This week in KOC – 1/21/2016 – The KOC Summit and SCALE!

KOC is hosting its annual Summit at the KOC House in Pasadena from 3pm-10pm PT on January 21, 2016.

We use this time to plan our year and get a few items on our wish list done by working in small groups. We’ll be working on School/Lab planning, Education, Fundraising, and Community Outreach. Come join us virtually or in person!

For folks based in the Los Angeles area: There is plenty of room for everyone. Please email volunteer@kidsoncomputers.org if you are in the area and would like to come and we will send you the address.

For folks outside of LA: We will be setting up a hangout and a YouTube stream. We would love to have folks join in. We will post this info shortly.

We will have our regular monthly meeting from 7-8PM ET during the Summit. Everyone is welcome to come for any portion of the Summit.

We also have a booth at the SCALE 14x Expo Hall. Please stop by!

Image of our SCALE booth box.

Getting our booth box ready for SCALE!

This Week in KoC – Update on Emiliano Zapata (Santa Cruz Xoxocotlán, Oaxaca, México)

Recently we have been in contact with Emiliano Zapata school. The parents made an amazing effort at improving the computer lab. They changed the floor and moved the electrical outlets to the walls. The lab looks really great.

The whole community, kids, parents and teachers wish KOC and everybody a happy new year. :)

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This Week in KoC – SCALE Prep and Consolidating Organizational Knowledge

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

With volunteers all around the world it is really important that everyone has a place to consolidate their notes and knowledge. Over the course of time, we’ve used several tools to do this. Unfortunately that has resulted in the information being scattered around in more than one place. The simplicity of using a wiki is also hampered by very aggressive bots that have forced us to manually add new contributors. With the new year, we are going to try to consolidate this information into just one place. So to do that information is being migrated to the new ‘Knowledge Base‘ page.

We could use some help reviewing this information and making sure it is still relevant and up to date. Or if you have notes and information that isn’t already there, please help by adding it. If you don’t have access to do so, make sure you email the mailing list to request an account.

SCALE is fast approaching, and KoC is getting ready to attend. We’ve booked a fantastic house near convention where we can have our yearly Summit. We’re still working on putting together a booth box that we can use for all the conventions like this. We’re looking to have another meeting this Thursday to discuss the last things we need for the box to be ready. Everyone is welcome to join.

We’ve wrapped up our end of year fundraising campaign… but just in case you missed it you can still donate at http://www.kidsoncomputers.org/donate

This Week in KOC – December 21, 2015

This week in KOC we are asking our supporters to help us do more. We have built 18 labs across 5 countries and impacted over 5,400 lives in the process. We want to do more. As the year comes to a close, please consider:

  • donating a used, working laptop. Contact donations@kidsoncomputers.org with your laptop info. We are currently considering a second lab in Oaxaca City, Oaxaca, Mexico and need laptops for the lab.
  • donating a Raspberry Pi 2. We have successfully tested Raspberry Pi’s in the field and currently have two deployed with educational content and games in Oaxaca City. We would like to set up a whole lab with Pis.
  • donating funds. See our end of year fundraising campaign here. Every little bit helps – even as little as $5! We will provide you with a receipt.
  • volunteering! KOC is run by volunteers. We are able to do what we do because of dedicated, passionate volunteers. Join us by emailing volunteer@kidsoncomputers.org and we’ll get you started.

Thank you!

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Training in Oaxaca City. Help us do more!

End of Year Fundraising Campaign

18 labs, 5 countries, 5400+ lives impacted. Help us do more.

Kids on Computers, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, is running an end of year 2015 fundraising campaign to raise money for our existing and potential labs. We are a small group of volunteers who donate their time and funds to set up computer labs for underprivileged kids in rural areas.

We started the organization in 2009 with the hopes of setting up 1 lab per year. We have far surpassed this goal and currently have 18 labs across 5 countries (Mexico, Argentina, Nepal, India, and Morocco). Please consider donating, as we continue to improve education in rural areas by providing access to technology!

