The Last Hurrah

September 8, 2007

Well it’s been encouraging to meet people from something like 40 different countries, who are all interested in the convergence of language learning and technology. If you’d like more info on the conference, see http://www.eurocall2007.com

Today was the last day, and after a series of sessions, we did take a sightseeing trip, and it did my heart glad to see the coast of ireland again, and to see a castle up close and wander about in it.

This particular castle was Dunluce castle, on the northwest coast of ireland.

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There happened to be a few knights left from the days of the original castle, who were demonstrating:

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The walk down towards the castle as it stands today:

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And this is how the castle would have looked. (Compare the two)

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This was pretty impressive, the window frames in stone; at first I thought it was original stonework that had survived; while it turns out that these particular window frames were reconstructed to demonstrate what it would have been like, it is still impressive.

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And this is a closer look at the model, so see how it would have repeated throughout the frame of the “manor house”.

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The next place we went after Dunluce Castle was the Giant’s causeway, an interesting formation of rock, what something like crystal stones, hexagonal shaped, pushing up. It’s a bit of a walk down the hill; interestingly, it turns out that UNESCO, an entity affiliated with the United Nations, had identified this area as one needing protection, presumably from developers, so it is a completely untouched stretch of coastline with absolutely no development whatsoever.

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Here is the someday to be Dr. Kelsey sitting atop some orthogonal or hexagonal or somethingonal rock formations.

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And here are the rock formations a bit closer.

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And we leave you with a view of pre-Dr. Kelsey, (who stayed up too late the night before making the final file sets for the translations of the laptop how-to notes on the wiki page, in spanish, french, portuguese, hindi, thai, arabic and amharic — http://wiki.laptop.org/go/542_Demo_Notes) — and the odd rock formations.

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September 7, 2007

The sessions have been flying by — we got a break last night though, taking a small trip to have dinner at a hotel on the coast.

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I wasn’t in a hurry to go inside for dinner, what with the view and colors in the setting sky.

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I learned a bit more about white wine from some French colleagues, that it goes well with fish and lighter foods . . .

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But of course the highlight of the evening was the coast itself.

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And I supposed I should leave you with an unobstructed view:

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Eurocall

September 5, 2007

I am here at University of Ulster – Coleraine campus, surviving off of the last embers of caffiene, with chicago -6 hours and no sleep the prior night.

EuroCALL is the European Computer Assisted Language Learning association, and it’s been nice to meet european colleagues who are interested in the convergence of technology and language learning. Friday I’ll make some sort of presentation about the laptop, and offer a friendly invitation for people to get involved.

It was interesting coming into Northern Ireland by way of Belfast International airport. One of the first things I noticed while waiting for a taxi is how inexpensive it is to fly to spain (ex: below it’s 15 pounds, and even with the exchange rate, that’s only about $30 USD!)
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And then I had the pleasure of meeting a couple of real live ship captains, Ian and David, who had just come in from England and were bound to go on a sailing training adventure, with Tall Ships. (www.tallships.org). It made me want to go off and join the Navy!

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It was about an hour train ride from Belfast into Ulster; I’m glad I rode the train instead of taking the bus; it was a nice way to see the rolling green countryside

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And I don’t have any particularly exciting pictures of the Coleraine campus, except it has an interesting architectural style.

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And I suppose my bias towards gardening and green growing things comes through, as this is the last picture of the day, a vine making itself known through the concrete window.

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And lest I be completely irresponsible and not mentioning anything useful about language learning, here is a link to the conference itself: http://www.eurocall2007.com

Introduction

August 24, 2007

This is a little blog to give a friendly, personal update on how things are going with me and OLPC.

OLPC is One Laptop Per Child, an interesting organization that is seeking to provide educational opportunities to children in the developing world.

My name is Todd Kelsey, and I’m the language learning coordinator for OLPC; it’s a volunteer role, and it has been an educational experience for sure.

Most of the work I’ve put into it has consisted of a flurry of emails and phone calls, talking to people, getting the word out, seeking to establish partnerships, explaining the project, and inviting people to get involved.

It’s all about getting involved.

There’s different viewpoints on the approach that OLPC is taking; in particular, there are people who’d rather see resources put into basic infrastructure such as water, sanitation, and other critical foundations of society. I celebrate the notion of putting resources into these areas, and at the same time, I think that education is a foundation too, a cornerstone.

OLPC is not out to tell the world what to do; this much I’ve learned. The spirit is truly “open”. They’re not engaged in cultural imperialism — just the opposite — they’ve been going to make friends in countries, and give people the opportunity to get access to technology at a much lower cost than the current computer industry makes it available for. They don’t say “do this” or “do that”, they seek to help provide tools that people in their own countries and cultures and languages can use to do what they see best.

Their philosophy is “constructivist”, which basically means they think kids should be allowed to explore as part of the learning process. So some people have an issue with this. I suppose I’m somewhat in the middle. I like exploration, I like having some structure.

As far as I’m concerned — the project is happening, has been happening, will happen. It’s changing the world already.

It’s not a panacea — it won’t solve all the world’s problems, but I think it will help to develop awareness of the developing world. And the laptops are not just for the developing world — they may end up in the developed world as well.

This is why I’ve lost sleep, made sacrifices in various parts of my life, squeezing this in outside of work, and finishing my PhD, and maintaining friendships and relationships. Again, I don’t think it is “the” answer, but I think is “one” answer.

So tonight I started this blog, and today’s report is that I finally added a page to the OLPC “wiki” — a wiki is a kind of web page where anyone can edit the page — so it’s good for open collaboration. You may have visited Wikipedia — the reason it has grown so much is because anyone can go and find information, add information, etc.

So I added the Friendly Language page, and I need to go to bed pretty soon, but here’s the link at least:

http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Friendly_Language


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