Sunday, November 16, 2014
Monday, October 27, 2014
- Lesson Development and Software Licenses ($250)
- Teacher & Student Training at Kokobe and Nohana Primary Schools ($7000)
- Phase I of Project Expansion at Pela Tsoeu ($3524)
- Community Organization,
- Leadership Development and Mentoring,
- Limited Initial Hardware and Software Deployment, and
- Introductory Teacher and Student Training
- deep-cycle solar power system batteries
- laptop batteries, screens, keyboards, motherboards, replacement laptops
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
Leslie Engle Young was at a schoolhouse in Agorhome, Ghana, surrounded by a room full of mystified fifth graders. None of them had ever used a computer or surfed the internet, and yet, Young had just handed out a stack of tablet computers, asking them to answer a few basic questions using these mysterious devices.
"The kids had no idea what was going on," she remembers. "The first girl who touched the tablet, I had to hold her finger to get her to touch it, because she was scared it was going to shock her."
Then, something happened that delighted and amazed Young: with no instruction whatsoever, the students started figuring it out. "It was instantaneous," she says. "They opened the browser, saw the empty bar at the top, and everyone just clicks on it. Then they're like 'Oh, there's a keyboard,' and started typing. It's like: 'How did you figure that out?'" By the end of a few hours, the students were presenting the new knowledge they'd acquired all on their own, using devices they'd never seen before.
Young is the director of impact for Pencils of Promise, a New York City non-profit that has built nearly 250 schools across Ghana, Nicaragua, Guatemala, and Laos. Last month, Pencils of Promise began experimenting with an emerging style of teaching called the self-organized learning environment, or SOLE. In a SOLE classroom, rather than lecturing students, teachers pose a question and let them use technology and curiosity to arrive at an answer. It's a method designed to encourage critical thinking and knowledge retention.
The SOLE model didn't begin with Pencils of Promise. It's based on the theories, which WIRED explored in-depth last fall, of Sugata Mitra, a professor of educational technology at Newcastle University. But Pencils of Promise is poised to take this growing movement a step further.
Rather than lecturing students, teachers pose a question and let them use technology and curiosity to arrive at an answer.
In 1999, Mitra launched a highly publicized experiment called Hole-in-the-Wall, in which he placed a computer in the middle of a New Delhi slum, and watched to see if kids could teach themselves to use it. They could, and they did. Mitra then parlayed that success into the creation of School in the Cloud, a set of schools based on the SOLE model. He argued that if students could use technology to take a more active role in their own education, they'd learn a lot more than they do in a standard classroom. Last year, Mitra won the $1 million TED Prize to bring the School in the Cloud to life.
Since then, the concept of child-led, technology-enabled education has flowered and is being tested in schools from New Jersey to Ghana. Other organizations like the X Prize are catching on, too. The non-profit recently launched its Global Learning X Prize, offering up $15 million in prize money for software that kids could use to teach themselves. Now, with Pencils of Promise on board, the SOLE model could potentially scale exponentially across its hundreds of schools. That is, if the Ghana pilot works.
Young says Pencils of Promise will be studying the two pilots in Ghana for at least the next six months, with help from a Newcastle University researcher. They'll track metrics like literacy and numeracy rates, but they'll also monitor student attendance to see if the SOLE really does keep kids more engaged, as well as its impact on students' critical thinking skills. If all goes well, the team plans to develop what Young calls "SOLE-in-a-box," that comes complete with tablets, a Wifi connection, and any other materials a teacher would need to run a SOLE.
It's important to note, however, that Pencils of Promise hasn't adopted Mitra's entire model, which entails essentially eliminating teachers and replacing them with technology. Technology, Young believes, can never replace a teacher. Instead, Pencils of Promise is teaching educators how to run a SOLE classroom for, perhaps, a few hours a week. That way, Young explains, the SOLE becomes just another part of the teacher's toolbox.
"We think teachers are really the answer to getting systemic change," she says. "They might teach 25 kids this year, another 25 next year, and so on and so on. If we can fundamentally change the way teachers are trained and supported then we would have a whole different education system."
Tuesday, October 21, 2014
Sunday, October 19, 2014
be stepping down at the end of this year and shifting my focus to lesson
development. As a result, L2L is searching for someone to take over and
lead L2L into the future.
We are looking for someone who is familiar with Lesotho and has experience
working with Basotho. Though we are based in the U.S., the president doesn't
necessarily have to be someone in the U.S.
We have a board member in Pretoria, South Africa, who is reluctantly willing
to act as Interim President, if necessary, until we can find someone who
will serve a full 3-year term.
