Friday, 19 December 2014

A Year in Summary (2014)

The year 2014 is coming to an end. Wishing everyone a Happy New Year.  I had a chance to re-watched the videos of basecamp2013 as I try to think about "What's Next" and reflect on what have been achieved a year after basecamp2013.

From a larger picture, it is indeed sad that many key people at the OLPC headquarter in Miami have moved on to new jobs. The office has  relocated elsewhere (where ?) .  OLPC website at is not very update. Very little news are coming out from HQ. Expect the XO-4 laptop to be the last iteration of XO being developed. Have not heard also on the OLPC tablet.

In the true spirit of olpc 2.0,  volunteers have started new projects. Today it is about  trying to work with whatever resources or network left over and building new partnerships. New and cheaper devices (herehere and here ) are coming out  into the market. Unfortunately none has achieved the full functionality afforded by the older and current XO laptop.Thus  I remain a XO die-hard evangelist but pragmatic since OLPC sponsorships are  slow  to come by.  Need to seek new ways and directions to support what we do in 2015 and beyond.

This year basecamp2014Trek was a success. The journey took us from Penang, Ipoh, Tras, KL to Malacca. I met up with new people who support the work n Malaysia. Videos recording of the trip can be found here. Memorable digital pictures offer glimpse of what the "treking". Highlights include bringing four Orang Asli children to the Penang International Science Fair (Nov 15-16). That was the bootstart basecamp2014Trek event.  These lucky 4 four kids had a chance to meet the Chief Minister of Penang when he visited our workshop area.

After Penang it was Ipoh and Tras. We celebrated Universal Children Day at the SEMOA farm in Tras with a village like feast. SEMOA farm is where 40 XO laptops are donated for  the digital Learning & Education Asli Project (dLEAP) inititive. The kids had a fun  time using the XO prior to the night feast. Managed to take photos of the children using their XOs in open spaces even at night. 

I used a camera shot as background for this year e-greeting card remix.

So what will 2015 be like? 

For  2015 there is a need to initiate more followups and activities to keep the olpc 2.0 momentum/spirit burning in Malaysia. Hope we can invite people/volunteers in deployments like Haiti,  Nepal to Cambodia and OLPC supporters to come to Malaysia again. 

It is significant that 2015 will be 10 years since the OLPC XO laptop was announced to the world in 2005.  Let's celebrate 10 years anniversary and XO Day with a final bang!

I have a dream for basecamp2015Peak in Nov 2015. Doable if people continue their personal olpc 2.0 journey. 

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

More Musing: 11 months after basecamp2013@Malacca

Yesterday was Oct 16, 2014. It has been 11 months since basecamp2013@Malacca. During this period many things have transpired. To keep the momentum for Malaysian OLPC initiatives I have have been back three times to feed the seeds with the help of friends and volunteers.

The dLEAP project initiated by my schoolmates of MHS with XO laptops sponsorship are benefiting the Orang Asli (OA) children in the SEMOA farm at Tras, Bentong. This impromptu short-interview of the warden at SEMOA describe the changes she noticed over the months.  Personally, I have seen OA children use the XO laptop with high exploratory behaviors which surpass those of urban Hong Kong children that I am more familiar!

To enable more voluntarism and use of XO laptops for different communities the  mOLC  (mobile Open Learning Chest) have been field tested. Some interesting observations are reported in this KopiTiam video made over breakfast while I was back in Malacca recently. Ms Tay who coordinates this is a passionate teacher in Termerloh.

What is next?

For this year, Basecamp2014Trek will kickoff at the Penang International Science Fair on Nov 15-16,2014 with workshops and a exhibition. Sponsorship from dLEAP fundraiser YS Chua will enable three OA children to visit Penang and learn from the fair. This will be an eye-opening experience for them on the world of science and technology.

We will also celebrate XO Day as it is  9 years since the OLPC XO laptop was announced to the world on Nov 16, 2005. Basecamp2014Trek will move south from Penang where we hope to set up a physical basecamp at the SEMOA farm. The timing is perfect as it allows us to celebrate  United Nation Universal Children Day on Nov 20 with the children and for some sharing by the 3 kids after the Penang trip.

