Of course a lot planning, expertise and training has to go into the establishment Personal Learnig Network. Hsere is an example.
When students turn on their XOs they are automatically connected by wireless to each other. In college we used to meet up around school to discuss assignments, papers and etc. Often such collaboration is not a given in poor communities.
Using the Power of Connections or Personal Learning Networks (PLNs) is trans formative. Collaborative problem solving is I think a better goal for a school than memorizing lectures. In an absence of parents working abroad and or otherwise unavailable such networks can help youths form their own learning communities
Young people who can learn to solve problems have a better chance at changing things on a larger scale. See Personal Learning Networks attached below.
http://www.solution-tree.com/catalogsearch/result/?q=Power+of+Connections+or+Personal+Learning+Networks See Study Guide attached or if reading this on the web write to me for this .pdf document.
To give you an idea as to how children can learn while having fun here is Sameer Varma’s (OLPC-SF) small U tube collection “Spinning With Applause” at
If your like me – a bit slow at languages – you will be charmed by the little girl who stars in several of these “spins.” Perhaps she is in Jr. high school? while Watching her explain her Sugar software graphical demonstrations she will teach you more Spanish than you ever thought possible in 30 minutesa!
The XO 3.0 costing $75 projected to be out in 2012 and cost $75. This will he the most versatile OLPC laptop to date
A 2006 talk by visionary Nicolas Negroponte (MIT):
Please let me know if any of these URLs will not’t open. I may have messed something up.
026 977 7839
Book Review for Amazon Books
Wife of The Gods by Kwei Quartey
Not usually a mystery fan I read this book as a Ghana fan. Now I’m a Quartey mystery fan too.
This refreshing book has nothing to do with Hollywood cop shows designed around forgone conclusions where I suppose special effects things substitute for the famous formula, the play is the thing.
The cover notes that Dr. Kwei Quartey who practices medicine in Southern California finds many parallels between writing mysteries and being a physician. His sensibility to voice’ emotions seems to me to derive as from his own fictional characters as from listening to patients. Both doctor and detective must listen for underlying meanings in what they are each saying.
Apart from this when I read that Efia would always would always think with dread of the place in the forest where she .had found Glady’s dead – my own hair stood on end.
Once I had been looking for old logging skid trails in the Santa Cruz Mountains. I came upon a sort of back pack. I kicked it thinking- marijuana?.. it seemed a few sticks spilled out..then a skull wrapped in plastic rolled out on the ground. The sticks were human bones!
Fairly quickly the sheriff matched the remains to a car abandoned in a shopping center parking lot and arrested the husband.
Later coming from another direction still working on that logging plan but I suddenly realized – Oh God I’ve come back to this place! Either Efia or her counterpart in real life, Dr. Quartey, and myself once shared similar unsettling experiences.
The hero of the Wife of the Gods is Inspector Detective Darko Dawson, Ewe speaker, and dedicated and intelligent model policeman sent by Accra CID to Ketanu a village near the town of Ho in the Volta Region. I have not been there but a portion of the story takes place in Accra where Dawson’s family live.
A Nigerian friend once described Accra as a beautiful city. At the time thinking of Accra’s moderately big government, business and hotel buildings I hadn’t quite tmade this connection.
They do say that you can not take the village out of the Ghanaian, no matter where he takes him or her self. Later I began to see Accra’s sprawling residential districts – even the poor and gritty ones Dansoman, Kanishi, Nima etc – in a new light. By day these streets are filled with people rushing about shopping and doing business. In the evening however people socialize, stroll, meet and greet friends, flit, 菟romenadewhile children play traffic permitting just as as they might do in a thousand villages in Ghana. As an outsider I have always thought that this street sociability is an attractive feature of African life. African friends have politely complained that they miss this in America. In addition I think that Dr. Quartey has not fully succeed in hiding a bit of home sickness when writing about Accra, Ho and Ketanu. Indeed I think that he succeeds in bringing his readers into the county. This makes the Wife of the Gods a very nice read.
