Monday, November 8, 2010

EduTechDebate: OLPC in South America

As people following this blog or my tweets will know I spent my summer traveling through Uruguay, Paraguay, and Peru to try and get a better understanding of how the One Laptop per Child (OLPC) projects in these countries are going.

Apart from documenting my experiences over on OLPC News, the OLPC (Austria) blog, Flickr, several OLPC and Sugar Labs related mailing lists, this blog, and plenty of tweets I also had an opportunity to share some of my thoughts during talks I gave in Montevideo, Lima, and Washington, D.C.. However the most important component of these documentation efforts awaited me after my return to Austria and have kept me quite busy over the past few weeks.

The result of these efforts is a series of five articles with a total of more than 15,000 words which was posted over on, a discussion platform about ICT for education in developing countries which is sponsored by The World Bank’s infoDev and UNESCO:

OLPC in South America: An Overview of OLPC in Uruguay, Paraguay, and Peru

OLPC in Uruguay: Impressions of Plan Ceibal’s Primary School XO Laptop Saturation

OLPC in Paraguay: Will ParaguayEduca’s XO Laptop Deployment Success Scale?

OLPC in Peru: A Problematic Una Laptop Por Niño Program

OLPC in South America in Context of Deployments Around the World

I thoroughly enjoyed the process of writing these articles as it gave me a chance to reflect upon my experiences, go through all of my notes, look at the photos I had taken, etc.

In terms of what happened after the publication of the articles it was particularly interesting to see the reactions to my piece about Peru’s Una laptop por niño. My critical views of the project resulted in a significant pushback by Oscar Becerra (head of DIGETE - the Peruvian Ministry of Education's department which runs Una laptop por niño) who posted a numbered 19-part response to my article in the comments. Combined with two Peruvian media reports which mentioned my article, several discussions threads on Spanish mailing-lists, a Peruvian blogger translating the entire article to Spanish, an honorable (or maybe slightly less so;-) mention in Walter Bender’s Sugar Digest, and a total of 147 comments on the article itself it’s save to say that it created quite a stir and some good discussions.