First Experiences with OLPC in European Classrooms


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Presentation at E-Learn Conference, Vancouver, 2009

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  • • The Austrian Federal Ministry for Education, Arts and Culture called for participation on an OLPC-project. Four primary school classes should be equipped with 25 XOs each. • The hardware was sponsored free of charge by OLPC-Austria. • Because four classes should participate, there should have been a special training program for the concerned classroom teachers. Special Software for the target group should be developed before the start of the school-term. • The research results should affect the studies for all forthcoming teacher-students at PHST.
  • The class consists of 25 pupils (10 boys and 15 girls) at the age of six. The children will stay in this school for four years. Throughout these four years they’ll be accompanied by the XO laptops. For it is an all-day class, the kids stay in school until 3 p.m., which includes eating and doing the homework. A female and a male teacher are alternately working in the class to balance the gender representation
  • For the pupils of the project class are doing all their homework at school, the XO laptops are not carried home each day. The laptops stay in school and are only 2 (last visited April 2009) activated if needed. In the daily work the XOs are in use for several 30 minutes blocks. These blocks shall practice the subject matter and work out new information in a connected and collaborative surrounding. The XO – as an additional tool – became an important part for working on the subject matters in a new exciting way.
  • It turned out quickly that for the success of the the project, further scientific partners have to be involved. XO's activities in the standard distribution cover a wide range of educational settings. Nevertheless, we expected some gaps in coverage for primary education (which addresses illiterates in the beginning) and anticipated respective development efforts. Thus a collaboration with Graz University of Technology (TU Graz) has been set up: The collaboration includes the department “Social Learning” and a team at the Institute for Software Technology. The roles of the partners are manifold to ensure a highly valuable research output: • Department Social Learning at TU Graz: Experiences about e-Learning in general and help in instructional design of new software as well as didactical approaches in using it. Furthermore the department supervises one project about usability issues of the software (how are children using the developed software, how works the interface?) and about the user requirements (teachers as well as children) to achieve the intended tasks • Institute of Softwaretechnology at TU Graz: The main research area of the Institute are formal methods for software development, and the main teaching areas are the basics for such research; in addition to that 'didactics of informatics' is hosted by the Institute. Thus it was straightforward to establish a developer team under supervision of the Institute. One member of the team is a student of “Software Development and Business Management” and another student is enrolled in the Teacher Training Programme. The team collaborates with the Department Social Learning with respect to user requirements engineering on the one hand, and with OLPC-Austria with respect to software requirements and architecture on the other hand. • University of Teacher Education in Styria: Two Bachelor-Students of PHST carrying out their thesis by monitoring the progress of the children in mathematic- and writing skills. Four tests in seven months are planned to establish a pre/posttest experimental control group design. Additionally real working time (in contrast to handling time) in the classrooms on the XO laptops will be measured as well. The importance to distinguish between different times is well-founded in technical problems which distract children from their core learning goals. In this particular case pupils of the project class as well as pupils of the control class would have different practicing times. • Non-profite organization OLPC Austria: OLPC-Austria supports the project with technical know-how and helps to exchange experiences with the global OLPC-network. Our outcomes are returned to the main OLPC developer team to improve the standard for the worldwide OLPC-project.
  • Ad 3: internal and external evaluation ----------------------------------------------- Both, internal and external, are important; internal evaluation is a learning opportunity for students and teachers and developers, External evaluation is a learning opportunity for teachers, administrators and developers. Ad 4: integration into teacher education ----------------------------------------------- Integration of design and evaluation tasks into in-service training of teachers as well as education of teacher students ! This integrative method is also a model for “transfer to developing countries” (next slide)
  • Goal: develop a typical educational SW ----------------------------------------------- Given the limited development resources at Graz, the project presently restricts development to a product # most requested by teachers # best balanced between promised advances and development efforts # with didactic expertise and practical experience in Austria # promising for transfer to developing countries see slide+2: Future: transfer to developing countries Specifically “ReckonPrimer” -------------------------------- All these points relate to the points on the left side ; they all just give an exemplary detail. design SW maximally general ----------------------------------- i.e. not too specific, too partial: otherwise concerns of curriculum, of support, of adaptivity etc become irrelevant # features for adaption escape pre-settings any time ------------------------------------------- The SLIDE+1 shows a screen-shot with settings for calculations between 0 and 10. These can be accessed by the learner any time # features for feed-back each input number checked ------------------------------------------- SLIDE+2 shows a screen-shot with a stop-button bottom right, which leads immediately to the previously shown settings for calculations.
  • SLIDE+1: this slide refers to the previous On the right there are the pre-settings for an exercise passing 10, White buttons are activated with the following meaning: # left column 1..9: the exercise only starts with “6” as first number: 6 + 7 = ?, 6 + 9 = ?, 6 + … # only calculations with “+”, none with “-” # show the intermediate calculations (1+2 on the screen) by “ < “ # request the result right of the equal sign by “__” below 12; the request could also be before the equal sign # shuffle the calculations by “@” (all possible calculations are generated)
  • SLIDE+2: this slide refers to the pre-previous # Input is requested in the white ovals bottom left. Input at the current cursor must be 3 # top left is the protocol of the inputs so far. The 3 rd line shows erroneous input # on the right there are other feed backs: * progress bar (towards 6 calculations; which are too few calculations, actually) * 2 correct calculations, 1 error * elapsed time * the name (“Walther”) will be removed … a quick and dirty prototype done with 2 students
  • Design: Most of applications in the sugar operating system work with written buttons, it is hard for six year old children to use them without guidance. For example if they stop an activity, they have to press a “Stop” button. The main design was built to be easily understandable, even without reading. But if they made any changes without saving, the application asks whether to stop with or without saving. Children who even cannot read German any words yet, it is impossible to answer this question. Beamer: A beamer would be very useful for the teachers, but there’s no way to connect one to an XO. A classroom server has to be implemented on a standard PC. Its sugar user interface can be beamed easily. Connectivity: The mesh network, which should connect different XOs just in time, seems not to be very stable. If all children connect on the same time, they temporarily get disconnected. A reconnection is hard, for they have to read again. Therefore we installed a WLAN router. But in fact it did not help much. The classroom server should help again. Activities: The Applications (“activities”) on the XO are spread through a wide range of age groups. This will come very handy in some years. But for the beginning we need some software to train reading, calculating, writing and typewriting. These programs are not available yet.
  • Future: transfer to developing countries ------------------------------------------------ The word “transfer ” is misleading by itself: learning is an individual task, teaching is determined by culture. Thus learning must be developed “bottom up” locally, and can not be “transferred”. UNU/IIST: Institute for Softwaretechnology of the United Nations University, located in Macao, is responsible for knowledge transfer in ICT to developing countries etc UNESCO: knowledge transfer in education Both organizations would give an “official” umbrella for OLPC activites, and possibly support.
  • First Experiences with OLPC in European Classrooms

