Tuesday, May 27, 2008

A large neighborhood walkabout


An OLPC Neighborhood
Originally uploaded by mahlness
I was eating lunch today at my desk, as I often do when I'm way far behind in my classroom. Regular laptop at the right, XO on the left. When I clicked on the XO neighborhood, I did not see anything like this picture, when the xochat.org jabber server was going full steam last December.

Today I saw our 4 XO's, as usual - but there was this chat icon showing as well. Unusual, lately. So I clicked on it, and soon I was in a chat conversation with a guy fron Zagreb, Croatia. Nice guy, has a couple of kids, etc.

It's amazing to me that this can happen at all. And it happens so easily. This fellow had connected to the jabber server near Seattle. All four of our classroom XO's connect there.

I'm especially grateful to have these XO's right now in a district where any kind of chat, Skype, IM and so on is forbidden. This is definitely under the radar. So it's nice to get out once in a while. (grin)

This is one of those times at the end of the school year when I wish I had more time with my kids. There is so much more to teach and share, and I can't possibly get it all in. Here is a smattering of things I want to get to in the next three weeks (ha):
- connecting my class with kids/adults elsewhere via these XO's in chat, video, or Classroom Presenter.
- getting a collection of books for kids ready to roll on our XO's, so silent reading choices will include using our 4 XO's as e-book readers (I'm close on this!)
- doing at least ONE VoiceThread with my class!

(while writing this in the evening at home, the xo on my left showed a chat invitation, and I joined of course - this time a couple of people, one from Seattle)

lost my train of thought here, but never mind...

I find this sort of connection extremely exciting. We all know the world is so huge, and we are all just grains of sand on one of many beaches. I think this every time I fly across the US and look down at the vast expanse ("there a million stories in the Naked City") out the window - which goes on for hour after hour...

So when you get a chance to reach out and make contact with one of those grains of sand, it is extraordinary. If you're from different beaches, well how cool! We are meeting with a few variables in common of course, but still... the randomness is stunning, the opportunity is unprecedented, and the potential for GOOD is so enormous.

To Davor and Julien: it was nice to meet you today. Let's connect again soon.

3 comments:

janice said...

Mark,

I was going to ask you if there was a way for my XO to connect with yours, but realized that I can't even get onto the network here because we use Novell and everything is password protected.

Thanks for the cool post!

Janice

Mark Ahlness said...

Janice, if you have a wireless access point in your school, there will be an encripted password required. Once you enter that, you are on the Internet, not the wan/lan - at least I think.

We're on a Windows server network, and my XO's just enter the WAP password, and we're good to go. We don't even have to do it anymore, as the XO's store and send out the password automatically every day when we start them up.

I do not think the district knows what to do with them. I'm sure they show up on the network in some way, but they are not specially configured for it, i.e, they can't share/print, etc...

You would need to upgrade to build 656 if you want to get on a password protected access point. Good luck! - Mark

Wesley Daunis said...

Mark,

As a relatively new teacher (5 Years) I just started to get into the technology integration. My students and I have a class on blogmeister and I am waiting for grant approval to acquire some XO's for my class. I think everything your doing is inspiring and insightful. I hope to talk more with you in the future for some advice on using the XO for classroom related projects.