Connecting With the Children of India
I am the Event Specialist for a library system in Frederick, Md. For U.S. National library week, April 12-13, the theme is Worlds Connect at You Library. We are celebrating the culture of India through a week of special programs, as well as an India Festival. As a precursor to the festival we would like to have a real-time web-chat with children in India. We have a few XO pc's, and would like to find a school in India to have our web-exchange with. If there is anyone with information, suggestions, or resources that they can share please contact me: email@example.com Thanks!
- (Moved from OLPC Wiki Bulletin board on 12 March 2009.) --FGrose 04:19, 12 March 2009 (UTC)
I guess this discussion did not go anywhere. It was so disappointing to see that only a few even tried understanding the meaning of OLPC as it has spread out in 45+ countries since it began its journey some 4 years ago.
Uruguay already has every child learning with it. Peru has some million children learning with OLPC. Rwanda has exceeded 100,000 with its own funds and several countries have more than 10,000 children learning with OLPC in another 40+ countries.Superscript text
Digital Literacy in India
It is a delight to see this initiative. While India is a superb software production center, digital literacy is concentrated mainly on the urban centers. Much of the rural places, where two-thirds of the population resides is almost zero in this area. We have been trying to create a rural digital initiative that will be focused on 1 million villages in India within a decade, in the context of an integrated school initiative. Hardware such as this can make this a reality!
Charles Dhanaraj Gyan Jyoti Vilas (Enlightenment from Learning) An initiative in the making (Currently I am an associate professor of management at Kelley Business School, Indiana University)
Girish R V
Localization in india is going to a big problem. Most prominent language is hindi, but there are a lot of states here which have other native languages( Tamil, Malayalam, oriya, telugu, Marathi, .. to name a few).
The extent to which English is used in India
English is one of the official languages of India, could you possibly provide some information as to what extent English is used in India please?
- India has MORE language diversity than Europe. Even though English is used as the language of the educated classes to facilitate communication amongst different regions, the vast majority of India's one billion people do not know English at all or else they vaguely remember a bit from their high-school lessons.
- Therefore, English is an essential component of the OLPC India project in order to give children the possibility of higher education. On the other hand, English is not sufficient because the majority of children will be unable to do anything with it until after several years of education.
In India, there are states with high and low literacy stages. The states like Kerala, Tamil Nadu and goa are high in literacy rates and the peoples can speak and learn in english. Uttar Pradesh and Bihar are the examples of states with low literacy rates.
I know little about India. The postage stamps have text in Hindi and English. People from India in situations such as television interviews seem to speak English. I have had a perception, which I am now begining to think was quite wrong, that English is spoken throughout India by everybody, as the common language of the country. In what language are school subjects such as physics and history taught please? I want to add that a majority of the schools teach science in English. Most schools have a second language and a third language, but the primary language will be english. If a person has completed High school he would have learned english, though he may not be fluent in it.
It's hard to get good statistics on this. For a 2003 article which cites data from 1994, see http://www.languageinindia.com/may2003/annika.html#chapter5 where it states that at that time around 4% of the people of India used English as their first language. I'd expect that if this percentage was correct then, it's probably fairly similar today. A much larger percentage of the people of India use English as a second language, of course. The crucial thing to remember about India is that it has no majority language. Only about 30% of the population speaks Hindi as a first language, and in many Indian states there is little desire to learn Hindi. In the 1950 Constitution, it was planned to phase out the use of English, but that has ceased to seem likely. To quote the CIA World factbook, from http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/in.html "English enjoys associate status but is the most important language for national, political, and commercial communication; Hindi is the national language and primary tongue of 30% of the people; there are 14 other official languages: Bengali, Telugu, Marathi, Tamil, Urdu, Gujarati, Malayalam, Kannada, Oriya, Punjabi, Assamese, Kashmiri, Sindhi, and Sanskrit; Hindustani is a popular variant of Hindi/Urdu spoken widely throughout northern India but is not an official language."
- There are 20 official languages in the EU. According to Wikipedia there are 21 official languages in India, 4 more important ones, and 13 others with over 5 million speakers.
I'm an American who's never been to India, but my impression is that virtually any person in India who has graduated from secondary school will have some knowledge of English, and nearly all college graduates will know it quite well, but that in the villages of India, children will speak the local language. --Chris Mullin firstname.lastname@example.org
My views on OLPC project
Hi OLPC project members, I wanted to express my feedback on the OLPC project. Here are my observations:
a) What is your view on the Laptop ?
Ans.)The idea of a $100 laptop is great. The laptop might have the potential to complete the objective of 'One Laptop Per Child.' I hope it will be a success. But, have a look at this : http://shopping.rediff.com/shop/productdisplay.jsp?prrfnbr=10049568&source=browse&frompg=_shopping_home_leftnavi A 'laptop' for children costing only $7.
- That is the price for remaindered or unsold stock. The Manufacturers retail price for these toys in India is 950 rupees which is about $20.70, almost 3 times the price that you quote.