Here’s a dividend: Walter Turner interviews Dr. Kwei Quartey on Africa Today.
Relative to the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) phenomena I’d like to see Wife of the Gods circulated as an schools E-Book. Inspector Detective Darko Dawson would be a great model character for study by boys and girls who may be dreaming of becoming police persons. Why not? And there are other finally drawn characters in this book, some admirable, some not, and one _is a murderer_. Several are quite fit subjects for student’s analysis.
There is a push to bring OLPC XO computers to schools every where This book may be better suited for schools in countries with large numbers of peasant farming and fishing villages. Students from Nepal to Peru may more readily relate to goings on in Ghana villages than to New York City people stories. My main point is that I really feel is that students and their teachers should have access to books of this quality.
Thinking of visiting Ghana? No?, OK – read this book book, it will take you there. Then you may really go!
San Mateo California
http://www.kweiquartey.com/artey November 23 at 5:09pm Report
George Pope – thank you very much for that wonderful review and also some of your observations. look out for the next Darko adventure CHILDREN OF THE STREET, July 12, 2011
and on twitter: @Kwei_Quartey
Now posted these notes seem to me to be in reverse order in that “Sugar a Shorter Introduction” attempts sketch fundamentals of learning enabled by collaboration.
SOAS To The Rescue
SOAS (sugar on a stick) use any computer!
Ghana, XOs and Student Ownership
Sugar a Brief Introduction, a little more detailed as to the philosophy and mechanics of interaction and student collaboration
I Bring What I Love, Youssou N’Dour
The Ramadan of the Muslims By Kwame Nsiah © The Ghanaian Chronicle, Nov 8 2002
Area Map, Kokrobite, Langma, Oshiyie, Botianor, Tosokome, Aplaku, Tuba and Nyanyaano
Kokrobiteeyes A Health Project
Because Reality is the byword in such discussion, Replies, Comments both affirming, critical especially are of very great importance at least to this Blogger. Without these posting a lot of “foreigner’s opinions” are a waste of time.
Thanking you in advance
SOAS (Sugar On A Stick) and The Kanda School Cluster – in rounded numbers
On this campus there are 5 Primary schools, 6 grades, 33 students per class, Total number of primary school students est. 990.
Junior Secondary School, One school, 35 students per class, 3 grades (7 to 9) total Kanda JSS 105.
Grand total about 1095 students at Kanda Schools Cluster.
Speculation as to how the 38 XOs trial at Kanda Primary # 5 in Accra Ghana might at a low cost be reinvigorated and expanded.
XOs were “loaned” to last years 3rd grade Kanda #5 class (’08-’09). These same laptops were reissued to this year’s 3rd grade class (’09-’10). (Please see http://kokrobiteeyes.wordpress.com/ for more on problems with student owned XOs in Ghana). However the server which was working last year is now down and they are not benefiting from wireless network collaboration.
I take this as another OLPC project where technical support is lacking. People with the needed skills can be found in Accra. Although at a modest costs these may exceed the school’s budget.
SOAS To The Rescue
Each of the two XO teachers, this year’s 3rd grade and the lady who is teaching her same students now in the 4th grade tell me that both students and they benefited from various Sugar activities. They would also like to have a few recycled desktop SOAS enabled PCs in their 3rd and 4th grade class room used by project students and later in 5th and 6th grades and for JSS classes.
I’ve read that in countries many students acquire so quickly XOs and the Sugar skills that that they are able to help both fellow students and teachers.
Why not split classes as early as possible, say in the 4th grade, pair XO students with non XO students so that more can acquire Sugar skills and access to text books, children’s books and world literature all free. Give awards, let children prove their worth one another!
Kanda Cluster Schools offers an evaluation opportunity between Sugar and non Sugar students.
Run a few numbers and you will see large potentials for rapid SOAC growth in Ghana schools.
