Anecdotes of Plan Ceibal in Durazno, Uruguay

(Translated from Spanish. Original article by Rosamel Ramírez: "Anécdotas del Plan Ceibal en Durazno")

Anecdote #1

The most stunning thing I saw was in the first Expo-Fair of Plan Ceibal at the Independence Square in the city of Durazno.

Touring the stands and talking to other teachers and children of different schools, I arrived at the stand of School #81 of intellectually disabled.

There they were the students with their XO very well cared for. The teacher Laura on the alert, with a lot of dedication, narrated the following.

"This student could never communicate before she had the computer, she didn't vocalize a single phrase... however, using the program Record, taking photographs and shooting videos, almost always with her as a protagonist, I was able to make her family take photos and shoot videos at home, and that she tells me something about that at school.

The same thing we do at school and she talks about that at home.

I'm delighted, I can't believe it, now she pays attention, she participates a little, and even sometimes she tries to make questions.

It is an everyday excercise, with low expectations about her achievements due to her condition, but it is like a miracle what happened to her."

Anecdote #2

In my 6th grade class I had a 14-year-old student that didn't know how to read.

He was very anxious to recibing his laptop.

He had serious behavior and social problems that he was controlling inside the classrom.

When the computers arrived we distributed them and I proposed to write a text in Write.

He had liked very much a play at the school.

He had been moved by and identified with Nacho, one of the characters.

Then he told me:

- Teacher, I want to write about Nacho... but I don't know.

- Come and tell me what you want to write.

He told me orally.

He brought his laptop, entered to Write and wrote everything he proposed himself.

He knew almost all the phonemes and graphemes, but he didn't know how to join them.

- What a beautiful work you did! Now you have to read it to your classmates.

- But I don't know how to read?

- Ah, it doesn't matter, you will know because you did it - I said in a low voice with complicity and a wink.

He read it many times in silence, he passed it to his notebook, he stood in the front and with tears in his eyes, he read the text to the class.

- I know how to read, I know how to read! - he would shout, excited and smiling

For him it was an unforgettable day, he wrote and the read aloud... then he read simple texts written in his classmate's XOs... this is how he started his literacy.

Anecdote #3

After many days using TurtleArt, I proposed my students of 6th grade to draw a parallelogram with its median parallels and to designate every point in it with an upper-case letter.


- How? - they asked - if we can't write here.

- Ah... maybe you can... to the one who makes it I will give a pendrive.

I was almost sure that they wouldn't make it.

That day we had visits from abroad, about Plan Ceibal in the school, and just when the were entering our class, Matías Cantero said:

- I won the pendrive!

Everyone ran to his desk... and the class was a commotion.

I explained briefly to the Inspectors and the Director what was going on, because I was inhibited by so many visits at the same time.

I had planned another thing... but that had to wait for later.

They weren't uncomfortable.

They talked spontaneously with swede and american visitors, thru a translator.

Effectively, Matías won me over.

He drew every letter as a geometric figure of very small dimensions, making computations of p.t and angles, because he couldn't erase anything or else his whole work would be erased.

Very exciting.

We gave him an applause.

At least here I think he was the first to make letters with TurtleArt.

I gave him a pendrive, but I didn't make more bets like this, there wouldn't be a budget to honor them.

By themselves they organized a competition of vocals in TurtleArt in the following days, then consonants, they would put conditions for the measures, the use of Arc...

They would display their work on my desk and they would call as "judges" children from other classes, at random.

There were still prizes but of a lower category, hair clips for girls, keyrings for boys, and so on.

But by themselves they became dettached from material rewards.

On another day they proved the amount of diagonals on a regular polygon with more than 4 sides... and again Matías, that was not outstanding until then, found the generalization with a little help from me by telling him that the amount of vertices is called "n".

He explained it to his classmates.

They arrived at the formula (n-3).n/2.

It took us many weeks.

Anecdote #4

Within the scope of the family it is impressive what the kids make their parents do with the laptop.

They teach them to connect to Internet, to enter and exit correctly from the programs.

Néstor told me that his father, who is a constructor, would search for house models and make plans in TurtleArt to build them later.

Besides that, with the calculator they would make the budget for the materials, among other things.

And the list in Write.

Anecdote #5

In another home... of the Ortega family, the mother studies to teach Introduction to Law, she uses the computer, downloads the subjects from Internet, about Pedagogy, about Freire, she told me, and many more.

Then she would come to our school and we taught her to use the pendrive she had bought with her savings.

She has three children at school.

