Came to class with three more reflashed XO’s, hopefully would clear up some of problems. Brought too Squeak Installer and eToys image on my USB drive. Also before class I spent a lot of time trying to think how to motivate the kids, to get them looking forward, as we had been pretty much stuck on lesson two for the past few classes and I wanted them to get an idea that there was more to etoys than just having the objects interact on their own. Thought it might be a good idea to at least introduce them to the joystick, to this idea that they would eventually be able to create games that had some resemblance to what they were playing at home.

When I got to class, I started setting up the PCs with eToys while the kids played outside. Thankfully Mary was there along with Laura today. She had tried to call me last week to let me know she couldn’t be there, but unfortunately couldn’t get a hold of me.

As soon as we started rounding the kids up I saw that there was an immediate problem. Most of the kids weren’t there. There had been some confusion about the after school bus driver and some of the kids, thinking they wouldn’t have a ride home, just took off.

In the end there were only nine of the nineteen signed up present. (Another problem is that a number of the kids are in remedial after school (as I understand it) on Tues for the first part of the pilot, they are supposed to come late, but they usually end up skipping our class anyway.)

I started with my Swiss Angelfish and then asked the kids what they’d like it to chase after. They requested a Starfish. I then set up a Joystick and showed them how you could chase after the Starfish with the Swiss Angelfish, using the Joystick. All though all the kids were paying close attention, I was really hoping that I would see a couple light bulbs go off – as in Wow, with the joystick I could make a game where something did this!

Not the case. By their expressions I could see they were interested, but no light bulbs. Could also see that the explanation of how it worked was too long for them to follow. Oh well.

After that we went to our lesson. To clarify things, Mary wrote down a very list of what we were to accomplish that day and hung it up, which was quite helpful. (Pretty much same as we’d been doing before, did not even attempt anything with the joystick.) Also helpful was with only nine kids (and probably the nine most motivated kids) and three teachers we able to get a much better handle on helping the kids get through the stuff.

Even still we continued to have XO problems, though they were reduced from the week before. And amazingly too, even with 3 to 1 ratio there were still kids waiting to have their questions answered. Kids interacting together while they were working seemed to be happening, but kids solving each other’s problems, not so much.

All and all we did make some great progress, but also didn’t get every single kid all the way through lesson two, which I would of liked.

After class I talked to Mary about not seeing light bubs go off in the kids’ heads with the mention of the joystick function. She said that this was just the way it was. Education was not perceived as of great importance.

All very troubling for me, as in theory I’m supposed to get these kids to wow everyone from their families, to the people of St. John, to the Governor of the Virgin Islands with their creativity and programming skills. Would like to think it would just happen, as that’s what’s supposed to happen for kids this age, but man oh man. Am curious to have a target class of VI public school fourth graders – where you just give them about an hour’s worth of instruction then leave them on their own to figure it out for ten weeks. Would they get farther along in etoys than us? Possibly, but I’d be pretty amazed.

*So how do you get your XO to be an iPod? Well in some developing countries, what they do is use the record function and hold the XOs mic to the radio, then access the resulting from the Journal. You’d think that having access to MP3’s here in the first world, it be an easy matter playing them in the Media Browser. Well no. Trying to playback media on the XO is a mess. Record a video using the Record program then trying to replay by accessing the file from the Journal seems not too work. First it opens the media browser instead of record, then it moves you through a bunch of confusing menu options, then finally it doesn’t work at all, whatever option you try. It also blanks out the Browse program altogether, requiring a restart.

With the MP3’s, slightly different story. By default they open in the mpeg player in eToys. (not the media browser) You have to answer a non intuitive menu option. You can only open one at time. You can’t easily open the MP3 files from within eToys. (If at all, navigating to Journal in the Open dialogue brought up nothing for me.) It’s also very easy to loose the link and have to close and reopen eToys again.

Now there may not be wisdom in turning the XO into an iPod, but when these kids come to me with questions, I can’t stand not knowing the answers.

It for now.

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