Archive for May, 2010

Teachers Using the XO in Class

Yesterday at Kagugu Desire, a new OLPC intern, Elisee and myself helped assist two teachers who planned to use the XO laptop in their lesson plans.

The first teacher we worked with was Simon who teaches P4 & P5 English . He wanted to use the XO laptop while teaching his students about relative pronouns. Desire and I met with him the day before to discuss ways he could integrate laptop use with his lesson plan. We tried to push him to use more advanced activities, since he is very familiar with Scratch and Etoys, but he thought he may be two difficult for the children so he preferred to use the Write Activity.

After explaining the definition of relative pronouns, he wrote 3 example sentences with one word missing–a relative pronoun. Students had to copy the sentence and add the correct word. Most of the students in his class are still new to using the laptop; so it did take a while for some to learn how to capitalize letters, or move their cursor the next line etc. But by the end of the class, most students were able to copy most of the sentences from the board. Simon then went around to each child and wrote “good job” to those students who had the correct answers.

The second teacher was a math teacher for P4. He also used Write and asked his students to copy down and solve some math equations.

While these are not the most powerful ways to use the laptop, it is a big step that teachers are now trying to use, particularly this is a big win since they are using the laptop IN their lessons and not part of a separate “computer class.”


A teacher’s Etoys book

This past two weeks I have been working with teachers on creating their own books in Etoys. I really like focusing on the Etoys book because it is easy for teachers to see how they can integrate this feature into their teaching. All of the teachers made short books on Etoys during the “malaria camp” (teachers work below) but what was really interesting and cool was one teacher, in particular, who, during his spare time, wrote his own books–one about love, one about life…. It was really great for the teacher to have a venue to express his ideas, feelings and thoughts.

Below you will find two books written by teacher Jacques at Rwamagana Primary School entitled “Life has no Formula” and “What is Love?”

You will also see his email on the cover page:, if you have a moment feel free to send him some encouragement to keep writing! (if you would like you can CC me ( so I can be sure to tell him to check his email)

(other pagesĀ  for “Life…”coming shortly)

The Spread of Technology!

I was travelling with my friend Sam and his family and friends for his families’ genocide commemoration. The commemoration took place WAY out in the Southern Province, very far from anything. Our bus caught a flat tire and while we waiting for someone to drive back to the city to get a replacement a group of children surrounded us and luckily I had my XO laptop with me. I showed it off to the kids and they were so excited. It was hard to communicate because they did not know English and I know only a very few words in Kinyarwanda. I first showed them Record and they all laughed and smiled after seeing their faces reflected back to them. But after a few moments, one boy shouted “open Microsoft Word!” How he knew about this, I don’t know!

Kagugu Teachers Start to Use

This past Wednesday, Desire, the KIE interns and I went to Kagugu school for teacher training. We are continuing basic training with beginner teachers but for advanced teachers we want to support them, as they teach WITH the laptop during school time. As part of the success of the training, Kagugu now has “computer time” (a big step for the school) so this was the time when Desire and I walked around the classrooms to get an idea of which teachers were using the laptop, if there were any problems, and to plan an organized training moving forward. In total about 4 teachers were using the laptop in the class. Most of them were importing a picture from Record to Write or simply using Write, while these are basic projects, it is a great start. But there were also problems one teacher, Simon, who is a great teacher wanted to use the laptops in his class but he was not given enough power strips and had to run around the school tracking some down for over 30 minutes. Needless to say it is difficult to run a class in such conditions. We spoke to the Headmaster urging him to provide the right working conditions for the teachers that really want to use the laptop.

Moving forward the advanced teachers have decided that they would like to be separated into 4 groups based on the subject they teach: Language, Science, Math and Social Studies. We will spend a week focused on one group in which we will offer intensive classroom support. At the end of the month all teachers will come together to share problems and successes.

Laptop Maintenance Report from Kagugu School

Sorry for the delay in posts–I am without a laptop but getting a new one shortly. I have many cool projects and developments to share, but I will first start with the results of a technical survey my colleague Desire RWAGAJU and KIE interns completed at Kagugu school.

The results were as follows (out of 3000 laptops which are very lightly used):

kagugu survey O

There are 19 broken laptops requiring spare parts, the vast majority of these are broken screens. The screens can easily break when the laptop is open and then dropped on the floor; when the laptop is shut with too much force, or when there is pressure on the screen.

There are 17 laptops that will not take a charge. This could be solved with one of the multi-battery chargers we have here in Rwanda, if the trick to take out the battery, then plug to mains power, then plug mains power with the battery does not work.

44 laptops have sound problems; hopefully this can be fixed with the FixSound activity from Daniel Drake, but it could also mean there are broken speakers, etc–we will have to check.

Lastly, and most tedious, there are 450 laptops that have never been reflashed. This means they still have the old software that was shipped directly from the manufacturer. This was a job for the Rwandan core team, but it really shows the importance of making sure the school keeps track and takes charge of such processes as well. We have started reflashing but because the laptops are so old, we have to first update the firmware (like BIOS) and then update the software; so it takes a LONG time.

BIG thanks to Herve, Daniel and Manusheel for the help with this.