Our 2014 Mexico Trip

This is a recap of our June 2014 Kids on Computers Mexico Trip, how awesome it was, what we did, and how it all came together.

We visit our Mexico Labs once a year. Our group trips allow us to perform technical tasks such as:

  • Examining inventory and fixing any equipment that is still usable
  • Replacing old computers with newly donated computers
  • Installing new computers
  • Upgrading OS’s and software
  • Installing new content and applications on the computers

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More importantly though, our  trips allow us to connect with the local community and provide much needed training to teachers and kids. Visiting and conversing (or attempting to converse for some of us) with folks in the communities where we have labs is transformational (mostly for us, I think). Mothers will visit the school while we are working and offer us food and refreshments. Students will ask if they can help or more pressingly, if the computers are ready so they can play games. Teachers will stop by during the day and ask if we can show them educational apps on the computers. Everyone is so thankful and appreciative of our efforts.It is amazing how things we take for granted in the US (computers, tablets, knowing how to use a keyboard and mouse) are life-altering for people in these communities.

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A majority of our volunteers are based in the US so getting to Mexico is relatively easy. In addition, we have strong in-country volunteers in Mexico who are in the same state where we have most of our labs so doing a group trip once a year is feasible.

We begin planning for our trip in January 2014. As an open source volunteer organization, there are no mandates on what needs to get done. We communicate via mailing lists, volunteers grab tasks that interest them as they come up, and we move forward.We set June 2014 as our travel month and begin planning around that. We met approximately every other week to coordinate logistics and plan for the trip. We are a completely distributed group – we have volunteers in California, Colorado, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah,  Mexico, and more! A meeting consists of setting up a conference call via Skype or WebEx. (That’s another reason why trips are so awesome – we get to see each other face to face!)

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Here’s a summary of what we did on this trip:

  • We bought and installed 22 new computers with Lubuntu 14.04, Tux Educational Games, GCompris Suite, Libre Office, KGeography, and many more apps
  • We installed the RACHEL Content server  (Spanish version) on five of the six Mac Minis we took to Mexico and set up local networks in 4 labs so that all computers had access to Khan Academy videos, Wikipedia, MedLine Content, and more.
  • We upgraded 3 labs to have Lubuntu 14.04 on > 90% of the computers (18 de Marzo, Escuela Manuel Gonzalez Gatica (Gittes Family Lab), Escuela Ricardo Flores Magon). We also gave each of these labs 2 HP tablets for the teachers and students to try out.
  • Installed a new lab at Jose Vasconcelos which included 10 computers + 9 tablets + a Mac Mini to serve RACHEL content
  • Visited a lab that none of us had seen after it was set up in Molcaxac in Puebla, Mexico.
  • Found a good recycling place for old equipment at a top technical university in Mexico – UTM Huajuapan.
  • Met with UTM officials (including the founder and Rector of all of the UTM campuses – Dr. Seara) to discuss how we could improve computer usage and education with their help.

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We were able to do so much on this trip because of some awesome people and some amazing donations:

  • LogicalBricks Solutions helped us buy computers and peripherals in country and helped us with many of the travel logistics. (Some of our volunteers are founders of the company).
  • HP’s Open Source Office donated 100 tablets to us back in 2012. We took 15 of them down with us on this trip.
  • We received a Yahoo! Employee Foundation (YEF) Grant which allowed us to establish a Travel Fund to help partially fund volunteers who were interested in joining us on the trip, but needed help financially to do so. We accepted 3 awesome volunteers out of 10 applicants. One of the reasons we selected June for the trip was so university students could apply to travel with us during their summer break.
  • During our 2013 End of Year Campaign, we received a $10,000 donation from Philip Greenspun. This donation allowed us to buy 22 computers which we distributed  throughout four labs, 2 projectors, 2 DVD burners, headphones, and other peripherals. We also have some money from this donation left over to help fund a part time person who can visit the labs throughout the year. In recognition of Philip’s donation, the lab at Escuela Manuel Gonzalez Gatica was named the Gittes Family Lab in honor of Philip’s maternal grandfather.
  • We received routers and cables from Cisco which a volunteer shipped to Oaxaca City and another volunteer sent via van to Huajuapan. 
  • We received a hardware grant from Mozilla of 10 Mac Minis. We received these Mac Minis in time for the trip because a kind Mozilla employee was willing to FedEx them to us so that they arrived the day before we left. We took 6 with us to Mexico.
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KOC can not do any of this work without its volunteers. Countless hours are dedicated to preparing for trips, preparing install media, installing software, debugging hardware, troubleshooting problems, coordinating logistics, and communicating with everyone. Not to mention that most volunteer travel expenses are paid out of pocket. I want to thank the following folks for giving generously of their time and funds to travel on this trip and/or helping from back home:

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  • Hunter Banks
  • Jacquie Bleth
  • Exal Alejandro Gomez Vasquez
  • Gabriel Henderson
  • Javier Henderson
  • Eliud Hr
  • Robin Kimzey
  • Corey Latislaw
  • Bill MullaneyDSC01448
  • Hermes Ojeda Ruiz
  • Stormy Peters
  • Thomas Peters
  • Serena Robb
  • Randy Tate
  • Fernando Villalobos

It feels so good to do good. This was an amazing trip and we got a lot accomplished because of these people. Thank you everyone so much!

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P.S. If you’d like to join us on our next trip (Morocco in September 2014!), email us at volunteer@kidsoncomputers.org. We would love to hear from you.

Applications now being accepted for the Kids on Computers Travel Program: Mexico

Kid’s on Computers is looking for volunteers to donate their time and skills at one of our labs in Mexico.

This unique opportunity is open to individuals with technical skills who are interested in helping disadvantaged children while gaining valuable work and life experience. Each participant will be paired with a KOC leadership mentor. During their stay in the state of Oaxaca, Mexico, participants will work with other KOC travel program participants at the KOC computer lab teaching children and teachers computer skills and assisting with computer troubleshooting and repair. Participants will work at the lab for the month of June, 2014. We are encouraging participation of individuals living in the U.S., in Mexico and any other locations so that we can bring together a group with complimentary technical, language and teaching skills.

Participants need to be able to fund most or all of their expenses, which include airfare and in-country expenses. We estimate that the in-country expenses for housing, food and transportation (not including roundtrip airfare) will range between $500 – 600 a week. Cost will vary depending on the participant’s choices in lodging, food, etc. For those who qualify, travel/participation funding assistance is available through a grant we received in 2013 from the Yahoo Employee Foundation. This stipend, provided in a lump sum, will help with expenses but not cover all costs. Applicants should indicate their need for assistance to request the stipend (which will range from a total of $500 – $750, depending on need). Participants living in Mexico are also eligible for a living expense stipend (ranging from a total of $200 – $300).

Applications will be accepted until March 15th.

Requirements

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Be able to travel to and stay in Mexico for at least 3 weeks during the month of June 2014
  • Have an up-to-date passport
  • Have a visa (if required http://mexico.visahq.com)
  • Have the ability to pay for all required expenses

What will be expected of the participants
Participants will work in Mexico with a KOC volunteer team for one month. Participants will be expected to teach computer classes to children, train teachers to use the computers, debug hardware issues, update software and help KOC with their process and strategies to make the organization more effective. Each participant will be working in a small group of KOC traveling and in-country program participants (4 – 6 participants) and be required to spend between 2 to 4 hours at the computer lab 5 days a week. Participants will be required to write a weekly blog post for the KOC website sharing their experiences and communicate at least weekly with their mentor and the team through the larger KOC mailing list.

The ideal candidate will exhibit one or more of the following characteristics

  • Knowledge and involvement in the open source community
  • Relevant computer skills
  • Experience installing and configuring Linux (we use Lubuntu) on a variety of donated hardware (laptops, desktops).
  • Ability to teach others the basics of using a file system, editing and saving documents, use of Open Office tools, how to access and navigate Khan Academy videos and offline Wikipedia and, ideally, basic programming techniques.
  • Ability to debug hardware, updating software, and troubleshoot network configurations
  • Some Spanish language skills
  • Related or relevant educational and/or open source experience
  • Enthusiasm for teaching and helping others

Additional benefits to participants

Participants will be assigned a KOC mentor who will provide guidance in person and through email. The mentor will be an experienced contributor to open source communities and a leader within KOC. You will also have free time to experience the local culture and explore local sites.

