OLPC Community Summit and the most exciting news!

It has finally come! This weekend I will be attending the OLPC Community Summit. It’s being hosted at the San Francisco State University, so I’ll be staying in a hostel nearby. Needless to say, I am extremely grateful to have the opportunity to meet and speak with people who are in the career field that I hope to enter. If this conference is anything like ceibalJAM! this past May in Uruguay, I know I’ll just love it.

I am particularly interested in hearing the presentations on “Etoys”, “Forum for Supplying XOs to Small Deployments”, “Funding Strategies for Projects, and “Challenges in Difficult Deployments”. While reading the description for each of these, I noticed that I found myself interested in the logistics of these projects. Actually, I have noticed that I am generally interested in the logisitics for most things. I think this is why I can see myself being fulfilled by conducting field research of ICT4E projects. It definitely takes a look at logistics. That, and my other general interest in alternative education methods. I digress.

The only topic that isn’t focused on the logisitcs and outreach of these projects is “Etoys”. I am making sure I go to that one though! One of the presenters, Mike Lee, actually took the time out of his day while I was in D.C. to talk to me and give me some sound advice. Besides his helpfulness though, the Lubuto Literacy Project is a great indicator of how open source software continues to enhance education materials, which I why I want to hear more about it. Here’s more information on it if you’re interested:¬†http://www.lubuto.org/¬†Read up and enjoy!

After the conference, I will review of each of these topics mentioned above and post them on Monday, as a sort of first impression. Then, I will probably write another post to go into greater depth and analysis once I research more about what I inevitably learn. If there’s one thing I’ve noticed about ICT4E projects, it’s that there is never an end when it comes to learning and improving.

I’ve actually been to San Francisco a few times. My most recent trip was two years ago for the 50th Annual General Meeting for Amnesty International. That was an experience I will never forget. Actually, that’s the year I decided that I was against the death penalty, especially in its current state with the United States. That last trip though, I didn’t have much time to do any sightseeing. This time I plan to do at least a little bit of sightseeing and, perhaps, even take pictures to post. I know my posts are all mostly text, so I’m going to *try* to spice things up around here.

Now for the exciting news: My sister, who is currently learning Farsi at the Monterrey Defense Language Institute, is going to visit me while I’m in San Fran. Naturally, I am writing this post only after Skyping with her as she made me raid her closet for items she left at home. Gotta love sisterly bonding. Honestly though, I am especially excited to see her! I’ve only seen her a total of eight days in the past nine months. It’s not been quite the same since I went on my trip to the Southern Cone…then she decided to be a linguist for the Air Force. But hey, at least we’re both going after what we want.

So, I end my post in high spirits. I am sure I will find the OLPC Community Summit to be more than fascinating and worth every bit of my efforts. (I say efforts, because after all I do live the broke college student life.) And on top of that, I get to see my sister!

Be on the lookout for OLPC Community Summit reviews. I’m also putting together a compilation of online resources for people trying to learn more about ICTD and ICT4E more specifically. That last bit is more of an ongoing, long term project.

Submitted to the 2012 CEO Elevator Pitch Competition.

[Update Nov. 11th 2012: Was not accepted for the competition. Honestly, I understand why. Here’s to progress!]

20% Time

As per the community culture, I decided to spend my “20% time” today pursuing my aspiration to eventually own a monitoring and evaluation business for ICT4E projects. It was quite interesting and made me even more excited to pursue it as a career. I am finally starting to understand what I need to do in order to conduct this research, logistically, personally, academically…all of that fun stuff!

This is such a new area of study that it is difficult to find people who have conducted this type of research, especially in Latin America. From personal observation, it seems that English speakers are more involved in development within African countries. I have been looking through Twitter feeds and ICT4E themed blogs and I see a plethora of discussions on projects in Africa. I am slightly perplexed though that I did not find nearly as many discussions on projects in Latin America either in English, Spanish or Portuguese.

It is not as though there are not ICT4E projects being carried out throughout Latin America. On the contrary, I have witnessed these projects and have personally discussed some with people from Colombia, Peru, Chile, Bolivia, Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay. Perhaps, I was not looking in the right places.

Then again, I have noticed that there is a large online presence of Spanish speakers in regards to “TIC en las aulas”.

This leads me, somewhat curiously, to another interest of mine. While I was doing research on Plan Ceibal, I noticed that there were so many people I encountered who were proponents of open knowledge and free software that were not involved directly with Plan Ceibal. Even when I went to Wikimania in D.C., it was interesting to see the number of participants from Latin American countries.

I distinctly remember using people personal’s computers and even office computers in research centers or universities in Argentina and Uruguay and seeing free software installed. For a while (and even now really), I contemplated pursuing research on how culture in Latin America may lend itself to the open knowledge/free culture/free software types of communities. This is a bit of a digression from my initial point of this post. Eh, but not really.

This post really boils down to my pursuit of 20% time, which is all about not spending 100% of your “work” time actually performing work tasks. Instead, the idea is to spend 20% of your time on a project that you want to pursue outside of work. Widely popularized by Google, but known to have brought forth the Post-It note in 1974. Source. Go figure.