A new chapter
Its time to write a new page in the odyssey of my thinking on development. See my original idea below. I was in the trenches with that approach for about 8 months and it was a great experience. I also spent some cycles in those months thinking about learning and how the mind works. Time permitting I will start adding my latest ideas here.
Focusing on learning and education. I now want to build an in depth look at the administration in one school system: Newton Public Schools: http://www3.newton.k12.ma.us/
with a particular emphasis on the School Committee: http://www.newton.k12.ma.us/schoolcommittee/
The Highest Level
Starting with the fundamental concept, you can break software development in to two parts:
1 - Decide what you want the software to do
This includes the interface, the data manipulation, the I/O, performance and target hardware. More importantly it includes and idea of what the user wants to get out of it. Unless you are developing programs to see what programming is all about (a good thing but a special case), you want to get something from the software. Maybe its to have fun, learn math, find information, answer a question, make money, make more software or something else. The user wants to do something and the program should be designed to help them accomplish that.
2 - Order the bits to achieve the users goal
This is hard. Nonetheless, it comes after the first part and how you order the bits determines how successful you will be in achieving the users goal.
Both parts interact and inform each other. Often the user doesn't really know what they want the software to do until they see some software and get an idea of what it can do. One way to think about it is in terms of I/O. That is, you can see anything you want on the screen. What do you want to see?
Here's a trivial example exchange:
User: I want to see a fractal.
Developer: No problem, what kind of fractal?
User: What choices are there?
Developer: How about a Mandelbrot set?
Developer: Here's a program that generates a Mandelbrot set
User: That's cool, can I zoom in on it? Can I look at some more fractals?
Developer: OK, here's a program that can zoom in and out (you didn't ask for zoom out but I added it anyway). Here's a config interface that let's you define the series of any fractal you want to build. It includes a link to common fractals, their defining series and how to make your own series.
User: Great, that's just want I want. Can you make it run a lot faster?
Developer: Buy a better computer, I have work to do ;-)
That's trivial because the output is a well defined mathematical construct, easily programmed and understood. Still, it takes some back and forth to get it right. The user really wanted to enjoy the visual excitement of fractals, poke around in them and understand how they get generated. A user would have to think about themselves and see a therapist (or product manager) before they could express the requirements in that way.
Now take that exchange and start it with: "I want a program that teaches me math"...
My list of places where student and educator input results in new software being developed for the XO or XS.
User experience, input, ideas and blogs
Uruguay pilot blog.
Great feedback from Nepal!
See especially the blog for details on technical configuration, challenges and strategy.
Detailed feedback and reports from XO deployment in the Carribean
Sign up for their superb newsletter too and make a contribution to keep this feedback coming in.
OLPC Wiki on Peru
Input from Peru. See Actualizaciones de Perú section for two reports and check back as this site is being built by a teacher in Peru.
Peru OLPC Wiki page
Make sure to click on the Lambayeque link. Good details there!
Uruguay Teachers Blog
Active as of April 2008
Blog from Pakistan by Waqas Tor
Main Pakistan page:
Ask OLPC a Question: http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Ask_OLPC_a_Question Long list of incoming questions. Lots of sub links to questions asked and some answered. I'll extract and categroize relevant links soon. Mostly questions from people wanting to help the project or get a laptop.
IXO's blog: http://ilxo.org/blog/?p=56
Priorities from Carla
1. Touch pad
2. Mesh working reliably and easily
3. Fast and reliable. That it doesn't crash or freeze. That it doesn't take long to open an activity or to do something within an activity.
4. Internal Clock is not reset, so the activation is lost.
5. File management. Guarantee that everything they work on is saved –and/or backed up– and never lost. Allow users to have only one file open when working on the same document/program (unless the users specify another modality). Permit that they can easily backup in a USB stick many files at a time, that they know how much space they still have left on the laptop, that they can only keep the files worth keeping.
