Video of activity in Sarandí Grande

Originally published by Pablo Flores on Sun, Dec 23rd, 2007
Translated by Paul D. Spradling


For those of who weren't there, this 45sec video gives you a taste of the activities that took place in Saradí Grande.



Excellent video from Fernando da Rosa. He also wrote an article about the activities.

This was last activity of the year. We hope to continue our work late-January, and give the project everything it deserves!

A Day of Activities in Sarandí Grande

Originally published by Pablo Flores on Thurs, Dec 20th, 2007
Translated by Paul D. Spradling

Yesterday we were in Sarandí Grande for the announced support session for parents and teachers that have received their laptops recently.

We were a group of seven: 3 engineering professors (Gabriel Gómez, Raquel Abella and myself), 1 psychology professor (Esther Angeriz), 1 Communication Sciences professor (Fernando da Rosa), Fernando Cormenzana, and Daniel Viñar who decided to come along since he's promoting a similar project in Bolivia.

In the morning we worked with the teachers. We were surprised to find that many rural schoolteachers have not received their laptops yet. They had already been given a basic course so we decided to give them a more in-depth look at the uses of graphics and the internet. We counted on some very valuable support material: Fernando da Rosa's Videos, which we were able to copy to the laptops so they could have them for future reference.

In the evening we received the parents, some of who brought their kids along. We started by introducing the project and giving some presentations on the theoretical use of the laptops. It was very interesting to see the parents listening attentively and the kids concentrating on tasks in the laptop. We then opened up for questions. It was amazing to see how some kids (like Valentina in the picture) have learned to use their laptops so quickly and how they put it in good use.

Being there was a great pleasure. The people were really grateful for the laptops and appreciated the help we went to provide. We arrived at the clear conclusion that there is great demand for more information, help documentation, support activities, etc. Surely, in part, it's because of the recent arrival of the XOs; they were not given the time to learn to use them sufficiently.

We hope to have a new activity in Florida before the end of the year.

More information:

Giving the Laptops: 2 Images

Originally published by Pablo Flores on Thurs, Dec 20th, 2007
Translated by Paul D. Spradling

The following extracts were sent by Cesar Barrettto, a volunteer that helped with the distribution of the laptops in Florida.

Image 1: It was on our way out of the school, the bus driver hurrying the group of '83 volunteers so we could leave. Someone brought hot water to replenish the thermoses [to drink mate]. We were happy, talking about the gratifying moments we had experienced since morning. As we turn out of the driveway, we see a family sitting on the porche of their simple block house. The father was sitting on a low stool, his wife standing on his side, three children gathered around them, one of them still with their tunic. They watched with joy how their father explored the XO, one of the kids was thrilled to explain the basics. We weren't able to take a picture, but this memory will stay with us for ever.

Image 2: We were giving the first XOs to the kids in the school for disabilities. One of the volunteers stuck the labels and scanned the laptops; we called out the kids one by one to receive their laptop. We called for 'Juan'; the principal, with a big smile, said to us: "you'll see". From behind a steel column, in the roofed patio of the old house, emerged a little kid with big cheeks and glasses, tumbling around with a great big smile. Juan has Down's Syndrome. He's happy and you see it. Everybody can tell. He received his laptop and quickly and happily tumbled back to his place. Everybody cheered. It was a party!


Thank You Cesar!

More pictures:

Inside One Laptop per Child: Episode 4

Originally published by Pablo Flores on Sat, Dec 22nd, 2007
Translated by Paul D. Spradling

Episode 04 takes us on location in Porto Alegre, Brazil. Where the first batches of XOs have been delivered and deployed. Meet the teachers using the laptops in the classroom. Where besides doing daily assignments on the machines, some students have already learned programing. Local culture has permeated the project, and as a veteran school principal explains, an improved education is set to equip a new generation of Brazilian citizens.


It's strange that OLPC is using Brazil as an example, given the recent news of brazil's apparent loss in an auction to purchase 150,000 computers for children.
The auction went to Grupo Positivo with a new version of the Classmate PC.

Inside One Laptop per Child: Episode 3

Originally published by enrique_place on Tue, Jun 19th, 2007
Translated by Paul D. Spradling

How can these laptops "talk" to each other even without widespread internet access? How is the network they create different from the network at your home or office? Episode 03 explains it all.

Source: OLPC.tv

Inside One Laptop per Child: Episode 2

Originally published by enrique_place on Tue, Apr 24th, 1007
Translated by Paul D. Spradling

Episode 02 of this series produced by Red Hat documenting the One Laptop per Child project focuses on the activities built for the laptop.


I love the minimalist offices with the walls covered in white-boards! ;-)

The following video is from Eduardo Silva's blog (Chile). Eduardo contributes to the OLPC project thru Google.

Inside One Laptop per Child: Episode 1

Originally published by enrique_place on Wed, Apr 25th, 2007.
Translated by Paul D. Spradling

First part of a video produced by Red Hat.
Red Hat has a close relationship with this project: they collaborate with developers and investigation; and a version one of their products: Fedora Core GNU/Linux, is included in the laptops.

"This is the story of the little green laptop that could. Meet the faces behind the One Laptop per Child initiative and see what they do every day in the Cambridge, MA office. Sit in on a brainstorming session. And find out what you can do to help."


"The famous" Marcelo Tossati (brasilian), can be seen participating in the project near the end of the video. He has worked in Conectiva (now Mandriva), and has been put in charge of maintaining a branch of the GNU/Linux kernel by the one and only Linus Torvalds.

Activities supporting Ceibal Project begin in Sarandí Grande

Originally published by Pablo Flores on December 14th, 2007. Translated by Paul D. Spradling.

Project "Flor de Ceibo", initiated in the Universidad de la Republica, has given rise to the collaboration between Plan Ceibal and LATU (Uruguay's Technological Laboratory). The project's general aim is to organize volunteer activities, counting with the participation of students and staff of the university. The project is in an embryonic state, but its aims are well defined:

The university will support Project Ceibal, accompanying and contributing, with the end of improving opportunity and equality in the access to the new technologies to all children in the country; generating a profound change in education.

It is expected that students and staff of the university will participate, contributing their experience to facilitate the students, teachers and parents first encounter with this new tool (the laptop).