    1. 1. First Experiences with OLPC in European Classrooms Martin Ebner, Johannes Dorfinger, Walther Neuper, Christian Safran
    2. 3. uLearning = {u-Environment, u-Content, u-Behavior, u-Interface, u-Service}
    3. 4. Digital Divide Digital Literacy
    4. 5. OLPC Iniative
    5. 6. project process
    6. 7. class
    7. 8. class
    8. 9. partner
    9. 10. Integrated Software Development <ul><li>short feed-back cycles </li></ul><ul><li>didactics experts are mediators </li></ul><ul><li>internal and external evaluation </li></ul><ul><li>integration into teacher education </li></ul>
    10. 11. Goal: develop a typical educational SW <ul><li>General aspects </li></ul><ul><li>design SW max. general </li></ul><ul><li>make SW adaptive </li></ul><ul><ul><li>to educators (local curricula) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>to teachers (certain classes) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>to (individual !) learners </li></ul></ul><ul><li>give feed-back </li></ul><ul><ul><li>on each input </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>on proceeding within course </li></ul></ul><ul><li>exploit technology </li></ul><ul><li>Specifically “ReckonPrimer” </li></ul><ul><li>cover all basic reckoning </li></ul><ul><li>features for adaption </li></ul><ul><ul><li>define, sequence exercises </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>adapt, supervise exercises </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>escape pre-settings any time </li></ul></ul><ul><li>features for feed-back </li></ul><ul><ul><li>each input number checked </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>knowledge space displayed </li></ul></ul><ul><li>complete sets of numbers </li></ul><ul><ul><li>0 + 3 = 3, 1 + 2 = 3, 2 + 1 = 3, 3 + 0 = 3 </li></ul></ul>
    11. 12. <ul><li>adaption: the learner can scape pre-settings any time, and change them </li></ul>ReckonPrimer
    12. 13. <ul><li>feedback: each input number is checked (white ovals and __ bottom left) </li></ul>ReckonPrimer
    13. 14. problems <ul><li>Design </li></ul><ul><li>Beamer </li></ul><ul><li>Connectivity </li></ul><ul><li>Activities </li></ul>
    14. 15. Experiences from development <ul><li>Freedom of choice </li></ul><ul><li>Adoption </li></ul><ul><li>Authoring </li></ul><ul><li>Design </li></ul>
    15. 16. Future: transfer to developing countries <ul><li>implement top-down by local governments </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Hardware , basic software (SW) and curricula </li></ul></ul><ul><li>implement learning scenarios bottom-up </li></ul><ul><ul><li>show adaptivity of SW to learners </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>introduce specific authoring tools to teachers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>support local exchange of teachers experiences </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>provide a Web2.0-based support system </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>refer back to developments at UNU/IIST, UNESCO </li></ul></ul>
    16. 17. Graz University of Technology Slides available at: Join us in Graz -