>> Sir, I think that the gentlemen selling the 'laptop' for $7 might still be making profit, after sales tax, duties, and hosting charges. If this is the case, we can only guess the manufacturing cost of the laptop (possibly Made in China).
Though it lacks the interconnectivity features,
- This is a big problem for an educational device that is to be used in a school. No connectivity means no new books, no information sharing.
... does not run linux, no wifi, fixed content, perhaps a very short life span,
- The lifespan is also key. For only 5 times the cost the OLPC will deliver a unit that will last more than 5 times longer than this toy and which has innovative interconnectivity options like the extended-range low-power wifi with its own CPU, and the audio-input that can be used for scientific sensors.
...but still, for 7$ we have a laptop with static course content, a flat screen, keyboard and portability. The OLPC looks great in all respect, but still it gets beaten on price.
- This is the fallacy of the used car salesman and the discount warehouse. In fact the OLPC wins on price. The OLPC can be delivered in very large quantities and the units are very durable because of an innovative design that removes the most common points of failure in traditional laptops. The OLPC's cost per year of use is the key measure. No toy manufacturer can do better.
It might be hard to convince states to invest in such projects, because of low finances of the developing countries, when you have a competitor with much cheaper price. I am not being negative, just critical. Perhaps, it might help the OLPC project to get one of those, and to find out how do these people make the things so cheap. Secondly, I think that this laptop will promote computer literacy and open-source vision in the countries.
b) What type of features do you suggest should be added considering the Indian community as a larger picture ?
Ans.) 1)I think the major feature should be translator software. The need and effort in preparing course material in all the languages in the world is surely infeasible, takes time, and might make the material redundant, unless there is a dedicated group of volunteer or employees working behind the project. The translator might be integrated in the core, allowing even people speaking different communicate via laptop when they meet each other. It could be possible to ship the laptop with region specific translator. If two people of different regions, not having translator for each other's language, the translator must automatically broadcast in English, which other person's software can convert it his own language.
- There is no such thing as translator software. I personally speak 6 languages. Most recently I learned Russian over a period of 3 years. I frequently used machine translators to help me read Russian websites but they often produced bad translations. I would have stopped using them but I noticed that the real value was that if I read a Russian paragraph, then the English machine translation, and then the Russian paragraph a second time, I was able to understand almost all of the paragraph. The English translation was usually incomprehensible but it did somehow help me improve my Russian reading ability. However, this is a highly technical detail which would be lost on most teachers. The end result is that giving kids a machine translator would just confuse and frustrate them.
>> Frankly Sir, I agree with you that machine translation is horrible. But sir, what I thought was that many of the developing countries (includin India) already has a translation software. Though the reliance on these software will not be good, but in early stages of learning the english language, it might be good.
2) I have seen the sugar interface. If the laptop is targeting small children too, it should be more attractive, with vibrant colours, bigger text, animations etc. These fancy features can be disabled when a child grows.
- And if Sugar is skinnable then the kids themselves can determine how they like their interface. There is no need to force them into blinky flashing colors that do not further their education.
c) What type of software do you suggest can help in establishing the vision wrt India?
Ans.) 1)Is it possible to ship OLPC with flash player. If yes, it would be great. It would allow courseware developers to post interactive courseware for children. Obviously, flash is not an open source software, but player would definitely help to play the existing educational content available on the internet.
>> Sorry Sir, I overlooked the flash to SWG converter. It is equally good. Perhaps such a software integerated with the viewer will help.
Perhaps it might be possible to develop an interactive animation software for Linux, so that anyone can create content for the OLPC. The education with animation will make the things more interesting and easier, since these require less memory than video files.
- That is a good idea. Volunteers, please step forward.
2)I think that the text-to-speech will also help the project very greatly. As it has been discussed many times in the wiki, that there is a shortage of electricity in the developing countries. I think it would greatly strain the eyes of the children if they try to read under low light conditions, like in the night.
- The OLPC generates its own light for reading. It can also be fitted with a USB-powered reading lamp.
So it would help if they can just hear the content, rather than viewing it. It might also save some power, though with the new screen design, I am not sure of it. It would also help the parents, who might be illiterate, to gain some knowledge. So, it can be a family learning exercise. And of course, text will occupy less disk space than sound clips. But care should be taken to make the software speak in the local accent (and perhaps, coupled with translator, might speak an English book in the regional language). Secondly, it should be possible to fast forward, rewind, and pause the speech, the flexibility that is there in media players, perhaps with the help of some special external buttons. 3) Using text to speech, it might be possible for laptop to collect the news, announcements, warnings etc. when it is in school, connected to net. These can be converted to speech and broadcasted when at home. Perhaps, that way, parents themselves will encourage the children to open their laptop so that they can hear the news.
- On the other hand, it might be more efficient to set up radio stations to broadcast news and distribute wind-up radios. In fact, there are few areas of the world where there is no national radio news available.
4) Since the laptop might come with Firefox, I have seen software at website www.ajaxlaunch.com which can run directly off the browser, and require no installation. Since the disk-space is so limited, why not run additional software that way?