Upon successful completion of the program at the end of June, teachers from the Mexico schools will submit a review of your contributions back to KOC. If the school and the KOC leadership is impressed by the participant’s contributions, KOC will provide the participant with a letter of recommendation for use with university or employment applications.

To apply, email us at travel2014@kidsoncomputers.org explaining your interest, experience, knowledge and why you would be a good candidate for the program. Please provide a link or attach your resume. Finalists will be contacted for interviews. Selected participants will be contacted following the committee’s decision on April 1, 2014.

Please email questions to volunteer@kidsoncomputers.org

Voluntarios Locales

Kids on Computers es una organización sin fines de lucro registrada como 501(c)(3) que instala laboratorios de computación para escuelas donde los alumnos no tienen accesso a esta tecnología. Fundada y dirigida por miembros de la comunidad Open Source, proveemos computadoras y programas gratis para alumnos con dichas carencias.

Este junio, un grupo de participantes del “programa de viaje” de KOC estará trabajando en uno de los laboratorios cerca de Huajuapan de León. Estamos buscando voluntarios locales con conocimientos tecnológicos que estén interesados en participar en este programa. Esta es una oportunidad de ayudar a los niños y al mismo tiempo ganar valiosa experiencia de trabajo y educación.

Cada participante trabajará conjuntamente con un mentor de KOC, y con otros participantes en el “programa de viaje” de KOC, enseñando a alumnos y maestros acerca de las computadoras, incluyendo ayuda para la solución de problemas.

Esta oportunidad no ofrece pago, pero los participantes viviendo en México podrían recibir un apoyo que varía entre USD $200 y USD $300.

Las solicitudes serán aceptadas hasta el 15 de marzo.

    Requerimientos:

  • Ser mayor de 18 años
  • Tener la solvencia económica para cubrir sus gastos de viaje

¿Qué puedo esperar como participante?

Los participantes trabajarán con un grupo de voluntarios de KOC por un mes. Los participantes deberán enseñar clases de computación a los alumnos, entrenar a los maestros en el uso de las computadoras incluyendo investigar problemas con los equipos, actualizar los programas, y ayudar a KOC con sus procesos y estrategias para hacer la organización más efectiva. Cada participante trabajará con un grupo limitado de voluntarios de KOC y participantes en el país (de 4 a 6 participantes) y es requerido trabajar entre 2 y 4 horas en el laboratorio por día, 5 días por semana. Los participantes serán requeridos de contribuir en blogs semanalmente en el sitio web de KOC, para compartir sus experiencias, y también de comunicarse por lo menos una vez por semana con su mentor y el grupo a través de la lista de correos de KOC.

El candidato ideal tendrá una (o más) de las siguientes características:

  • Conocimiento y participación en la comunidad Open Source
  • Conocimientos relevantes de computadoras/programas (hardware/software)
  • Experiencia instalando y configurando Linux (usualmente Lubuntu) en una variedad de computadoras donadas.
  • Habilidad de enseñar a otros conocimientos básicos de cómo usar el sistema operativo, editar y guardar documentos, uso de OpenOffice, cómo ingresar y navegar los videos de Khan Academy y Wikipedia e, idealmente, técnicas de programación básicas.
  • Habilidad de investigar problemas con computadoras, actualizar programas e investigar problemas con configuraciones de red.
  • Experiencia con software educativo Open Source.
  • Entusiasmo para enseñar y ayudar a otros.

Beneficios adicionales para los participantes:

Los participantes tendrán un mentor de KOC asignado quien proveerá asistencia en persona y a través de email. El mentor será un contribuyente con experiencia en las comunidades de Open Source y un líder en KOC.

Cuando el programa termine exitosamente a finales de Junio, los maestros de la escuela enviarán un resumen de tus contribuciones a KOC. Si la escuela y los líderes de KOC tienen una buena impresión del participante, KOC proveerá al participante con una carta de recomendación útil para aplicaciones en universidades o posibles empleadores.