By means of an activity of mass participation throughout the university, it is expected to contribute essential elements to the formation of the university's students. Key elements include: closer contact with the reality of the country, development of communication and expression skills, and the horizontal link with students and staff of other faculties or mayors.

We hope to generate links that will potentially give birth to projects of development, content or that will contribute national know-how. It is expected from this experience, that some students will maintain contact with the schools that they visited and that development projects with social utility will surface.

We aspire for a project of mass participation by students and staff of a variety of carriers, which will develop throughout the year 2008 in which Project Ceibal will spread throughout all rural areas of the country.

The modality of uniting, in mass, the university's students to the volunteer activities of Plan Ceibal will begin next year. Nevertheless, a preliminary activity in which only professors will participate, is already planned.

It will take place in the Sarandí Grande Theatre this following Wednesday, December 19th. The work schedule is the following:

10:00 to 10:30 Meet with teachers: Introduction.

10:30 to 12:30 Meet with teachers: Laptop utilization and email workshop. Q&A.

13:30 to 14:00 Meet with parents: Introduction.

14:00 to 16:00 Meet with parents: Laptop utilization and email workshop. Q&A.


The idea is to back off a little from exclusive school use, and to support the families so that they also take advantage of this powerful resource.

We expect everyone in the region. It is recommended to bring your own laptop.

On Students' Motivation


Based on a question in an earlier post, I'm making some comments on the project's influence on students' motivation.

Motivation is hard to measure quantitatively. According to the headmaster at the Cardal school, there was never any problem with desertion or any high level of absenteeism, but the latter was reduced this year (i.e., the kids were absent less than in other years). The teachers also tell us that students seem more motivated and that, in particular, they enjoy it when it's time to work with laptops.

On the other hand, additional motivation comes up when the kids take their computers home and show their parents what they have done and what they have created. In this sense, there's generalized perception that the project is helping to bring families "closer" to the school. Edith Moraes, director of the grade school, says that she's very happy that a long-existing trend is reversing itself - where it seemed that the school was going down one path and families down another.

In any case, these results are extremely preliminary given that the Cardal experience has special qualities due to it's enormous level of exposure.

We could have a new reference point in the next few days, when massive laptop distribution begins in other schools in Florida.

PS: I'll soon be adding some videos to this post.

"Special Report: Uruguay, the next Finland of Latin America"

Translated from "Reporte Especial: Uruguay la futura Finlandia de América Latina"


That's the title of the article published on the site Un computador por niño - Chile, in which there is a very good revission of the Ceibal Project and its strategical goals.

It includes an interview made by Luis Ramírez to Sylvia González, project coordinator. It's been subtitled into English through the fav2fav blog, here it goes...

Today begins the mass production of XO laptops

According to what Walter Bender said today in the inauguration of the OLPC Learning Workshop that is being held this week in Boston, right in this moment is starting the mass production of XO laptops. Initially, it is expected to have a production of 15.000 laptops per week, which will be accelerated afterwards.

It's Official - Ceibal Project Will Begin With XO Laptops and IBM Servers

, Monday, October 15, 2007

After the technical analysis period for the proposals presented in the call to bids and additional negotiation between Latu and the offering companies, the following have been adjudicated:

  • Laptops: XO from OLPC (represented in Uruguay by Brightstar)
  • School Servers: IBM servers (provided by INCO)
  • Connectivity: Declared as deserted
This adjudication went through a period during which the team from Positivo (the company that offered the Classmate PC) made comments on the technical evaluation (in which they came in just under 4 points lower). Latu officially responded to these comments, coming to the conclusion that they didn't apply. At the same time, Latu pointed out that in the proposal's total scoring (which included a 40 point economic component and a 60 point technical component) there was a large scoring difference in favor of Brightstar's OX offering; this offering came in at US$199 as opposed to Positivo's $243 (which was bundled within a package of service offerings.)

Some of the XO components, like the mesh network, integrated camera, and screen resolution had a strong effect in its favor. It's worth noting that all the components which the Education Commission had requested for the laptops were included in the call for bids' technical terms and in its scoring. It also appears to be a good thing that Villa Cardal's XO laptop experience can be built on.

As far as the servers go, INCO (Interamericana Computing) made a significant offer of IBM servers with 2 gigs of Ram, 2 x 120 gig hard drives, and installation service at the price of US$610. This was the winning bid.

As regards connectivity, the proposals presented were very expensive. This was most likely due to the challenging requirements for home coverage in the call for bids. Latu's technical team along with Antel, have been doing excellent work on this and have attained the experience to do it on their own if this should become necessary.

All this information will be confirmed at a press conference to be given by Latu in the next few days.

This adjudication corresponds to what was referred to as "Phase I", initially 100,000 laptops, so the possibility of strong competition for future roll-outs (as a matter of fact, a new and noisy global player has come into view: Asus EeePC)

2nd Latin American Meeting for Presentation of One-on-One Modality Projects

, Saturday, October 6, 2007

Translated by Alec McLure

A second regional project analysis meeting under the heading of "One Computer Per Child and Per Teacher" will be held on October 16-18, 2007 at Montevideo's Hotel Cottage.

Representatives are expected from Argentina, Brasil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Paraguay, Panama, and Peru, in addition to Uruguay (download Agenda (pdf in Spanish).

This meeting is strongly supported by the IDRC and its "IT and Communications Technology for Development in the Americas (ICT4D Americas)" program.

Linux.com: "Uruguay poised to make first governmental OLPC purchase"

Lisa Hoover of Linux.com has written an interesting article about the situation in Uruguay and the world refering to the OLPC project. She used different sources of information, included an e-mail inteview she made me days ago.

Here is a quote:

Negroponte says if Uruguay places an order for XO laptops, the project is ready to deliver. "Some machines would arrive as early as December 1," he says. Complete order fulfillment depends on a number of factors. "The exact rollout of laptops ... is driven as much by other orders and the need to keep overall manufacturing smooth -- flat or upward sloping -- not with peaks and troughs, to drive the price lower and lower."

According to Pablo Flores, a team member with the Ceibal Project, the organization overseeing the implementation of laptops in Uruguay's classrooms, there is a "logistics plan to distribute the laptops school by school" once delivery is taken. Flores says the Ceibal Project team is already preparing schools for the influx of laptops. "We are working very hard to integrate the computers into the educational system. We are training teachers and working in a collaborative environment to join together the contents and applications chosen by educators, as well as sharing educational experiences."
Read the complete article.

