[IAEP] GPA ain't the world (was: [Sugar-news] Sugar Digest 2009-08-11)

Christoph Derndorfer e0425826 at student.tuwien.ac.at
Thu Aug 13 05:42:14 EDT 2009

Sean DALY schrieb:
> IMHO, close study of small deployments makes them incredibly useful to
> all teachers and Learners. The observations and take-aways need to be
> triaged of course, starting with what can/should be done by Sugar
> Labs, but I am convinced many learnings will benefit large
> deployments. Until reliable means of sharing experiences and feedback
> (polls, questionnaires, council of deployers, etc.) can be put in
> place, microscopic study of a classroom using Sugar is well worth the
> effort, in particular for revealing blockers.
I'm not sure I really agree with this statement...

Extrapolating the data and drawing conclusions based on observations in 
a trial that represents less than 0,01% of all current Sugar 
installations is a risky endeavor at best and a serious mistake at 
worst. Even more so when the environment between the trial (in this case 
GPA) and the global deployments really couldn't be more different in 
just about every way imaginable (SoaS vs. XO, summer classes vs. regular 
year-long classes, Boston connectivity vs. Rwanda connectivity, 25 
installations in a school vs. 1000 installations in a school, US power 
infrastructure vs. Nepali power infrastructure, having a team consisting 
of Walter / Greg / Caroline supporting the efforts vs. being lucky to 
maybe have a single person who has used a computer before, 25 pupils in 
a classroom vs. 80 pupils in a classroom, users that were raised in 
urban North America vs. users who don't have electricity at home, and I 
could go on...).

Yes, some of the findings at GPA will indeed be of a broad and general 
nature and subsequent actions will benefit all Sugar users. Yes, 
projects like in Alabama, Austria, the UK and similar places will be 
able to learn many things from the GPA pilot.

But let's not forget that the current million Sugar users and (if the 
reports are to be believed) also the next million Sugar users are much 
more likely to be found in Ancash, Kigali or Sichuan rather than Boston, 
London or Vienna. And I doubt that you'll find too many schools in those 
places that have a profile similar to GPA [1].

Just my 2 Nepali Rupees,

[1] "The Gardner Pilot Academy is the flagship full-service community 
school within the Boston Public Schools (BPS). The school's vision is to 
educate the minds and develop the characters of all students in 
partnership with families and community. To achieve this GPA provides 
high quality teaching along with a range of social, emotional and 
enrichment programs delivered by means of partnerships with an array of 
community organizations and individuals. Over the past twelve years, GPA 
has developed strong associations with four universities, several health 
and mental health agencies, the YMCA, and various organizations teaching 
visual and performing arts. As one of just 20 pilot schools in the BPS, 
GPA is exempt from district mandates. Therefore, GPA has autonomy in the 
areas of budget and personnel, along with the freedom to implement 
innovative curricula, assessments, and interventions." 

Christoph Derndorfer
co-editor, olpcnews
url: www.olpcnews.com
e-mail: christoph at olpcnews.com

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