Para aplicar, envía email a travel2014@kidsoncomputers.org, detallando tus intereses, experiencia, conocimientos y explicando por qué tú eres un buen candidato para este programa. Por favor, incluye una copia de tu C.V. o un enlace al mismo. Los finalistas serán contactados para entrevistas. Los participantes elegidos serán contactados después de la decision final de KOC el 1 de abril de 2014.

Por favor, envía preguntas a volunteer@kidsoncomputers.org

End of Year Campaign

Kids on Computers is running an end of year campaign to raise money for our existing and potential labs. Please consider donating to 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 get a photo emailed to you of a student using your computer; label attached to computer with “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 eight labs and provide continuing education for the teachers and the students associated with those labs. You’ll get credit with a blog posting.
  • $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 and permanent credit on http://www.kidsoncomputers.org/labs
  • $25,000 will fund a local employee to work for three years on a part-time basis visiting and maintaining labs in one of the countries served (Mexico, Nepal, Argentina, India; your choice). You’ll get credit with a blog posting.

You can donate via PayPal (link). 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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Highlights from Assam

Our trip to Assam ended a week ago. A few times a day, my mind still wanders to our experience there and how amazing it was. Every time we reached the schools, it felt like time stopped and we had been transported to another world. I feel like we made a huge impact in the community and I wanted to share a few notes and thoughts.

  • We installed two computer labs with 20 computers total. 12 desktops and 2 laptops at Morigaon Jatyiya Vidyalaya and 6 desktops at Jatiya Vidyala Chariabahi. (Thank you Yahoo! Employee Foundation (YEF) for making these labs possible!)
  • Because we had scheduled two full weeks in India, we had enough time to do training sessions. During our past trips to Mexico, we have time to do the installation and then one training session with the teachers, but we rarely get time to do sessions with the students. Here, we did 3 official training sessions at the first school (2 with teachers and 1 with students) and 2 at the second school (1 teacher and 1 student) and many unofficial ad-hoc sessions.
  • While doing the training sessions, it became obvious how much both schools need a projector.
  • Our strength from the eyes of the schools is the content we provide with the OS. For these computers, in addition to Lubuntu 13.04, we installed the Tux Suite, GCompris, Suite of K* games, and the RACHEL content server (Khan Academy videos, Wikipedia content, MedLine content, textbooks, and more)
  • Two people – one of the computer teachers and the younger brother of a teacher (he’s in college) brought in their laptops and asked us to install Lubuntu and all of the software on the computers. Another teacher took a USB filled with content from RACHEL.
  • We were impressed with the seriousness with which the teachers begin learning how to use computers. Many would sit down through out the day and begin using Tux Type to learn how to type. At the second school, we did a contest where we asked the teachers to draw a tree using Tux Paint. The teacher with the best tree (very subjective) would get a pen. The teachers had a lot of fun kidding with each other and quickly pointed out that the tree with the most detail was done by the art teacher.
  • As always, many of the kids sat down at the computers and begin using them immediately without hesitation. They opened up Potato Guy, Tux Type, and Tux Math and begin playing.
  • One student, who was really good at geography, begin playing KGeography as a teacher looked on. He knew every state in India. He then moved onto the US and knew where many of the states were. You could see the pride in the teacher’s eyes.
  • On the other hand, some of the students had never seen a computer. Thomas, one of our volunteers, rightly pointed out during one of our sessions where we were moving onto teaching Tux Type, that some of the students didn’t even know how a mouse worked. This made me realize how much we take for granted here.
  • Localization is key. One of the challenges Kids on Computers faces by creating labs around the world is that we must also work with the various languages used in these areas. We initially installed an English distribution for these schools, but it was obvious to us that everyone at the school was way more comfortable in Assamese. Praveen, a KOC volunteer from Kerala, led the effort to install the Assamese language packs and do the keyboard mapping for the Assamese characters. The teachers still prefer to have the OS boot in English as they felt that it would benefit the students in the long run, but they found the keyboard mapping useful for writing papers or letters.
  • Vedanta, our KOC volunteer who introduced us to these schools, installed an anacron script on each computer at the first school to send us its status via email. The first school had internet by the time we left.
  • As much as we had prepared, there was still quite a bit of work to do when we got there. The OS install, software packages, and RACHEL install went smoothly. But we had to install additional packages for getting mp4 files to play on Chromium, for Flash, and for the language packs. Doing it for one computer is not so bad, but doing it for 20 is time consuming. A Kids on Computers iso would help us deploy more efficiently. We would need an iso for each language we support and they would need to be updated as new content becomes available. Let us know if you want to help by emailing volunteer@kidsoncomputers.org
  • Time moves much more slowly in India. When someone says they’ll come around noon, anytime between 12 and 2pm is acceptable. :-)
  • A big thank you goes to everyone who made this trip possible – from applying for the YEF grant, helping with determining travel logistics in India, working with the vendor, preparing software for the computers and traveling to Assam to do the actual installs. Thanks everyone so much. We are changing lives.
  • Assam is a beautiful place with amazing people. I am excited to see what this community will do with the computers and I can’t wait to go back.