Teacher Nancy, from 3rd grade B, where one of her daughters studies, teaches very well to use the XO.

Carlos is in my class and he's very enthusiastic about TurtleArt, ESPECIALLY.

He would write his final works in write and print them in a cybercafe, to present them.

He had never touched a computer before.

Anecdote #6

His husband is an artist in leather engraving.

He wants to photogarph his works with Record and make a blog to publicize them.

We arranged to do it in March.

He's very enthusiastic about making his work worldwide.

A wonderful community impact in Uruguay of Plan Ceibal and the whole community.

Who can still remain doubtful about its success?

Questions to Negroponte

OLPC has changed its priorities drastically, with a very brief statement of its founder, Nicholas Negroponte, which did not clarify many key aspects of this change.

On this basis, in the OLPC-Sur list we produced a set of questions that have been sent to him, and we hope to have the answer soon. Here they go.

About the new priorities:

1. Development of generation 2.0

  • It appears that the OLPC development team will dedicate themselves to this, is it so?
  • What efforts will OLPC make to support the XO-1?
  • Will the XO-2 be developed as an important free software project as the XO-1 was?
  • For how long is the XO-1 going to be in production?
  • Is the production of XO-1s at risk if the sales stop? Do you have a plan to sustain the demand for XO-1s in this atmosphere of uncertainty?
  • Whats your timeframe for having the XO-2 in the market?
  • In what ways are you planning to involve the community in the development of the XO-2?

2. A no cost connectivity program
  • What technologies are you aiming at?
  • What will the first deployments be?
  • What role will the community have in this project?

3. A million digital books
  • How does this integrate into the ongoing OLPC project?
  • What places will be given priority for their distribution?
  • What technologies will be used for their implementation?
  • Have you considered having them be sound and music players as well?
  • What role will the community have in this?

4. Passing on the development of the Sugar Operating System to the community.
  • In what way will OLPC support the community in this transition?
  • What concrete plans do you have to help the deployment countries supported by the OLPC software developers who won't be there anymore?
  • Will OLPC open other options for software platforms in addition to Sugar?
  • What place will the community have inside OLPC?

About OLPC Latinoamérica
  • How this separation is gonna be handled? What this spin off mean?
  • Which communication will remain between OLPC and OLPC Latina?
  • Which it's gonna be the structure of the desicion making process in OLPC and OLPC Latina?
  • Which it's gonna be the OLPC's business model?
  • Is Latinoamerica included in the "Give Many" program?
Other questions
  • Have you thought how to keep improving and debugging the software of the already delivered XOs?
  • What would you say is the OLPC's essential mission? has it changed? Que policies is OLPC going to use to acomplish that mission?
  • How important is to give recognition and to strengthen the XO's community of free software developers to reach OLPC's vision?
  • Is there any chance that one of the OLPC's board member could come from the OLPC community?

Ciebal Search Engine

Originally published by Pablo Flores on Thu, Jul 10th, 2008
Translated by Paul D. Spradling

This search bar gathers information related to Ceibal Plan from over 50 websites. It's great for searching for educational material, technical support, news, historical material and more. I hope you find it useful.

To embed it on another website or blog just copy & paste the following HTML code:
<form action="" id="cse-search-box">
<input type="hidden" name="cx" value="006919666904599263899:v8q6iznlepq" />
<input type="hidden" name="ie" value="UTF-8" />
<input type="text" name="q" size="31" />
<input type="submit" name="sa" value="Buscar" />
<script type="text/javascript" src="〈=es">

Book "Ceibal in the society of the 21st century" was published.

On June th 27th we launched the book “Ceibal in the society of the 21st century - References for parents and educators” (only in spanish, at the moment), of which I had the great pride of being compiler and coordinating the production.

As we say in the introduction:

CEIBAL Plan is a great bet of Uruguay for equity, democratization of knowledge and improving education. According to the schedule, in 2009 it will finish the delivery of portable personal computers to all primary schoolchildren and teachers in the country, while running a process of updating the education system to the reality of the times.
Children are receiving owned computers for use at school, and also in their homes, opening the possibility that its use gets shared within the family. In turn, through a huge technical effort that takes the country at the forefront in terms of connectivity, the CEIBAL Plan is carrying out internet access not only to schools but also households. This will offer to the entire community a new opportunity to learn basic computing, accessing information of interest, and engage in exchanges with other actors and agencies of society.
Within this framework, it becomes more important the effort that the country has been operating to provide services to citizens via the Internet, what is known as "electronic government". This book seeks to generate discussion about the new possibilities for the community and offer some elements for exploiting them.