On Nov 21 UNICEF will be holding a public forum to launch the State of the World's Children report in Malaysia. Its theme "Innovation for Children" is very relevant to what we are doing and we hope to attend. It will also be an an excellent networking opportunities to meet people with similar passions.

After 21st we hope to visit more old and new sites for possible deployments. Personally when the signs are positive that Malaysian children will benefit greatly from what we do, it is time to look into how to kickstart a social-enterprise project. Our efforts need a more sustainable future in Malaysia.

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Musing: 1/2 a year after basecamp

This weekend will be 1/2 a year since basecamp@Malacca, 2013 ended (read Nancie Severs present and past  blog here).  As I muse on the past the issues of impact change and teachers support constantly surface. A recent blog is positive that MOOC can make a difference. However even with money change is not that easy. I notice the constant OLPC bashing  never seem to end. However there is a  thoughtful  blog that gives credit to OLPC 1:1 initiative despite some doubts if we are still alive:

“One laptop per child” visions began almost half a century ago with Alan Kay’s Dynabook concept. Kay pursued education initiatives for decades. The nine-year-old OLPC consortium aimed unsuccessfully for a $100 dollar device, encountering technical and organizational challenges. The site’s once-active blog has been quiet for six months. Its Wikipedia page reflects no new developments for two years. Media accounts consist of claims that OLPC has closed its doors; these are disputed, but the debate speaks for itself.  

Over the past week I have been watching old Video1 &  Video 2  to try to capture the spirit of the past. This  tireless spirit is acted out once again  in OLE Nepal, with TurtleArt Day being conducted by Walter Bender and core OLPC supporters. Some attended basecamp2013.

For children to learn in the digital age they must have access to the digital tools. With tools (e.g. XO laptop) available for some fortunate communities, adults must allocate time for usage. This is critical when the laptop or tools are not own by the child and dependent on adults for access. It is universal for any reform initiative  that  “ .....  At some time, you have to persuade people.”  (the ending line of this long article)

Can teachers learn?  My hope is  teachers learn and support each other in the process. My hopes are raised when I received e-mail with updates: 

" we spent a good 3 hours today with the XO ..... I am pleased with the response as the teacher learned the activities ... showed much promise. Down the line, she began to imagine and suggest how to use some of the activities for the kids ... I am really pleased!! I am confident that she will explore some more when she gets home, and knowing how to move around the XO, she will manage well"

Getting champions will keep the fire burning. I ponder if organising basecamp2014 can make new impact, but keep reminding myself: "if it happen, it will happen". So far I am happy the the mobile  Open Learning Chest is been used and going to different communities.

Nevertheless 2015 is worth thinking about when OLPC reach a decade since it was announced.


Sunday, 27 April 2014

mobile Class Project: 40 years later

SPOT the three us (2 boys and 1 girl in coat)  in  this April 2014 OLPC deployment picture 40 years later!  Three class members of Malacca U6Sc5 (1976) with the help of OLPC Asia conducted its 1st mobile lesson with the XOs to a group Orang Asli indigenous children of Malaysia. 

This is a start and we look forward to an evolution of the project when the right people and resources are in place. It was an exciting start to kickoff the mobile Open Learning Chest (mOLC) in Malaysia.

Here are sample of the deployment videos of the mOLC and children in action:

Part 1: SD card and XO distribution of the 1st mobile Open Learning Chest
Part 2: Opening the XO
Part 3: Booting and personlization of SD boot card
Part 4: Playing to purposeful play
Part 5: Recording with the XO samples
Part 6: Debriefing 2 hours later
Part 7: Feedback on what they like
Part 8: Shutting down the XO and retriving the inserted SD card
Part 9: Group photo and outside debriefing on the future

Friday, 11 April 2014

olpc 2.0: challenge to makers

I made a presentation at the Maker Faire@Shenzhen Educational Panel forum on April 7, 2014. As there were  many makers from all over the world, I took this opportunity to challenge makers to contribute their expertise in building the next device/devices for olpc 2.0. I used Einstein quote and a recent comment of Walter Bender to illustrate a few points on making  learning tools.

I met the Malaysian group whose members  are mainly from Penang Science Cluster (PC). Ha had a nice photo taken together with Dale Dougherty.  PCP will be running a very large Science Fair in Nov 15-16 this year :-). The date struck a chord :-) 

Maybe a reminder that basecamp2014 should continue into Penang as we trek into asia? Let see where the karma of olpc 2.0 will take.