Free recycled PCs can be shipped in 40′ containers from Oakland CA to Tema Ghana. PCs and monitors are stacked on their sides on pallets and shrink wrapped. The unit cost would be about $50 – $60 per work station (sorry my notes are in California) or 25% or lass of the cost of XOs and of course less when shipped from Europe.
A Note on poverty in gritty crowded working class Kanda.
The portion of Kanda community children attending primary school climbed by from 26% to about 46% when the government began providing school lunches! Never the less many of these students must “shift for them selves.” If a child does not bring money home he or she may go to bed hungry. Very likely the smaller JSS student numbers reflects the fact that too many students can not afford secondary school.
If SOAS can reduce the cost of education more young people may be able to complete JSS, SSS and acquire better jobs skills to boot.
Software note: Worrying about possibly miss leading folks I asked firstname.lastname@example.org where there is a lot of discussion on installing SOAS if my promoting this might be premature, since its changes are coming out all the time and got the following reply:
incase you want to dive in.
On Tue, May 4, 2010 at 1:18 PM, Thomas C Gilliard
- Hide quoted text -
> I would recommend using Blueberry at this time.
> This e-mail was reporting on a new script to use with a beta of the next
> version of Soas v3-Mirabelle.
> which is slated to be released in several weeks.
> This script allows customization of a live USB stick of Sugar and then
> duplication to multiple copies with the changes a teacher has made to it.
> Each clone will ask for a new name and identification color for the
> student’s Avitar.
> It can be used now on Blueberry-v2-Soas
> look at
> for more information.
> Tom Gilliard
> satellit on IRC freenode #sugar
> Bend Oregon
Down here on the ground in Ghana, first we have to get the computers, then the technical support. All this will take some doing. However our students are worth it. In the mean time these are links to information, no need to wait on trying things out.
Thanks to Lynne May and friends for their introduction to making SOAS work beginning at.
How might SOAS lesson plans be mplemented?
Not a teacher myself I’ve been fretting about using XOs here in Ghana where poor children “owning” these seems not a good idea (noted below). Many here think sold and stolen XOs would be a problem.
Kanda Primarie(s) 1-5 together with GSS1-3 are all clustered on this one campus. With the new term just starting they may be in a fair position to study the comparative learning rates between normal and the XO class. The two involved teachers tell me that the children like studying with XOs and Sugar and they seem to learn more with them.
How to evaluate this OLPC trial on a preliminary basis?
There must be some simple way for the teachers of the 4 non XO classes to determine actual advantages enjoyed by students in the two XO classes (this year’s 3rd grade and last) with the XOs either by grades, test scores or anecdotal insight. Can students learn more and better through collaborating with their peers and learning to solve problems together using free Sugar educational software, free digital books more children will have better opportunities in life.
More on this to follow.
30 Mar 2010
Ghana, XOs and Student Ownership a preliminary note. Although I’ve talked to teachers about this I have not been able to visit the one XO trial here in Accra. Should be able to do this week and will immediately comment here on findings.
From what friends have told me about poverty conditions in Ghana I am wondering if student owned XO programs might be unworkable here at this time.because of poverty. A teacher gives a child a pencil, a book, a pair of shoes and the next day they don’t come back with the child.
Is the OLPC XO ownership program be based on occasional wishful thinking?
Because of culture all peoples are are not all alike.
Here in Ghana family members seem to presume that they have a right to take what they can get their hands on from affluent family members and that an he or she has an obligation to share. If he or she has made a little money abroad they may besieged by family petitioners for money and a prodigal son or daughter’s personal property on their return Ghana.
In poor families very young children (e.g. 8 years old) are required to bring money home money before they themselves are fed. Shockingly children are sold as house girls , to do plantation work on remote farms even in other countries and to do dangerous work on fishing boats going into the water to clear nets and that occasionally such child may drown.
I have read in the paper of mother’s profound remorse at having let these things happen.