- For me*:
Besides the stuff above,
1. Allow for intuitive mesh connection and activity-sharing
2. Fix the Internet connectivity: when connecting to the Internet, they click on the Web icon, and when they see Google displayed, they type something, they get an error page,...and they don't know what to do
3. Make menu-text user-resizable or make it bigger: many menus are very small, and some children –and many teachers– have trouble reading them (Turtle Art block labels, eToys,
4. Simplify changing user-preferences: typing sugar-control-panel is not easy ...
An In Depth Look at School System Goals in Uruguay
First major XO roll out in Uruguay Ceibal Blog
Requirements and Deployment Update
Slowly growing web site on OLPC Wiki
Uruguay Volunteers site
Updates and blog on team deploying XOs and doing training in Uruguay
Report on Education In Uruguay In General
Report on Education in Uruguay by Government Ministry
First questions from kids in Uruguay
El más solicitado, la pregunta más oída fue: “Señor, señor, ¿cómo hago para poner música?”
My rough translation: The most asked questions was "Mr. Mr, how do I play music?"
La segunda: “Señor, señor ¿me enseñás a sacar las fotos?”
My rough translation: Second, Mr. Mr. teach me hlow to take pictures?"
La tercera: “¿dónde están los juegos?” Y la cuarta: “¿cómo hago para escribir?”
My rough translation: The third, where are the games and the fourth: how do I use it to write?
From Ceibal blog at:
Entregando laptops del Plan Ceibal
Comments and Suggestions on How To Teach Caring For Your Senses
Some ideas on education with the XO liberally construed from a single image taken in Peru.
I originally wrote this as a follow up to my post on OLPC News: http://www.olpcnews.com/software/applications/xo_application_development_process.html
My time has since been taken up by interacting with Uruguay team (see below) and helping Nepal get an XS Server up and running.
My challenge, add your input and ideas below....
Its time to revisit my idea of how to make early XO deployments successful with an interactive development model. I am still on step 1, gathering input and creating a dialog between users and developers. The dialog part has been especially challenging. That's probably a good thing as we don't want the XO users to be deluged with questions and distractions from the vast world of XO commentators. That said, its amazing how many forums, blogs, wikis and web sites have sprung up with G1G1 users posting at a torrid pace. In comparison, the similar number of XOs distributed in the developing world have left nary a ripple of requests on the web..
What do people think about why we don't see requirements or feature requests from XO users in the developing world? One possibility could be time and experience as suggested in the essay, "Models of Growth" http://www.laptop.org/Models_of_Growth.pdf: It refers to one project where "there was a limited use of the online environment ... Primarily it was not in the school culture to spend time on-line. teachers' time is more than full accounted for already. They have virtually no extra time for seeking answers to their questions, for edification, for curiosity, for improvement."
We need to deal with that by ensuring we only engage in meaningful and constructive dialog which leads to real results. Protecting the privacy and time/bandwidth of teachers and students is paramount. Nonetheless, we should look for a safe intermediary or process that allows kids and teachers to talk about what they want to do with their XOs. Then hopefully we can mobilize large groups of resources to respond. We may need an asynchonous and uneven process. For example, a teacher in Peru only has 5 minutes to comment on what software they need. In return their collaborators need to spend 5 days researching options and proposals. Then the suggestions need to be presented back in way that only takes 5 minutes to evaluate. That's my guess but we need to engage that dialog to see how it works on real projects.
In order to start a dialog it helps to show that you have something useful to offer. That is a reason for others to want to engage you.
So I have come up with a project that I think would be valuable and which we can start on without needing any further input.
Carla Gomez Monroy posted a super report on the roll out of XOs in Arahuay, Peru: http://wiki.laptop.org/go/OLPC_Peru/Arahuay In it there is a picture of a beautiful learning tool created by one of the teachers for her students: http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Image:024_Arahuay.JPG
My rough translation is:
Care that we must take for our senses
- Go to the eye doctor
- Don't sit too close to the television
- Don't put anything in your eye
- wash your hands
- don't touch hot things
- don't put wet hands in a power socket
and one I can't read
This teaches students about the senses of touch and sight and it teaches kids how to protect those senses.
This brings to light three challenges:
1 - How would you teach this with the XO and could you design software that teaches it as well or better?
2 - How would a teacher use the XO to create this kind of learning material for other lessons? Could they do it a more quickly and with better results than drawing it by hand?
3 - Is there an activity available that would preserve or even enhance this teachers superb sense of creativity and design?
That's taking a lot from one simple picture. Still, if we can address those challenges we can create a set of tools that implements a broad range of educational goals. The good thing is that its a real lesson that a real teacher wants to teach her kids. I don't know if its what the kids want to learn but it does seem like important life knowledge. This is targeted at first and second graders, ages 6 - 8. Its almost a trivial example but it may be harder to teach ths with the XO than it looks...
