At the entrance, there was a black dog taking a rest. Beside the dog was Rajiv, in first standard, working on his XO while it was charging, plugged to the outlet on the wall. At the foot of the wall, on a long mat, there were some XOs, being charged.
On the other side of the door, sitting on long, thin mats on the floor, there was a small group of girls and boys working on eToys. Some were trying out all the sample projects while others were making their own. Among them were Gayatri and Sarasvati, two girls, in third standard, who usually go around the classroom helping others.
So starts a long diary entry on the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) blog from Khairat school, one of the OLPC test sites in India, covering September 26 – October 13, 2007. The report includes copious details about how the pilot implementation is going at the school, including the teacher preparation, parent and community reaction, and lots of anecdotes that provide a well-rounded story.
Almost immediately, the laptops start to create a different kind of classroom, one where the teacher is still the leader, but students naturally collaborate while learning.
Although the teacher conducts the activities and is the leader and most knowledgeable one in the room, there reigns an atmosphere of independent work and independent grouping and consultations. The smaller ones are natural scouts and keep on exploring the laptops on their own, and when they find something interesting or need some help, they go to others to show them their findings or be helped out.
Parents and the community pitch in and help, and the teacher starts to teach differently too, using project-based teaching to unify the curriculum. The teacher says that his relationship with the children is closer, in the sense that they are exploring the XO laptop together.
The diary is well worth reading, not just as a chronicle of what is happening in one pilot site, but a verification that these machines could indeed change lives, and change the world.