I managed to have long discussions with 2 low-cost motherboard developers to ignite their interest in helping develop Open Learning Platform Devices olpc 2.0. They (and their staff)  were  impressed with the current XO4-touch, and now have a better understanding of  its value and WHY the XO laptop is the best integrated solution for children in harsh environment.

In my talk,  50%  have heard about OLPC, but less then 10% have actually touched one. I found out that Joey Hudy don't own one :-( 

Makers from various part of the world made use of  idle time (during bus travel) to explore the XO4 Touch and are IMPRESSED. A Japanese maker mentioned that the XO is the ultimate geek hacking tool sought after by friends he know. On that note, maybe I will engage this super evangelist for a Japanese sponsored deployment team in the future!

Other highlight is a glimpse into the manufacturing process of products at various Shenzhen factories :-). Manual labor is still needed in the process. Enjoy this Gear Activity that I found fascinating to watch. Just don't stick your fingers in it!

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Wiring up: SEMOA dLEAP Project

Received this posting from the a local volunteer who is responsible for the physical wiring up of the  deployment site. dLEAP project is one of the coming many little deployments in "setting fires" that came about from basecamp@Malacca. A team will be visiting Malaysia in Easter for more followup. We will also implement the mLC (Mobile Learning Chest). This will flip the OLPC model a little :-)

Personally I am obsessed  to keep the OLPC heartbeats alive and strong. We are on a OLPC 2.0 journey track. XO4All

A gotong royong  effort with volunteers from another organisation .... to lay the physical wiring.

"Here's the setup diagram and some rationale behind the design:
- Avoid mains voltage cabling (primarily wooden buildings)
- Centralized power conditioning (rural power swings 190V-265V)
- Remote & simplified management
- Able to cover large areas (deployment site is 1 acre+)
The TP-Link switch (SG3424P) provides power over the network cable so the access points (DAP2553) are wall mounted with just the network cable. The access points are clustered so configuring one configures the rest. Right now, the wireless covers about 400sqm and supports about 130 simultaneous device connections - far more than the poor DSL connection can manage. Centralized UPS provides voltage conditioning and battery backup for School server and network.
I've saved the config files for everything so if another deployment uses the same equip, the setup is about 10 minutes"  Eugene Khoo

Sunday, 2 March 2014

8 Process Steps to start the Malaysia dLEAP deployment

 The dLEAP lauch was on Feb 22, 2014. A day earlier preparation was needed before to get things started.

Pictures tells a thousand words on what we did to get the deployment off the ground on the day itself. Feb 22, 2014 is a day to remember :-)

Deployment Step 1: Personalization of Sugar on XO 

Deployment Step 2: Login into Schoolserver via wireless AP 

Deployment Step 3: Check if all XO are connected to SchoolServer

Deployment Step 4: Registering the XO on the Schoolserver 

Deployment Step 5: Checking if registered and isolating the registered XO 

Deployment Step 6: Roll call using the Schoolserver Master XO 

Deployment Step 7: Let the fun begin, observe the children and what they do! 

Deployment Step 8: Check how the AP is performing and any complaints from children 

Saturday, 1 March 2014

dLEAP Malaysia deployment preparation videos

Videos that capture the initial hour of preparation a day before the actual deployment launch. The children are involved in the process and not just a passive recipient of the XO.

1st video immediately after the schoolserver installation

Children as agent of change .... Malaysian kids unleased

Help and be helped video
Children as volunteers video

Accessing the XSCE 5 and its resources video.

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Eduvolunterism & my OLPC Schoolserver Journey

I became a OLPC volunteer to explore the schoolserver setup to support OLPC Asia first  XO laptop deployment in Sichuan. Installing and testing was a challenge over the years  as I was a eduvolunteer with no formal technical training -only initiative and a little self-taught knowledge. Nevertheless I did have an interest in tinkering, extending what I do professionally to empower people who are disadvantaged. That was in the days where connectivity was basic dialup modem and Bulletin Board System (BBS) 

Time flies  and we are now in 2014. There is internet, broadband and wireless communication. The technology for server is moving away from the big-iron power hungry computer to mobile devices that can serve  online/offline internet resources.