You can see photos from our trip here.

Oh, what a welcome!

Our original plan was to go to the schools on Monday.  But there happened to be a district wide strike called.  The schools are in Morigaon which is  about 1.5-2 hours one way from Guwahati and traveling the long distance during the strike was not recommended.

We headed out on Tuesday and were completely floored at the welcome we received upon our arrival. As we arrived at the Morigaon Jatiya Vidyalaya school gate, we saw a beautiful banner the school had made welcoming Kids on Computers. The entire school was outside waiting for us. They greeted us with a small Puja and each of us received a hand-woven shawl with a design that is unique to Assam. As we saw the kids and their eager, smiling faces, I couldn’t help but get tears in my eyes.

Big welcome Welcome

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Morigaon is a rural district with miles of beautiful farm land and rice paddies. Cows and goats roam the roads as if it were their own. It is also the poorest district in Assam and has a literacy rate of 69.37% as of 2011.

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These computer labs have been a long time in the making and we are so happy to finally set them up. We first visited the room that had been set up for the computer lab. We determined the room was too small (we tested by having students come in and sit and saw that it would be difficult to have 12 computers running in there). We decided to use a larger room the school had. The school personnel and electrician proceeded to discuss what would need to take place in the next 2 days to convert the room into a computer lab.

After this discussion, we then visited each classroom and were greeted with a huge “Hi!” and “Namaskar!”. This school has classes from Kindergarten to 10th grade. There is one class for each grade, except for Kindergarten which has two, and approximately 15-30 students per class. The teachers had prepped the students and instructed each of them to greet us formally. The classroom walls were constructed from woven bamboo. The students sat at simple desks and benches. You could see the joy in their eyes as we spoke to them.

Class 1 Class 2

In the afternoon, we headed out to the second school – Jatiya Vidyalaya Charaibahi. This school is about twenty minutes away and in a more rural area. Both schools are privately run by an NGO which hires the teachers, sets the student tuition (100 rupees (~2 USD)/month for younger students and 150 rupees for older students), and makes decisions on what courses are taught. The committee which runs the NGO meets monthly. We worked with Nilutpal Kakati, the committee Secretary, on the creation of these labs.

School 2 Welcome   School 2

The reception at the second school was just as grand as the first one.  We were again presented with custom hand-woven shawls. As they presented them to us, they said Namaskar to us. We quickly adopted to saying it back to them. The whole school had assembled outside – the students had carried their school benches outside. We were all asked to sit at a make-shift stage with a canopy, tables and chairs facing the students. There were microphones and speakers set up for us. Nilutpal gave a small introduction and we were then all asked to say a few words. Afterwards, a group of students sang a beautiful song accompanied by live music. The students then went back to class carrying their benches back.  We went to view the computer lab and then visited each classroom here as well. As we walked back outside, we saw that a group of parents had convened outside the school gate. We proceeded to go back to the first school.

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When we got back, the computer vendor from Guwahati had arrived with the computers. To be more streamlined, we decided to use the small room as a staging room where all the computers would be installed. This way, we could work on software installations while the larger room was being prepared and the second school’s computer room was being made more secure. This first school will receive twelve computers. The second school will have six as their computer room is much smaller. I was eager to test out the OS install via USB pen drive so we pulled out one computer and put it together. Success! We were able to get Lubuntu 13.04 on there – everyone cheered for joy (well, maybe only in my head).