>> Sir, would it be possible to use another OLPC system (for example, teacher's) to act as a server for ajax applications?
d) What type of content should be developed that can help Indian students ?
Ans.)I think that educational content is plentifully available in India. Many companies are working in this regard. They have full set of courseware developed for students. Perhaps, Govt. can make an agreement with them for the courseware. At micro-level, I think that the teacher himself can make the best courseware. Give them a really easy-to-use software, that allows them to make animation, slides and other stuff, to be distributed in the classroom. It should be possible to make software that can be used to make courseware, and can be easier to operate than word, powerpoint, flash and other professional software, because these software has options that only a professional uses, and are not required by other people. Just that, the software should have an easy learning curve.
- Abiword is being ported to the OLPC. Perhaps this could be the core of such a system? In addition, there are Python-based Wikis like Wikidpad that can run on the OLPC.
Secondly, the Japanese comic might not be as attractive to Indian students than the Indian stories. The content should be localized, and perhaps developed locally. What about the tutorials to use the laptop itself? I think that, apart form education-centric content, there should be content that enhance the skills of children (or even their parents). Courseware related to IT education, science, learning instruments, vocational and hobby-oriented programs, should be encouraged.
e) Any hardware specification that you wish should be added ?
Ans.)I was thinking of a system in which the operating system, factory configuration, and preloaded software could be store on one, read-only hard drive (flash memory, in your case), acting just like bios with an operating system in it; and user configuration, documents, even OS update in other drive (read-write). To access the read-only memory, one might have to take out the card and insert into a separate card reader. There should be a reset button outside, pressing which we might be able to clean the user accessible drive, and revert the laptop to original configuration, just like palm handheld, or digital diaries. This might be useful, because in remote areas, the repairman might not be available, and if someone accidentally changed an important configuration, got attacked by a virus, or received a faulty OS update, or the PC crashes by a bug, he can press the reset button to erase the flash, so that the laptop gets reverted to the factory-made configuration. I think this can solve major technical support problems.
- Have you read the Hardware specification for the OLPC? It sounds like you are reinventing the wheel.
>> Sir, I read the Hardware specification page again. I guess I missed the details about the LinuxBIOS earlier. Though I am yet to find a screenshot of the BIOS, the idea which I suggested was, I believe, a bit different from it. I suggested running the *Full OS* with GUI, essential software which you would like to include, hardware support etc. from a read-only drive. Only the user data, like changes in the desktop environment, documents, new softwares etc. can be kept on separate read-writable drive. And as you are using flash memory, wouldn't it be possible to format the user-accessible drive by pressing an external button without even booting up the laptop (considering that the laptop, for some reason, is not booting up). It would be like how we restore the image from a previous backup, only that the backup would be factory configuration of the laptop, and I believe that it would remove the need for technitians to a great extent. I have seen the knoppix run off the live CD. It is something like that. The user can change the configuration, which can be saved in his hard drive, and removed if you want totally fresh environment. I am extremely sorry if I misunderstood the existing features of the laptop, but I think that once you format the flash, you will have to reinstall the linux. If I am right, the above idea will solve your problem.
f) What do you suggest for solving the development issues?
Ans.)The first thing that comes to my mind is that-Why python? There might be more developers of C++ in the world. It is a standard language and is taught all over the world in schools and colleges. Is it not possible to include gcc compiler? That way, the already existing programs could be utilized without much modifications. Anyway, python might be having some advantages that I am overlooking, perhaps ability to make GUI based programs?
- Or perhaps the ability to make programs quicker and the ability to use less storage for program code, especially when only .pyc files are in the package.
g)Server Side Solutions
Ans.)I think that the idea of the software running off the browser, like in www.ajaxlaunch.com is a feasible server-side solution. Perhaps the applications can run off the teacher's (more capable) notebook, since the internet connectivity might not be continuous in remote areas. The applications work perfectly on 64 MB ram, so I think that these might run quite well in 128 MB ram of OLPC.
h) What ideas in each category i.e.
a) Software b) Hardware c) Education d) Others
can help the vision of the project?
Ans.)Please refer to the earlier entries.
i) While ultimately, the work on curricula will be done by the ministries of education , there are several efforts underway to explore some of the education potential from this project. Could you hint someway to scale up the education potential from this project?
Ans.)The best thing that this laptop will do is decrease the dependence of people on closed source software, and groom up children in open-source environment from early childhood. This will provide a shot in the arm for open-source movement, and will develop man-power for it. The laptop could itself be an excellent source of information and practice for students appearing for exams for higher studies, like SAT, IITJEE, CEE etc. In villages, it is seen that the awareness and resources for students about higher studies is very limited, though the same is not true about the quality of brains. This program could increase the use manifold, where some volunteer teachers (perhaps professor from universities) can give them instructions, solve their queries, and give them exercises.
j) What are the different types of Open Source Software used in India apart from
* GNU/Linux system with Linux Kernel with JFFS * Mozilla Firefox * Abiword and Gnumeric * Many GNOME libraries (although not the entire gnome project) including: o GTK+ o Pango * Evince?