 

  • $35 provides one child access to a computer, educational software, and internet (where accessible).
  • $120 will buy shipping for four laptops to an international location. Laptops are shipped in USPS Medium Flat Rate boxes, each of which holds two laptops.
  • $250 will buy one computer (You receive a photo emailed to you of a student using your computer; a label attached to computer reads “Donated by YOUR NAME” or “Donated in honor of YOUR CHOICE”)
  • $1,500 will fund a volunteer’s travel expenses to go to Mexico for two weeks to maintain the computers in up to ten labs and provide continuing education for the teachers and the students associated with those labs. You’ll get credit with a blog posting.
  • $5,000 will fund a new responsive Web site for KOC with a new design and theme. You’ll get permanent credit on http://www.kidsoncomputers.org.
  • $10,000 will fund a new computer lab, to be named after the person of your choice. You’ll get credit with a blog posting, a plaque in the school, and permanent credit on http://www.kidsoncomputers.org/labs. The Gittes Family Lab at Escuela Manuel Gonzalez Gatica was built with such a donation.
  • $25,000 will fund a local employee to work for three years on a part-time basis, visiting and maintaining labs in your choice of one of the countries served (Mexico, Nepal, Argentina, India, Morocco). You’ll get credit with a blog posting and get to join us on a KOC trip of your choice.

You can donate via PayPal:





If you would like to send us a check, please email us at donations@kidsoncomputers.org and we will send you an address to which you can mail it.

Please note we are a 501(c)(3) organization and will provide you a receipt for your donation.

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This Week in KOC – December 14, 2015

KOC is hopping this week:

  • We are currently planning the 2nd annual KOC Summit at SCALE. We are excited to participate at the conference for the second year in a row.
  • Gustavo has identified a new school in Oaxaca City, Mexico. We are working on gathering details about the school.
  • Randy and Fareeda are continuing to work with Peace Corps Volunteers in Morocco on setting up new labs. We have approved 2 new labs and more are being proposed.
  • Jeff is organizing the first ever KOC Booth Box which we will use at the SCALE expo hall.
  • We will launch our second End of Year Fundraising Drive this week. Please stay tuned and donate if you can! Every little bit helps!
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Some of the KOC Crew at SCALE 2014.

 

¿Es esta Tlaxiaco? – Rebuilding CAM 27

A group of us spent a week in Mexico in June 2015 installing and upgrading computer labs for kids in Oaxaca. This post is about one day during that trip.

For this Kids on Computers Mexico trip, we brought 21 laptops and 2 Mac Minis into Mexico from the US. We used 15 of the laptops for our new lab at the primary school, Emiliano Zapata, in Oaxaca City.

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The CAM 27 schoolhouse

We had six laptops left and decided to use them for a school we had set up many years ago (~2009) – CAM 27. CAM 27 is a school for disabled kids in the town of Tlaxiaco. The school had changed locations and only had 2-3 working computers left.

Tuesday of the week we were there, I took the van from Huajuapan to Tlaxiaco to visit CAM 27 for the first time. This was my first trip alone within Mexico and I was a bit nervous as I am not a fluent Spanish speaker. My nervousness stemmed from making sure I got on the right van and got off at the right place! On Monday night, Young and a UTM professor had accompanied me to the van stand so I would know where to catch the van.  While on the van, I asked different passengers “¿Es esta Tlaxiaco?” at each stop.  After a while, someone explained to me Tlaxiaco was the last stop so I didn’t need to worry. :-)

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Hermes, Fernando, and Laura came from Oaxaca City to Tliaxco and met me at the school. Tlaxiaco is ~3 hours away by van from both Haujuapan and Oaxaca. The principal, a teacher who is a colleague of Laura’s, and the school custodian were also there.  This adventure highlighted how much one needs to learn the native language of a location in order to function. After the trip, I began rigorous Duolingo training.

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I had given my big bag containing 6 laptops and 1 mac mini to Hermes on Sunday so I didn’t have to carry them from Huajuapan when traveling by myself. Hermes had also bought a wireless router to allow the laptops to connect to the RACHEL content server housed on the Mac Mini.

