Moodle on the olpc School Server : Overview - This case study investigates how we can support, through the learning management system Moodle, digital literacy in the “internet” age when connectivity is not always possible. Background - One Laptop Per Child (olpc) are deploying laptops called XOs running Sugar, a Linux based learning platform. Many olpc deployments have School servers running a specially designed Moodle install to support those deployments. The School Server used in this study, known as XS, runs a Fedora Linux operating system, customized to complement the olpc laptops and run with little or no maintenance. The XS provides connectivity, shared resources and services, allowing asynchronous interaction, larger storage capacity than that on the laptops, and advantages in processing power. It also provides networking infrastructure for the school and supports various wireless network setups, including standard Access Points. This is a case study of two deployments in the Pacific region that use Moodle. The two primary schools are on Savaii in Samoa, where year 4, 5 and 6 students have been given olpc laptops. Since these schools do not have internet access, they were provided with “offline slices”. The school server was used to provide students and teachers access to Moodle, a local copy of Schools Wikipedia, a library of e-books and a range of activities for use on their laptops. Discussion - In terms of education it was found the school server, running a tailored version of Moodle learning management system, provided flexible communication, collaboration and publishing environment. However, finding appropriate e-resources to download was hard work.
Photo of me at moodle event Moodle has had me travel the world I present at moodlemoots and use moodle every day
Photo of olpc NZ community I have volunteered for one laptop per child (olpc) and Sugar labs since mid 2008, I have coordinated testing efforts from NZ for the past almost three years, helped spread the word about olpc and sugar intenationally, I have been to two school deployments in Samoa, and been to an olpc community summit in San Francisco to share stories and learn from other volunteers around the world
So I went to two schools in Samoa that are using olpc laptops This school has given the laptops to the students in years 4, 5 and 6
Behind the students, the teachers, and us volunteers is the school main building with a flag pole at the front. We put a wifi access point on that flag pole to allow the students to access the school server from their homes
We also helped at this school, where they have given the laptops to year 5 and 6 students The boy jumping is holding a notebook that we gave him to use to record notes in as a scientist and researcher, as he investigates the laptop and discovers its capabilities
While everyone is posing for the big camera for the school photo, the boy in the front has decided to take his own photo using his olpc laptop. You see another boy taking a photo of the photographer with his laptop.
The reason we went to these two schools was to install school servers and wifi access points on the school grounds. The school server gives the students access to Moodle and to any other resources that are made available to them by the teachers or by us. The schools have very limited resources so we brought as much equipment and tools with us as we could (you can't just buy screws locally for example). At this school we attached the server and switch on the wall of the staff office in their resources area.
We put access points in classrooms
In this school we put the server and switch on a high shelf at the back of the principals office.
Before we proceed, I think I need to give you an overview of Sugar, the learning platform that students use on the laptop. The laptops use a Linux based operating system. Sugar is free and open source allowing for modification to local needs and no ongoing license costs. The laptop is known as XO and the school server is known as XS. This is the Neighbourhood view, it shows the students all the connection points. We named the school wireless network “schoolnetwork” in this example, but in reality we named it with the school names at each school.
This is the home view. This is where the students can choose the activity (or application) that they would like to use, such as “Write” which is similar to a word processor or “Record” which is a way to create photos, videos and audio files. When the XO registers on the XS it automatically creates an account in Moodle and in the backup system. This is required if they are to access resources from the XS. There is no password – physical access to the XO laptop grants access.
Once the laptop is registered on the school server they don't need to register again unless the laptop is reflashed. The school server is accessed using the activity called “Browse” which is a web browser
This is the Browse homepage, they click “Local schoolserver” or if there is internet they could use the Google search function. In Samoa we changed the default homepage in Browse to show the students quick links to Moodle, activities, books, and their local Wikipedia. They didn't have internet access at the schools.
This is the XS homepage. You might be able to recognise it as the Moodle frontpage with courses on the left and some quick links to resources on the right. The Activities link lets the students choose the activities/games that they add to their laptop, opportunities to develop your skills in areas of student choice.
Ebooks The students download ebooks from server onto their laptop so they can take home and read them with family or read at school with friends. It was hard to find a good collection of libre ebooks on short notice. Projects that do collect ebooks don't make bulk download easy. For the schools that we went to the addition of ebooks was a massive resource extension. At one of the two schools a teacher showed me the two books that she had for the year, so adding around 300 books to that school really made a difference to their literacy resources, giving the students a lot more examples of writing to learn from.
Wikipedia slice - On server vs on laptop Before we arrived, the laptops each had an old snapshot of popular wikipedia pages saved locally on the laptop. This version was not particularly sensored and it had all the images stripped out of it to reduce file size. It was not editable. We found Schools wikipedia, which had less pages at around 5000 but the content was school student appropriate and had images. We installed this on the school server and children can access it through the Browse activity, like wikipedia, except it is not editable.
You can see that this version is divided into subject categories for the children to search through. The shift from keeping wiki pages on the laptop to accessing them on the school server was a hard one. While it gave them many benefits it also took away some too. Children could no longer share wiki pages with others at home if they were outside the wifi network range. Also, some of the teachers were sharing their laptops with family members who teach at other schools, and they could no longer use the local wikipedia slice at different schools as they also were outside the school wifi range.
The school server provides a way to Backup and restore Journals. The journal is kind of a portfolio of the students work. If they break their laptop and it needs to be reflashed there is a backup of their work on the school server that can be restored once their laptop is fixed.
Research into digital literacy skills Africa – coke bottle, PNG – cargo culture... blind faith John Seely Brown – navigational literacy … sea of information... digital being (in the future reliant on a sense of location) – examples might be are you looking at government info or 12 year olds blog? Walking into a new culture – disoriented, incapable of operating in new environment George Siemens – connectivism – how learning is connected to ideas of networks and patterns Richer opportunities to recognise patterns Library versus one book – starting to see similarities and differences, the patterns emerge (download book – knowing knowledge) I and We learning; personal learning environments are not always online
Challenges Open content and licenses Many wikis have permissive licences, but do not provide an export function. Spidering is technically difficult and frowned upon by many admins. We failed to make a copy of the olpc wiki and suffered when not connected to the internet as a result.