Ans.) I use SCILAB, AVRGCC/WINAVR, XINE, CYGWIN and GIMP, and some other tools bundled with Knoppix Live CD distribution.
I hope that my feedback might help your mission. I wish you success in your endeavors.
Is this the only thing that should be looked into???
Well i suppose that providing a laptop to every child in the world and more importantly to every child in the developing country is not the solution we are looking at.Well the development of any country nowadays depends a lot on the technological advancements and this is surely a way to achieve that.but i suppose giving a laptop to an ignorant and illiterate child is the same as giving him a toy to play and throw and nothing more. what i mean to say is that i think we should also teach them about the uses and general usage of the computers which they lack till now.for this providing the entire place with a learning setup where there would be an instructor to teach them and a couple of laptops for hands on experience for start would be helpful. i think simultaneously we should target making them technologically literate (as i would call them) would be nice idea.this would ensure tapping the talent of fast learners in a particular society as well as improving the sales of the laptop and simultaneously help in better usage as well. _____________________________________________________________________ Parampreet INDIA
- Someone has so rightly said that "If someday aliens arrive on this earth & if they are to be made aware of our civilisation, all that needs to be done is to provide them a link to the internet." The OLPC project might not be a one-stop solution but it certainly is a great technology enabler in provding children esp from the non-developed nations with a terminal to the world. It would greatly accelerate the technological growth in such areas.
- As for concerns regarding ignorance/illiteracy, I'm reminded of a project by NIIT by the name "Window in the Wall" conducted in few Indian villages where they embbedded a PC into a wall with only the monitor, keyboard & such stuff jutting out of it. It was found that the rural children out of curiousity, not only started fiddling with it but in a matter of months with NO external assistance, had actually developed mastery over computer usage & word processing tools such as MS Word.
- Coming back to my original point the OLPC project is an enabler using which future rural development schemes could be used to spread technology into remote areas & thus the development that comes along with it. It might not be everything, but its certainly an important step in the right direction. -- $ubodh Prabhu (NSIT, INDIA)
- Children in poor countries are not at all "ignorant", they like it to learn. If they are illiterate there is a reason - no books, no pen, no school, no literate adults,... --Bz 18:53, 17 June 2006 (EDT)
An Indian overview of Project
After going through the whole scenario about the OLPC, I personally feel that for India, this project could revolutionize the way of education, but I think this project is not as simple as it appears on surface. Following points should be made into consideration while implementing the project:
1) An attempt could be made to increase the flash memory from 500MB to around 1GB at the manufacturing time so that the child can store the important things like notes, lectures videos, and his projects. If this can't be done, at least a provision should be made that a user can increase flash memory according to its requirements later on.
- 512 megabytes already gives the children room for notes and projects. Lecture videos are something that is only known to work at the university level and really isn't appropriate in a constructionist project targetting elementary school children.
- The model we are espousing includes a "school server", where the children will backup their machines and retrieve additional materials. We are also utilizing the mesh to share files between machines. It would be helpful to know what specific use scenarios in India are incompatible with this model. Walter 10:10, 19 June 2006 (EDT)
2) As in rural India, people are very rigid and traditional about their lifestyles and hence do not accept any changes so easily. So there should be something which could help the parents also like providing them a way of communication which they could use to increase their income. This will make the project more popular and acceptable among villages.
- All of the laptops include extended-range wifi, capable of mesh networking, and a chat messaging application is included. If the local community adds a Motoman component then you have a general-purpose communications tool. It is expected that parents will ask their children to use the messaging capabilities to improve their economic situation and that is in tune with constructionist educational philosophy of learning by doing.
- One of the reasons it is a laptop rather than a desktop is so that it can go home with the children and become part of family and community life. Walter 10:10, 19 June 2006 (EDT)
3) Before starting the mass production, a pilot project should be tried and tested in any rural village of India to get the feedback of teachers, students and their parents. On the basis of response, the things can be improved accordingly.
- There have been numerous 1-to-1 pilot projects, in Maine in the USA, in Costa Rica, Cambodia, etc. But we are trying to achieve scale on the order of 100s of millions of children; therefore one-million machines is the pilot. Of course, OLPC will be conducting tests of the laptop in situ well before the major roll out of machines. As in any deployment, we expect to learn from the first adopter and adapt over time. OLPC is working closely with the pilot countries on deployment strategies and mechanism for sharing our collective experiences with the machines. Walter 10:10, 19 June 2006 (EDT)
4) Some educational software like e-books should be provided according to the need of country so that the use of laptop could be optimized.
- Please read the rest of this site. Clearly, delivery of e-books is a key goal of the OLPC. However, e-books cannot be delivered until they actually exist. This will be the major problem in India due to the large number of languages and scripts in use. You, and other Indian residents, could help by scanning paper books into DJVU format, resolving copyright licensing issues, and writing new e-books specifically for these kids.
The basic thing I want to say that if a country can spend buying a laptop of $100, it can also spend some more like $110-120 but features should be made flexible and useful because it is not easy for government to replace it in future spending again a whole lot of money. There may be some flaws and limitations in this project, but we have to choose diamonds from stones.
