E-Pustakalaya Demo - Bhairahawa 12.12.2013

Authors meet and writer’s workshop

In the course of expanding the collection of Nepali literary works in the education-centered digital library, E-Pustakalaya, OLE Nepal has approached and met with many authors and publishers. Most authors and creators have given consent to OLE Nepal to add their works in E-Pustakalaya because they are convinced that the E-Pustakalaya is a great medium to introduce their creations to a wider population that would otherwise have never been able to access them. Continuing with the effort to reach out to more authors in the country, OLE Nepal recently organized a three-day event in Bhairahawa and Lumbini area located about 300 km west of Kathmandu. The event was divided into two parts. The first one, the author’s meet, introduced E-Pustakalaya to local authors from the area, while the second part was a writer’s workshop to create children’s books.

A total of fifty participants attended the orientation held at Sahid Smriti Library in Bhairahawa. The group of local writers, literary figures, journalists, teachers and students were informed about the mission, structure, and process of the E-Pustakalaya. They all showed keen interest in learning how schools and libraries can install E-Pustakalaya in local computers. They were also very interested by the fact that such a plethora of books and educative materials could be accessed without internet connection. By the end of the orientation, a number of authors were already ready to share their books on the E-Pustakalaya.

Authors Meet - 12.12.2003

The writers workshop was organized in conjunction with Bal Bangmaya Research Center. In this workshop, a total of twenty-one writers of various genre worked on creating children’s book on Buddha and Lumbini. In order to achieve this output authors were taught the techniques on writing children's stories. Binaya Kasaju, a well-known children's story writer and an advisor to OLE Nepal’s E-Pustakalaya program, facilitated the workshop with the goal of producing a compilation of children's stories on Buddha. Dr Gitu Giri, a professor at the Lumbini Buddhist University, shared few evidences of Buddha’s life and his birthplace Lumbini, and emphasized the need to educate the new generations about these facts.

The workshop consisted of sessions on techniques of children's story writing, practicing writing, site visit to the birthplace of Buddha, and writing and sharing stories. The writers also spent time talking with local people to collect information necessary for the stories. The visit also helped the writers to discuss their insecurity over deciding the topic and writing of the story.

Few selected stories will be published in the January edition of the children magazine 'Balbagaicha'. Readers can expect a full collection of the stories on E-Pustakalaya by mid March, 2014.

Participants of the Workshop

S.N. Name Address
1 Baniya Kanchha Poola, Myagdi
2 Banmali Nirakar Tansen, Palpa
3 Bijaya Raj Acharya Pyuthan
4 Bishnu Gajurel Bhairahawa Campus, Rupandehi
5 Vinaya Kasajoo Sanepa, Lalitpur
6 Boond Rana Nepal Academy
7 Dr. Gitu Giri Lumbini Buddhist University
8 Dr. Kapil Lamichhane Bhairahawa Campus, Rupandehi
9 Durga Paudel Shankar Nagar-9, Rupandehi
10 Gambir Gurung Butwal, Rupandehi
11 Ganga Abhilashi Siddhartha Nagar-6, Rupandehi
12 Krishna Prasad Basyal Siddhartha Nagar-9, Rupandehi
13 Lata Pradhan Siddhartha Nagar-7, Rupandehi
14 Madan Lal Paudyal Siddhartha Nagar-6, Rupandehi
15 Mohan Karki Kathmandu
16 Rishi Bhusal Manigram, Rupandehi
17 Rudra Gyawali Gwadi, Gulmi
18 Shova Pande Bhalvari, Rupandehi
19 Sundar Basi Butwal, Rupandehi
20 Ganesh Ghimire OLE Nepal
21 Sarina Piya OLE Nepal

Planning Workshop - Balthali 23.11.2013

E-Pustakalaya Planning workshop - Balthali

As a part of staff development and planning exercise, a workshop retreat was organized in Balthali. The topics of the workshop included current development status, areas needing improvement in regards to dissemination and increased usage of the E-pustakalaya. A total of 26 members brainstormed on how to contribute to increasing resources in the E-Pustakalaya, using it and promoting its usage. The group decided that each member needs to read books that are suitable for different age groups and recommend them to friends, family and co-workers. The urgency to collect more audio books and magazines for children were also highlighted.

