The second Sugar-OLPC project in Goa went live today – Feb 5th, 2013 – at Nirmala Kindergarten. The first one at Merces has been running for close to 3 years now. For Nirmala KG, the planning had started a few months ago in August of 2012 (see previous post ‘Second Sugar-OLPC Project in Goa‘). We had visited the school to explore the possibility of doing an OLPC project there. Nirmala Institute of Education (NIE) is our partner for the Sugar-OLPC work that we do here in Goa, as well as the parent institute in whose premises the school is located.
After the initial discussions, we had conducted a Sugar Training Workshop at NIE in November 2012 for the teachers of Nirmala-KG (see post ‘Sugar Training for Nirmala-KG Teachers‘), and decided to start the OLPC project in early 2013. In our later discussions with the school, we also decided that to begin with, we would only start with the older kids (senior KG – ages 4 and a half to 5 and a half), and see how it goes before going ahead with the smaller age groups and the children with special needs.
The school was busy with the admissions for the new year and other matters, so we had finalised on Feb 5th as the ‘Go-Live’ date. Before that, I had the task of upgrading Sugar on all the 33 XOs in the school and setting up the School Server. After Sameer Verma’s India visit in Jan this year, I had learnt everything I needed to know from him about School Server installation, and this helped a lot (see the post ‘XS Learning with Sameer Verma‘). I upgraded the XOs to the latest build of Sugar available at that time ( 12.1.0 for XO-1 – Build 21) and installed School Server Ver. 0.7 – this still resides as a VM on my laptop, till the school buys their own. It took 4 or 5 trips to the school to set all this up, but it was necessary to get all this stuff right this time, so the project could be managed and administered better. The only problem that remains is that of the RTC batteries – in most of the XOs, this has completely died, and though the XOs work fine, they all start with the ‘Invalid System Date message and entries in the journal get written with the wrong date and time. We have to find replacement batteries for these XOs, but till then, we’ll just have to live with the problem. It doesn’t hamper using the activities though, which is good.
Sr. Olga, principal of Nirmala KG, was extremely supportive and went out of her way to make sure that I got everything I needed. More importantly, she made sure that every task that was expected of the school was completed, that too well in time. No last minute rush to fix things. By the 4th of February, a day before ‘Go Live’, we had all XOs with the latest Sugar on them, with their Favourites view on the Home screen suitably customised, and each XO with a sticker of the child’s name stuck on it. Neat.
On the 5th Feb, the day the project was to start, the school was without electricity for much of the morning. The teachers were worried, but it didn’t really matter since Sr. Olga had made sure that the laptops were fully charged. It only meant that I wouldn’t be able to start the School Server and the router, which was fine.
And so the project took off to a fine start on 5th Feb 2013, with the kids clicking away photos on their XOs! More details about the classroom sessions in the next post.