Press - Ceibal Plan Will Buy OLPC

Originally published by enrique_place , Thursday, October 04, 2007

Translated by Alec McLure

"Commision's Report leans towards US$199 laptop"

ALEJANDRO NOGUEIRA

The formal decision is not out yet, but Latu received the report from the committee adjudicating on the bid for 100,000 laptops for schools. Nicholas Negroponte's OX scored 56.84 points and the Intel Classmate 53.06.

Yesterday Latu looked at the two companies participating in one of the largest purchases envisioned by the State for one of this administrations' most ambitious educational plans. In addition to the original 100,000 computers in the bid, there's an option for another 50,000 and for hundreds of servers (which are in a separate call for bids).

Brightstar Uruguay presented the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) program, which has the units designed by Negroponte's MIT group; Grupo Positive de Brasil were there with the Intel machines. Both of these units are made in China under their designer's specifications.

Timeline. The companies now have five days to present any objections to the process - this would delay any decisions by the government, which would rather get the decision made. the official intent is to begin distributing school laptops before the end of the yeard and to roll out to all schools in the country before the end of the current administration.

Brighstar began the process by offering their computer at US$205; Positivo at US$ 274 (in their open-source Linux offering) although this unit had more memory and functionality. Latu negotiated on price, and finally the OX went down to US$199 and Intel's unit to US$258.

Grupo Positivo's proposal, which included servers, connectivity, teacher training and educational portals, also had a proposal for use of Windows and tech support in Uruguay by the Sonda company.

Brightstar's offer only includes teacher training and tech support, in addition to an additional 1% supply of machines for replacement purposes due to wear and tear. In addition, this design allows for parts that can be replaced by the children themselves.

Both machines were additionally designed to be highly impact-, water-, and dust-resistant.

Negroponte's so called "green machine" (it's apple-green) doesn't have a hard disk and uses so called open-source (non-commercial) software. This machines book-sized prototype which weighs in at 1.5 kilos (3.3 lbs) was presented at the World Summit on the Information Society in Tunis at the end of 2005.

These laptops are the ones being used in a pilot program to bridge the digital gap which is being carried out in the Cardal school in the Flores department [in Uruguay]. [Translator's note - see editor's comment below - it's actually "Florida" department]

Negroponte originally announced a US$100 laptop but up to now hasn't achieved that price. His plan, which originally was focused on working with large populations in poor countries, will apparently have it's first concrete expression in Uruguay.

Uruguay's inclusion in this program was obtained after convincing him that it was easier to apply the project in a small country with a relatively sparse population.

Leader in Cell-Phone Logistics

Brightstar is the Motorola cell-phone distributor used by countries such as Movistar (Telefónica) and CTI Móvil (América Móvil), both in Uruguay and in other countries in Latin America. In Uruguay, it also distributes BlackBerries and Palm [Pilots] and LG-branded products. In the Ceibal Plan bid it offered the Intel-designed computers.

Brighstar Corporation is principally a distributor and provider for value-added services for the wireless telecommunication industry. It specializes in managing inventory, logistics, fulfillment, internet-based solutions, invidual packaging and post-sale support to the cell-phone industry. World-wide, it's the third-largest provider of this type of service. The company was founded in 1997 and now takes in about US$ 4 billion annually.

In July, Intel and OLPC announced a joint agreement to take the benefits of technology to countries in development by using the synergy between their programs. Intel joined the OLPC board in which several IT big-rollers participate. Among them are Google, AMD, Red Hat, News Corporation, and Bright Star itself.

Source: Diario El País

Editor's Note:

  • The bold-faces are mine, and not in the original article
  • Where it's stated that "in the Cardal school in the department of Flores" - "Flores" should be "Florida" (thanks to Gabriel Menini!)

Press: "Offers of U$S 205 and U$S 270 for laptops for Plan Ceibal"

(Translated from
Prensa: "Ofertas de U$S 205 y U$S 270 por laptops del Plan Ceibal"
, published by Enrique Placé on Sept. 14th, 2007.)

"LATU opened yesterday (Sept. 13th, 2007) the bidding offers for Plan Ceibal's computers. Brighstar offered laptops for U$S 205 and Grupo Positivo from Brazil offered laptops between US$ 270 and U$S 300 depending on the type of machine.

The special technical committee of Uruguay's Technological Laboratory (LATU) and the National Administration of Public Education (ANEP) finished the studies of the technical offers from both companies and yesterday noon opened the economic offers. The person in charge of the bidding, former national director of industry, Miguel Mariatti, said to El País that the information about the offers will be made public after being evaluated at the LATU's board, so he declined to give details at this time.

However, from sources related to this bidding El País learned that Brighstar Uruguay SA concentrated its proposal on terminals XO for kids, with 256Mb of memory, running open software (Linux), while Positivo offered computers with 256 Mb of memory also with Linux, and 512 Mb of memory with Windows platform from Microsoft. This company made a much broader proposal that included servers, connectivity, contents, network support, training for teachers and students, and availability of educational portals.".

Complete article at: Diaro El País (in Spanish).

A day in Villa Cardal

This slideshow is made with photos taken yesterday by Pedro "el paseante", during a trip to Villa Cardal. An enjoyable art!

a

Get the photos!

Here are the photos uploaded to Cardal's school blogs with XO laptops. In addition to the published ones, there are many pictures form "draft" posts of the blog that can be seen here.

No more words.

School's blog
Photos Show

4th form's blog

Photos

Show
5th form's blog Photos Show
6th form's blog Photos Show

Updated: Now we also have:
1st form's blog
2nd form's blog
3rd form's blog

The wallpaper of Cardal

Thanks to the contribution of Fernando Cormenzana, now we have an excellent wallpaper with pictures taken in Villa Cardal. Clicking the image you can see it in complete size for downloading.

Opening of bidding offers is delayed until next Thursday

As informed in the portal, we will have to wait one more week to know how the bidding proposals for the equipment of "Phase I" of the project are.

New Content - Kid Power!

(Translated by Alec McLure from "Nuevos contenidos: ¡los niños al poder!")