The first chapter is an overview of the Plan, developed from the standpoint of the team that is responsible for defining its educational policies. This vision is complemented in Annex 2: "Educational Project".
Chapter 2 seeks to provide a historical perspective of the Plan, its origins, evolution and implications, mainly from the standpoint of social impact that is generating and that can be achieved in future.

The book was produced and printed with the support of UNESCO.

We tried to reach as much people as possible, offering different readings through photographies, illustrations, sockets, etc.

(come on dad, get the laptop that it doesn't byte)

You can download it online here (pdf, in spanish).
You can access more material about the book in

Hope to have the chance to translate the material into English soon.

Rising Voices Article

Nice article written in Rising Voices blog, about some of the last activities we've been doing for developing for the XO: Blogging Since Infancy: Engaging the community to build new media applications for OLPC laptops.

Just as a clarification, I'm not "in charge of distributing One Laptop per Child (OLPC) XO laptops to the hundreds of thousands of Uruguayan child students", I'm just part of a team working on the technological and educative aspects of the project.

Thanks Rezwan!

Laptops in the most disadvantaged areas of Uruguay

Translated by David Sasaki of Rising Voices. See post in spanish.

If we look at how the next phases of expansion of Plan Ceibal (OLPC in Uruguay), it is apparent that we are about to face some new challenges. The arrival of the plan to the capital, Montevideo, next year will bring a new unprecedented dimension to the project which involves the most marginalized communities in the country. For the first time, the poorest sectors will have a tool in their hands to connect to the information society. The children will bring the computers to their homes, the family will access the internet, and a new segment of the population will be online.

For the first time, those with little voice will have a medium of communication with which to describe their experiences, dreams, and needs from their own perspective, unlike the traditional means of researchers from other sectors of society speaking for them. Blogs, videos and e-mails are just some examples of ways in which this sector of society will be able to express themselves more strongly than ever before in order to show their culture, their way of thinking, their reality.

The same tool will be in the hands of both rich and poor in the country. Children, senior citizens, and the whole spectrum of society will be able to exchange mails, chats and favorite sites, in a Facebook-like manner.

Like never before, the most marginalized communities will have a powerful tool to make transactions and queries with public institutions. They may claim their rights from the government. If they are given the support, they may also use it for training, acquiring positions, and working remotely.

There will also be new means with which to communicate, to convey information of interest, culture, and new forms of entertainment.

Bringing technology to the most excluded classes is already starting in the provinces of Uruguay. Salto, the largest city in Uruguay after Montevideo, is one example. A belt of marginalized communities surround this city, which is currently being flooded by XO laptops in the hands of its children.

Residents of Salto also want to make themselves heard.

There is a new form of communication, which brings us enormous challenges. We could think of it as something dangerous. We could see it as a new opportunity. But we must address the issue seriously, because the parameters which govern public opinion could change. Ceibal is giving growth to the internet for children … and now for the poor. It is an opportunity for social inclusion that, without the attention it thoroughly deserves, could become a new circumstance of exclusion.

Ceibal Jam! Let's develop for th XOs!

Translated by David Sasaki of Rising Voices in the article Ceibal Jam! An event for the XO. See post in spanish.

The time has arrived to make some new applications for XO laptops. Uruguay is in a privileged position, since our high density of XO laptops gives us a large user base who can use our software. To put it another way, Uruguayan programmers have the double benefit of being able to both provide practical solutions to meet the educational (and other) needs of our country and, at the same time, distribute their applications to the entire world.

To facilitate the exchange, with the support of LATU and the Faculty of Engineering, a gathering called Ceibal Jam! is being organized this weekend for developers interested in programming applications for the XO. Information is constantly being updated on the wiki, where you can register and participate.

The purpose of the meeting is to make initial contact between those interested in developing on the XO platform and to start working on some interesting applications. To do so, we are going to host some introductory talks and workshops, and then organize in small teams focused on specific development goals. In particular, there is an initiative to develop a system to facilitate the creation of blogs from the laptop, which would increase the number of blogs authored in schools throughout the country.

“Jam!” meetings take place throughout much of the first world and consist of gathering people with common interests to work intensively to create something together. Its origin comes from jazz groups, which conducted improvisational “Jam sessions,” usually after a concert. It is a new mdoel in our country, but we hope that is not the last meeting of this kind.

Be sure to attend!

