We also want to develop other lessons using various XO Activities.

In Lesotho, these lessons will be delivered via USB flash drives and made available offline on school servers. The lessons will also be posted online for other deployments to download and use.


Plan of Action

Plan and Procedure for Achieving the Stated Objectives:

  1. Adapt Siyavula lesson plans to remove comments for teachers, format them for the XO screen, and make them interactive
  2. Locate and review existing lessons available online for the various XO Activities (in English)
    STATUS: Started
  3. Download, catalog, tag, and rate appropriate lessons by overall quality, grade level, main subject, topic, and description
    STATUS: Started
  4. Develop new materials and lessons for the curriculum not covered by existing materials (in English)
    STATUS: Started
  5. Translate lessons, especially for lower grades, into Sesotho, including recording Sesotho audio files
  6. Upload lessons to the virtual server on the Karma Learning website, and integrate lessons as milestones and activities in the Learn Activity
  7. Deliver the materials to Lesotho on USB drives
  8. Install the lessons on the school servers in Lesotho
  9. Make lessons available for download


Needs

Why is this project needed? Online resources provide vast information and opportunities for learning for children and schools that have internet. But those without internet don’t have access to these resources. Right now, the only option to get access to these resources is for someone from outside the area to acquire the information and physically bring it to those locations. In countries like Lesotho, internet cafes are concentrated in urban areas and can be very hard to get to for people living in remote areas. Even when it is available, internet is very expensive. Paying for the internet time needed to search for large quantities of information is too expensive and time consuming to make it practical in-country.

Locally? We have about 135 XO-1 laptops deployed at two primary schools in Lesotho and are starting plans to expand to one, possibly two, schools in the next 18 months. The XOs currently there are used regularly, but they are not being used effectively, certainly not when it comes to students learning math, science, and language. The teachers don’t have the time or skills to make their own materials for the XOs.

In the greater OLPC/Sugar community? Lack of internet access seems to be a common problem for deployments, not just in Lesotho. Materials and lessons we create could be used by other English-speaking OLPC deployments, both with and without internet. They could be customized for other languages.

Outside the community? There are many schools that have computer projects or labs that are used only to teach computer skills, not standard subjects or advanced cognitive skills. Most use software that is designed for adult productivity, not for children learning. If they had access to appropriate offline educational materials, the computers might be more useful for overall learning. While some of the lessons we develop for XO laptops would not be in a format standard computers can use without Sugar on a Stick, some lessons, such as ones using Etoys and Scratch, could be useful.

Why can't this project be done in emulation using non-XO machines? Some of the work can and is being done on standard computers, for Etoys and Scratch, though not in emulation. Some of our volunteers don’t have their own computers to install Sugar on a Stick on. We want to be able to create collaborative lessons using the mesh networks. We’d like to test all the materials we create on XO laptops to make sure they work properly before we distribute them.

Why are you requesting the number of machines you are asking for? We are asking for eight XO laptops. We have ten team members scattered around the U.S. and in Lesotho. Two team members already have XO laptops, but the other eight do not. We would be happy to use damaged and/or refurbished computers. We can do some repairs and minor software fixes ourselves, if necessary.


Sharing Deliverables

Project URL—where you'll Blog specific ongoing progress:

  • Status of action items will be posted here on our Wiki OLPC Project Page under Plan of Action.
  • Updates and details will be posted on our L2L blog

How will you convey tentative ideas & results back to the OLPC/Sugar community, prior to completion? We will post regular progress reports and information of the L2L blog, which is shared on the Planet Laptop website. We will discuss ideas and questions with the OLPC community through listsevers for the support-gang, educators, and OLPC-za.

How will the final fruits of your labor be distributed to children or community members worldwide? The materials will be open-source and made available for download at the websites for LocalFi and Karma Learning. Links will be posted on the L2L website, L2L blog, L2L facebook page and the LocalFi facebook page. Notices of the lessons’ availability will be posted on OLPC listserves.

Will your work have any possible application or use outside our community? Yes, but at this time we have no plans to actively promote our materials other than posting information at various online locations already mentioned.

Have you investigated working with nearby XO Lending Libraries or Project Groups? Yes. One volunteer in Lesotho has borrowed an XO laptop from the school. There are no lending libraries or project groups in or near areas where our other team members are located.


Quality/Mentoring

Would your Project benefit from Support, Documentation and/or Testing people? yes

Teachers' input into Usability? yes

How will you promote your work? As mentioned above, through L2L reports and blog, LocalFi, Planet Laptop, and OLPC listserves, plus via communications with supporters and funders.

Can we help you with an experienced mentor from the OLPC/Sugar community? We are currently getting help from Caryl Bigenho and Tony Anderson, but we would gladly accept help from other members of the OLPC community.


Timeline

Proposed timeline for your Project life-cycle:

Months 1-2 (April-May 2013)

  • Start editing Siyavula lessons
  • Train team members on various XO laptop activities
  • Distribute Lesotho textbooks, syllabi, and schemes of work to team members
  • Compile list of projects and websites to search
  • Set up procedures for reviewing, cataloging, and rating (by overall quality, grade level, main subject, topic, and description). Coordinate procedures with LocalFi.org
  • Begin reviewing existing online projects & lessons

Month 3 (June)

  • Deliver completed lessons to Lesotho
  • Deliver one XO laptop to team member Mary in Lesotho

Months 3-5 (June-August)

  • Finish editing Siyavula lessons
  • Finish team member training
  • Continue reviewing existing projects & lessons
  • Begin downloading, cataloging, tagging, and rating appropriate lessons
  • Begin developing new lessons – concentrating first on grades 1-3 math and English
  • Begin Sesotho translations

Months 6-9 (September-December)

  • Continue developing new materials and lessons for math and English
  • Continue translating into Sesotho, including recording audio files
  • Post completed materials on LocalFi and Karma Learning websites

Months 9-11 (December 2013-February 2014)

  • Integrate materials as milestones and lessons in the Learn Activity
  • Deliver the materials to Lesotho on USB drives
  • Install the lessons on the school servers in Lesotho

Months 11-21 (February-December)

  • Continue developing new materials and lessons for math and English
  • Continue translating lessons into Sesotho, including recording audio files
  • Continue posting materials on LocalFi and Karma Learning websites

Months 21-23 (December 2014-February 2015)

  • Integrate materials as milestones and lessons in the Learn Activity
  • Transport the materials to Lesotho on USB drives
  • Install the lessons on the school servers in Lesotho

Month 24 (March 2015)

  • Clean up any unfinished business

I agree to pass on the laptop(s) to a local OLPC group or other interested contributors in case I do not have need for the laptop(s) anymore or in case my project progress stalls.

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