In the last few weeks I've been visiting Villa Cardal on a regular basis to provide support to school teachers (see pictures of a recent visit, here are some others taken by Fernando Cormenzana). The goal is to help them do new tasks with the laptops - tasks that sometimes require either some technical knowledge or English-language skills. English is still the main language both on the internet and on XO (just look at eToys).

Last week we worked with 4th and 5th graders to upload photos to a blog. You can see the first attempts at http://cardal-ceibal.blogspot.com/. Note that this is a first, experimental attempt. There was no time for any graphic design or to pick favorite pictures - some of the entries haven't even been reviewed yet by the teachers ( e.g., an entry that a student uploaded from home.). Anyhow, although there's not much to be seen yet, it gives us a glimpse of the potential of child-developed content.

This adds on to our other initiatives (such as email) that have slowly been growing in the student population- among other experiences, it has allowed them to contact Brazilian children who are having similar experiences.

In a world where Spanish-language content is increasingly consumed although not much produced (for example, Spanish is in ninth place in Wikipedia's article count) it's a good sign to have this new generation of content creators. All that's missing is to have teachers join in in the revolution.

Birth of a cow in Villa Cardal

This video was taken by a student of Fourth Year of the school of Villa Cardal, with his XO computer. It is about a complicated birth of a cow.



It is worth remembering that Villa Cardal is a locality of great farming activity (“capital of the milk river basin of Uruguay”). This work is part of a series of activities that we are making in the school relative to the work in the "tambo" (dairy farm).

Equipment Bid Deadline Extended by One Month

Upon request from participants in the official bidding process a one-month extension has been granted. This means that the official presentation and unsealing of bids will now take place on August 24th.

The option to grant justified bid extensions was specified in the original call for bids document.

Additionaly, a new call for bids for the provissioning of school servers has been issued. This call complements the former one, giving a chance for other suppliers to make their proposals for this "more standard" resource.

The Intel – OLPC Agreement - Information and Speculative Predictions

(Translated by Alec McLure from Información y futurología del acuerdo Intel - OLPC, published by Pablo Flores on 7/14/2007)

The announcement of the agreement reached by OLPC and Intel gives rise to much speculation as to how the OLPC project will continue and how it will impact Uruguay and other countries joining this initiative.

Let's begin by analyzing just what is in this agreement. There's not much official information, but what is clear is that Intel will join OLPC's board of directors. (The roster will now consist of representatives from AMD, Brightstart, Chi Lin, eBay, Google, Intel, Marvell, News Corporation, Nortel Networks, Quanta Computer, Red Hat, and SES Astra.)

Like all OLPC corporate associates, Intel will bring some capital when they join the project – this hasn't yet been detailed in public. This is what's known up to now.

Words from some of the lead players:

  • "Intel joins the OLPC board as a world leader in technology, helping reach the world's children. Collaboration with Intel means that the maximum number of laptops will reach children," said Nicholas Negroponte, founder of One Laptop per Child.
  • "This agreement will make computers get to children faster," said David Cavallo, Latin America Director of OLPC.
  • "Joining OLPC is a further example of our commitment to education over the last 20 years and our belief in the role of technology in bringing the opportunities of the 21st century to children around the world," said Paul Otellini, CEO of Intel.

The leads seem happy. What does this agreement imply? We still can't be clear on it. Ideally both parties would synergistically achieve better-quality equipment at a lower cost. This can take time, which doesn't mean that they would be able to reach agreements on time for immediate needs, such as Uruguay's Call for Bids.

As an example, this call for bids asks the bidder to be established in Uruguay, which would be a challenge for OLPC. In this sense, a joint proposal would make it easier to meet this requirement.

With what laptop? Surely it will be some version of the XO, since it already has better specs to meet the project's requirements, such as the wireless mesh, the camera, and the tablet PC format. OLPC is way behind on software, though, and Intel could provide an interesting and immediate boost, integrating its Skoool educational systems.

And the OS? A Windows/Sugar dual boot proposal would not surprise me – this would be an interesting option from an educational standpoint.

Another theme is cost. With the elimination of competition, countries are not well protected given the lack of options and negotiation possibilities. I hope that with Intel's injection of capital and new possibilities for economy of scale, OLPC may be able to meet its initial promise to sell the laptops at $100. It would be an excellent way to demonstrate their seriousness and be a key factor in purchase decisions in many other countries.

Following are other aspects of the vision of the future in the agreement pointed out by Luis Ramirez in his blog:

  • AMD – Intel's main competitor and the ones in charge of producing the AMD chip must be quite affected by this alliance. One speculation is that XO's first generation (planned to be available in the next few months) will have AMD's processor and that maybe the second generation (planned for production in 2008 and commercialization in 2009) will have some kind of Intel chip.
  • Intel could stop producing the Classmate PC (currently being sold in Chile and other countries) in exchange for providing its processors to OLPC beginning in 2008. Let's also recall that OLPC recently announced plans to develop commercial products in addition to the XO laptop. This apparently fits in to not only to the projects goal of eventual self-sufficiency, but also to be able to complement it with other OLPC-style servers and equipment.

Thoughts on the Bidding Process

(Translated by Alec McLure from Comentarios acerca del llamado a licitación 7/07/2007, published by Pablo Flores)

In a previous post I did some initial commentary on the bidding process for Phase I of the Ceibal Project. I'm going to provide a more detailed summary here, now that I've had the chance to read the bidding document in more detail.

First of all, one notices the enormous amount of work involved in considering a project of such complexity. This results in requiring projects proposals with a very wide scope. In this post, I'm only going to mention a few of the points that seem to me to embody the spirit of the call to bids, which doesn't mean that I'm not leaving many important aspects out.

Ceibal Project's Objectives
First, the bid document makes all the project's expected results very clear:

  • Provide internet connectivity to 100% of school-age children both in their schools and in their homes.
  • Put our country on the cutting edge as applies to the use of technology for the learning and formation process.
  • Close the technology gap in regards to access to information and knowledge.
  • Give access to culture, plurality, and opportunity without economic predetermination.
  • Put Uruguay in place as the first country in the world with internet coverage over 100% of its territory and in the highest percentage of homes.
Wow! A very ambitious project!


Proposal Requirements:
Three types of hardware must be included in the proposal: Notebooks, servers for the schools, and connectivity devices.

