In 2009, I wrote a successful proposal for OLPCorps Africa, a pilot program created by One Laptop Per Child (OLPC), to deploy 100 of its iconic green and white XO laptops in rural African locations. Partnering with an NGO, I headed up a team of graduate students to launch the XO laptops at a school in Takaungu, Kenya, where I had worked with students and laptops on a prior occasion in 2004.
As education lead and project manager for this rapid deployment, my role encompassed budgeting, planning and logistics; training and managing interns; program design and curriculum development; software and digital resource selection; technology trouble-shooting of laptops, server and network in the field and remotely; classroom teaching; facilitating a teacher-training workshop; teacher mentoring; creating a comprehensive teacher manual; designing and conducting program assessments; gaining IRB approval; and data gathering in the field (including interviews, photo, audio and video documentation).
The program assessments, which included audio and video documentation, student and teacher evaluations, and teacher interviews, were intended to measure the effects of this project on engagement and creative thinking by both the students and teachers by looking at several indicators of creativity (such as the range of responses to creative prompts on paper-based tests and creative lesson planning ideas by teachers) and indicators of engagement (such as the number of questions asked in class, student responses to questions about whether school is “fun” and whether teachers adopt the technology.) The study also gathered data on student perception of ability in the subjects of math, science and English, as well as basic information on the teachers’ experience with and perception of computers.
I successfully submitted the results of the program evaluation and related analysis as my master’s thesis in March 2013, titled One Laptop Per Child in Rural Kenya: Student Perceptions about Computers, School and Self-Efficacy after One Year with XO Laptops and Constructionist Learning. Through this work, I considered the data I collected, the work of OLPC and OLPC’s constructivist/constructionist framework through the lenses of socio-cultural, expertise-building, motivation and metacognitive theory.
One Laptop Per Child in Rural Kenya:
Student Perceptions about Computers, School and Self-Efficacy
after One Year with XO Laptops and Constructionist Learning
Breona P. Gutschmidt
In 2009, the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) non-profit organization ran a pilot program called OLPCorps Africa. The intention was to provide funds and one hundred of the group’s iconic green and white XO laptops to volunteer teams partnering with established non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in order to deploy the computers in rural African locations. This paper reports evaluation data from one OLPCorps Africa deployment in rural Kenya and examines how a specific setting challenged assumptions about the nature of inducing educational change through technology introduction. Survey questions reveal significant decreases in students’ perception of school as fun; questions about self-efficacy show no significant change; and responses about computers illuminate what students knew about computers before and after the intervention. These results raise provocative questions about the OLPC program, how OLPC’s endeavor relates to its historic context, and a need for future research.