In Lesotho, we currently have a native project leader, project
coordinator, and volunteer. We also have seven directors in the U.S. and
South Africa and over 2 dozen part-time volunteers in 4 countries. Two of
the volunteers are handling fundraising, so that sometimes onerous task
As we are an all-volunteer organization, the presidency is a unpaid
The president would primarily serve as a figurehead, leader, and
motivator, keeping the organization true to our founding philosophy and
approach, as well as acting as a liaison with our Basotho participants and
overseeing all project operations.
The L2L philosophy is to mentor, train, and encourage Basotho leadership,
with community involvement and investment in the project before the
schools or students receive any benefits, and to give Basotho control of
project design and daily operations.
L2L is currently supporting educational work at two schools in
Lesotho, serving nearly 600 students. We are looking to expand to a
third school sometime in 2016, with groundwork being laid in 2015.
I plan to stay active on the Board, so I will be available to offer
support and guidance, if needed, as the new president gets familiar with
If you are interested in applying for the president's position, contact me
The X PRIZE Foundation, the brainchild of entrepreneur and futurist Peter Diamandis, is already working on everything from sending people to the moon, to cleaning up our oceans, to developing a real life Star Trek tricorder. And on Monday, the venerable non-profit announced another ambitious goal. It wants to bootstrap technology that will let the world's children teach themselves to read and write.
The newly launched Global Learning X PRIZE is offering up $15 million to fund open source software that can remake education in the developing world. Ideally, Diamandis says, the X PRIZE team is looking for software that is artificially intelligent, so it can better understand how students learn and what their interests are, in order to keep them more engaged in their education.
"This 200-year-old industrial age educational system that we all grew up in, in which we all sit in a classroom, the bell rings, and like cogs in a wheel, we change classrooms? Inevitably, half the students are lost, and half are bored," Diamandis told WIRED on Monday at the Social Good Summit in New York City, where the new prize was announced. "The question is: How do you change that so it's personalized education? That's possible, and that's the goal."
'We're aiming at kids who live in villages where there's nothing. This has to take them from complete illiteracy to basic reading, writing and numeracy.'
As Diamandis admits, there's no shortage of technological innovation in education these days. The last few years have given birth to models like the massively open online course, which promises to give an elite global education to anyone online for free. But as important as this technology may be, he says, it often "assumes a higher state of learning than exists." "If you don't have the basics of education, you don't know how to use the web and don't know how to type in a URL," he says. "We're aiming at kids who live in villages where there's nothing. This has to take them from complete illiteracy to basic reading, writing and numeracy."
Teams will have six months to register, after which they'll have 18 months to build their software. "It could be teams from Microsoft and Google or two kids in a garage from Nairobi," he says.
Then, the foundation will test those technologies with children throughout Africa, and it is now raising money through crowdfunding to expand that test from 5,000 kids to 10,000. Once the winning team is chosen, Diamandis says he plans to work with companies like Google, Samsung, HTC, and other device manufacturers to ensure the software is integrated into all of their new phones and tablets.
"I want to make this software available for every tablet and smartphone out there," Diamandis says. "Imagine that when someone gets a tablet in the future, it will become their teacher, as well."
Sunday, October 12, 2014
Visit the Department of State website for more information.
Saturday, September 20, 2014
Sunday, September 7, 2014
Monday, September 1, 2014
Sunday, August 24, 2014
Monday, July 7, 2014
The change will allow the IRS to speed the approval process for smaller groups and free up resources to review applications from larger, more complex organizations while reducing the application backlog.
The new 1023-EZ form must be filed on www.pay.gov, accompanied by a $400 user fee. The instructions include an eligibility checklist that organizations must complete before filing the form.
Wednesday, July 2, 2014
Henk and his engineers will be getting involved in getting the servers at Kokobe and Nohana up and running. He will also work with training those involved with using the servers. This alone has the potential to vastly improve the effectiveness of the project by making computer use at the schools easier and more productive.
In addition, he is very interested in seeing L2L expand. His advice will be invaluable in choosing the best hardware and software options. He has worked with the Linux open source operating system, Edubuntu, and would handle installation of it and any educational software to the computers.
Affordable internet access at the schools is something he would like to see happen. Another interest is finding ways to develop entrepreneurial endeavors with community members and students using laptops and internet communications to establish local businesses.
Welcome to Laptops to Lesotho.