Computer 3 Computer 1 Lubuntu

What an amazing day! We were so excited to come back and install the computers the next day. KOC’s goal is to provide access to education and learning materials via technology to kids who don’t otherwise have access. We believe and hope the content we put on the computers will open more doors and provide for more opportunities for the kids (and adults) and they will be able to improve their own communities with this knowledge.

India: t = 0

Kids on Computers received a Yahoo! Employee Foundation grant to set up computer labs in Assam, India. We have a local volunteer, Vedanta Barooah, who is from this area and found two schools in the Morigaon region for us to work with. Three of us are in India now and working on setting up these labs. This is the first in a series of blog posts about getting ready for the trip and our time here.

KOC team

Getting ready for an installation trip takes considerable planning and time. There are two main components to getting ready for a trip – the logistics portion and the technical portion.

Vedanta and his family managed the logistics portion for us – they found local contacts for us to work with in India, figured out where we were going to stay, and how we were going to travel from the city of Guwahati to Morigaon, where the schools are.

Our India labs presented us with a new use-case on the technical side.  Our nine other labs have been built with donated, used equipment we collect from individuals, schools, and companies. We then do software installations before we transport them and then send them get them to the country we are going to via our own volunteers or local community members who are visiting the US and traveling back.

For India, the grant allowed us to buy new computers directly in India – alleviating the problem of transporting the computers and going through customs. Vedanta helped us find a vendor in India, went through several iterations of computer configurations and made the final purchase of eighteen AMD desktops with 15″ inch monitors for two labs.

The next step was software preparation. We struggle with getting the right free and open source software ready for our computers (KOC uses and promotes FOSS). We select a specific set of apps and educational games that the kids use. Because our setup usually consists of reusing donated equipment, we never really know what computer configuration our labs will have. One computer lab can have a multiple computer configurations (though we have been moving towards making sure each lab receives the same type of laptop / computer, this is not always possible) leading to several distinct requirements for installation. One set of software is not going work for all of the computers and makes it hard to plan in advance. Additionally, we want to take advantage of the features offered by the latest software releases and new content that has been released (see Khan Academy videos, offline Wikipedia, and the Rachel offline educational content server). We scramble before every trip to get a set of install media ready for the computers as the internet is not always reliable in the regions we go to. For Assam, we put together:

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  • 5 USB sticks with Lubuntu 13.04
  • 2 CDs with Lubuntu 13.04
  • 5  USB sticks with Educational Software Packages consisting of Open Office, GCompris, Tux Games, Hindi Language Packs, and more
  • 2 USB sticks for the RACHEL content server

 

We also like to have a good test-bed for trying out the software beforehand to make sure we’ve covered all of our use cases for a trip. But for this trip, since the computers were in India, we did the install on a Virtual Machine and are hoping it will work on the AMD computers. We’re heading up to Morigaon tomorrow to help with the physical installation of the computers and will try out the software then. Wish us luck!

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Android Tablets for Nepal

A big part of the Kids on Computers partnership with CHOICE Humanitarian is to provide tablets running a modern version of Android for use in Nepal. CHOICE will be employing Nepalese youth and young adults in a pioneering new program to gather data about basic indicators of quality of life (health, income, education, etc.) in rural Nepal using tablets. After the data is gathered “offline” in remote areas, the tablets will sync data back to a central database in the cloud. When not in data-collection mode, the tablets will also be used to introduce technology based learning in villages where access to computers and the Internet is very limited or non-existent.

To support this partnership, Kids on Computers held a Tablet Install Day on August 21st at the CHOICE Humanitarian headquarters in West Jordan, UT. We recruited a highly skilled and efficient team of technologists from UnitedHealth Group‘s OptumInsight division (Claredi group), based in Salt Lake City, to do the installation. This group of 7 developers brought their Linux and Open Source skills to the event — exactly what we needed.

Volunteers from UnitedHealth Group setting up tablets in the CHOICE Humanitarian office.

Volunteers from UnitedHealth Group setting up tablets in the CHOICE Humanitarian office.

