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Projects/Competitive Learning

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Project Title

Name of Project:

Competitive Learning within a Mesh Network

Team Participants

Johannes Ponader, programmer (development), pedagogue for game/drama/theatre in education

Mathias Krebs, programmer (testing), pedagogue

Patrick Hupka, programmer (interface design, usability), web programmer

Employer and/or School:

Project KUSS („Kinder, Unterricht und Systeme für Schulerfolg“ - Children, Teaching and Systems for Success at School), provided by the City of Munich

in partnership w/:

ETC - Euro Trainings Centre, Munich


Hauptschule an der Bernaysstraße, Munich

Past Experience/Qualifications:

In our team, there is the following set of qualifications:

Application development (C, C++, Python, Java, Perl), server/web development (PHP, Javascript, Ajax, Flash/Actionscript), database development (MySQL, Access), web design, interface design, interaction design & animation, learning research, learning techniques, drama/theatre and games in education


Project Objectives: (WEB-PUBLISHED)

The project's aim is to develop an activity framework for competitive learning/training activities over the mesh network.

Two or more teams within a learning environment compete against each other. They can see the learning/training effort of their own and of the other teams, compare their own achievements, gain awards for achieving teacher defined learning/training goals. They see in real time which team members of their own or other teams are actively learning at the moment and which challenges their team and the other teams are actually facing.

By getting immediate feedback over the learning/training effort - as well over their own, as over their team's and as over the effort of the competing team(s), pupils can be motivated to learn in a special way.

Into the activity framework for competitive learning/training a model learning/training activity will be integrated. This highly customizable question/answer activity can be used to train foreign or first language vocabulary, maths, or any other knowledge that can be training in a sophisticated question/answer style.

The learning/training activity uses experience from learning research to gain a maximum of learning effect within the given time dedicated to learning by the pupils. As well as the pupils, the teacher(s) can see the training achievements of the class and can retrieve detailed reports about the successes and the learning gaps of the class - via the mesh network he/she can even see from home in the evening which lessons are understood by the pupils and which have to be deepened the next day.

Plan of Action

  1. Basic development of activity framework for competive learning/training over a mesh network.
  2. Internal tests and development within the team.
  3. Integration of a simple model activity into the framework.
  4. Beta release to the public and pledge for public testing/bug reports.
  5. Development and integration of a demo interface design attractive to the first target group.
  6. Intensive testing within a class of 15 pupils.
  7. Integration of a sophisticated model training/learning activity.
  8. RC and Pledge for public suggestions for additional interface designs.
  9. Further development


Why is this project needed?

Competitive training is a highly motivating technique for pupils to train their knowledge. In combination with the XO mesh network this technique can be smartly established together with real time performance monitoring.


In our class 15 pupils are altogether. They all have some bigger gaps in their basic knowledge in several subjects. To close these gaps, standard training techninques (vocabulary cards etc.) are limited in their effect, because the pupils lack motivation and/or basic selforganization skills to use these techniques. In addition to that, the parents do not always have the ressources to help the pupils in their daly home training quota.

On the other side, our pupils are very open to standard score-point-like and/or competing team motivation techniques. The competitive training activity shall motivate the pupils to close the gaps and to achieve better success in school, without the need of an intensive parents' help or the help of private tutors.

In the greater OLPC/Sugar community?

Other pupils around the world have the same need for a highly motivating learning environment, which can be easily used without the help of parents or tutors. In some countries there even aren't the ressources to have vocabulary cards or the personal coaches for every pupil, but there could be one laptop per child to do this job.

Outside the community?

The motivation technique used in this project can be a model even for learning environments outside the OLPC community.

Why can't this project be done in emulation using non-XO machines?

The project makes use of the XO-specific mesh network and shall be integrated into the XO philosophy, with one laptop per child in the class. To see how the motivation increases when the pupils use the activity on their own XO device, original material should be used.

Why are you requesting the number of machines you are asking for?

We need four laptops to establish two competing client teams consisting of two devices each. One laptop should host the teacher's console.

Will you consider (1) salvaged/rebuilt XO Laptops: Yes.

Will you consider (2) damaged XO Laptops?: No.

Which generation of XO Laptops do you need (XO-1.0 or XO 1.5)? Please provide at least one or two 1.5 devices to be able to test the activity on the latest hardware.

Sharing Deliverables

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

How will you convey tentative ideas & results back to the OLPC/Sugar community, prior to completion

How will the final fruits of your labor be distributed to children or community members worldwide?

  • Open Source
  • RPM-Package

Will your work have any possible application or use outside our community?

Yes. An internet server could to some extent take over the functionality of the mesh network, if the framework shall be ported onto different platforms.

How will these people be reached?

  • Open source
  • Packages

Have you investigated working with nearby XO Lending Libraries or Project Groups?

Unfortunately, there are no Lending Libraries in Germany, but we think about establishing one. We are in contact with the German and Austrian Grassroots Group via Email.

We also are in touch with the ILF-Project Group based at the Techische Universität München to create synergies and cooperation.


Would your Project benefit from Support, Documentation and/or Testing people? Yes (see above - 4. Plan of Action).

Teachers' input into Usability? Yes.

How will you promote your work?

We will be embedding the project into a class of 15 pupils, which is part of the so-called "KUSS"-Project. As the KUSS-Project is a model school project provided by the City of Munich, reports about the project reach the Munich City Council in regular periods. When we are successful, we can think about establishing a XO Lending Library in Munich or to introduce a major OLPC model project in one or more municipal school(s) in Munich.

Can we help you with an experienced mentor from the OLPC/Sugar community?  (WEB-PUBLISHED)

Yes, that would be cool. We would appreciate mentoring from someone, who knows the challenge to establish stable mesh networks under different circumstances. We have an intensive discussion about this point on the german mailing list at the moment, and some people have proposed to help us with their experience.

Timeline (Start to Finish)

Please include a Proposed timeline for your Project life-cycle: (this can be in the form of Month 1, Month 2, etc rather than specific dates)

  • Month 1: Start of development
  • Month 2: Framework alpha, tested locally
  • Month 3: Framework beta, can be tested for larger networks by the community
  • Month 4: Implementation of vocabulary trainer alpha
  • Month 5: Vocabulary activity beta - local testing by pupils and teacher(s)
  • Month 6: RC - Bugreports from the community
  • Month 7: V 1.0 - encouraging the community to integrate other activities into the framework