Press: 200,000 More Laptops for the Ceibal Plan

Published by Pablo Flores , Monday, March 17th, 2008
Translation - Alec McLure

Miguel Brechner, the President of LATU, told "El País" that the government will put out a bid for an additional 200 thousand computers for the Ceibal plan in April. He also observed that these days there are more competitors in the market who offer laptops which are suitable for the program.

Additionally, the freezing problem that affected the computers provided in the Florida department has been resolved. A software problem had shut them down.

"The technical problems which froze the Ceibal laptops have already been resolved. They came from the factory with an error in the software," explained Brechner.

The request for bids had established a requirement for the computers to have a kind of security key which would be activated in case of theft, but the software was accidentally activated on all the machines.

In the next few weeks laptop deliveries will continue in the rest of the schools in Florida, Flores, Durazno, and Colonia (in that order). There are 30,000 laptops to be delivered, and new shipments will arrive in the next few weeks to reach the 100,000 in the original bid.

Meanwhile Nicholas Negroponte, the creator of the OLPC program, announced that he would resign as general manager of OLPC, but will stay on as president of this organization. He has been its main motivator since it was created three years ago.

In a recent Business Week interview, Negroponte said that he would like someone to guide the project. "We shouldn't be in the hardware business, nor in the software business. We should be in the education business.", he stated.

Negroponte doesn't consider himself to be the right person to direct this project and he indicated that he will not be involved in day-to-day management, but rather use his perspective to offer a global vision.

The OLPC board will have a session in Uruguay at the end of the month, coinciding with the Americas Innovation Forum at the Hotel Conrad Punta del Este from March 30 to April 1st - which will be inaugurated with the conference.

En esos días, además, el creador del proyecto de un computador por niño visitará Florida, el primer departamento uruguayo en implementar el Plan Ceibal.

The Value of Creativity

Originally published by Pablo Flores on Wed, Jan 23rd, 2008
Translated by Paul D. Spradling

Alberto Nieto, Executive Secretary to the National Agency of Investigation and Innovation (ANII), makes some very interesting declarations with respect to the rolls played by Plan Ceibal and the roll of teaching in our country, in an interview with the El Pais newspaper.

“(…) another very important value which we’ve lost is creativity; social creativity must be declared. And in that sense the present educational system in Uruguay, and in any country, has few possibilities of resolving it.


Because the educational system’s main function, whether we like it or not, is to teach to read, write, add and multiply. If in addition to that you promote creativity, the teacher has to be Mandrake [the magician]. We need to search for tools that will allow students to develop their creativity. The child learns, and simultaneously he’s thinking on his own, developing creativity, inventing things. This is fundamental for the country, we need kids that are accustomed to seeing the world with a creative and entrepreneurial vision. These values are not easy to stimulate through the current educational system. Looking for lateral exits, like Project Ceibal, seems very asserted.”
Nieto’s way of thinking puts the importance of parallel actions that can be realized over Plan Ceibal in evidence; they can act as innovative and creative catalyzers on the Uruguayan society. The Ceibal Plan has the great advantage of opening spaces of participation to institutions and people (while being completely inserted into the current elementary system), which if well used, can generate opportunities for the productive growth that the country needs.

He is later asked in what areas could we innovate in Uruguay.
“The priority today is in the sectors of agro-industrial chains, biotechnology and pharmaceuticals, alternate energy, technology in information and communication, touristic complex and natural resources and environment.”
We can think of innovative projects that take advantage of Plan Ceibal’s potential and favor these areas. For example, how about capacitating producers on the best seeds they can plant, the best work tools, give them fresh information on the market’s prices, provide them the opportunity of connecting between themselves to make common actions…? The possibilities are there, the conditions to make use of them are also there. An example is the recent agreement UNESCO made to perform a production that will teach people to take advantage of the possibilities in the use of the laptops to access electronic governmental benefits.

It’s all a matter of not saying with arms crossed, use imagination and go. It’s a lot more productive than waiting for the solutions to our problems to come from the outside.