The workshop also shared a volunteers’ work on building resource repository and “Internet in a box” which might be useful for OLE Nepal in the course of expanding the E-Pustakalaya repository.

E-Pustakalaya demo In Bara - 12.7.2013

Introducing E-Pustakalaya in Bara District

E-Pustakalaya was introduced to 100 participants at an IT conference organized by IT-Aim Nepal in Nijgarh, Bara district on 7 December. The conference was chaired by Mohan Raut of IT-Aim, and Ram Babu Subedi, Under-secretary at the Curriculum Development Center (CDC) was the chief guest. The participants included school principals and representatives, officials from the CDC, Regional Education Directorate and District Education Office. The participants were interested to know how they could get the E-Pustakalaya installed in their schools. They have been informed on the cost of installation and equipment details.

Books collected from Kartikaya Ghimire, children’s story writer

Diversifying E-Pustakalaya Repository

This fiscal year OLE Nepal is working to increase books and materials in the E-Pustakalaya which are written by authors from various parts of Nepal covering stories that reflect the diverse cultures, personalities and places in the country. As a part of this work, E-Pustakalaya is being introduced to writers from all over Nepal through our outreach program and through other contacts. Kartikaya Ghimire, the famous children's story writer has provided all his children story books to E-pustakalaya which are currently being uploaded.

There are a total of 5167 books with 329 audio books in the E-Pustakalaya . Since audiobooks are more popular in schools, more are being added in the E-pustakalaya.

More and more schools have expressed interest to install the offline server of E-pustakalaya and are finding local funds from DDCs and VDCs to purchase the equipment. Similarly, online feedbacks indicate that the E-pustakalaya has been beneficial to Nepali readers from all over the world.

Total number of views and downloads for November and December:

e_pustakalaya_status

Feedback:

This is the best step for students as well as teachers and good readers but i didn’t find much teaching and reference material for computer science. So please in next update i hope i will get such kind of material.
Purna Rana, Syangja, Nepal

नेपाली बृहत् शब्दकोशको ईबुकको लागि धन्यबाद

यस्तो दुर्लभ र अति उपयागी पुस्तक ई-बुकको रुपमा पाउँदा ज्यादै खुशी लाग्यो । यस कार्यमा लाग्नुहुने सबैलाई हृदय देखी धन्यवाद। यसको जानकारी नभएकोले म पछि परेँ। सबैलाई जानकारी गराउने माध्यम भए धेरैले उपलब्धी लिन सक्ने थिए। डाउनलोड गर्दा फाइल करप्टेड भन्ने मेसेज धेरै आयो। यसको समाधानको लागी टेक्निकर पार्ट सुधार्न सके अति राम्रो हुने थियो। मेरो ई-लाइब्रेरी बनाउने सपनामा यो महत्वपूर्ण पुस्तक पाउँदा ज्यादै खुशी छु। पुनस् एक पटक सम्पूर्ण दललाई धन्यवाद। उत्तरोत्तर प्रगतिको कामना गर्दछु।
श्रीकृष्ण श्रेष्ठ, नेपाल

Thank you for adding Electronic Nepali dictionary

I am very happy to have this rare and useful book as E-book. I heartily thank everyone who is working for this. I think I missed out a lot, not having known about it earlier and I think a lot of people can benefit out of this repository. There were a few times I got a message that the file that I was downloading was corrupt so please check if there are any corrupt files. Finding this important book in making of my E-library has made me so happy. Once again I want to thank all the members. I wish for your ultimate success.
Srikrishna Shrestha, Nepal

