Hello everyone,
Apologies for the delay on updating. We’ve been really busy since arriving in Uganda on June 3 that we’ve hardly had any time to write. After our arrival, we were able to spend 2 nights in Buwaiswa getting acquainted with both the people and the area we would be working in for the rest of the summer. The first day, we were picked up by Eunice from OGLM and drove to the OGLM office in Jinja. There, we finally met Chris, OGLM’s director, who we had been corresponding with since applying for OLPCorps. We were very happy to hear that he had already briefed some of the village leaders on our project and been taking steps towards buying solar panels for the school. We’re very lucky to have such a supportive local partner.
After Jinja, we drove about an hour to Buwaiswa, which would be our home for the rest of the summer. OGLM owns a sizable property on which it built an orphanage, school, vocational center, and guest house. Since they are all owned by OGLM, everything is conveniently centrally located. We were given a tour of the property by Edith, one of the school’s teachers. There are 3 classrooms at the school and about 125 kids attend. Not all of them are in the target age range of 6-12, so we’ll use age and English proficiency to screen for the laptops. There are 3 teachers that we’ll be working with, all of whom were trained by OGLM. As expected, there is no power save for one small solar panel, but with our solar panel purchase, it should be fine. OGLM also has an ICT center about 1 km away with power and internet, so if necessary we can also charge the laptops there. We are definitely very glad that we got to visit the deployment site before the Kigali workshop because email correspondence did not give us the full picture.
With this bigger picture in mind, we drove to Kigali with the Colorado College Uganda OLPC team. We spent the 10 days of the training workshop getting to know the other teams, learning about the OLPCorps mission and learning the technical and pedagogical side of  things. We spent a few sessions on some technical aspects of deploying, such as how to reflash our 100 XOs and replace broken parts. We also got to become more familiar with some of the programming activities, including Scratch and e-toys. They also brought in a few speakers to tell us about their past deployment experiences in Haiti, Uruguay and Brazil. The most informative part of the workshop came from visiting the schools in Rwanda that had already deployed laptops. We split into different groups on Friday and Monday to work with both teachers and students. It was good to get an idea of how to (and how not to) do our teacher training. 
All in all, it was a good 10 days. For our own deployment, our main goal is to give the kids laptops to give them access to a world beyond their village and give them the tools to become independent and successful in the future. To work towards achieving this, we’ll need to establish power and internet (or webpage caching) and come up with solid learning projects based on the kids’ interests. We’ve run into a couple glitches so far: our server needs to be fixed because someone made themselves an admin before Billy could make his XO the admin, but we’re working with Reuben on that. In addition, the cost of our solar panels is much higher than anticipated, and it looks like we’re going to have to look for more funding since our budget and our small amount of donations is not going to cover it. But, we’re not worrying too much because we’ve got 8 more weeks to work through it. We’re excited to go back to the village and finally start working on the deployment. 

Hello everyone,

Apologies for the delay on updating. We’ve been really busy since arriving in Uganda on June 3 that we’ve hardly had any time to write. After our arrival, we were able to spend 2 nights in Buwaiswa getting acquainted with both the people and the area we would be working in for the rest of the summer. The first day, we were picked up by Eunice from OGLM and drove to the OGLM office in Jinja. There, we finally met Chris, OGLM’s director, who we had been corresponding with since applying for OLPCorps. We were very happy to hear that he had already briefed some of the village leaders on our project and been taking steps towards buying solar panels for the school. We’re very lucky to have such a supportive local partner.

After Jinja, we drove about an hour to Buwaiswa, which would be our home for the rest of the summer. OGLM owns a sizable property on which it built an orphanage, school, vocational center, and guest house. Since they are all owned by OGLM, everything is conveniently centrally located. We were given a tour of the property by Edith, one of the school’s teachers. There are 3 classrooms at the school and about 125 kids attend. Not all of them are in the target age range of 6-12, so we’ll use age and English proficiency to screen for the laptops. There are 3 teachers that we’ll be working with, all of whom were trained by OGLM. As expected, there is no power save for one small solar panel, but with our solar panel purchase, it should be fine. OGLM also has an ICT center about 1 km away with power and internet, so if necessary we can also charge the laptops there. We are definitely very glad that we got to visit the deployment site before the Kigali workshop because email correspondence did not give us the full picture.

With this bigger picture in mind, we drove to Kigali with the Colorado College Uganda OLPC team. We spent the 10 days of the training workshop getting to know the other teams, learning about the OLPCorps mission and learning the technical and pedagogical side of  things. We spent a few sessions on some technical aspects of deploying, such as how to reflash our 100 XOs and replace broken parts. We also got to become more familiar with some of the programming activities, including Scratch and e-toys. They also brought in a few speakers to tell us about their past deployment experiences in Haiti, Uruguay and Brazil. The most informative part of the workshop came from visiting the schools in Rwanda that had already deployed laptops. We split into different groups on Friday and Monday to work with both teachers and students. It was good to get an idea of how to (and how not to) do our teacher training. We also got a better idea of OLPC’s expectations and goals for our deployment and the constructionism philosophy.

All in all, it was a good 10 days. For our own deployment, our main goal is to give the kids laptops to give them access to a world beyond their village and give them the tools to become independent and successful in the future. To work towards achieving this, we’ll need to establish power and internet (or webpage caching) and come up with solid learning projects based on the kids’ interests. We’ve run into a couple glitches so far: our server needs to be fixed because someone made themselves an admin before Billy could make his XO the admin, but we’re working with Reuben on that. In addition, the cost of our solar panels is much higher than anticipated, and it looks like we’re going to have to look for more funding since our budget and our small amount of donations is not going to cover it. But, we’re not worrying too much because we’ve got 8 more weeks to work through it. We’re excited to go back to the village and finally start working on the deployment. 

Until next time, 

Billy, Marie and Tiffany

Advertisements