January 17, 2009

One Laptop per Child

One Laptop per Child (OLPC) is coming to Sukhbaatar, and in a big way. We are not only having over 700 computers distributed to our province (and over 500 to my city’s school which is one of the largest single distributions in the country), but we are also hosting a teacher training for the three surrounding provinces. I just found out about this news yesterday and the training is set for next week. Over 10,000 XO Laptop computers are being handed out to children throughout the country, with some of them having been handed out over the summer, and even a few have made themselves into the hands of lucky Peace Corps Volunteers who can learn from them and then be in a position to help teachers and students when they receive them in their local schools. After attending several trainings and information sessions on OLPC during summer and in-service training, our Peace Corps Volunteer Leader (PCVL) Luke decided that I should take a laptop back to Sukhbaatar aimag so that all four of us Volunteers could learn about it. We have since named it Matt Damon and started playing around with it to figure out all of it’s bells and whistles. It is definitely made for children, with a simple interactive design and graphics layout and a pretty small keyboard for pretty small hands, but it is also a very powerful device with tools like a video camera, speakers, microphone, color display, wireless connectivity, incredible battery life, USB connections, SD card reader, swivel-screen, waterproof keyboard and Linux driven operating system. I have just started to understand some of its capabilities and am very excited to learn more.

Alex and I will be meeting with the School Director of Sukhbaatar School #1 this morning to talk about the distribution of the laptops (to all 2nd through 5th graders in the school) as well as the upcoming teacher training next week. We are offering our assistance and hoping that we can coming an encouraging part of the program. I am sure the teachers and students are excited and we hope to keep the excitement going for them. The program is a wonderful way to help students learn to love learning and also make a connection to the outside would that would otherwise be very difficult for them. I am excited to write more soon, but until then know that I, Alex and Matt Damon are doing all that we can help.


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