Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Sugar-OLPC Woes.

In a recent mail to IAEP, Bernie Innocenti asks for self criticism in Sugar and OLPC, communities, I'll give my points of view in this post.

firstly, I want to say that for me volunteer communities that work for OLPC and Sugar in every day basis are the real underlying motor that impulse the growth of technologies applied to education yet communities are attracted by openness of discussion and ''free-ness'' of software, this is an advantage that we can't afford to lose and sometimes we are failing to give real value to it spreading the word: FLOSS.

I must say that technical growth can be achieved, although i know that we lack of resources to maintain crucial members of our development core, and there is a empty or interrogation space regarding economical opportunities of Sugar, somewhat selling machines is easier but ''selling'' pedagogy or software services is not so.

I'm now more concerned about education and pedagogical impact of our work,
and hey! my field is not pedagogy, that must be why I'm concerned (because i don't understand it :)); i feel that what OLPC and Sugar are trying to do is revolutionary, but the concepts are being applied in a damaged base, the damaged base is School, School (and more over Universities) must be re-thinked
and re-modeled, (I really like uruguay's experiments working with XOs in schools) , anyway i don't want to go deeper on this idea, because other writers are more indicated to do it. and it's not the intention of this blog.

So this re-modeling or re-thinking of schools is not going to happen anytime soon, let's focus on what we can control now: intersections between pedagogic an technological approaches.
The key process to our future improvement could be understanding these intersections and interactions, for instance we have development cycles, but we don't have pedagogical cycles, we can review easily changes in code but not how and why changes are happening in classrooms, we are adapting Sugar and XOs to technological constraints but not for pedagogical concepts or questions and this is mostly due to lack of feedback, we need people reviewing pedagogical outcomes the same way we have people reviewing quality and performance of code. There is a divergence of times between technological development and education development, but it's necessary to shorten this divergence. although it's difficult to set times i propose we must have a 6-month state of the project discussion where we take into count not only tecnological or pedagogical outcomes but rather interseptions between these two. For lack of resources if we cannot do it physically we must do it virtually. This state of the project discussions (could be associated to sugar camps), should say to us how and why to correct mistakes and in short give us better understanding of our paths and objectives.


kike said...

I like this blog, its very important for our lives in community and learning news topics about comunication and diferent status about science

Dirakx said...

Thanks for your comment Kike.

Sameer Verma said...

Its amazing how many people will continue to push for using the "school" model in scenarios where the "school" model is the cause of failure. I write school in quotes because I am not opposed to the idea (I am a teacher) but I am opposed to pedagogical methods employed in many schools, including the ones in the US (the ones I am familiar with).

However, the OLPC model also relies on economies of scale (to keep laptop costs low) and in most countries, one has to go through the school system to achieve scale and continuity...hence the dependency on the school system. I hope that the XO and Sugar will truly prove to be trojan enough to slip through school systems undetected and then bloom outside of those walls.

A radically different idea is to provide the laptop to kids with no strings attached (not via school, or library, etc.) and let them do what they will with it. That idea is crazy, and that idea comes from crazy people like Nicholas Negroponte. Oh, wait!

There is a reason why the current mode of education does not work for so many people. It will take crazy ideas to change all that. I am all for shattering the null hypothesis, aka the hypothesis of no change.

Dirakx said...

Well said Sameer!, I'd like to go deeper on the idea of no-school in other posts, nevertheless i must say I'm not convinced with the idea of no-intervention, no-school is different of no-intervention as human beings we need mentors or teachers, (that in someways light a path for us), whether they are physical or virtual.