My recent adventure was to test the XSCE which was deployed in Malaysia. It also run offline resources via Internet in the Box (IIAB). This new journey started from basecamp2013@Malacca when I installed the XSCE 0.4 for testing with basecampers. Running on a XO 1.75 with a 8G SD card and I had  1T IIAB from Adam Holt of Unleash Kids. It worked but  was slow since the server was powered from a SD card as part of my experimentation.

With the release of XSCE 5 in 2014 I made another attempt to install and test its functionality during Chinese New Year (Year of the Horse). Its new installation horsepower was visible. I left it overnight to glow in the dark for testing.

When the Malaysia deployment launch schedule was confirmed for Feb 22, 2014 I was blessed with a just in time (JIT) mobile Zotec PC with 4G of ram  from OLPC Asia. It cost HK$2,000. On testing I was pleased with the XSCE5+IIAB  performance - everything load and run faster! 

The Malaysian OLPC 2.0 journey pack was ready and it was time to get it into the wild.

I booked my last minute flight ticket and travelled solo  -:(  to Malaysia  for the 1st full deployment in a rural area equipped with schoolserver.  It was a plug&play experience. The excitement was visible when  it works the first-time when plugged into the site network. With the connectivity,  I could see children searching local maps via the IIAB map resources. Some were googling their football team or pictures of the film "Zombie". Others were on the offline School Wikipedia!

On Feb 22, 2014 with all the XOs newly flashed for the launch, the children had to key in their names and a long  password to connect to the AP (we want the children to learn alphabets). As the event unfold I could see the XOs popping up one by one in the neighbourhood screen. To check if all 38 XOs were connected we made the children to count :-) what they see on their screen. 

Registration was done systematically. Registered XO were left on the floor for the children to continue their their play. With the Master XO we  logged  into moodle Learning Management System and did our final roll-call!

Now it is working in the wild with 38 registered XO and many happy children. The existing network will be upgraded and maintained by local volunteers. This community/village will be the first OLPC deployment in Malaysia. I was happy being able to keep  a promise - returning to deploy the XOs to the "crying child" and his friends. I remember this particular child attachment to the XO when we took it away after a brief pre-deployment visit trial session!

I am now back in Hong Kong after this "Touch & Go" deployment launch. On my Facebook I wrote:

"Nice to think that the children you met thousands miles away are getting access to to the XO and internet when they return from school to their hostel in a rural area. I have that visual image in my mind . The analytic will be something for the future"

Let's see. The Malaysian OLPC 2.0 journey has just started

Monday, 24 February 2014

Unleashed Indigenous Kids: Malaysian Style?

Even for smaller deployments we have to deal with the reality of achieving 1:1 and to meet all the core missions of OLPC. I witnessed this first hand in the dLEAP (digital Learning & Education Asli Project) deployment when I returned to launch with local partners, and to kickstart the schoolserver infrastructure. All the younger children had the symbolic procedure of their name written on the XO. All XOs were registered with the XSCE 5 registration procedure. For older children we had to make the decision that they will share the remainder XO available - 2 children to 1 XO.

What pleased me most is the spirit of the older children helping to deployed and to take charge of some logistic for deployment preparation. Kids were organised to flash, charge and taught skills to manage some future  technical expertise support. I found myself teaching the children about the schoolserver concept, details of account management to unix command to a few kids who showed leadership and initiatives.

I am proud of children accomplishments and hope they drive the project forward for months to come. 

In a new pre-deployment visit we left a few XOs to the children and went on a visit to see/bath baby elephant. Coming back hours later they were still engaged. Yes, we left the "crank" to them and let them organised themselves. Peeping into the  images on the XOs we found new younger visitors. Their "V" sign gesture is indeed heartwarming.

Why should we believe in the children? If they can trek/live in the jungle as their playground, I am sure taking care of themselves with modern technology is much easier. With digital technology we must empower them with new knowledge,skills and attitude. The process is the critical message and I hope adults understand the importance of setting the right environment for change by children for children.

 As I reflect on the 3 days of handson deployment I ask: " how can we can engage children with their own deployment and if we can rethink deployment to avoid tethering children indirectly"