Saturday, May 3, 2014
There is great demand for eBooks in emerging markets however the demand for eTextbooks is even greater. Countries such as Kenya, Nigeria, China and Brazil are struggling to gain access to eTextbooks in their classrooms and universities. The societal factors of some of these countries require easy-to-use solutions that are also scalable and specifically designed for these markets.
The spotlight will be on the London Book Fair during the upcoming days, one of the largest book fairs in the UK. South African startup, Snapplify, has been attending the London Book Fair since they launched in 2011 and has signed leading local and international publishers. The company has been working on new digital publishing models for high growth emerging markets and has recently given a stronger focus to the academic market. This year the London Book Fair has dedicated an entire stream to Education, with multiple seminars focusing on Academic publishing. Snapplify has extensive experience providing digital publishing solutions to education publishers, particularly those expanding into emerging markets via digital textbooks, a topic currently under extensive research by the Snapplify team.
The company has recently launched their Academic eReader which is being used by Macmillan Education. The eReader allows users to make notes, highlights and annotations on their eBooks which is associated to their individual profiles. Snapplify stores all actions made by students in secure cloud servers allowing students to safely access their eBooks on any device using their unique login details. This solution has been widely accepted in African countries where students are sharing devices and cannot afford to own individual ones.
There is a great demand to enable the distribution of eTextbooks to emerging markets where bandwidth and internet connectivity are strained and inconsistent however solutions to these problems are currently being solved in Africa by caching data at institutions and supporting offline reading capabilities. It is fundamentally important to build solutions to solve problems in emerging markets especially where literacy rates are low and access to education is difficult. The state of the academic eBook industry in South Africa has not been critically measured until now. A research paper which will soon be released by the Snapplify team will analyse the adoption rate of eBooks in schools and universities and will go onto expose major obstacles to mass adoption.
[07 Apr 2014 12:27]
Friday, May 2, 2014
Educational Technology Debate
are not necessarily those of
Laptops to Lesotho Inc.
A decade ago, Nicholas Negroponte burst into the imagination of educators and technologies worldwide with a brilliant vision of every child in the developing world using a laptop to learn learning. At the time, this was a revolutionary idea, and it brought forth a seemingly endless stream of commentary, hype, and announcements of countries planning massive one computer per child programs.
Teacher vs. Student ICT
- Is the OLPC model still valid?
- Do schools still need one laptop per student?
- Or is computing hardware now totally ubiquitous?
- Is it time to again focus on curriculum, content, and pedagogy?
- And can we finally remember the teachers?
Wednesday, January 1, 2014
|Karl Keller, Rebecca Keller Mondore, Sara Lee Keller, |
Cindy Keller Barton, Vicki Keller Panhuise, Kent Keller
|Dewar Sisters: Ruth Balcomb, Marge Keller, Mary Dewar|
|Bob & Ruth Balcomb|
With help from Florence, we have been able to collect the Journal logs from all but one laptop. Laptop K36 has a bad screen (defect covers right half of screen). It looks like the laptops were used throughout the year.
The Kokobe school server has all of the software. I am loading the content on the Nohana server at the moment. This will probably take most of the night (it seems to take about 14 hours for 800GB).
The primary remaining problem is to install a Flash player that Firefox 26 and the Browse activity recognize. Sugar has gnash installed which they see as a flash plugin but which does not work.
Ole Nepal has solved the problem but, unfortunately, only for the XO-4. They are still using 0.82 for the XO-1s. They also incorporate the changes in the build not by a post-install script as I am doing. I'll keep working with them until it is resolved.
The Pustakalaya library works (including the global map, full English Wikipedia plus the Simple English plus the Wiki4Schools, and Gutenberg collection). Khan Academy Lite works and includes the Khan Academy videos. These play although the IIAB versions don't - go figure. Old Time Radio works including mp3 but Talk English (also mp3) doesn't. Wiktionary works.
I installed the Learn activity because there were some problems with Browse and some of the new content. Actually, I think Firefox and Browse are on similar footing now. However, the Learn activity does allow the milestones to be downloaded. I don't have that implemented in the Browse version yet. This means that Kokobe and Nohana will have the same content as last year plus all the new stuff.
Florence will need to flash the laptops at Kokobe and Nohana when she goes. She spent most of yesterday learning the procedure.
We visited the electric store yesterday but our guy wasn't there. They have a 100w panel for 2500M which should do the job. Florence has the business card and can get the panel before leaving for Ketane.
Essentially, I think we did everything on the list (a first!). There will be some update opportunities for you when you go, especially enabling EPaath. I certainly hope and expect to have that under control by ScaleX12.