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The school is a one-room school house. They had a partition between the computer area and the classroom area. The one thing that struck me about the school is how much they care about each kid. Each kid’s photo and life story starting from pre-birth was on the wall. They had pictures of their moms during pregnancy as well. This is a very small school serving about 30 or so disabled kids with about 10 teachers.

The lab installation was straightforward. We had Ubermix installed already on the laptops and the Mac Mini ready thanks to the hard work of Javier, Randy, and others on the trip. All we had to do was configure the layout of the lab, connect the computers to the router and start them. We then begin the training portion. For about two hours, Hermes taught the 3 adults who were there that day basic computer functions, using GCompris, the TuxSuite, offline Wikipedia and Khan Academy, and much more.  Fernando and I provided assistance one-on-one as the ‘students’ were going through the applications and content. Hermes did a fantastic job teaching them. To watch him in action was a real treat. Everyone was extremely appreciative of everything they learned.

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We took a van back to Oaxaca City and went to Campos late at night for dinner. Yum!

It is great to have CAM 27 up and running again. I am hopeful these computers will last the school for 4-5 years if not longer. It was also great to hang out with the Oaxaca branch of KOC for the day and learn to travel on my own in-country. KOC is an adventure of a lifetime and I am very grateful to be a volunteer.

Interested in being a part of this amazing group? Volunteer here.

My first KOC Summit at SCALE 13x

Everything started with an e-mail I sent to the Kids on Computers mailing list in January, this year.  I have to say that I never imagined the consequences and impact this first contact was about to bring to my life.

I remember I was surfing the web, looking for educational content when I found a link to the KOC official web site.  I was impressed the moment I saw the photo of a Mexican kid on the main page. And not only that, it was actually a photo of a Mexican kid from the state of Oaxaca, a Oaxacan kid.

OK, now you might be wondering, what is it about this kid? Well, it turns out that I am a “Oaxaqueño”, a man from Oaxaca, Mexico. Oaxaca is a beautiful touristic state with one of the best gastronomic cultures of Mexico. Oaxaca is where KOC has setup the vast majority of its open source computer laboratories.

After I read the story of the kid on the main page of the KOC web site, I took a look at the “about us” and “volunteer” links. I sent an e-mail to volunteer@kidsoncomputers.org asking for info about the ways someone could help as a volunteer. I also contacted them on twitter @kidsoncomputers.

I received a very quick, nice, friendly reply to my e-mail, and also via twitter:

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After that first contact, I attended their monthly meeting via Skype. At that time I talked a little bit about myself and my ideas. Since my first introduction to the KOC web site I had in mind a potential elementary school in Oaxaca city, where KOC could set up a new lab. They were very nice and invited me to join them at their first KOC Summit, that was going to take place in LA at SCALE 13x, in February.

I was very interested and decided to join them. I booked my tickets, said good bye to my cats (the tough part) and took a plane to LA with a short stop in Houston.

I have no regrets about it. This was the beggining of a great relationship with the board members and the other volunteers. KOC had a booth at SCALE, we recruited new volunteers. We all had fun with a trivia game about KOC, where anyone could win a laptop case and we also sold some KOC baseball hats. We took turns taking care of the booth, so that members of the team could have a chance to attend a conference or even give a talk. Our neighbour was HP, so we had a lot of traffic in front of us. This was just great as we could spread the word with a lot of people. Some of them became volunteers. :)

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Avni.

KOC gave a talk at the event. Each volunteer talked about their experiences and activities. I was the newer volunteer at the table so I could only talk about a few things. We were well received by the public.

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Javier, Caleb, Stormy, Avni, Phillip, Gustavo(me) and Thomas.

We also visited the Griffith observatory, and had some beers and wine!

