GE and Plan Ceibal, face many similar challenges.

Let´s take a look at these challenges and how GE is meeting them.

Sometimes we try to find solutions within our own business,  our own school,  our own country.

We lock ourselves inside a box.

We are too busy working,  to notice this is happening to us.

I thought this story could show us the way out of the box:

GE reinventing mobility

http://www.apple.com/ipad/business/profiles/ge/?sr=hotnews.rss

GE, has been a technology leader for more than one hundred years spanning three centuries.

Recently they were confronted with a challenge that has lots in common with Plan Ceibal and with other OLPC´s deployments,  particularly the one in Perú.

Let´s look at some points from the article in the link,  that led us to think of how many challenges our Plan Ceibal shares with those confronted by GE.

GE has:

 "... business units devoted to aviation, clean energy, financial services, media, and health care technology, to name a few. ..."

Our schools have to teach language, math, social sciences, physical sciences, computer science,  to name a few.

GE is introducing the IPad:

Some time ago they introduced the IPhone to all its associates.  

Today they are doing the same thing with the IPad.

"... The introduction of iPad created further opportunities for mobile productivity at GE. “iPad gives me access to email, contacts, PDFs, and PowerPoint presentations,” says Chief Information Officer Vic Bhagat. “I can even get GE-specific data and applications. It’s made things much easier, and a lot more mobile.” ..."

Our school system has reached a similar conviction about the advantages of introducing the XOs.

GE saw the need for

"... GE-specific data and applications ...".

Our schools saw the need and felt the same pride GE feels to have their own applications.

Uruguayan applications were created for the XO,  such as "Conozco Uruguay".

GE accepts and understands the fact that their IPads are not made or sold by GE:

"... The apps and data are on iPad, yet it’s very much about GE and the GE brand.” ..."

The XOs are not made in Uruguay but,  they are getting to be more uruguayan by the day,  as more of us learn how to use them and as some developers create new applications that are specific for our country.

GE considered the customization of the software so important that they created a group of software experts dedicated to doing that:

"... Business-Building Apps

To maximize its mobile capabilities, GE has established the GE Mobile Center of Excellence, an internal group that develops tools and strategies to make mobile devices more useful for its many business units. The group has already built dozens of apps for in-house use on iPhone and iPad, and has created its own web portal, the GE Mobile App Store, to make it simple for users to find and download apps. ..."

Here I believe is where we,  uruguayans,  should stop for a few minutes and read this point very carefully.

Writing applications is not an easy job for everyone.

Not even if the applications are intended for an XO or an IPad.

It is still difficult serious technical and scientific work.

Requires endless hours of interaction with technical and non-technical users.

Most users in a large company, large school system, country, family or any other human group,  look for technology only to the point it is a good tool to enhance their profession, business, hobbies and other activities.

There are specialists with years of study under their belts who help most of us with the applications they create.  In this 21st century I would agree with anyone extolling the importance of computer science knowledge for all of us and specifically for children and young adults but,  they also should learn everything else.

Some of these experts have years of experience creating software for difficult world wide open markets that reject everything but the very best.

They have a tremendous inclination for this kind of work.

The Apple Store business model for writing applications using a large number of outside programmers gives us a good measure of how many programmers might be needed to take care of the needs of the users.  I believe is thousands of programmers taking care of billions of users.

GE encourages most of their associates to use the IPad and the applications the specialized group creates within the company.

We imagine all those users are also encouraged to send their constant feedback to the programmers.

We imagine the programmers are very happy to receive it.

This constant feedback from users is what keeps the company they all work for,  up in front.

GE is not reinventing the wheel.

 “... The iPhone SDK (Software Developer Kit) allows us to seamlessly translate our creative ideas into the technology itself.  ...”

For the IPhone and probably now for the IPad,  they are starting where Apple left.  

I would say GE´s choice is a hybrid free/proprietary software.

The experts will certainly jump to correct me. It is OK. I am not an expert. That´s how we all learn.

Anyway,  I am sure someone could find a good way of delving on this point to benefit our schools.

One final point is the size.

GE as per the side bar to the right of the article has

".... 300,000 employees ..."

The number of employees seems to be in the same range of the number of children covered by the  initial deployments in Perú and Uruguay.

Carlos Rabassa

Volunteer

Plan Ceibal Support Network

Montevideo, Uruguay