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OLPC project, Escuelab and Dokeos/Chamilo

Today I went to the Escuelab in the centre of Lima to meet with Alberto, Kike Mayorga and Kiko Contreras.

My visit was apparently taken with great interest and they’ve video-interviewed me for some time to talk about DOKUDA and my projects with Dokeos and the OLPC (now updated to Chamilo and the OLPC). Apparently, the idea to have Dokeos/Chamilo run on one of the XO itself was never thought about, and that seemed to be an announcement of uttermost interest to them that this *could* be done at all. They suggested I try straight away (which I did) but my knowledge of Fedora was a bit limited at this point to know where exactly to download the packages. I did try some rpm -q and yum install commands, but without success (yum install apache seemed to trigger the download of something unrelated, I’ll have to investigate this further). Although this is unrelated, I saw that one could actually run Ubuntu on these (not that I have intentions of trying that shortly).

Apparently the problem that would be solved by the install of Dokeos on one of the XO is that when the government is sending XOs to remote areas, it also sends them with a PC pre-installed with Linux, which is supposed to serve as a server for the XO. However, people in remote areas cannot manage them, so someone around tells them “That thing is useless, just install Windows to be able to use it”, and they do. Of course, this is an illegal copy of Windows in most cases.

This brings two moral problems:

  1. Children are curious. When they’ll want to know how the system works, Windows won’t give them the ability to analyse this.
  2. Children want to share. How will the teacher deal with the student wanting to share some proprietary software which most certainly costs about one year of his parents’ revenue? Make him a software pirate at the age of 6 without letting him know about it?

Installing Dokeos on one of the XO’s (where Windows *cannot* be installed) ensures the system can remain there and is “transportable” (they can go on a walk and write about what they’re doing into Dokeos directly if the teacher goes with his XO as well). The only problem so far would be the disk space (and possibly the RAM, but Dokeos uses very little RAM per script loading).

Sebastian Silva apparently is also part of the “team” but is currently in Bolivia if I understood well.

One of the plans of the team is to setup a bus trip in remote areas equipped with the laptops in order to update the systems, reinstall the PCs under Linux and explain them how to use them. That sounds like a lot of fun. I’ll be tracking that project.

Escuelab already confirmed they *did* want to come and show their projects during the e-learning event at the end of June (DOKUDA)

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