Sunday, August 9, 2009

Some suggestions for OLPC/ future deployments

There were a couple of observations we thought might be useful for future OLPC deployments:

1. The solar panels we received from GP Solar had very flimsy construction on the back. A number of them had the back panels(that cover the wire ganglion coming out of the panel) came off on the very first use. This was probably a problem specific to this consignment because none of the six panels we had from the December deployment had such issues. They work pretty well regardless and I doubt that it will have much of an effect on their performance, but nevertheless this is something that could maybe be taken up with the manufacturer.

2. The color palette in Paint is pretty counter-intuitive with its external dial for color and internal triangle for gradation. The kids(and teachers) had a hard time getting hang of it. Maybe a simpler palette like the one in Adobe applications in the next version of Sugar?

3. The scroll bar in Browse etc. should be more visible.

4. Menus should be navigable by keyboard arrow keys, given that the mouse pad goes awry so frequently/ a better mouse pad could be used.

5. Sometimes USB memory sticks would stop mounting inexplicably. The solution was to use a PC/Mac to open the USB and delete the five hidden folders in the drive that start with a dot(like and .TemporaryItems). This probably reset folder parsing information for Sugar, since it doesn't work with folders.

6. Double-click speed for apps that do use them(e.g. Firefox) is too fast. Is there a way to reduce that?

7. This might work differently for different deployments, but we found that the traditional classroom-like approach where we stood up front and tried to "teach" children how to do stuff, didn't work. I mentioned this in an earlier post, I think, but working with a few children and teaching them how to do things one-on-one would ensure that the knowledge spread like a virus. Or like NAND-blasting upgrades. Hm, maybe that last analogy was a bit overboard. In any case, you get my point.

8. Sierra Leoneans love their buzzwords. So did Rwandans. And it's important to get past them. In Rwanda, there was the ICT(Information and Communication Technologies) and in Sierra Leone, it is the haloed "Computer Literacy". I feel like it would be dangerous to let the OLPC delployment and the XOs be bundled under and restricted by those headlines. So for us, it was important to continuously emphasize that OLPC is more than just about computer literacyand that it is first and foremost an educational project.


  1. Thanks Faaez. This is a learning forum and I propose the blog gets linked up with the chat forum in the OLPC home blogspot.

    Paul Sengeh

  2. "Or like NAND-blasting upgrades. Hm, maybe that last analogy was a bit overboard. In any case, you get my point."
    Good one, Faaez. You crack me up.

    -- Katie R