Archive/Current Events/2010-06-28

Sugar Digest

1. In their humorous treatise on political double-speak, Aristotle and an Aardvark go to Washington, Thomas Cathcart and Daniel Klein define 'contextomy' as "a subtle variation on the straw-man argument" where you yank your victim's words out of context. A straw-man argument attributes an opponent to a position that in fact they do not hold. Contextomy adds the twist that you de-contextualize a quote in order to misstate (or overstate) their position.

An example of contextomy is Mark Warschauer's post, OLPC: How Not to Run a Laptop Program. The premise of Warschauer's article is that the 'OLPC model' is "simply passing out XOs and getting out of children’s way." No planning, no training, no teacher engagement... He goes on to say that this is an ill-advised model that does not work. In the article itself Warchauer never cites evidence that this is in fact the 'OLPC model', but in a comment he refers the reader to the OLPC mission statement as justification for his straw-man argument. Contextomy.

I am not aware of any OLPC (or Sugar) deployment that in any way resembles Warshauer's straw man, in the United States or elsewhere. (The largest deployment in the United States is the city-wide deployment in Birmingham Alabama, which has involved extensive engagement of teachers, parents, the local university, libraries, churches, and other community assets. As with most deployments, there is extensive observation and longitudinal data are beginning to become available.) Frankly, it is irresponsible for Warshauer to ignore these data. If he has any actual data to back up his position, he fails to cite it.

Meanwhile, in this week's IRC discussion with teachers running Sugar projects, some evidence surfaced that contradicts Warshchauer's argument. (Apologies for my poor translation of the Spanish-language original.)


C: It is best to hear directly from the actors themselves ...
C: What can different group members tell us about their approaches to the training of teachers ...
F: In Nicaragua selected schools participate in the program, then teachers are invited to general training workshops three or two days. After that process initiated the visits and support in schools.
C: I can share one important element in what I do personally is to make sure that teachers can experience tools in the same way I expect them to do with the children ...
M: In Paraguay at this moment we are training teachers in seventh grade and we are developing a total of 150 hours where we develop educational issues. Principally develop their curricula in various activities.
C: We can not expect teachers to teach in a "Constructionist", which taught for instructions ...
J: The workshop of the last two days had a lot of participation active teachers, and they built their own learning projects
S: J. took that approach.
J: [The teachers] said in their evaluation that what they liked most was the process
J: To share and create something with the other
I: It was very fruitful because the projects were assembled collaboratively
J: It is good to see that people value this opportunity, whether they are aware of their base "constructionist" or not
C: Another important element ... we do not want to sell the idea that after a workshop (2, 3 or up to 5 days) we will teach ALL ... the best way to learn is by doing and using XO Activities ...
M: The constructionist approach to ours is the challenge is that teachers so they understand
C: M, do you mean by that develop curricula of the various activities?
I: There is no construction without collaboration
I: Going from theory to practice and vice versa
M: to touch directly the issues that develop in the classroom
F: In our workshops we work in groups or tables work, we try to have a facilitator at each table. to Teachers are provided guidelines we have developed learning here at the Foundation.
C: According ... construction in collaboration .. I like that!
M: for those who can not be present, there information on a web site or examples of projects?
C: Thanks Mary ... perfect!
C: F. ... and there is a space for teachers develop their own guidelines?
I: They are rich in sharing desks, and guides such as built?
S: It is simple to really understand the idea let children explore, that each child has their skills and why the proposal should be diversified classroom, for example. The Teachers are great instructions. Yesterday there were many corrections at this point.
I: it is interesting that teachers construct their own guides ...
F: Right. At some point the workshop alongside teachers of each level and each plan their own activities
I: Interesting ...
S: In Colombia we have four objectives with the Qualifications [of deployments]: 1. Create local capacity to respond to administrative, technical and related educational implementation; 2. Explore routes that allow the introduction XO's success as a teaching resource; 3. Promote culture constructionist as an innovative learning models; 4. ...

[this thread continues for an hour]

Granted, there were some legitimate and useful criticism of OLPC in the comments to Warschauer's article, but the article itself was unhelpful doublespeak.

2. Carolyn Meeks and I submitted the final report for the Gardner Pilot Academy Sugar-on-a-Stick pilot.

In the community

3. It is not too late to participate in the Sugar World Cup 2010 beginning 11 June.

4. Logs of the Spanish-language weekly IRC meetings of teachers working with Sugar are archived here.

Tech talk

5. 0.88.1 landed... thanks Simon, Tomeu, and all those who reported bugs and submitted patches: Aleksey, Korakurider, Aleksey Lim, Bernie Innocenti, Benjamin Berg, et al.

6. Chris Ball reports that "I got Sugar running on the ARM SoC we'll be using for XO-1.75 and XO-3, and it didn't require any porting at all." There has been some discussions about enhancements to Sugar to better accommodate touch and multi-touch. Join the discussion.

7. There has also been a discussion of potential features for 0.90. See the devel list archives.

Sugar Labs

Gary Martin has generated a SOM from the past week of discussion on the IAEP mailing list.

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