OLE Partners for 2013

Highlights of 2013

  • Partnership with UN WFP to launch laptop program in Bajhang

  • Partnership agreement with UN WFP and GIZ to install solar power systems in program schools in Bajhang

  • Partnership with Embassy of Finland for developing E-Paath learning activities for grades seven and eight covering science, math and English subjects; promoting mother tongue education through digital activities; and expanding E-Pustakalaya through offline servers in eight schools in Kavre

  • Support from UK-based Maitri Foundation towards continued development of E-Pustakalaya, expansion of offline servers in Gorkha district, and youth volunteer program in Bajhang

  • Completion of learning activities on environmental awareness, hunger; completion of E-Paath for seventh grade math

  • Launch of the E-Pustakalaya in Chitwan by the Chief Secretary Mr. Leela Mani Paudyal

  • Revamping of the E-Pustakalaya user interface with additional features

  • Survey findings indicate the positive impact of laptops on student attitude towards learning, as well as improvement in science learning in Dadeldhura and Doti

  • Bajhang project ready to kick off with selection of program schools, preparation of volunteers and laptops, and solar installation

  • Continued monitoring and support in Tanahu, Dang and Lalitpur program schools

  • Conducted “ICT in Education” workshop with the MoE and DoE for review and planning

  • First authors meet outside of Kathmandu held in Bhairahawa

  • Writers’ workshop in Lumbini to create children’s stories

  • Baglung program school visit by the Finnish Ambassador

Picture for hightlights

Other Highlights

Content Development Update

Development of digital learning materials for Grades 7 and 8 science is underway with the new technical team. Our first attempt in preparing content for secondary level has been an interesting one as it requires us to now think of a different audience while explaining concepts. The platform is going to be different and so is the animation.

OLPC Base camp participants

OLPC BaseCamp 2013

Rabi Karmacharya from OLE Nepal participated on the OLPC BaseCamp 2013 held in Malacca, Malaysia on November 16-18. The event organized by the OLPC Asia community brought together implementers and contributors involved in OLPC deployments and other educational initiatives from all over the world to participate in discussions on how best to collaborate to reach to more disadvantaged children in the years to come. Hands-on technical sessions were interspersed between discussions on various educational platforms and approaches, sharing of experiences of various deployments, and reflections on successes and failures of the projects. The gathering consisted of people who cared about education and the use of technologies to enable learning for children in disadvantaged communities. There was active dialogue from a mix of technical and non-technical people from Malaysia, Hong Kong, Cambodia, Nepal, Pakistan, Indonesia, China, Sri Lanka, Austria and the US.

OLE Nepal was able to participate in the event thanks largely to Air Asia, who sponsored the round trip flight between Kathmandu and Kuala Lumpur.

Laptops and chargers being repaired in Doti and Dadeldhura schools

Supporting Schools in Dadeldhura and Doti

OLE Nepal’s team visited six program schools in Dadeldhura and Doti districts with the aim to provide ongoing technical assistance and to collect status information about the program. The schools -- Mahadev, Durga, and Saraswati in Doti, and Janata, Selaling and Janajyoti in Dadeldhura -- are among the eight laptop program schools that were launched and supported in partnership with UN World Food Program (WFP).

During the visit, the laptops and chargers were repaired, and the ones that could not be fixed were brought back to the office for further action. Teachers were given refresher on basic laptop and software maintenance techniques. Network equipments and the school network were checked to make sure they were in order. Some of the schools who had problems with the charger had made a schedule on the usage of the charger which the students were following to get the laptops charged.

Students of Doti in their ICT integrated classroom

Students in all the schools were found to be using laptops to read books and learn concepts. Along with integrating technology in the classrooms, some of the schools were also using the digital library on a regular basis. The visiting team checked the record books provided to all the schools to learn what the teachers were teaching in the laptop classes, and to find out issues they had been facing during the integration of laptops in their lessons. The team held interactions with teachers and students in each school to learn the status of the program, and to discuss possible solutions, wherever applicable.