- Undoubtly there is a need for investment beyond the laptops themselves. We have been working with the pilot countries to help surface all of the needs and come up with strategies for addressing them. Walter 10:10, 19 June 2006 (EDT)
An Indian overview of Project-2
View on the Laptop " As I said earlier, this laptop culture can bring the revolution in the way of education in India. It is a tool for education and communication and can help in contributing to the entirety of aid programs. Nevertheless it can provide access to education, health, technology, economic opportunity.
Features that should be added considering Indian community as a larger picture " The most basic feature of Indian community is that it is very diverse. So this thing should be kept in mind while developing OLPC project. That means, the software should be accessible in all major regional language like Marathi, Kannad, Telugu, Tamil, Malyalam, the north east Indians languages like Manipuri, Asamia etc apart.. The software can have greater impact only in that way in India. " The contents should be localized and hence should be developed locally with the help of local teachers. " In spite of all the efforts that have been made, the major part of people in rural India is still illiterate. So, before handing them the laptops directly, some training about proper handling and usage of laptops must be given as most of the people (including children and adults) have not seen any computer in their lives yet (It may sound strange, but it is true).
Open source software used in India apart from GNU/Linux system, Mozilla Firefox, Aiword and Gnumeric etc. I feel that open source software should be used in OLPC project like Linux instead of MS Windows as open source software have following advantages: " Anyone can read the source code and learn the technology.
" Anyone can contribute by improving the code -- adding new features, correcting errors, etc. The culture of the UNIX community attaches high prestige and respect to such work. The public criticism of source code which goes on in the open source world is like the process of peer review in academic research.
" Hidden trapdoors cannot be introduced. For example Microsoft Windows once had a ``feature that it would crash a PC if underlying software from a competitor to Microsoft was being used. Such trapdoors would be rapidly discovered if source code were visible.
" The open source universe avoids the waste involved in reinventing the wheel which takes place in all software companies. In the open source world, each programmer builds on the work of others before him. This brings down the cost of development.
Some Open source software used in India apart from above mentioned : " Apache (web server), " Netscape (web browser) " Sendmail (mail transport)
Software that can help in establishing vision w.r.t India
" I think the most required feature is language translator. This language translator could be used to communicate between two people of different languages via laptop. " There should be enough consideration to the extra curricular activities in laptop like it should enhance the skills like hobby oriented courses, IT related courses etc.
" I feel there should be provision of CD/DVD writer. So the child can store necessary data and contents on external disks as internal flash memory is very less (512 MB). It is easy to say that 512 MB will be suffice but as OLPC is planning to give the laptop to child till he becomes 18, that means if a child gets a laptop at the age of 12, then for the 6 years , I feel the before said memory is quite less. " Also, there should be some easy provision like a restore button to restore the laptop to factory defaults in case laptop crash or some virus comes.
I think instead of using python, we could use any other Object Oriented Language like C++ or Java as they are standard languages and are used worldwide. Because these are also taught in schools in India, software written in them, could more effectively implement the idea of open source software. Well, my vote for Java as it is Platform independent and hence obviates the need to write different coding for different environment like Windows, Linux, and Solaris etc.
Jitesh Sachdeva NSIT INDIA
Laptop in the Indian Scenario
Laptop in the Indian Scenario
We must concentrate in the three major areas where these laptops can be a boon
A laptop would be exceedingly useful to an indian student because:
1. It would obviate the need for textbooks
2. This will help in reducing pressure on our depleting forests as textbooks consume a large amount of wood.
3. It will help in increasing flexibility and creativity which is often found wanting in our education system.
As India is an emerging business hub, It is important for our businessmen to keep up in pace with the latest trends and technology. It will help them in staying connected on the move.
Besides these two areas such a project can benefits the large rural community if the IT sector goes on to make good relevant software which may help them in obtaining news and agriculture related information.
Features in the Laptop
Now keeping in mind a larger picture with the Indian Community as a whole, I would like to suggest the following features :
1. Language Bridge If we have to really have the penetration in India we must concentrate on making Soft wares aiming at the regional languages. English is only limited to the elite group of people living in metropolitan cities. If it is to have larger impact such a software is a necessity.
2. An ebook reader. The pdf format is a good but I think we must have an ebook reader which can read Hindi as well as English books with the voices of Indian accent. This would require the development of a voice engine and also the production of voices. This software would require a lot of work but if made then it would be a lot of help to the Indian student.
3. A Free Open Source Accounting Software This will be for the business community to help them in keeping their accounts up to date.
4.Resources After the development of this project our next step must be to make available resources such as :
a) The NCERT textbooks to be made available in the Online form b) Large amount of Hindi literature to be made available on the Computer. Here I am talking about the non- copyrighted work of distinguished writers of he past.Basically we must have a parallel for Gutenberg. c) Various Websites which would provide information regarding agriculture and help farmers. d) Production of courses and online tutorials which will simulate the interest of students in science and maths.
