Rural Training Center, Thailand (RTC-Thailand)

Thanksgiving / Holiday Giving via Give 1, Get 1!

Nov 24, 2007

This Thanksgiving, we decided to participate in the Give 1, Get 1 (G1G1) program of the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) global education effort. To be sure, there are critics for just about any technology education effort. (Gee, it?’s really tough to be perfect in this world!) But the idea of trying to bring technology education to the rural poor in developing countries is an admirable one. Indeed, the RTC-TH Rural Environmental Education Enhancement Pilot Program (REEEPP) includes a technology component. Indeed, we will be watching OLPC with keen interest to see if may be possible to bring this to Ban Na Fa Elementary School in the future.

OLPC is so exciting it is hard to know where to start. A priority for us was to participate in the G1G1 program. If you live in the USA or Canada, and during a brief period of time, you will be able to pay USD 399 for two XO laptops. The first laptop is yours to keep (the get 1 part) and the second one is donated to the program to be distributed in one of OLPC's partner countries (the give 1 part). You get a $200 tax deduction and T-Mobile includes a complimentary 1 year Hotspot access (value ~$350). The original offer was to expire 26 Nov 2007 but has been extended to 31 Dec 2007. (Use the link below to join the effort.)

While the tangible focus of the project is a laptop computer, the heart and soul of the project is education. The English word ?“education?” is derived from Latin. Literally translated, education is a process of leading out. However, most teachers and schools tend to ?“pour in?”. Some of the ideas in the OLPC effort are similar to the RTC-TH community-based education: 1) education is empowering; 2) freedom of choice accelerates learning, exploration and better retention; 3) learning is enhanced when it is fun; 4) teaching back (teaching to others) increases understanding and multiplies the educational benefits beyond the learner.

OLPC conducted a trial in Ban Samkha, Lampang, Thailand, using 20 XO computers. (Use the link below to see the report.) Within an hour the students were exploring and learning on their own. They weren?’t just learning about computers and the internet. They were learning to use computers as tools for learning and documenting their surroundings. Activities included photographing friends and family to and photographing / identifying local plants, landforms and daily life. At home, students taught their parents about computers and many wanted to track the family budget. (Click to enlarge the photo to see the features of the computer.)

To learn more about this exciting project, visit the OLPC website. We strongly urge you to sign up and participate in the Get One, Give One program before the 31 Dec 2007 deadline. There is very little to lose, and so much to gain by taking the time to give a gift to the world and future generations during this holiday season.

FFI:
Get One, Give One
http://laptopgiving.org/en/index.php

Ban Samkha Pilot Trial
http://wiki.laptop.org/go/OLPC_Thailand/Ban_Samkha/trial-200705

Photo courtesy of OLPC.

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