Thursday, March 31, 2011

Couldn't make this up

This is so awesome. An official from Japan visited the Plan Ceibal office today. I made sure to say はじめまして (pleased to meet you) and we had a short chat in Japanese.

Plan Ceibal is also interested in the Geo activity ( ) which students used to make maps in Germany and Rwanda, so we shared e-mails and information.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

¿Qué haces?

¿Qué haces? is a good question. It means, what are you doing?

This morning I wasn't too sure, as I explained in fragmented Spanish to my host and a guest from México. After meeting with my co-workers in the Content Department and my geek counterparts in the Technical Department, I have a much better understanding.

The Map Activity which I developed ( link on MapUganda ) is cool, but very simple. Professional mapping programs are quite complicated. The system used by Uruguay's Department of Transportation and Public Works, specifically the Topography Office, is the open-source program gvSIG, which has a parallel program for schools, known as eduSIG. Plan Ceibal, the laptop project, announced two weeks ago that they would implement this program. Tomorrow I will meet with the Topography office, and discuss what information and projects we should develop for teachers. My idea is that we should map soccer stadiums, because students are always searching for those.

Also, good news: my luggage is in the country, and should be delivered later tonight.

At Plan Ceibal

I'm at the Plan Ceibal office right now and they have a really nice building.

Yesterday I settled in at a place in Montevideo. My airline hasn't brought my luggage, but I did have some formal clothes and everyone on the airplane got a comb and socks (whaaat?!) so I'm good for now.

I took a couple of buses here this morning. On the first bus, I saw a blue shipping container with PLAN CEIBAL written on it. It was a repair center. There were about ten parents with their kids lined up outside and one or two were holding their XO laptops. Sweet! I tried talking about it with the bus fare-taker but he just reminded me when my stop was. Will get pictures tomorrow.

I didn't know who to meet with today, so I asked for my boss. The secretary asked if I had an appointment, I said I would send an e-mail, and we're waiting for this to play out.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Best links on Montevideo

I have been researching the city of Montevideo and these are the best links I could find:

From the New York Times travel section, 25 Hours in Montevideo (closer to 55 days for me). The sushi restaurant is on my street.

From Uruguayan horror/sci-fi director Fede Alvarez, Ataque de Pánico!. Studios compared this video to the South African YouTube clip-turned-blockbuster District 9, and Sr. Alvarez now has a multimillion dollar Hollywood contract.

ISCB's Conference Page where I did most of my research on hotels, buses, and weather. Plan Ceibal is at LATU (green marker on their map) but the upcoming ceibalJAM / eduJAM venue is closer to the westernmost markers, in Ciudad Vieja.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Hackasaurus XO

See what the Web is made of, and re-mix it - Hackasaurus project

Ever since I heard about Mozilla's Hackasaurus project, I have been thinking about getting their Web X-Ray Goggles working on the XO laptop. Once it's activated, you can edit parts of any page on the internet. It's certainly an activity for the older kids, but as shown at Hackasaurus Jams its empowering to kids who use Wikipedia and Facebook all of the time and can now deconstruct and redesign them.

The XO's Browse activity doesn't support their bookmarklet, so I added a button directly into the activity. If you don't mind replacing your Browse activity, download the Browse-Hack activity, enter the Edit menu, and click Browse's globe icon. Be patient with the time it takes for the tool to start, and some editor tools blinking on and off. Type 'r' to edit the item that you've selected.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Memorize + Sensors = Mesmerize?

In so many schools with XO laptops, one of the teachers' favorite activities is Memorize. It's a simple matching game where students and teachers can create cards to review vocabulary or match letters. Tiles can have writing, photos, and audio.

Since this activity is kid-friendly and creative, and the sensor-reading activity, Measure, is decidedly technical and imposing, I'm wondering whether sensors could be part of the matching game. The student clicks a card on their screen, it says stomach, they connect to a contact on posterboard, such as a marker on the large intestine, and the computer senses the match. There could also be a cheat-mode where sensing the poster reveals a matching photo, audio, or website on the student's computer.


Before I leave, I want to have a talking map of South America.

March 18 Update talking map is working, thinking about adding website browser, too

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

In our future...

In our future, there is no technology. There is no non-technical, either -- even a piece of string or a droplet of water is wired.

There are people we meet

A student explains the water cycle

and things we build

children working together to take apart a laptop, in Paraguay
Paraguay: students take apart laptops

How's that for a test post?

Photo cc-by Bernie Innocenti at