OLE Nepal plans to provide extra chargers where needed, and conduct a workshop for teachers for the smooth running of the program.

Another school in Doti gets laptops - Dec 11 - 17

Training teacher in Doti

OLE Nepal’s partnership with Asal Chhimeki Nepal (ACN), a local NGO under Good Neighbors International (GNI) of South Korea, was extended this year with the introduction of the laptop program in Hanuman Primary School. This recent launch follows the successful deployment of the program in three other schools in Ladagada and Pokhari VDC of Doti district last year.

A seven-day training on technology-integrated education was conducted for eight primary-level teachers from Hanuman Primary and from Sunadevi Higher Secondary School who had missed the training the previous year.

Children exploring educational content
The deployment of 35 laptops and installation of school network was followed by orientation to the teachers on the basics of networking. Solar power was used to power the laptops and other network equipment in this school.

The launch was accompanied by an interaction between representatives of School Management Committee (SMC), Parent-Teacher Association (PTA), headteacher from the school and OLE Nepal where they discussed their roles and responsibilities about the program and successful use of laptops in the schools. The participants were given a presentation on the different aspects of the program, and its various challenges and opportunities were elaborately discussed.

Screen shot of E-Paati that shows different activities

Technology Front

As the deployment dates for Bajhang are nearing, the technical team is working on finalizing the very first version of OS Image for XO-4. There has been a fundamental change in the architecture of hardware platform of XO from x86 to ARM architecture and this shift required a lot of changes to be done to port the existing applications to the new one.

Making Adobe Flash to work on newer version of firefox browser was major part of the task as most of the E-Paath activities are built in flash. After much effort, E-Paath now runs very well on XO-4 and its new touchscreen facility has improved the ease of doing E-Paath activities on the laptops. XO-4 now uses Firefox as underlying browser to access its digital library, E-Pustakalaya. The default browser (WebKit) that comes with sugar was not able to play audio books and Khan Academy videos. With Firefox, the E-Pustakalaya activity is now able to play all the audiovisual materials like Khan videos, audio books and flash based interactive materials. With better CPU and increased memory, videos play smoothly on XO-4.

Screen shot of XO-4 OS Image build system
Since XO-4 is still very new and there are very few documentations available on the internet, the team had to come up with solutions for very basic customization including customization for keyboard layout and “tap to click” feature of touchpad. Local and international OLPC developers like Daniel Drake, Jerry Vonau, Walter Bender, Tony Anderson, Avash Mulmi and Martin Dluhos have been a big help on addressing most of the issues. The romanized keyboard layout is the default Nepali input layout for XO-4. Since the layout is phonetically based it is more suitable for kids. “Tap of click” facility which was not working out of the box is now functional.

The current OS Image for XO-4 is based on os-build 13.2.0 and uses sugar version 0.98 which have been translated by the team. Currently the quality of the development is being tested.

Khan Academy activities available off-line in school

Making Khan Academy available to schools

OLE Nepal recently released a customized OS for E-Pustakalaya offline servers called NEXS version 6.31, which is built by integrating the minimal install packages from centOS 6.4 and Schoolserver XS-0.7 and adding necessary packages of mysql, php and schooltool to it. The released version supports all the contents from previous releases based on Schoolserver XS-0.6. Also, a new content of Khan Academy, through an integrated software called ‘KA Lite’, has been added. KA Lite version 0.9.2 is currently in use. It contains about 4,279 educational videos under different categories of Maths, Science, Economics and Humanities. Furthermore, exercises for Mathematics and videos for SAT, GMAT and other standard tests are also available. Sri Hanuman Primary School in Timurdaha, Doti is the first school to have this content.

Currently, the school wikipedia version 2008/9 developed by SOS Children’s Village does not let users to search the pages. We have found that the wikipedia included in “Internet in a Box” has search facility, and we are looking to incorporate this wikipedia in the E-Pustakalaya package. We are also looking at adding Openstreetmap of “Internet in a Box” to the schoolserver.

