Monday, March 02, 2009

OLPC language localisation

image from

One of the strengths of the OLPC is its philosophy of the child being "not just a passive consumer of knowledge, but an active participant in a learning community" and so the software was designed with "no inherent external dependency in being able to localize software into their language".

Language localisation of software
It seems that language localisation of the software would be a good learning project for children, it would give them a relevant and authentic project which I would expect to be highly motivating. I would expect it to be quite challenging for them and require a deep understanding of language and of the subject that the language was describing.

I found the Wiki of the Bering Strait School District inspiring with wiki dictionaries of the Inupiaq and Yupik languages which could be edited by teachers and students. Students could use a similar process to localise the OLPC software into their own language.

Localising Speak text to speech
An activity which the students apparently enjoy is Speak , a text to speech synthesiser. I tried to reproduce the process of editing the language dictionary described in the instructions on and to provide more detail so that students could follow the instructions and localise Speak for their language.

I found the process quite difficult, largely due to the file management provided by the Journal. You can find the steps I followed here.

What was difficult:
Zip files can only be unzipped by Etoys
Etoys will not unzip to the Journal
Etoys has limited file privileges, I ended up unzipping to a temporary file in an obscure location
Transferring to the Journal requires Linux directory navigation and understanding of Mime
I was unable to transfer from the Journal to the target directory because of root user issues
The Journal added a .txt extension that had to be removed
copy to and from journal are poorly documented and complex

An operating system for children is ideally low entry, high ceiling and wide walls. That is it should be easy for children to start with, have a well graded pathway to very complex functions and it should allow children to do anything, including things that we could never anticipate.

I am trying to get to like the Journal and Browse but its not easy.

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Blogger Tomeu said...

> I am trying to get to like the Journal and Browse but its not easy.

Yeah, right now we have two extremes covered: Task-oriented UI by the journal and activities and UNIX CLI from the terminal.

We clearly need to keep working on further reducing the gap between the two.

Monday, March 02, 2009 11:23:00 PM  

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