Our task was to load CyanogenMod 9 and a large collection of educational content on 21 HP Touchpad tablets. Here’s a summary of what we ended up with:

  • Android Ice Cream Sandwich (CM9)
  • the TaroWorks app, for CHOICE data collection
  • dozens of other android educational apps and games
  • a few Nepali dictionaries and translation apps
  • a GPS app, to help pinpoint rural village locations on maps
  • 5GB of offline Wikipedia in English (Kiwix)
  • 0.5GB of offline Wikipedia in Hindi
  • 69 free .epub books
  • a Khan Academy viewer (videos to be downloaded as needed from within the app for offline use)
  • a CHOICE/KoC background image

CyanogenMod 9

KoC/CHOICE android tablet home screen icons

KoC/CHOICE Android tablet home screen

TaroWorks - Data Collection App

TaroWorks – Data Collection App

A mixture of Linux and Window laptops was used by our installers, with varying degrees of success.  One Windows laptop suffered a graphics card failure. Other versions of Windows didn’t fully support the Android USB file transfer protocol.  We also had one tablet “bricked” by some creative install commands … but it was eventually brought back to life (thanks Josh). Even with a couple of crippled laptops, our volunteers worked out an assembly line approach to completing the installation and preparing each tablet with identical content.

After starting around 9:30am, we had all 21 tablets installed and loaded with all of the content, plus recorded in the Kids on Computers inventory management system by 6pm. A special Thank You to UnitedHealth Group and OptumInsight for sending their best Open Source technologists as volunteers to help on this important project, to HP for the tablet donation, and to CHOICE Humanitarian for being a great partner and allowing us to invade their office for the day.

Our tablet install day was a complete success.  All 21 tablets were installed.

Our tablet install day was a complete success. All 21 tablets are now prepared for deployment in Nepal.

Volunteers needed for lab setup in Assam, India

Kids on Computers is currently working on details for establishing two computer labs in Assam, India. We received a $5000 Yahoo Employee Foundation grant to fund these labs. We are traveling to Assam in late October 2013.

One of the schools where we will be setting up a lab has 300 kids up to the 9th grade level. Currently it only has 2 computers for teaching computer skills to about 240 students in 3rd grade and above. The plan is to set up the lab with about 15 computers in the room shown here. Kids on Computers has been working with the school’s secretary, Nilutpal Kakati, two teachers and the principal on the logistics and timing of KOC volunteer trip. Three teachers at the school have computer skills and will act as lab teachers.

Room waiting for KOC computers at school in Assam, India

Each computer will be installed with a Linux distribution along with Open Office, Educational Games, Offline Wikipedia, and Offline Khan Academy videos installed.  The job of the volunteers is to start-up the machines, establish the internet connection, install and test the software and help train the local staff and students.

The KOC team is planning a 10 day trip, spending partial days in New Delhi and Guwahati to arrive in Morigaon on day 4. The team will meet with the school contacts on day 5 and implement the lab on day 6. Travel back to Guwahati will be on day 9.

Because all of Kids on Computers donations go directly to the equipment and lab creation, volunteers pay for all their own travel expenses, such as airfare, lodging and food. We are a registered 501(c)(3) and all expenses may be tax deductible.

The District Commissioner and town are supporting the project and will be finding places to stay for the volunteers at around $2 a day, making the daily cost for each volunteer around $10 with food. Cost for a tourist visa is $75 and airfare from the U.S. east coast is around $1,700. Vaccinations are recommended.

Visa Information: https://indiavisa.travisaoutsourcing.com/homepage

Visa Cost: https://indiavisa.travisaoutsourcing.com/consular-fees?id=1

Please join us! If you have questions, please email us at volunteer@kidsoncomputers.org. To sign up, please leave you name and email address here https://koc.etherpad.mozilla.org/26 

Kids on Computers Installfest – March 16th

We are having a Kids on Computers Installfest on Saturday, March 16th in Sherman Oaks, CA from 11AM – 6PM. A local high school in Topanga, California donated 80 laptops they were no longer using to Kids on Computers. We have shipped 20 of these laptops to Colegio Britanico, a school in Puebla, Mexico.  During this installfest, we are hoping to get 15-20 more of these laptops upgraded with additional RAM and installed with Free and Open Source software so they can be shipped to a lab in the city of Molcaxac also in Puebla. We will install Lubuntu along with offline Khan Academy videos and offline Wikipedia pages. Most of the kids we work with wouldn’t otherwise have access to technology.  The computer labs we build  help kids around the world get this access and we would love your help to make this happen.  Anyone can help and we are more than happy to teach you any needed skills.