The Notebooks:
  • Explicitly must be portable, lighweight, and resistent.
  • Battery life must be 4 hours during "regular use"(navigation on a program that opens a new web page every 30 seconds). Currently I don't think that any of the candidates' prototypes meet this requirement.
  • Must have integrated WiFi.
  • The Operating System:
    • Must be included in the notebook's price
    • Takes into account its hard disk and memory usage
    • It must be able to use its applications in stand-alone mode (i.e., must not need to be constantly connected to the web). This helps to mitigate the intellecutal property risks I was mentioning in a previous post .
    • An integrated hardware security system is required which should deactivate the notebook if it's stolen.
  • It asks for applications which can function in a collaborative way among the notebooks connected to the web.
  • The camera, along with some other hardware and software components, are optional but mentioned as pluses in the proposal. By what I've seen in Cardal, the teachers get a lot out of the still and video cameras. I hope we don't lose that.
  • Although optional, it's considered a plus to have "open and modifiable" software.
  • An interesting detail is that they must have been made less than 120 days ago, thereby ensuring that if they make new models, they won't stick us with the leftover old ones. :)
Servers:
  • Install one or more for each school.
  • Minimum storage capacity of 80 Gb. Daily incremental backup.
  • Include web-content filtering software.
  • Software and updates up to 2010 included in the price.
  • Optionally, powerable by solar energy.
Connectivity requirements:
  • Requests wireless coverage for the homes in the schools towns.
  • Proposals must be developed taking into account three basic "model configurations" - schools with 150, 450, and 750 students.
  • The schools in Villa Cardal, San Jacinto, and Sarandí Grande are proposed as connectivity testing sites before the proposal's delivery date. Successful testing there adds positive points towards adjudication.
The company that wins the bid must be established or will need to establish itself in the country.

The bid proposal also requests bids for technician training and equipment support. The equipment must have a warranty.

If a bidder, for strategic reasons, would like to somehow subsidize their offer, this must be explicitly indicated and the sums involved must be divulged.

Adjudication
The technical proposal counts for 60% of the final score, the economic proposal for the remaining 40%. The bid document indicates a wide range of factors that affect the score. In any case, it keeps options for further bidding processes or direct negotiation with the bidders open if it turns out to be convenient.

Timelines
  • The bid refers to two phases: a first phase with 100,000 notebooks and a second phase (optional purchase) which adds on another 50,000. In any case, the bid asks for pricing on 5,000 notebooks, which opens the possibility of purchasing more from the winning bidder, if convenient.
  • There is a set of shipping dates: October 1st, 2007, January 1st, 2008, April 1st, 2008, July 1st, 2008, October 1st, 2008, January 1st, 2009, April 1st, 2009, July 1st, 2009, October 1st, 2009. LATU - through its project commissions will set how many notebooks and servers will be requested in each case.
  • It's not 100% clear when the first delivery will be, since both the proposal delivery date and the adjudication process can be delayed if it's considered convenient to do so.

Conclusions
  • Bidders are required to provide proposals on complete solutions that deliver notebooks, servers, and connectivity to different types of population.
  • LATU's flexibility to work in the private domain is used to advantage to encourage competition, thus obtaining a better price.
  • It's clear that whoever wins this bid is well-positioned to continue with the whole project (that's to be expected - it wouldn't make sense for half the equipment to be of one type and the other half of a different type - unless expected results are not obtained.)
  • Organizational tasks, educational proposals and a part of the techno-logistic tasks are reserved for the project's organization. For the rest of the tasks, my understanding is that expectations are that the winning bidder will become a participant in the project.

Uruguay's Florida department is next

(Translated from Se viene Florida, published by Pablo Flores on 7/05/2007.)

The next objective of the project is to expand to all of the department of Florida. This means giving computers to all its kids and teachers, as well as providing connectivity infrastructure in all its schools and in as many homes as possible.

I don't have the exact numbers now, but we are talking about more than 100 schools (many of them called "rural", with only one classroom and one teacher), about 500 teachers and 10,000 kids. The total population of Florida is close to 70,000, half of whom live in the capital city Florida, most of the rest live in smaller cities, and 12,000 live in rural areas.

Many things are going to be tried out for the first time (in Uruguay and in the world) when this expansion phase is finished. For the first time locations in a critical social context will be reached. Also, larger cities will be covered (Cardal has less than 2,000 inhabitants). The challenges are many.

From the educational point of view, a training meeting for the department's teachers is being organized for next week. Attending this event is voluntary, as it surely will be for all similar meetings. Given that many activities will be performed in the workshop modality, the openings are limited, but it is hoped that many will be interested in attending and the event will be repeated at different occasions.

This expansion is expected to be performed between August and September. For this, the bid will have had to have been adjudicated.

More information about Florida (in Spanish):

Call for bids for the phase I of the project, in English

As I mentioned before,the international call for bids for Phase I of the project has begun.

Now there is a version in english available. Access it here.

Institutional video of the project, now subtitled in english

Thanks to Alec McLure, now we have the first institutional video of the Ceibal Project subtitled in english. Enjoy!

It's started the bid for buying the first computers... and more

(Ver este artículo en español)

Yesterday it was published the sheet of the international bid for the purchase of the necessary equipment for Phase I of the Ceibal project. Its terms can be read in this pdf (in spanish).

Some items I hilight:
  • It's not only for buying laptops. It also asks for software, school servers, connectivity devices and a proposal for qualification, support and maintenance.
  • 3 configurations of schools (of 150, 450 and 750 students) are proposed, so that offers include laptops, servers, connectivity, etc. This is fundamental to analyze different technological options (for example connectivity with mesh network Vs. solely through Access points)
  • It looks for buying 100,000 computers, to be solicitd in different stages.
On the 27th of July the envelopes will get open…

A meeting with parents at Villa Cardal

(Translated from Reunión con padres en Villa Cardal, published by Pablo Flores on 6/03/07)

Last Friday we had a meeting at Villa Cardal with the parents and teachers of the kids that attend the school. Several of the project collaborators gathered in a classroom to inform advances in the project, but mostly to listen to opinions, comments, criticism... to have some feedback on how this community is experiencing the arrival of the laptops. From this meeting I compiled several phrases that I want to make public in this blog.

The parents

The meeting congregated a lot of parents, we didn't count them but I estimate they were over one hundred. The great majority of them didn't have a computer at home.

I was surprised to see how grateful this town is. With a lot of humility they told us their experience.

Some of the most touching phrases that were heard:

  • "My daughter's dream was to have a computer and I had never been able to buy one."
  • "The world has entered my home."
  • "It's incredible how much was advanced in these days, kids are not afraid."
This type of comment arised over and over from parents, that unanimously stressed the motivation and enthusiasm they saw in their kids.

Some of the comments were related to the impact of the laptop's arrival to their home:
  • "It demands more time from us, to show their achievements with the computer and to teach us."
  • "They don't want to skip class because they are afraid they would teach something new about the computer."
  • "It unites the family, they don't like to work alone."
  • "It increases communication in the family."
  • "He hasn't turned on the other computer anymore."
  • "They watch less TV."
They also talked about the way in which kids use the computer:
  • "First grade kids handle everything in a visual way. Although they don't know how to read, they surprise us with the easiness they handle it."
  • "I have 4 kids at school", ... "I see they have the same enthusiasm at all ages."
  • "The sister wants to help him, and he doesn't let her because he wants to achieve it by himself. Sometimes this brings fights."
  • "They have taken photos of the whole family and everything they see."
Some parents also made proposals, like elaborating a "basic manual for parents", or having the opportunity to attend courses and learn the contents loaded in the laptops.

The teachers

The teachers and the school director also told their experience. They are learning how to take advantage of the laptops to teach together with the kids and the project's team.
  • "We promoted helping the classmate, explaining what one knows..."
  • "Reading and orthography were incentivated enormously."
  • "Little kids that didn't stand out in the past surprised us with their command of the machine, they also teach their classmates."
  • "I had good experiences putting two kids working in the same machine, so they can discover together helping each other and there is not a big difference with the time it takes to each one of them to complete the activity."
  • "Some kids get distracted in class making other activities in the computer, so we take it away for one day as a punishment."
Complains and problems

The main aspect to solve in Cardal is the lack of Internet access from homes. Although several Access Points were installed in different places, it is still not easy to connect from most of the houses. The phrase "... and we are waiting for Internet" was repeated by most of the parents. Teachers also had some difficulties with Internet, because apparently not all the time there's good connectivity inside the school.

Apart from that, in the last few days we registered the first computer break-up; as a consequence of a brother's fight, during the struggle the screen broke. For some days the kid will be without a computer until we determine if it is possible to repair it.

Conclusions

In Cardal we are in an experimentation and learning process in which there are still many points to solve. The meeting was very moving and, most of all, we perceived the gratitude from a town that is motivated by a new opportunity in their hands.

I finish with a phrase from Sylvia González, who coordinated and led the meeting: "It is a project of equity, it is base on giving technology access to populations that wouldn't have it otherwise." "We are all part of this. It is not only a technologic nor pedagogic subject, but everyone together trying to build something better."

P.S.: I'm waiting for photos taken at the meeting by some teaching students. I'll upload them as soon as I get them.

TV-journal note about the evolution of the project - In english

In a previous post, I uploaded some videos of a uruguayan TV journal ("Subrayado"), reporting the evolution of the pilot project in Villa Cardal.
Now you can find an english translation of this videos thanks to the work of Alec McLure.

Enjoy! First segment, second segment, third segment.

Official project's website: www.ceibal.edu.uy


With the lemma "a space to innovate", yesterday was launched th official web portal of the Ceibal Project: http://ceibal.edu.uy. More information in this post in spanish.

TV-journal note about the evolution of the project

This note was made by the journalist from Channel 10 of Uruguay Pablo Silvera on May the 18th int the "Italy" School of Villa Cardal.
The first segment shows the impact of the project on the school and children.



In the second segment, the story of a family that lives in a "tambo" (I don't know how it is called in english, the place where cows are bred to produce milk). A uruguayan family as many others... except that they have 3 children at the school, so they get home with 3 laptops!



In the last segment there is the interview made to Sylvia González about technical aspects. The presenter starts saying "the Internet page of the Ceibal project receives 20,000 daily visits", referring to this blog :-) Somehow exagerated...



I also recommend, for seeing practical experiences of the laptops usage in brazilian schools, take a look at the videos in this post from olpcnews.

"Uruguay Could Become a Model for Low-Cost Laptop Programs"

As I commented in a previous post, Vinod Sreeharsha is an independent journalist who was in Villa Cardal making a coverage during the launching of the pilot project. Here is the complete article he wrote - which has additional information to the one published in the Miami Herald.

International echoes of the starting of the project


The launching of the pilot project in Cardal with OLPC laptops had international repercussion. Pictures of children, teachers and authorities appeared in pages from Uruguay, Brasil, Israel, United States, Germany, Italy, China and Japan, within others. The post "Villa Cardal, Center of worldwide attention", with its gallery of photos was linkd from more than 90 blogs worldwide an was at the top of digg for some hours, which took thousands of accesses to the blog from many places in the world.

In the map, points indicate places from where there were more than 30 accesses.

Within all notes made, I would like to emphasize the one from Vinod Sreeharsha, independent journalist who was in Uruguay those days to make a close coverage for Miami Herald. The article is very beautiful, it's good seeing with foreign eyes some of the experiences of those days.

New images of the Cardal pilot project, one week later

(Translation of: Una semana después - Nuevas imágenes del piloto en Cardal. Thanks to Gustavo Fischer for the translation work)

I was fortunate to visit the “Italy” school at Villa Cardal yesterday, where last week the pilot of the Ceibal project was launched, giving XO laptops to all the children there.

View gallery of pictures and videos.

I could see live the long awaited scenes of classrooms where every child is working with his laptop. There was even a moment where some parents of the 6th grade students asked to talk with the teacher, and she left the children doing some schoolwork with the computers to take the time needed to talk to the parents. When me and Walter Bender, who was there during a very brief visit to our country a few days ago, entered the classroom, they were all working quietly, although we didn’t take long to change that.

As we could see, the kids have taken tons of photos, played and entered the Internet, finding Youtube especially attractive, which has caused some headaches to the LATU personnel in charge of the bandwidth. The teachers have found some very interesting activities to use the computers, which we will refer to later in some other post.

To our presence was added Pablo Silveira from Channel 10, who did some very nice coverage for news program Subrayado. You can see the video of last week’s coverage made for the project launch here:



I see a school that has changed a lot in its usual routine, and that is facing the challenge with strength. The children accompany the effort with much enthusiasm, so much so that absentee levels have dropped significatively.

Now this blog is in english

(el blog en español se muda a http://proyecto-ceibal.blogspot.com. Recomiendo ver la bienvenida al nuevo blog)

Welcome to this non-official blog about Ceibal project, by which uruguayan government intends to give one laptop for every scholar child in our country.

This blog started in spanish in february 2007. In that moment, the only organization publicly interested in supplying equipments for the project was OLPC, with its XO computers. Since then, many things have changed. Firstly, there have appeared competitors of XO, competing for providing computers for uruguayan children. Additionaly, in last weeks it started an important international interest about the project in the international comunity, which demanded information in english. Finally, I've had the chance to get involved personally in the project, in the Follou-up & Research area.

All this made me decide to use this blog for publishing posts in english, and starting a new one: http://proyecto-ceibal.blogspot.com, for infrmation in spanish. In spanish, only old posts will remain here.

Everyone is invited. Not only for reading and commenting; you can contribute to this blog in several ways:

  • Translating posts from the blog in spanish, or if you are interested in translating to another languagem you can also propose it.
  • Writting posts. If you show me that you are really interested in the project and have information to contribute, you can be a part of this blog.
  • Sending interesting information about what is happening in Uruguay and other places of the word, press releases, etc.
In any case, send me a mail.

El blog en español se muda.

Este es el último post en español en este blog. A partir de este momento el blog en español será http://proyecto-ceibal.blogspot.com, quedando este blog únicamente para entradas en inglés. Recomiendo ver la bienvenida al nuevo blog.

Espero que todos los seguidores de este blog encuentren en este cambio la mejora que se busca en la organización de la información.

Saludos,
Pablo Flores

"Villa Cardal vive con entusiasmo el Plan Ceibal"


Artículo de prensa del diario El Observador:

"Los 160 niños que integran el piloto están aprendiendo a usar los ordenadores. Ya los usan para estudiar, pero también los integran en su vida extra curricular. Los maestros también se ponen a tono y los padres se muestran conformes".

Destaco y comento algunos párrafos interesantes:


Las computadoras portátiles, sin embargo, ya comenzaron a transformar el aula en Villa Cardal. "El poder de esas máquinas es impresionante" señaló el director de la escuela, Marcelo Galain, al destacar que las computadoras tienen una batería con una duración de 12 horas.

Gracias a todas las innovaciones que se incluyen en el hardware el laptop es verdaderamente de bajo consumo (algo que veremos muy próximamente en todos los nuevos laptops comerciales).

El director indicó que los estudiantes recibieron sus computadoras un día antes de un feriado nacional pero que asistieron a clases el día de asueto para comenzar a utilizarlas.

Yo hubiera hecho lo mismo ;-)


Hubo algunos problemas técnicos de menor cuantía cuando se comenzaron a utilizar las computadoras, y aunque ninguno de los maestros tenía mucha experiencia con ellas, pronto se dieron cuenta que los niños cuyos apellidos llevaban acentos tenían problemas para ingresar al sistema pero el problema fue resuelto con prontitud.

Interesante. Justamente, todos estos problemas son parte de la idea del plan piloto, ver qué problemas se encuentran en el uso verdadero fuera de los laboratorios y qué soluciones se pueden implementar.
"Las computadoras portátiles se hablan mutuamente de manera automática, tienen un chat de voz, se pueden compartir archivos y todo esto se puede hacer entre las computadoras de este tipo sin necesidad de la Internet", indicó Bender al hablar sobre el diseño. Además, agregó que "si cualquiera de estas computadoras llega a tener acceso a la Internet, todas pueden compartirla".

Es la parte que más me agrada del proyecto, lo bien que está pensada la comunicación entre los niños que usan las laptops, permitiendo que se puedan comunicar perfectamente entre ellos sin necesitar acceso a Internet (pueden hacer hasta una suerte de video conferencias sin necesitar una infraestructura adicional).


Galain indicó que ahora observa que los estudiantes están más involucrados en aprender que lo que estaban antes. "Algunos niños a quienes no les gustaba o no querían escribir, ahora se van familiarizando con el procesador de texto", agregó.

Aunque al final aclaran que la idea no es que dejen de aprender a escribir con lápiz, esta herramienta les permite acceder a un mundo para explorar de infinitas posibilidades. Por lo pronto nunca más se sorprenderán al ver una computadora, y a su vez, empezarán a comprender determinados conceptos sobre las redes inalámbricas (wifi) y la construcción de comunidades de usuarios que compartirán sus conocimientos sin necesidad con esto de ser tildados de "piratas".

Artículo completo en Observa

Una semana después - Nuevas imágenes del piloto en Cardal

Ayer tuve la suerte de visitar la Escuela Italia de Villa Cardal, donde la semana pasada se lanzó el primer piloto del proyecto Ceibal, entregando laptops XO para todos sus niños.

Ver galería de fotos y videos.

Pude ver en vivo las tan esperadas escenas de aulas en que cada niño está trabajando con su laptop. Incluso en un momento, llegaron unos padres de alumnos del grupo de 6to año, que tenían que hablar con la maestra, y ésta para poder tomarse el tiempo necesario dejó a los niños haciendo actividades en las computadoras; cuando entramos a la clase junto a Walter Bender - quien estuvo ahí, durante la visita fugaz a nuestro país que hizo los días pasados - estaban todos trabajando muy tranquilos, aunque no demoramos mucho en alborotarlos.

Según pude ver, los niños han sacado toneladas de fotos, jugado y accedido a Internet, encontrando especial atractivo en ver videos en youtube - tema que le está causando algunos dolores de cabeza a la gente del Latu, dado que con esto matan el ancho de banda disponible. Las maestras también han creado interesantes actividades, a las cuales me referiré en algún momento en otro post.

A nuestra presencia se sumó la de Pablo Silveira de Canal 10, quien hizo una muy linda nota ayer para el noticiero Subrayado. A continuación se puede ver el video de la cobertura realizada por este medio la semana pasada, en el momento del lanzamiento del piloto.