The main impetus must be on the development of open source software if it has to emerge in a big way. The success of ubiquitous windows is often attributed the large amount of developmental tools and software. However the hardware cannot be neglected too On the hardware side, however, there must be a usb port for connection to usb drives, it may be wi-fi enabled so as to have easy connectivity to the Internet on the move.A bluetooth support would be highly beneficial too.
Feedback Regarding $100 laptop
see also : OLPC ideas
FEEDBACK IN QUESTION AND ANSWER FORMAT
1. What is your view of the laptop? INTRODUCTION The first thing that came to my mind when I read the reviews of the $100 laptop was that “Can it really be true?” It is rather unbelievable that laptops would be available to every child when some years back the idea of having a laptop seemed farfetched, at least for the Indian community.
A BOOST FOR THE INDIAN COMMUNITY It might not sound impressive to many in the developed nations, but for us, only the mere idea of is thrilling. It is not our mind block but our inability to raise funds for an expensive thing that costs around $1000 that we often end up living without them. Despite the best effort of most colleges and high schools, education in India is textbook oriented which makes it monotonous and uninteresting. This new innovation might change the approach of most of these institutions with education becoming interactive and advanced. With the introduction of the $100 laptops, we could well witness a revolution in our stale and orthodox education system since laptops would available to children at the grass root level along with all their toys. Since India is also in the list of countries where they will be made available it gives me great pleasure to congratulate all involved in this noble cause for the uplift of the developing sections of the society. THE FEATURE THAT I LIKED THE MOST:
· WIRELESS BLUETOOTH TECHNOLOGY: The first feature is the wireless blue tooth, which will create an interactive environment amongst the peers, and all-important discussions that you may have otherwise missed would just be a click away. The idea that we could be in touch with our professors even if they are not teaching would help us a great deal in getting through the problems which might have taken hours without any progress. · LIGHT WEIGHT It seems that most laptops seem to forget this basic feature in their attempts of claiming to provide the best of technology. What is the use of having a laptop if it is too heavy to carry? This feature is of greater significance in developing countries like India. This laptop would be preferred over the more expensive counterparts by the students since traveling by the public transport to college daily is certainly the most stressful task in our daily routine .The long and painful journey with a heavy bag on our shoulders seems unending. With this little pc life would be much better for the entire student community and me. · LOW POWER CONSUMPTION This feature is probably of greater significance in countries where there is hardly any power. The rural villages in India seem to be a perfect example. With this unique feature, the laptop would not only aid in studies, but would also engage the entire family with a source of entertainment and of course, light. Thus it will solve more problems than it was intended to. · USE OF OPEN SOURCE SOFTWARE This is an innovative feature, which will give the students an opportunity to decide for themselves what to place on the machines. The students could choose the software, hardware and content giving them the sense of owning the computer in every sense. · THE DURABILITY The laptop being rugged goes to show that it is essentially targeted to suit the needs of the children. The use of flash ensures it to be free from common failures that most laptops seem to have (fans, connectors, backlights). The use of bumpers is another unique feature, which will protect the laptop even if it is mishandled.
2. What type of features do you suggest should be added considering the Indian community as a larger picture? · THE LANGUAGE BARRIER:
The laptop will reach out communities having diverse cultures and languages. So the mode of communication being English would put additional burden on the children for whom English is entirely an alien language and one, which they might never use. Although it will help in bridging the communication gap, but it might not be suited for all communities having varied sentiments. Take for example India; we have 18 regional languages and numerous dialects. It is my request to provide me with more information regarding your choice of languages because it might be pretty difficult to include all.
Also I propose that even if English would be the medium of learning you should present it in a very elementary form because the level of English is not up to the mark in developing countries like India. · THE HURDLES IN CONNECTIVITY: a) On going through the specifications, although the idea of a mesh network seems flattering on one look, I feel I have my reservations about its implementation. The places where telecommunications might take decades to establish the idea of village being wi-fi enabled seems an upheaval task and requires volunteers with dedication and finance. Even the concept of motomen seems to offer a cheaper substitute, but this seems to be time consuming in case of emergencies. I also feel that an entire village should not be at the mercy of a single individual and there should be an organization to regulate the actions of the motomen. I feel that in villages quite far away from urban areas, wi-fi hubs should be installed rather than the motomen carrying information. Thus the implementation of this project in rural areas is a daunting task for this noble organization. b) Another thing that I may like to point out is the idea that these mesh networks will complement the Internet. In countries like India where Internet service providers are few and far between and provide slow connection speed at a very high cost, I feel this might not be as successful. I also have a query as to who will bear the cost of the service that is going to be provided by the service provider. If the Internet is going to be provided to the schools in villages at a cost (even if it is subsidized), I feel hardly any of the students may be able to opt for it considering the frequent finances that they may have to bear. c) There is one more thing that keeps me pondering. I think that since it is an interconnection between neighboring computers, I have little knowledge as to who will regulate the data transfer and the internal security system of the computer. Since these computers would be available in huge numbers the security of the system is an essential aspect. · THE POWER GENERATION:
While I do not know the final design, the idea of human power has left me wondering about its pros and cons. Although it just seems to fit in perfectly considering the shortage of electricity in developing countries, the use of hand crank by children is a tough task (especially for children for whom it is targeted). Even the idea of external voltage being used for charging the laptop seems farfetched since most places don’t have power for many days. So I feel that power generation for the laptop should be manual with an electrical substitute, which could be used at places where electricity is available.