Interview with El Espectador

Originally Published by Pablo Flores on Fri, Jan 18th, 2008
Translated by Paul D. Spradling

I [Pablo Flores] was interviewed yesterday on El Espectador radio by Diego Zaz and Marcela Moretti for the Asuntos Pendientes (Pending Subjects) show. Being the good, integrated in the information society people that they are, they uploaded it to the Internet as soon as it went on air. So for those interested that weren’t listening to the radio at the indicated moment, you can listen to is here (if you have Real Player):

Access the radio’s webpage with the interview

To launch the year with humor… gabouy’s predictions

Originally published by Pablo Flores on Fri, Jan 18th, 2008
Translated by Paul D. Spradling

Very good forecasts for the year by gabouy. I copy below what he has to say regarding Plan Ceibal:

"The Ceibal Plan obtains national scope. Hordes of volunteers will be traveling to the interior to collaborate in one way or another. The state will realize it has 'N' unpredicted items with hidden costs, and will launch a ‘Give a Laptop’ or money or an hour of class campaign to collaborate with the plan. The first case of child pornography associated with the plan will be made public by the end of Q3, but will be buried by the national media. Cyber cafés will gain popularity in the interior, and as a consequence the ‘mate’ and ‘matera’ items will be created in Second Life. Some hacker in Paysandú will be able to boot a stripped-down version of XP, only to show it can be done. He will have driver issues."
If you would like to see all predictions, here’s the link.

Happy 2008!

Originally published by Pablo Flores on Fri, Dec 28th, 2007
Translated by Paul D. Spradling

I say goodbye to the blog until mid-January and leave you with this greeting, made by Fernando da Rosa, that shows some of what’s beneath an XO.

It is now time to disconnect!

[I will only translate previous posts, videos and slideshows upon request. Leave a comment or email me at spradling 'at']

Usage Manuals for the XO

Originally published by Pablo Flores on Thurs, Dec 27th, 2007
Translated by Paul D. Spradling

Fernando Cormenzana has uploaded some support material on the usage of the XO to his blog:

Introduction to SQUEK and E-TOYS
Zoom Metaphor
Music & Sound on the XO

The material is based on some translated material on the OLPC’s wiki. Thanks for the contribution Fernando!

The Government & Ceibal

Originally published by Pablo Flores on Thur, Dec 27th, 2007
Translated by Paul D. Spradling

The ministers’ council in Sarandí Grande today was marked by the presence of the Ceibal Plan. Every minister had his or her own XO. Beyond the symbolism and the different ways to view this form of the Government’s communication (that, by the way, surprised some friends from other countries who found how close our Government can be to the people incredible), it is a true demonstration of support to the Plan from the highest position of hierarchy.

These are the words of President Tabaré Vázquez regarding the Project:

View the picture & video gallery of the ministry council and the inauguration of the MEC (Ministry of Education and Culture) center in Sarandí Grande (includes speech by Jorge Borvetto, Minister of Education and Culture)

View the Presidency’s photo gallery of the ministry council

Handing Out Plan Ceibal’s Laptops

Originally published by Pablo Flores on Thurs, Dec 27th, 2007
Translated by Paul D. Spradling

This article was written by Gustavo Ochoa, a volunteer who participated in the handing out of laptops a few weeks ago. It’s worth it!

Today is a time of renovation. Changes that are hard for us to start making. Because the same thing is happening to us with Varela, José Pedro, than with Varela, Obdulio.

The myths of Maracaná and the public school load us with obligations to the past and obstruct our view and ability to take action on what is ahead.

However, if we don’t close our eyes and put faith in the construction of a new vision, we are presented with opportunities that can show us part of the way.

Because with no vision there is confusion. And today we are lacking a slogan for education in which we can believe in, and bet our effort and will on.

Plan Ceibal is, without a doubt, one of these opportunities.

But you have to live the Plan Ceibal to understand it. It’s not possible to discuss if it’s OK, or if it’s opportune, or if a previous pedagogic project is required, or if it’s previously required to do this or that.

To understand Plan Ceibal, there is nothing better then to pass a day handing out laptops in the rural schools of the interior.

The doubts vanish after participating in this experience.

The Ceibal Plan is not an educational plan; it’s a plan of equity. The Varelian Reform was, among other things, also a plan of equity.

“All Uruguayans have the right to posses the tools that allow them to read books and access the ideas in them; and to carve themselves a better future with this access”, said Elbio Fernández.
“All Uruguayans have the right to posses the tools that allow them to access the global information highway and the ideas that circulate through it; and to carve themselves a better future with this access”, say those who impulse the Plan Ceibal.

There are many analogies that make me think that we’re upon a historical moment similar to that of the late 19th century. We are upon one of those moments that you can’t let pass.

We haven’t had, in the last 130 years, an opportunity to participate in a change so important for education as the one we’re developing today. Although many don’t see it yet.

