OLPC Afghanistan’s Pedal Powered Progress

OLPC Afghanistan; now running for about the last year has a few technical updates we’d like to share.

Sustainable Working Human Power as you use the XO!

Just this morning we tested the first prototype – the PAIWASTOON team that perform the technical implementation designed a new pedal powered machine that can power the XO as you pedal and use it at the same time. Even small kids (3/4th grade) can power it.

XO laptop pedal power generator

By taking the Freeplay hand crank and connecting it to the feet which can more easily provide power it should make it much easier to deploy the laptop to countryside / rural areas. As the laptop charges as you use it no additional battery is needed. Photos / full specs will be published on the OLPC Afghanistan website. We are hoping to make this sustainably for XO / other power purposes in Afghanistan employing more Afghan staff. This should work fine with XO 1.5 as well!

Wireless Mesh Backbone System using Freifunk

To make deployment simpler we have adopted the OpenWRT Freifunk router firmware. Each classroom contains two routers; one to provide connections to the laptops the other to mesh with the other classrooms and make a backbone. Instead of having to do cabling; just one box is put on the wall. It should also make it easier to extend the network outside the gates of the school.

XO digital library index

New Simple Digital Library Index

As content is the key we need a way to simply deliver as much content as possible in environments without connectivity. Simple Digital Library Index automatically builds indexes from just dumping files into a folder (extracts the subject, title, description, thumbnail etc) from various formats and generates plain old HTML pages and a Javascript search system. No MySQL, PHP etc. needed.

The file contents can be simply copied and dumped into a web accessible directory. A master index is generated as an XML file. We see that being turned into a package management style activity where kids can ‘checkout’ books from the library

Monitoring and Evaluation survey under review for release

As we previously announced we were undertaking significant research to determine the educational / other impact of OLPC in the coming 1-2 weeks we should finish the evaluation; the impact

Right now 2,500 laptops are distributed to grades 4,5 and 6 in Kabul, Herat and Jalalabad. Now that we have a baseline system to work to deliver content libraries in limited connectivity environments (e.g. 64kbps connections or delivery on a stick) we are building the library to include more educational website copies that run offline (created through our previously released webdump based on httrack) and more curriculum / extra-curricular content.