3. What type of software do you suggest can help in establishing the vision with respect to India? This is one area where I have insufficient information available at the site to make any comments. The use of open source software is an outstanding feature, which gives the user an option of modifying the software. · Considering India, I feel that Linux environment would be something quite alien to the people. Since most are quite familiar with Windows as an operating system. Even most high schools and colleges don’t use Linux as an alternative to Windows. So the student fraternity would find it hard to adjust to an entirely new operating system. I strongly recommend that the laptop should be as user friendly and self-explanatory as possible considering that it is targeted for the children of the developing countries. · Although the open source software would give the privilege to the user to build his machine (as one may say), I have my doubts regarding the relaxation being given as far as these privileges are concerned. (It would lead to utter chaos if every child would want his own modifications). I feel that local areas as a whole would be given the choice because content sharing could then become a problem.
4. What type of content should be developed that can help Indian students?
· IT is what urban India is known for in the rest of the world (consider silicon valley for example where a huge population is of Indian IT professionals) and rural India may follow suit if the implementation of this project succeeds. The one thing that is gaining a lot of popularity is the awareness about programming languages (like c++, java etc). So if it is to reach the Indian community with a big impact, the compatibility of the laptop to serve the needs of budding programmers is one of the foremost objectives. Although I feel as far as content is concerned, considering an overview of the laptop’s features I am pretty satisfied and feel the needs of the Indian students would be completely met. 5. Any hardware specification that you wish should be added? · THE CHANGING WEATHER
As you have explained the use of a lip to seal the edges in order to prevent it in rain, I would like to have more information about its durability in changing weather. The reason why I am asking this question is that India has diverse climatic conditions with weather ranging from –30degrees Celsius in the north to 50degrees in some parts during summers. Floods are common occurrence in most places. I would like to know whether it would be able to work in these diverse weather conditions. If not the children should be provided with a list of remedies to tackle the hostile weather for the safe working of their laptop.
· THE SOURCE OF POWER There are pros and cons to the source of power being manual or electrical. If the source is manual (cranks) then it will suit the needs of the children of the developing countries where there is shortage of electricity, but I have some concerns about the efficiency and it’s working. However if the source is electrical, then the efficiency would be very high but the shortage of electricity seems to have foiled this option.
6. While ultimately, the work on curricula will be done by the ministries of education, there are several efforts underway to explore some of the education potential from this project. Could you hint some ways to scale up the education potential from this project? · An Autonomous regulatory body: I feel that this is one of the prerequisites for the success of this project. The ministries of education might act, as consultants but the authority should be in the hands of an independent agency. If this is not the case most children in the countries wouldn’t be able to get their laptops and corruption would hamper the efforts of the community that has worked its heart out for the successful implementation of the project. · Skilled labor: This is another very important prerequisite. There should be people trained enough to teach the children or even their teachers the detailed features of the laptops. Volunteers for this noble cause would be available in plenty, so solving this problem might be quite easy. But I think that the volunteers should be willing to help the students at every step and regular information regarding the updates related to the laptop must reach the children directly and not through any intermediaries. · Part of curriculum: Although you might disagree with me, but this is one thing which I may think is necessary especially for children and even teachers in India. Indian students have a very bad habit of neglecting stuff that is not a part of their curriculum. If computers are included as a subject it will push the students to gain knowledge from it rather than playing with it. Although it is an orthodox approach, it seems to work in India’s case.
To conclude I feel that this project would reshape the future of the children in the developing countries and consider it to be have a bigger impact than a World Bank funding (as an example). I pray for the success of this project and hope that it may succeed to accomplish its goals.
Sulabh Arya (New Delhi India)
Feedback: OPLC Project
Personally speaking, when I first heard about this OLPC project, I was really fascinated. It was also really hard to believe that something of this sort and with such great impact on the developing societies of the world could be possible for as low as $100.But on going into the details of the project I have come to believe that it is is a reality and the project is in its final stages of its development.
a) What is your view on the Laptop ?
It is indeed a great idea and a very revolutionary one which will have a great impact on the generations to come.It will enable the children to question the things around and to learn the new concepts and fundamentals on their help and will also encourage greater communication between them will the help of the mesh networking which is actually the true definition of education.It will vastly improve the skiled human resource of the developing countries which are somewhat devoid of it in the present scenario.All in all it is a great start which will change with the changing needs of the society.
(b) What type of features do you suggest should be added considering the Indian community as a larger picture ?