That is why I decided to incorporate myself in the group of volunteers that went to hand out computers in the department of Florida. I leave you with my experience:

I arrived to LATU (Uruguay’s Technological Laboratory) before 8:00am on the cool morning of last Thursday. I asked the doorman where the volunteers met; he pointed to front of the Ingenious building, the area where innovative companies incubate. There were about half a dozen, half awake, high school kids (probably juniors and seniors) waiting there.
I introduced myself and found out that most of them where from High School #10, there were also a few from HS#15.

There was also a veteran, like myself; an engineer that was with the Open Source Center. Fernanda, a literature teacher and militancy partner from around 1983, arrived a while later. Pedro, a student, and Gabriela, a recent Telecommunications graduate, arrived later; they were both contracted by the Plan Ceibal to coordinate and supervise the handing out of the laptops
with the volunteers.

“Today we’ve got Chamizo, the rural area of Chamizo and Fray Marcos”, said Gabriela once inside the vans and on our way, “We’ll split up between the rural schools of the area and the schools in the towns I mentioned. We’ll form 3 teams in charge of you guys who are the adults.”
Some of the kids where already repeating the experience.

“This is the third time I come. I like anything that’s volunteer”, commented Leticia, a pretty, 17 year old brunette and a Senior in HS#10.

Ricardo, also from HS#10 and volunteering for a second time, was a real reference. You could see the capacity of organization and the seriousness with which these kids took the work.
The morning was clear and warm when we got to Fray Marcos, very pleasent.

School #45 was the town’s main building. Important in its two floors, but humble nonetheless. The park was across the street, with Artigas’ bust, a shady spot, calm, beautiful.

The post office vans were parked in the shade, waiting with precise logistic, with the precious cargo of computers that came directly from the port. And behind the gates were the looks of hundreds of kid’s little eyes.

And Mirta Mendieta, the Principal, who came out to receive us with a smile. “We’ve been waiting for you, the kids are very anxious.”

Gabriela goes through the formalities and signs the receipts with the Principal and the Post Officers, who had already unloaded the boxes. She took the other two teams and the necessary computers and left Ricardo, Francisco, Florencia, Stefanía and the veteran who’s speaking to you, to cover school #45. The school has almost 400 students, distributed in two classes per grade, from 1st to 5th grade, and one 6th grade class; a total of 11 classes plus the 2 ‘initial education’ classes.

We advanced through the halls of a well-lit and ventilated school; but you could see the effects of time and the difficulties in maintenance. Two beautiful and large classrooms in the 2nd floor were empty. “We weren’t able to use them this year and had to squeeze the 4th years into a deposit with no ventilation. When it rains, being in those classrooms it’s like standing outside. The isolation is very old, made in base of asphalt and fiberglass that are now expired. There is also no electricity on the second floor.”

Mirta told us about her worries and hopes as Principal. “We’re working on the roof, I’m showing it to Florit today so he can lend me a hand.” Héctor Florit arrived in a different vehicle than ours; he participated in the day’s activity, integrating with the handout and having lunch with the volunteer team.

We began with 2A. The classroom’s door was shut; it had no windows. When it opened, forty eyes looked at us and smiled. “Do you know what we’re here for today?” we asked as we entered. They respond in unison, “yesssssss!!!! To bring the computers."

We organized the handout and asked for a round of applause for the first little girl who received her laptop. They all clapped as each of them came to the front at our call. The calling reminded me of my childhood, of the roll-call in my class; I called them as my memory told me to: first the two surnames, pause, then the two first names in rapid succession.

The kids looked at the computer, the manual, the power brick, and waited for the others. But their anxiety to start opening, touching and looking beat them; clusters formed around each computer, where everyone observed over the owner's shoulders.

We weren’t done handing them out, and already some computers were already on, they had entered their access codes, and lauched the diverse applications.

“How many of you have computers in your homes?” The count of hands did not surpass 5 or 6, in the class of 30. The volunteers from HS#10 spread out across the tables and began explaining the basics; most of all, they were responding to individual questions.

But the cellular reproduction began immediately; unstoppable, spontaneous and geometric.

By using the old method of observing those who know, in less then 10 minutes they all had started their computers and found their favorite program.

An interesting observation: the games were not the first and most visited programs.

The most solicited, the question we heard the most was: “Mister, mister, how do I put music on?”
The second: “Mister, mister, can you teach me how to take pictures?”
The third: “Where are the games?” And the forth: “what do I have to do to write?”

But please, pause the reading for a moment and imagine the surroundings and the atmosphere: the questions came 40 at a time. They were directed at each of the team members, and also of course to the teacher, who with caution and aware of her own doubts and insecurities regarding the technology, always had an answer for the kids; even if it was immediately followed by a look of despair towards us.