Peeking Under the Hood of Sugar Journals by Martin Dluhos

The Journal keeps a log of all activities the user opens in Sugar
It has been almost a month since I arrived in Kathmandu to volunteer for OLE Nepal. Coming from Boston, I had expected many challenges. To my pleasant surprise, however, I have found a very well-functioning work environment. Over the years, OLE has developed effective ways to deal with power outages and other infrastructure issues virtually unknown in first-world countries, so I could start working on my project from day one.

So what have I been up to so far? Soon after I became involved with the OLPC movement, I learned that most laptop deployments have no way of keeping track how children are actually using the XOs once they hand them over and what impact the program has on their learning. When it comes to gathering feedback from the field, OLE Nepal is further along on this front than most deployments in other countries. Four to six weeks after the initial teacher training, OLE staff has a follow-up meeting with teachers to discuss challenges they are facing and to help to address them. Another meeting with teachers happens six months after the program launch, when teachers have a second opportunity to share their experience with OLE.

The nature of the reports about the laptops' use from deployments has thus far been only qualitative. The aim of my project is to supplement existing individual qualitative feedback from teachers with statistical data gathered about the laptops which would provide a more rigorous objective perspective about what is really happening. Some of the questions I am seeking to answer are: How much time are children spending with the laptops per day? Is the usage pattern the same in different schools in different regions or does it vary? Are children using the laptops creatively- to take pictures, write stories, record songs, or even to write programs?

Thus far, I have created a script, which extracts data from the laptop backups', gathered on schools' servers, and outputs them into an appropriate format for visualization and analysis with statistical software. All this data that I have been working with is anonymous and thus cannot be linked with to an individual child.

By visualizing the data OLE collects in the field, I am following two objectives. First, I would like to find out whether Nepali schools and teachers are really taking advantage of the laptops' potential and to suggest ways how to improve the deployment program in order to help them do so. Secondly, I am intending to provide the developers of Sugar, who make assumptions about what features and design patterns bring the most value to teachers and children without having access to any feedback, with a way to verify whether these assumptions match the reality. I am currently exploring which are the best statistical tools which can visualize the data and ultimately provide answers to my questions. Stay tuned for more updates!

News Faces

New Faces -2013

Bibek Maharjan - Technical Intern

Bibek recently completed his +2 level from AVM College and is taking a gap year to prepare for engineering college as well as get some work experience. He has been with OLE Nepal for two months and has already started doing assignments independently. Watching everyone work as a team encourages him to work with more enthusiasm.

Martin Dhulos - Technical Volunteer

Martin Dluhos, a computer science graduate from Grinnell College has joined OLE Nepal as a volunteer for six months. During this period he will work on developing a module that will track the usage of XOs in schools, setting up build environment in ARM machine for faster building of XO-4 OS images and configuring Raspberry Pi or Android devices to run E-Pustakalaya, the digital library.

Martin believes that by working with situations of schools in Nepal he will be able to come up with something that will benefit the OLPC users around the world. He has several years of working experience with GNU/Linux systems, GNU Bash, Python, and Ruby.

Tony Anderson - Technical Volunteer

Tony Anderson, a well-known face in the OLE Nepal community, is a lifelong learner and a tireless promoter of technology-based solutions to improve learning among children. Ever since his first volunteering stint at OLE Nepal in 2009, he has travelled around the globe helping deployments in Rwanda, Lesotho, Pakistan, Portugal. A hacker by heart, he is relentless in his pursuit to find solutions that work in schools wherever he goes. Tony paid a visit to Nepal after attending the OLPC BaseCamp in Malaysia, and spent three weeks (November 20 till December 12) working with OLE Nepal’s technical team on integrating materials from “Internet-in-a-Box” into OLE Nepal’s digital library, the E-Pustakalaya. It included materials like adding Open Street Map, and searchable version of Schools Wikipedia.