The various features that i would suggest considering the Indian community as a whole will include :-
1. All the programs and study material must be in the vernacular languges so that it is easier to start with but an effort must be made to teach the children some of the very important languages that will help them in the future the most important being English. 2.The body should be solid enought o bear the daily wear and tear and the adverse climatic conditions in india 3.The contents of the ebooks of other educational software must be written with sufficient participations of the teachers of India and no one knows the needs of the students of this country better than these.And the contents must be indiscriminatory. 4.I think that an inbuilt radio synchnonised to the freuency of AIR and if possible FM as these still remain the major sourses of information for the rural india. 5. As many of the users of the laptops will be very new to anything like this,there are bound to be problems pertaining to the hardware. So there must be enough individuals with adiquate knowledge to bring the system back to its normal state.
c) What type of softwares do you suggest can help in establishing the vision wrt to India ?
1. A good collection of ebooks if the first and foremost requirement and as their is a shotage of memory,the ebooks must be updated according to the needs of the students.This might be done by a few individuals who may be assigned the task for a particular district and so on. 2.It must also contain some dictionary software which helps the students to find the meanins of the difficult words in the inculded ebooks and softwares. 3.Teaching guides must be embedded in the system itself so that the students can learn to operate the laptop in a very systmised and efficient way and may not at any stage feel that it is out of their capabilities. 4.A few small games may also be included as there should be some entertainment as well though the primary aim is education. 5. the idea of open sourse code is also great as it gives the students great oppurtunity to find new dimensions for themselver and also can customise and scale the ;aptop to their needs and requirement.
(d) What type of content should be developed that can help Indian students ?
As this project is basically directed towards the education of the age group 6-18 which means from primary to the senior secondary,we cannot expect a 6-7 year old child doing programming.So the basic reqirement is to continuously upgrade the contents depending upon the need and his abilities.This will also cater to the memory shortage problem as only that stuff rsides on thlaptop which is required.The participation of local teachers is a must for the success of the programme.
e) Any hardware specification that you wish should be added ?
The hardware seems suffient enough to cater to the needs of the students in a large way. We cannot ask for more for a price as low as $100. But i think that the 500MB flash memory is the only restriction in this project.So atlest a CD-ROM drive must be their which helps in easy data transfer and sharing.If possible it may be upgraded to a cd-Writer.
f) What do you suggest for solving the development issues ?
The task of development of the machines must be decentralised as this will help in a great deal in bringing down the manufacturing cost. Also more than the manufacturing, the distribution system must be regularised properly so as to enable proper distribution of the laptops to the needy students and to prevent the misuse of the stuff.
==j) What are the different types of Open Source Software used in India apart from GNU/Linux system with Linux Kernel with JFFS,Mozilla Firefox Abiword and Gnumeric.
The idea of the open sourse software is a great one.The basic advantages of it are the avalability os the sourse code and the right to modify it,right to improvement and right to use it in any way. Some of the problems overcomed by these are like there is no one with the power to restrict in a unilateral way how the software is used,there is no single entity on which the future of the software depends,there is always the possibility of creating an alternative code base if the current one is in some way perceived as wrongly managed.
Today, open source programs such as Apache (web server),Netscape (web browser), and sendmail (mail transport) are the dominant products in their categories with over 10 million copies in use for each.
I hope that this project servers what it AIMS at and help in the upliftment of the children giving them a brighter future to live in.
Keshav Dubey NSIT New Delhi India
Where to start OLPC in India?
After reading the news Kerala starts campaign to oust Microsoft from schools at FT.com, I think the right state to start with is Kerala.
Please correct the India map on the website. Full of inaccuracies. 220.127.116.11 12:37, 11 October 2006 (EDT)
- Could you please be more specific? Thanks. --Walter 14:16, 11 October 2006 (EDT)
In kerala there is a project called IT@school by Govt of Kerala. It also have a GNU/Linux Distribution called school GNU/linux Developed by Free Software foundation of India. it will be good to approach any of these people.
Samarpanam a group of software professionals located in Chennai, Tamil Nadu would like to express their desire to take up the initiative.
Languages are only listed by name. Programmers need country codes. For example, en_US for US English and fr_CA for Canadian French.
Country codes ought to be in the list, and also in the per-language pages.
- I agree that "programmers" need codes: ISO 639-1 has the codes of the most 'urgent' or 'used' languages by the project, which is expanded as needed (trying to avoid duplicating the full list). There are some country-specific language pages (although using ISO 639-3 codes—a glitch) like OLPC Argentina/Languages & OLPC Peru/Languages. On the other hand, India has just 'gone green' and it's language dimension is enormous, so if you feel that's an itch for you to scratch, you are more than welcome! :) --Xavi 23:55, 12 September 2007 (EDT)
Structure of OLPC_India page
I feel like the main OLPC_India page needs some more structure.
The OLPC India Student Chapter created a section for their status, which is excellent. I would like to see more sections with intents from the different groups out there. At a minimum, can someone from Khairat put an entry in? OLPC India website is on www.olpcindia.net Its managed by OLPC India Foundation OLPC India
Update from OLPC Association: Miami: August 2012
"Any inquiries with respect to new projects in India should be directed to email@example.com. We expect to announce a new head of the OLPC project in India in the near future. The OLPC India website (http://olpcindia.net/en/) should no longer be considered an authoritative source of information on OLPC in India or elsewhere."