It was just a terrific experience for me to attend the first Kids on Computers Summit. I got to know the amazing people behind this great mission of bringing free and open source technology to kids around the world. Thank you, Stormy, Avni, Caleb, Javier, Phillip and Thomas. You made me feel as if I had been among you for a long time before. :)

In future posts I will talk about how I became a board member and my experience in setting up a new KOC lab in Oaxaca city. Do you remember I told you I had something in mind? Well, now this idea is up and running in the real world thanks to the marvelous and devoted work of KOC volunteers!

I am counting the days until I attend the second edition of the KOC Summit, next year. This time the event will take place in Pasadena at SCALE 14x, in January.

If you are near that area, stop by and say hi, we (yeah, I’ll be there :) ) will have a booth where you can get to know more about the different activities you can participate in as a volunteer.

Remember: We’re always looking for volunteers! 😉

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Gustavo(me)

 

Open Source and Education at Ohio Linux Fest

I got the opportunity to meet with a bunch of enthusiastic Linux users recently at Ohio Linux Fest. It was really great to see so many people get together to discuss the ways they are contributing to Open Source software and seeing the ways it is impacting people’s lives. While there were so many great talks, there were a few that I think Kids on Computers volunteers and students can really appreciate.

Jim Johnston and Darla Wise gave a great presentation on how they are using free and Open Source software to teach Statistics. The found a way for schools and teachers to have the software they needed to teach their students. They talked about how it can be difficult for schools to get the budget to buy the proprietary versions of software like this. This is something that we are very familiar with at KoC.

Another great talk that would resonate with KoC folks was by Don Vosburg. He described how the school he works with didn’t have the money for their IT infrastructure. So they switched to using a lot of free and Open Source software. Now years later, he has a better setup, and is empowering the students there to help learn and even manage the servers that they depend on.

All in all it was a great conference. I got the chance to speak to many of them and encourage them to help spread these great ideas with KoC. Next week I’ll be at another conference, Secure WV. Hopefully there will be some more great education success stories, and maybe even a new volunteer or two.

– Jeff Pullen

I’ve included a picture of me (Left) arriving at the conference with other members of my local Linux user group.OhioLinuxFest1

An Amazing Week In Oaxaca

Earlier this month, from June 8-15th, I had the pleasure of going to Oaxaca Mexico, with my brother and a few other volunteers, to help set up computers for the kids in the underprivileged areas with the non-profit, Kids on Computers.

One of the many performances done, in our honor, when we first arrived at the school.

One of the many performances done, in our honor, when we first arrived at the school.

Arriving from the airport was a bit of a hassle, as my Spanish had not yet come back to me, but I was able to at least ask how to get to the hotel. On the way in, I was able to admire the homely and very busy feeling of the city, similar to LA, but the people were more intimate and genuine when speaking with each other.

All the Kids are waiting around to see their newly unveiled computer lab

All the Kids are waiting around to see their newly unveiled computer lab

Being in Oaxaca, and especially at the new school lab we set up in Oaxaca City, was such a great feeling. We were immediately welcomed, and on the first day there they had the whole school have a festival, in our honor, as well as presenting us with a plaque for Kids on Computers. The whole time there, they treated us like family, fed us every morning, and some nights even fed us at their house.

During the first 4 days we set up the laptops and a local network.  We later taught the teachers and students how to use them. Some of the teachers weren’t familiar with the programs (Tux Math, Tux Type, Khan Academy, Wikipedia, GCompris, and other games), or English, but with my fair amount of Spanish and their fragmented English we were able to work together and really get them moving quickly.

Myself, brother, and the rest of the crew enjoyed our time as honored guests, and even got up and danced with them.

Myself, brother, and the rest of the crew enjoyed our time as honored guests, and even got up and danced with them.

The latter 3 days we went to restaurants in our area, visited the local stores and practiced our Spanish with the local people. We also had the pleasure of visiting the school on Saturday, to finish up some inventory, and were able to player soccer in the streets with the kids that lived around there.

I had such a great time with the people there, and loved the people I was working with too. I hope I’m able to come back next year and see all the kids again, and hope that they all remember me.

All food was paid for by our hosts whenever they dined with us.

All food was paid for by our hosts whenever they dined with us.