[Sugar-news] Sugar Digest 2009-09-16

Walter Bender walter.bender at gmail.com
Wed Sep 16 22:26:11 EDT 2009

=== Sugar Digest ===

1. At the urging of Yama Ploskonka, I went to Washington to the
Interamerican Development Bank (IADB) to attend a seminar
“Reinventing the Classroo: Social and Educational Impact of the
Incorporation of Technologies” as part of an ICT for education

The stated workshop objectives were: " (i) Understand development
experiences and case studies national projects for the integration of
Information Technology and Communication in education systems, (ii)
Discuss how these projects impact on student learning and in
developing countries, and (iii) Share about challenges of evaluation
and monitoring initiatives at national and regional levels."

My objective was to catch up with people leading the various efforts
in the region in order to acquaint them with what we are doing at
Sugar Labs.

I missed the opening remarks, but was able to attend the panel
discussions: one about implementations and one about “lessons and

It seems that still too many people see ICT as a goal of rather than a
means to learning, but it was nonetheless great to get a clearer
picture of the various projects in the region.

Miguel Brechner, director of LATU and the force behind Project CEIBAL
[http://www.ceibal.edu.uy/] in Uruguay, gave a passionate talk about
all that they have accomplished. The bottom line: It is possible, so
what are the rest of  you waiting for? Among Miguel's “Lessons from
Uruguay” was a detailed break down of the total cost of ownership
across four years: US$ 276. This includes the cost of the laptop,
connectivity—every child in Uruguay gets free Internet access
($31/child/year), servers, spares, maintenance, logistics, delivery,
operating costs, et al. Uruguay has already distributed 380,000
laptops to more than 2000 schools and trained more than 18,000
teachers. They have 500 support teachers and 1500 support volunteers
helping with training and deployment. In terms of evaluation, there
has been little opportunity to report any longitudinal assessments of
impact of the deployments are relatively recent, but the early
indicators are worth noting:

* The teachers are driving the change;
* There is an increase in attendance;
* There is an increase in overall motivation ;
* There is more motivation to do homework ;
* There is less time spent watching television;
* There is an increase in parent involvement ;
* There is more motivation to go to school ;
* There is an increase in self-esteem ;
* There is an increase in interest in learning.;
* There is a dramatic drop in repeated grades;
* There is an increase in basic skills to use computer;
* There is an increased trend to collaboration and sharing ;

220,000 homes now have computers through Project CEIBAL. Computer
penetration in the the poorest households exceeds the  national

Jorge Pedreira , deputy minster of educational Portugal described
Magalhães , which is being deployed nationwide in Portugal. It is a
project of inclusion that is leaning heavily on telcom industry
partnerships to provide subsidized laptops and connectivity. There is
an emphasis on ICT training and school administration enhancements
through ICT. For the elementary-aged students, there is a local spin
the Classmate PC. They have reached 370,000 students with a dual-boot
machine: Windows XP and Caixa Mágica. (Sugar runs on their hardware—I
made sure to show the  deputy minster at the coffee break.) Their
strategy is: ICT changes education and thus society and this project
is a way to get ICT into the classroom .  Pedreira made the point that
we need to assess assessment as the children have  new competencies
that are not part of the standard metrics.

Alicia Banuelos, Rector at La Punta University described the San Luis
Digital Project in San Luis, Argentina. San Luis is a wealthy
province—wealthy enough to self-fund a comprehensive program that
includes connectivity and computing throughout the community. For the
younger children, they have instituted 1-to-1 computing also using
Classmate PCs (~7000 computers) running Windows XP. She reported some
improvements in language and math scores—she emphasized that the
improvement was in both rural and urban schools. She also mentioned
that every child is learning chess. Not sure how that impacts the
control, but what out Viswanathan Anand.

The final project review was by Alayde Maria Pinto Digiovanni,
Superintendent of education in the State of Paraná, Brazil . Their
program is classroom focused: no laptops, but large displays in every
classroom. They use exclusively free software and free text
books—which has cause lots of friction with the publishers.

=== Help wanted ===

2. Simon Schampijer and our amazing release team are in the final
phase of the [[0.86/Roadmap#Schedule|0.86 release cycle]] for more
details—the release is scheduled for Friday. Please test and please
report any issues you find. The BugSquad is still available to triage

Note that we are now hosting our bug tracker at http://bugs.sugarlabs.org

=== In the community ===

3. [http://softwarefreedomday.org Software Freedom Day] is 19
September. There are celebrations from Boston
[http://groups.fsf.org/wiki/Boston_Software_Freedom_Day] to  Bogata
[http://softwarefreedomday.org/teams/SFD_Bogota] to Melbourne

4. Donna Benjamin reports that [http://open-edge.info  Open Edge
2009]: The Australian Open Education Forum is 9 October at
[http://open-edge.info/our-venue-sceggs SCEGGS] in Sydney.

===Sugar Labs===

5. Gary Martin has generated a SOM from the past week of discussion on
the IAEP mailing list (Please see

Walter Bender
Sugar Labs

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