Join us for a day of fun, learning, and making a difference for a great cause. You can sign up here: LA Installfest Info

Thank you!

 

Back to Huajuapan de León

A small group of volunteers from Kids on Computers returned to Huajuapan de León in October 2012 to update existing school labs, open a new lab, and train teachers. We had great support from the school administrators, teachers, parents, and local volunteers.

Schools

After spending a few days visiting schools and assessing needs, we went to the following schools to do updates and installations:

18 de Marzo
This school is the largest lab of donated KoC computers. There are about 30 desktops and laptops here. We updated them with Lubuntu, educational packages, Khan Academy videos, and offline Wikipedia. A few machines didn’t have working USB, so we left them with older (10.x) versions of Edubuntu. Although there is no Internet access available at this school, there is a local area network and wireless access point. We added 2 desktop computers with large hard drives, and had hoped to be able to turn these into local HTTP servers for the lab. But, we found that the switches/hubs were faulty and we couldn’t get reliable IP networking to work.

HP Touchpad Demo at 18 de Marzo

HP Touchpad Demo at 18 de Marzo

 

Antonio de León
This is a new school for KoC, located in Guadalupe de Ramírez, about a 2 hour drive from Huajuapan de León. The school director met with Thomas, Avni, Bill, and Gaby in Huajuapan de León and got a preview of KoC computers using Lubuntu. Their previous experience was with about 8 Windows computers, several of which had become infected with viruses. They asked that we add a few computers to their lab, and standardize them all on Lubuntu. It was a long day, but we got the lab up and running with a total of 17 machines running Lubuntu.

Antonio de Leon

Antonio de Leon

Antonio de Leon - Edubuntu Mr. Potato Head

Antonio de Leon – Edubuntu Mr. Potato Head

 

Saucitlan
This lab has been part of KoC for several years. Since many of the computers here were donated by a Mexican bank, they do not have hard drives. So they boot from an LTSP server. We added offline Wikipedia to the computers that had a disk, plus left an additional laptop with both offline Wikipedia and Khan Academy videos. Saucitlan now has 11 computers total. Members of the school board presented us with letters signed by community leaders requesting additional computers from KoC for a library as well as the secondary school down the street. As resources become available, we’d like to be able to help.

Saucitlan - LTSP Networked Edubuntu

Saucitlan – LTSP Networked Edubuntu

 

San Marcos
When KoC previously setup a lab in San Marcos, it included an Internet connection, strung across the street from City Hall via Cat5. Since then, the City Hall buildings have been demolished and are being rebuilt. As a result, they no longer have Internet access. We updated ___ computers with Lubuntu, educational packages, offline Wikipedia, and Khan Academy videos.

San Marcos

San Marcos

San Marcos Kids watching Khan Academy Videos

San Marcos Kids watching Khan Academy Videos

 

Zapato
This is a small school with just 6 laptops. When we visited, we discovered that they have had problems with theft, so the teachers typically take the KoC computers home when not in use. They bring the laptops back to school once per week for use in class. The laptops were not in the school when we visited, so we were unable to do any updates.

Local Support

We are very fortunate to work with Carlos (Cams) in Huajuapan de León as our local expert. He provides great support for the school labs, plus he was also able to conduct a 2 hour training session for the teachers in the area at 18 de Marzo.

Also, we were introduced to another Computer Science graduate from UTM – Eliud. He’s a computer support guru and Linux specialist in Huajuapan de León. We met him at San Marcos, and invited him to help with the KoC labs as he has time. He accepted our request and came to the teacher training session. Thanks Eliud!

In addition to these technical experts, we met (and re-met) several dedicated teachers, parents, and volunteers in the area that are engaged in helping us make technology available to underprivileged kids using open source software.

Cams training teachers at 18 de Marzo

Cams training teachers on Lubuntu, Edubuntu packages, Khan Academy Videos, and offline Wikipedia at 18 de Marzo