::fibreculture:: One Feel Good Story

stephen at melbpc.org.au stephen at melbpc.org.au
Wed Dec 1 06:35:33 CET 2010

Changing our world ..

Internet Society Member Newsletter:  http://isoc.org/wp/newsletter

ISOC Community Grants Programme Project Showcase: Marovo Lagoon Learning 
Network, Solomon Islands. 

Contributed by Ian Thomson (Internet Society Pacific Islands Chapter)

(Remember, the OLPC laptops readily "talk with each other" via wireless)  

"The Marovo Lagoon is a remote part of the Western province of the Solomon
Islands in the Pacific Ocean. It is a unique double reef lagoon some 50
miles long and 10 miles wide, with approximately 30 villages scattered
around the edges. Communication has been accomplished by canoe, a very
expensive satellite phone, and an unreliable HF radio system.

The Marovo Learning Network project was implemented with the help of the
Internet Society Community Grants scheme and a few visionaries, not least
of which was the principal of the combined college and primary school. The
"Net" part of the project was a simple VSAT and Solar powered wifi point
to point network connecting up to 15 villages. The really important part
was the "Learning" bit.

The project started the learning development by deploying 130 OLPC
laptops to primary school children and teachers, but this was only the
start of an incredible learning program developed mostly by the local
community. (One of the points we connected to the Internet was a local
tourist operator who offers stunning holidays with some of the best
diving in the world.)

Since then, many grateful guests have donated laptops and other equipment
to the local schools. One has even brokered a collaboration between the
school and a top of the range private school in Sydney. The school
teachers have amazed us in their ability to use the OLPCs and other ICTs
to really improve the education of the children. The principal estimates
those children with access to an OLPC computer are one academic year
ahead of their fellow students.

The latest project to kick off is a wiki site on a local server that
hosts a UNESCO vernacular environmental encyclopedia. (Marovo has its
own unique language). The teachers and students are now learning to add
their own material to the wiki, taking photos with the web cam in the
OLPC, recording stories told by elders and writing up their traditional
knowledge in their own language. And they are now planning for a
Community FM Radio station. 

Just think that 3 years ago, they only had a crackly HF Radio, which only
sometimes worked. 

We are really amazed at how the building of a wifi network can kick-start 
such strong community learning. Well done to the Internet Society for
having the foresight and flexibility to start this all going."



OLPC Mission Statement: 

"To create educational opportunities for the world's poorest children by 
providing each child with a rugged, low-cost, low-power, connected laptop 
with content and software designed for collaborative, joyful, self-
empowered learning."

"It's an education project, not a laptop project." Nicholas Negroponte

The OLPC includes mobile networking based on the 802.11s wireless mesh 
network protocol, allowing students to collaborate on activities and to 
share Internet access from one connection. The wireless networking has 
much greater range than typical consumer laptops. The XO-1 has also been 
designed to be lower cost and much longer-lived than typical laptops.

Here's how to help: http://laptop.org/en/participate/index.shtml
               and: http://laptop.org/xo/amazon/


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