They grabbed your arm, spoke one over the other and repeated the same question every minute.

Then we began: “Who was a able to take pictures?” A few answered, “me, me”, followed by my instructions: “OK, you teach him, and you teach her over there, who are asking for help on that which you know how to do.”

Fernanda looks at them and asks us if this experience was useful to for us to value the work of teachers.

None of the kids noticed when the team left to handout the rest of the laptops in the other classrooms.

“The thing is, after you give them the laptop, you seize to exist”, told me Pedro Arzuaga, an engineer who had already participated before.

We repeated the same with the other classes, with the same looks, the same laughs, the same shouts, the same applause, the same anxiety to have, to touch, to learn, to play.

“It’s the first time the kids cheer because recess is over” said the Pincipal at lunch.

Luis Garibaldi arrived in the afternoon and, doing as Florit, integrated in the handouts and participated in the explanations on the use of the machines to the kids. They both took a look at the situation and saw that it was far from being caos; the teachers and students rapidly took the tool into their hands and started establishing usage patterns.

Finally, we gave the computers to the “initial education” teachers and to Mirta. The work was done by 5 o’clock in the afternoon.

All the kids formed a line in the yard, as they do everyday, but today they had a special smile. They all carried their green carrying-case in their hands, and not in their backpacks. They all wanted to show it off, to their dad who waited outside, to their brothers, who knows.
A girl on her bike carried it in the shopping basket.

And like this technology integrated into Fray Marcos’ life today. Every kid now begins a new path, similar to the one the kids from Cardenal have already gone through. Surprising the world by uploading, with rural candor, the birth of a calf or the slaughter and fabrication of sausages to YouTube. They will be seen by hundreds of people around the world who have never been out of their city.

Because if there were doubts on the possibility of creating content by the mere handout of these computers, these doubts have now seized to exist. The children themselves will surprise as photographers, as journalists, as investigators. And they will communicate with the world without asking for anyone’s permission.

Ministry Council Open on Thursday: “Information and perspective on the development of Plan Ceibal”

Originally published by Pablo Flores on Wed, Dec 26th, 2007
Translated by Paul D. Spradling

In accordance with information from the Presidency’s Calendar for December 27th:

The Ministry Council will meet in Sarandi Grande, Florida, in a new rapprochement instance of the Government to the people. There, the Ministers will expose topics of interest and give information and perspective on the development of Plan Ceibal.
All Ministers will meet with the society’s institutions and organizations from 1:30pm to 4pm.
As informed in the same page, a MEC Center (Ministry of Education and Culture) will be inaugurated that same day in Sarandi Grande.

P.S.: It’s pure coincidence that last week’s activity with the University de la Republic was in the same town.

Reflections on the Future

Originally published by Pablo Flores on Mon, Dec 24th, 2007
Translated by Paul D. Spradling

New year's around the corner, a time of balances and reflection.

I enjoyed these videos; it’s good to take a break from the routine and think about the future a bit.

Merry Christmas to all!

New support material from Florida’s IT teachers

Originally published by Pablo Flores on Mon, Dec 24th, 2007
Translated by Paul D. Spradling

Florida’s IT teachers have created their own blog where they are supporting the project:

There you will find material, such as this presentation on how to manage files and use a pen drive:
[I will only translate previous posts, videos and slideshows upon request. Leave a comment or email me at spradling 'at']

The blog also has news and tracking, direct from where all the action takes place. Congratulations for the initiative!

Press: “OLPC creator arrives to Uruguay in March”

Originally Published by Pablo Flores on Mon, Dec 24th, 2007
Translated by Paul D. Spradling

OLPC creator arrives to Uruguay in March
Visit. Nicholas Negroponte will assist the Americas Innovation Forum

Nicholas Negroponte, the mythical academic from Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) Media Lab and president of the OLPC foundation will come to Uruguay.

He is coming to give a conference for Americas Innovation Forum (AIF), which will be held from March 30th to April 2nd, in the Conrad hotel of Punta del Este.

Organized by the Uruguayan Government, through the National Agency of Investigation and Innovation (ANII), AIF is the follow-up event of the Americas Competitiveness Forum (ACF) that took place in Atlanta, GA, USA last June, hosted by the US Secretary of Commerce, Carlos Gutiérrez.