I envision four stages of this development:
1 - A tool and template that let's teachers pull down images from a collection (google?) and place them on a background. Then let's them add lines and text to create essentially the same thing you see on the page.
2 - A way to share that creation with the kids (web page?)
3 - A concept of interactivity which allows construction and agency on the part of the kids. Something that the kids can create themselves and that allows them to go beyond the primary message to explore the ideas further. e.g. what if the kids wanted to learn why wet hands are more dangerous with electricity than dry hands or why sitting too close the TV is bad for your eyes? What if the kids learned something more and wanted to add it back to extend the lesson or wanted to add more safety lesson? What if they want to virutally see what happens when they violate one of these rules? What would it take to make this lesson interesting to the kids (e.g. make it a game or let them make it their own)?
4 - How would you make it faster to create this on the XO than to draw it by hand? Could you do it without diluting the chance for creativity?
I think we can knock off the first two pretty quickly. The second two look much harder. I'm not an educator though I pretend to be one at home with my kids :-)
The high level goals of this software development in priority order are:
- Make an XO tool that is useful for teachers and saves them time in creating lessons.
- Make an XO tool that creates lessons which are more interesting and creates more effective learning for 6 - 8 year olds.
- Empower teachers and students to create their own lessons and learning tools using the XO
- The Health Project would welcome anyone wanting to pursue this idea. --FGrose 23:25, 14 March 2008 (EDT)
Developer collaboration with teachers and students
Thanks for your ideas. I've commented briefly on our Talk page: Developer collaboration with teachers and students. Do you sense any particular usability problem in penetrating the time, space, & cultural barriers? We can continue there or here. --FGrose 22:43, 14 March 2008 (EDT)
Translation of pages
Mucho gusto. . . I'm happy to try to help get you pointed in the right direction, but I must be clear that I'm no wiki expert (started here in Jan '08), but I'm trying to learn and I'm a quick study.
As for RTFM or is it RTFWiki :-), here are some pages to start with.
Getting the translation thing right definitely requires some knowledge of the proper use of templates, and I'm not an expert there. It might be best to post a similar question to User_talk:Xavi. Special:Contributions/Xavi shows a lot of work on translation issues. Maybe also User_talk:Homunq who looks like something of a template expert or User_talk:Dupuy. I think any of them would be better able to help you. I will take look at your pages when I have a chance to see if there are any suggestions I can offer, but for the translation process, I'm probably not your expert.
Cjl 12:47, 11 April 2008 (EDT)
- I went ahead and inserted the translation template on OLPC Uruguay, I'm afraid my anglo-centric upbringing caused me to make a mistake. I really should have created the translations page indicating that the "original" page language was (es) espanol , but my fingers typed (en) english. I'll try to fix it, hopefully I didn't make too much of a mess of it. Cjl 22:49, 11 April 2008 (EDT)
Shipment Quantities and Languages
Taken from Devel list thread:
In order to help focus which translations are high priority for this release, I have listed the languages we are shipping to today or expect to ship to in the next 4-6 months. These are not final or confirmed orders. The numbers countries, languages and all information is subject to change. There are likely other countries and deployments which are in planning or near deployment.
They are in size order:
Spanish (Peru, Uruguay, Mexico), 200k
Mongolia, 20k (10k now, 10k by end of year)
French (Rwanda), 10k (5k now, 5k in late fall)
Kreyol (Haiti), 13k (6k now, 7k later)
Amharic (Ethiopia), 5000
Khmer (Cambodia), 1000
Dari (Afghanistan), 3000 (1k now, 2k later)
Portuguese (Brazil), 200
Receiving laptops in the next 3-6 months:
Senegal (French), 1000
Argentina, Equitorial Guinea, Panama (Spanish)
Birmingham, South Carolina, NY (because they are English) and deployments that got US/Eng keyboards that weren't big enough to designate the shipping location.
How to Install Language Pack
Stored here temporarily until I find its real home Gregorio 17:06, 28 July 2008 (UTC)
1. Start up Terminal Activity
2. Click on "Become root" button on the top
3. Issue the command
Assuming that you are connected to the internet, this will download the pack to the XO 4. Execute the command "sh es_lang_pack_v2.sh" (without the quotes) to install the pack 5. Restart sugar with the ctrl-alt-backspace keypress
To change the layout of your keyboard see: