Phase 1 Round Up - Initial Experiences and Observations

Since January when Phase 1 of the OLPC Moneague project got underway, there has been a lot of learning! While children quickly latch on to the XOs and easily embrace the novelty of the machine and activities, we at Moneague have been learning that adults are a different kettle of fish. Our participating student teachers and lecturers have expressed the proverbial ‘fear of the unknown’.

 

Student Teachers at Jan 2011 XO WorkshopPhase 1 involved training workshops and the creation of the XO lending library. The expectation was that the participating student teachers and lecturers would borrow the XOs, become familiar with its features and Sugar activities and then create lesson plans that include the XOs and Sugar.  A number of observations were confirmed by the results of a recent survey of the pilot group of student teachers and lecturers. There were 43 respondents out of an expected 65 who attended the training.



Forty-seven per cent, that is, almost 50% of the respondents felt they would be able to confidently use the XO after the second training. There was 41% that did feel the workshop gave them enough confidence to use the XO. The follow-up question was: Do you desire more training? Here 86% of the respondents, which is about the total of the confident and insecure, called for more training. The comment segment also reinforced their desire for more training. The remaining 14% did not respond to the question.

The actual XO/Sugar use since the January workshop aligned with the figures above. That is 53% of the respondents have not used the XO at all and 40% only using it between1-5 occasions. Their usage spans an average of 2-3 hours on each occasion.

 

One major project goal of ours is to contribute to the OLPC Community’s bank of XO/Sugar lessons plans. Our pilot group of student teachers and lecturers who have used the XO since the last training (40% of respondents) have not used it to deliver a lesson.

 

It is important to note here some of the observations and realities of the two student teachers who had the XOs briefly on TP. The idea was to have the XOs serving Ewarton over 3 days of the week and used with the remedial pull-outs of 6 students. And, for the remaining two days of the week the XOs would be on main campus and available to the original set of pilot student teachers and lecturers. The remedial reading class schedule operated on a six-day programme thus class times were not ‘fixed’ for the week and the frequency of classes for the pull-outs could not be coordinated nor controlled for the sake of this project. Additionally, whenever the pull-out classes were held, the two student teachers had their own pull-outs simultaneously. This created a problem of numbers for there could not truly be OLPC.

Kaydian and Seria took XOs to Ewarton on TP

 

So far these are the major concerns that have surfaced are:

  • XO keys are somewhat small for adult finger manipulation
  • Coordinators have placed little emphasis on the option of Sugar for regular PCs
  • Participants have had limited time and exposure to the XOs
  • A full 2nd semester college calendar of (other) activities and coursework deadlines significantly reduced personal time allotments to independent XO/Sugar explorations and use
  • Participants think the XOs are ‘technical’ and are afraid to divert from their comfortable, non-technical lesson planning and delivery



The survey respondents have offered the following as suggestions for the project:

  • Increase the number of XOs so that each participant may have one
  • Announce and publicize the project and XO/Sugar availability every week
  • Provide and facilitate continual training opportunities for participants



They also offered their thoughts about the project idea:

  • It is a very unique and exciting way to involve students in constructivist learning
  • I believe in the concept and think it is workable
  • It will allow us to integrate technology in education

So that is the round up !

Catch you in a few for the Coordinators’ response to these observations.