The Executive Secretary of ANII, Alberto Nieto, presented this forum as the opportunity to encourage the meeting of the players of innovation and as a tool of socioeconomic development in the region. For Industry Minister Jorge Lepra, AIF 2008 also has the main objective of positioning Uruguay as a regional reference in the area of technological development and innovation.

The forum, whose motto is “Promoting prosperity and development through innovation”, was designed as a meeting point for the business, academic and governmental references of the Americas. These people know the importance of innovation and the added value of knowledge as key factors for development.

The three main objectives are: innovation culture and strategies, public policies to promote and support innovation, as well as the value of knowledge in enhancing productivity.

GURU. Nicholas Negroponte has been thinking for the best way to put a computer in the hands of every child since the 70s, but it wasn’t until 2005 that he presented his proposal to achieve it: OLPC, One Laptop Per Child. It’s about a small computer intended for Third World Countries; easy to use, impact, dust and water proof, that doesn’t need electricity to recharge (it uses a small generator). [Note: The generator was not implemented into final design].

But it’s not as cheap as originally proposed. Two years ago, Negroponte assured that his laptop would cost U$S 100 and that its production would begin in 2006. But the reality is that the mass production of the laptop didn’t start until late 2007 and that Uruguay would pay U$S 199 for each of the 100,000 PCs initially ordered for their Ceibal Project, inspired in the OLPC.

The plan consists of giving each public school student a laptop at no cost. Its two main objectives are: the digital alphabetization of the new generation of Uruguayans and to improve the traditional process of education. This initiative is considered key by the government, who assigned important budgets to the project.

Project Ceibal began last May with a pilot experience in Villa Cardal, Florida. In this experience, 180 children and teachers of the Italia School received their own laptop.

In addition to leading the creation of the XO laptops that are used in the Ceibal Project, Negroponte was a pioneer in the field of computer-assisted design, and cofounded and directs MIT’s Media Laboratory. He is also author of the best seller “Being Digital”, translated to over 40 languages.

In the private sector, he’s a board member of Motorola Inc. and a partner in a venture capital company specialized in digital technologies for information and entertainment. His company has given start-up funding to over 40 companies, including Wired magazine.

Source: El Pais

View post on Negroponte's visit to Uruguay in 1997 (This links to the Spanish version of the blog. I would go crazy if I were to translate old posts every time a new one links back to it. I will however translate them upon request. Leave a comment or email me at spradling 'at'

Press: "Ceibal laptops now reach Flores and Colonia"

Originally published by Pablo Flores on Mon, Dec 24th, 2007
Translated by Paul D. Spradling

Ceibal laptops now reach Flores and Colonia
Distribution of computers will continue in February and March.

The first stage of the Ceibal Project has come to an end with the distribution of almost 7,000 laptops to about 100 schools in Florida. The distribution to the rest of the departments of the interior will begin in February, starting with Flores. LATU is already working on the electricity and connectivity requirements in this department, as well as in Colonia.

Daniel Benedetti, General Manager of Brightstar Uruguay S.A., the company that sells the computers, told El Pais that 7,500 laptops, of the initial batch of 55,000, have been received and assigned to the department of Florida. The remaining laptops will begin arriving on February 2nd and throughout March to continue this project whose aim is for every student to have a portable computer of their own.

Currently, more than 85% of children who assist a public school in Florida already have their laptop. LATU President Miguel Brechner explained to El Pais that the laptops where distributed to the schools with better connectivity. “It was a technical decision. The laptops must connect to the network at least once a month for security reasons, so we don’t want to distribute laptops if they won’t have access to the Internet. Brechner assured us that “everything will be covered for when classes begin in March”.

The person responsible for LATU said that work is being done to fulfill the distribution in Flores, and then in Colonia, while the remaining rural schools in Florida are incorporated. Brechner said “there’s always a peak per department that must be resolved later, and we don’t want to move on to another department until close to 85% of the children have been covered”.

The delays are due to difficulties in connectivity, which Antel is in charge of. The Commercial Sub-Manager, Osvaldo Novoa, explained that to the moment they only had difficulties with some rural schools that had no telephone service or electricity. He said that ANEP and UTE are fixing these problems.

Novoa told El Pais that they have advanced at a good pace, and that they’re even working ahead on the connectivity of rural schools in Flores, Colonia and Soriano to prepare them for the installation of the networks and WiFi nodes.

Nicholas Negroponte (father to the OLPC project) will visit some of the schools in March, when he will come to Uruguay to assist the Americas Innovation Forum and the OLPC board meeting.

Source: El Pais Digital