How in such an environment can school authorities expect student to be able to retain possession of their XOs?
Does poverty actual differ between countries? Is the care of children fundamentally different in Ghana as compared to Nepal or Peru?
I think that we have to explore fall backs for Sugar enabled student collaboration. Student community learning centres.Using school rooms after hours might work. This would also have the advantage of drawing both entire student bodies and the faculty into the action.
I must note that when you visit the boat landing inside the tiny Nyanaano Harbour you will see happy irrepressible children working on boats and nets and hawking fish to house wives and ourselves. Indeed its like my friend says “Yes Ghana Is Still Standing.”
Practical discussion on XO ownership is not easy to find. On Apr 27, 2008 Dennis N. Raymond wrote in part:
*One-on-one distribution vs. school ownership: *OLPC quickly
> learned a lesson in African. The very concept of one laptop distributed to
> each child goes counter to the cultural traditions within these nations.
> Within poor rural communities individual ownership can contribute to
> jealousy and strife. The entire idea behind OLPC is that the child can take
> the laptop home where the knowledge is shared with the family members. But,
> as in Africa, individual ownership may not play here. OLPC might create
> greater cohesion if the laptops are “owned” by the school system, kept in
> the classroom, and/or lent out to students as requested.
Found in http://lists.laptop.org/pipermail/olpc-indonesia/2008-April/000007.html
E Mail Reply:
Thank you! Interesting observations regarding OLPC in the context of children in Ghanaian society.
You are right — for the majority of Ghanaians children are no really valued unless they are used for some productive activity. They are adored as babies but as soon as they are past the cute toddler stage they have to start contributing in some fashion for the common good.
Yes — the OLPC’s should be given to the schools and students have to check them out the way they do library books.
Thanks also for the link to Sugar Labs. I will review it and share with my Achimota colleagues.
April 3, 2010 at 12:34 am Edit
29 Mar 2010
From SugarLabs, a brief introduction: “The award-winning Sugar Learning Platform promotes collaborative learning through Sugar Activities that encourage critical thinking, the heart of a quality education. Designed from the ground up especially for children, Sugar offers an alternative to traditional “office-desktop” software.”
When text books are in short supply students must try to memorise their teacher’s lectures. They will certainly be ahead once they have unlimited access to free text books. When a teacher becomes a sort of authority figure, memorising is not the same as thinking and learning.
A brief personal note.
About 1962 I came across the NY Times Magazine article on Martin Buber and eventually wrote an MA Thesis “Martin Buber’s Sublime Citizen” under Political Science Professor Norman Jacobson at University of California at Berkeley California. I was very lucky in school. Professor Jacobson was a great teacher whose seminars were always vital and remarkable.
Buber held that dialogue either involved interaction with a live potential for commitment between the parties or it was manipulative. Carried to an extreme, manipulation degrades and even destroys “freedom” in a given political environment.
Buber is especially famous for his theory of dialogue which he derived from the Prophets of the Bible. These men avoided both court and priesthood. Rather they stood at the city gates and exhorted the people to do the right thing.
Collaborating, Solving Problems Together
With this as background I realized that the authors of http://en.flossmanuals.net/sugar had underscored something of particular importance.
“A primary goal of the Sugar learning platform is enabling students to learn and work together…in a wireless environment…
“Children learn most effectively when there are multiple computers running Sugar. This configuration allows children to use Sugar’s sharing and collaboration features. All of the computers running Sugar must be connected to the same Jabber server. You can set the Jabber server in the Network panel of the Sugar Control Panel.
As to “Collaborating: There are two similar but different modes of collaborating within Sugar:
• Send an invitation to collaborate on an Activity.
• Share an Activity in the Neighborhood View.
The difference between the two modes is subtle but important. When you send an invitation, you have specific control over who joins you. When you share with the neighborhood, you are opening your Activity up to anyone who is visible in the Neighborhood View.”
Economics of Education
In addition to increasing the both scope and quality of dialogue between larger numbers of students we ask what might Sugar do towards making more efficient use of educational funds especially where educational budgets are financially constrained? How can an individual student simply learn “more?” during a given period of time,.a term for example? How can the nation get more from its school for it’s Cidi, Dollar, etc.
We take it as a given that students learn from personal interactions with one another. Once on line and collaborating they will learn how to improve both their academic standing through through academic links. Networked computers can help students see the value of sharing ideas with expanded and more diverse numbers of students all to their mutual advantage. Thus it as hoped learning in that school activities will thus prove to be the more cost efficient will derive from this.
We further infer that all students from primary school on up who are engaged in “collaborating activities” will have learned “more” during a given period of time. Beyond this we believe that they will have acquired improved habits of mind which will enable them to stand out as better worker candidates either for low entry level jobs or better, or for more advanced studies. And problem solving will become a part of their job descriptions
I believe this is as true for the 18 year old finally graduating from the 4th grade having being held back to help support his or her family. Poverty!. Ditto for secondary school, college and university students.
More on Sugar from the Floss Manuals Introduction:
“We like to think that a child’s play is unconstrained but when children appear to feel joyous and free, this may merely hide from their minds their purposefulness; you can see this more clearly when you attempt to drag them away from their chosen tasks. For they are exploring their worlds to see what’s there, making explanations of what those things are, and imagining what else could be; exploring, explaining and learning are among a child’s most purposeful urges and goals. The playfulness of childhood is the most demanding teacher we have. Never again in those children’s lives will anything drive them to work so hard.” —Marvin Minsky, The Emotion Machine
“Sugar is a learning platform that reinvents how computers are used for education.
Collaboration, reflection, and discovery are integrated directly into the user interface. Sugar promotes “studio thinking ” and “reflective practice.”
“You can run Sugar from a Live CD as a quick way to explore its features. Note: Sugar is not yet available for installation on Microsoft Windows® or Apple OS-X®. Please refer to the Live CD section below if you are interested in trying Sugar on one these platforms.
Recently a friend tried to explain to me how the teaching of OLPC MATH proceeding from shapes and counting to calculus and god knows what higher levels of math can or soon will be available on Sugar.
Very likely the following references will give you a better idea.
If collaborating and problem solving are habits of mind that can be should learned in school we will stand a better chance of bridging all kinds of boundaries encountered in life such as: racial, ethnic, religions, tribal, and economic ones providing it is interactive. However without give and take collaboration degenerates to being merely manipulative.
We are aware of the advantages of Community Centers in American Inner Cities where family life there has declined because of jobs losses, drugs, incarcerated parents and siblings. – community centers present themselves as an alternative to gangs which can fill important needs in children’s lives. But there are not enough of them. Collaborating on networked computers can help.
Feather Bedding, a false working requirements specifying for example that a fireman (who once shoveled coal to make steam) ride in the cab of a diesel locomotive runs counter to collaboration as to job efficiency. A shirt factory in Africa that could only produce 7 shirts/man/day closed its doors for no good reason except that it could not touch the Asian standard of 20.
Religious rioting instigated by illiterate fools telling other illiterate fools to go and do mayhem could have been forestalled if people only talked to each other.
As a result of recurring crisis’s the people of Bawku in N. Ghana have suffered many deaths and burned houses for score of years. A long time ago the Kusasi’s asked the Mamprusis to help defend their crops from a third tribe the Bisas. Recurring chieftancy crises has been exacerbated by party politics. A Kusasi friend living near Accra told me that he hangs out with both Kusasi and Mamprusi friends here. They miss their old Bawku home. However my friend added that when he finally retires to Bawku and the fighting starts again “I will fight like my father did before me.” When two or more peoples who share positive memories why can they not remain on friendly terms where ever, even at home. What might not grow out of an OLPC program set up in Bawku schools?