Veo una escuela que ha cambiado mucho lo que era su rutina habitual y que está enfrentando el desafío con fuerza. Los niños acompañan con mucho entusiasmo, tanto que ha aumentado en forma importante el nivel de asistencia.

International praise for the Ceibal project

(Translation of/Traducción de: Elogios internacionales para el proyecto Ceibal, published on 5/05/2007. Thanks to Gustavo Fischer for the translation work)

An international meeting took place from April 23 to 27th at OLPC headquarters at MIT, which included direct and indirect participants in the project at a worldwide level. Education authorities, financers and technical staff and most of those linked to OLPC attended a series of
workshops and conferences, many of them led by Nicholas Negroponte himself, in which important points of interest were discussed.

Uruguay had its own delegation as one of the six countries that are already working with the XO laptops, together with Argentina, Brazil, Nigeria, Libya, Pakistan and Thailand. In that context, on a workshop on the 24th, and in front of representatives from those countries and others interested in joining the project, Negroponte stated that Uruguay is one of the countries that are best structuring the OLPC project at the moment.

At the same time, Antonio Battro, education area specialist for OLPC stated that the Ceibal project is the one that best represents the project’s 1 to 1 philosophy by considering it a nationwide project.

The project was also presented at the Vatican and Harvard, receiving praise at both institutions.

These are really outstanding news.

La experiencia de la discordia

El famoso artículo del New York times... Según la lectura de algunos medios, es la prueba de que dar laptops en las escuelas puede ser un total fracaso. Me refiero a la nota titulada "Seeing No Progress, Some Schools Drop Laptops", que fué publicada por el New York Times el pasado 4 de Mayo. Parte de la información de esa nota fué tomada por el semanario Búsqueda en su edición del 10 de Mayo, donde publica un artículo muy crítico que compara la experiencia norteamericana con lo que ese mismo día estaba comenzando en Cardal. Entre otras cosas el artículo de Búsqueda resalta los problemas de rupturas, hackers, pornografía y falta de uso educativo. Lo primero que me llamó la atención fue que no hubiera oído hablar nada de esa experiencia, según tenía entendido, el primer piloto 1-a-1 con niños se realizó en Costa Rica hace algunos años y hay pocas experiencias de este tipo. Mirando el artículo, veo que la "escuela" norteamericana es un secundario. En las fotos se pueden ver sus "niños". También veo que los laptops son tradicionales, no pensados para enfrentarse a la compleja realidad de un entorno de enseñanza.

Esta nota la tomó Emiliano Cotelo en la entrevista realizada a Juan Grompone y Héctor Florit el pasado 11 de Mayo - recomiendo mucho leer la entrevista, tiene pasajes muy interesantes, donde además de hacer referencia a este tema, se habla del proyecto desde el punto de vista educativo y se abordan muchos de los temas de interés general, como los actores involucrados y el futuro del proyecto.

Parece más que importante tomar todas las experiencias posibles como referencias de lo que puede salir bien y lo que puede salir mal en un proyecto de estas características. Es fundamental prever los problemas que puedan surgir, porque con el tiempo, con seguridad van a surgir. Yo no puedo ser objetivo, eso está claro... pero también está claro que Búsqueda no está siendo objetiva. Por el contrario, su artículo contribuye a desinformar.

Ver también:

Competition between laptops, software and much more

(traducido de/translated from: "Competencia entre laptops, software y mucho más")

It's esteemed that by the end of May it will get open the international bid for purchasing the first set of laptops in Uruguay. Through this, it is intended to buy the first 100,000 computers, destined to cover the totality of 4 states ("departmentos") of the interior of Uruguay. After the call gets open, there will be a period of approximately 2 months in which the interested ones will be able to present their proposals.
As it was indicated in a previous post, at the moment there are 3 firm competitors: OLPC/XO, Classmate and ITP-C. The terms that will decide who can compete and the way to designate the winner will be described in the bid terms, which is being elaborated by a committee specially designated for this aim. At this moment I do not have the names of the members to include them in this post, but I know it is a team of specialists in different areas - legal, technological, educative, etc. - with figures pertaining to different political parties and independent advisories.

Personally, the designated work party deserves me great confidence. Nevertheless, in such an innovating world-wide project, in which it seems that Uruguay has become one of the main points of battle - mainly between OLPC and Classmate, - the terms of the bid must be examined with a magnifying glass to avoid ungrateful surprises in the future. Some of the aspects I consider that we should have special care of are:
Base software. As Piscitelli says, this project is not a platform of promotion of free software. It cannot either force us to use only propietary software. The advantages of each one of these "worlds" must be put in terms of requirements for software. For example, enabling to install operating systems and applications of different software suppliers, that the source code of some applications can be acessed, etc.
Standards of interoperability. It cannot happen having to buy software - even worse if it can only be produced by one company - to be able to interact with th laptop, or some of its native applications. This means that the produced documents, as well as the applications that interact, must use interoperable formats.
Intellectual property (copyright, etc) of what is produced. It cannot be permited that the intellectual property of anything that gets produced with the laptops gets belonging to a private company. How could this happen? Let me put an example. Let's imagine that the camera application allowed us to publish the recorded videos in youtube with just a click. In that case we would be leaving part of the intellectual property of what was produced by the children to Google (according to what's specified in the terms of use of youtube). This case would not be serious, since the camera application is free software and if we don't like the terms of use, we could easily modify it so that it gets published elsewhere. However, if we were in a propietary application, we would not have this possibility. For example, the new versions of Microsoft Office interact with a service on the web called Office Live. Both softwares were designed altogether. What would happen if Microsoft remained with part of the intellectual property of the stuff published in Office Live? The same could happen with the platform used to publish the contents produced by the teachers and the children. To allow this would mean a loss in the educative sovereignty of the country.

Doing some futurology, I believe that in the mid-term these projects will force companies that produce propietary software to strongly change many of their licensing policies, if they wish to survive. In fact, Microsoft already has made it when started the "Unlimited Potential" program. But I believe that the changes will have to exceed the prices policies, going even to the way in which they treat intellectual property of an important part of their software.

There's a lot of discussion in the Web on the fact that XO is going to be able to run Windows. I would like seeing more that the subjects I'm raising here were discussed, as they really will define the course of educative projects 1 to 1 in the next years. It is an excellent moment for talking about it.