Homo docens: The teaching brain in the digital era

You can find the full essay on the olpc wiki.

Summary: The formidable expansion of the digital environment in our planet is one of the most urgent challenges of this century. This new environment supports most human activities around the world today. Among the multiple socialchanges empowered by the digital environment we must emphasize the transformation of the education of the new generations, the so-called “digital natives.” The access to this digital environment is now becoming a hope for millions of students and teachers, a way to overcome ignorance and poverty. It is a human right, and a value in itself.

At the same time the digital environment is becoming the common ground for the mind, brain and education sciences. We think that the future of
education will depend on the increasing integration of these sciences. And education is the hope of humanity. The teacher is facing new pedagogical challenges in a globalized world. We should however acknowledge the fact that while we have significant information about the learning brain we lack a similar knowledge of the teaching brain. Our expectation is to bridge this neuro-cognitive gap in the next years.

Update from OLPC Jamaica in August Town

Reposting a recent update by Jamaica’s Craig Perue

I have very good news. Just in time for the one year celebration of the launch of our XO deployments at August Town Primary and Providence Methodist Basic School, six members of the global OLPC community will be visiting us. They will be taking lots of pictures, doing interviews, workshop sessions, meeting the parents, teachers and students – all during the week of January 29 to February 5. One of the goals while they are here is to collect lots of content – National Geographic quality pictures and amazing stories that will be published later in the year along with those of five other small OLPC deployments worldwide.

This is an initiative to publicize to a worldwide audience the great OLPC work being done in Jamaica, Madagascar (Nosy Komba), Philippines, Kenya, Haiti, and Vietnam.

The team visiting Jamaica includes:

– documentary film maker, Bill Stelzer, who works with the OLPC deployments in the US Virgin Islands
– OLPC’s community support manager since 2007, Adam Holt, who splits his time between Boston and Haiti
– executive director of Ntugi Group, Mark Battley, who support OLPC implementations in Northern Kenya
– Quentin Peries Joly and Laura de Reynal, University students from OLPC France who have done extensive work with the OLPC project in Nosy Komba, Madagascar
– Nancie Severs, who envisioned and started the first OLPC deployment in a floating village, Vietnam.

San Francisco State University signs an MOU with OLPC

For four years, OLPC has had fruitful collaboration with the indefatigable Sameer Verma and others at SFSU, on hardware, Sugar activity design, and community building. Now at last we have a formal MOU between the University and OLPC[A]. This may be just the first of many MOUs with universities in the US, as we develop a network of supporting organizations working with OLPC on international projects.

Sameer and his students and colleagues have already worked with grassroots OLPC projects in Tuva, India, Armenia, Jamaica, and North Africa. Thanks to you all for your support and great ideas so far; we look forward to working more actively together, and perhaps drawing in new departments as well 😉

There’s a lovely and unflinching personal recollection by Sameer of the development of his XO addiction, on SFSU’s opensource blog. A few highlights:

OLPC came into my professional [and personal] life in July 2007 when I signed up for the Developers Program and got an OLPC XO-1 B2 machine. How excited was I? I slept with it under my pillow. Seriously.

The hype and novelty factor diminished in six months and the question arose: “Why bother spending a Saturday for this?” Then came the answer in the form of actual projects… work, not just advocacy. We started with four projects and now have a list of fourteen.

You can read the text of the MOU as well.

Powerful ideas in Brazil: Etoys authoring and conceptual development

Etoys is one of the most powerful tools on the XO — in terms of what it can do, how flexibly it can be used, and how it helps guide and facilitate thinking. This blog post from long-time OLPCer Sylvia Kist shows some of the research that has been done with children and Etoys on the XO.

Can programming on Squeak Etoys on the XO laptop help students develop concepts about the Big Bang theory? Or about phenomena such as the Lunar Eclipse? About breast cancer?

Working with Brazilian children and investigating their production, researchers from the Laboratory of Cognitive Studies of the Institute of Psychology of the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (LEC/UFRGS) have been examining the potential of programming activity on Squeak Etoys for authoring and conceptual development.

This past November, part of this investigation was presented in a paper at the XXII Brazilian Symposium on Computer in Education (SBIE) and XVII Workshop on Informatics at School (WIE) in Aracaju (SE/Brazil), awarded as one of the best papers of the event. The work context was the trial of the Brazilian federal program One Computer per Student (PROUCA) in Porto Alegre, one of the five experiments of the first phase of the project, coordinated by LEC/UFRGS, in which XO laptops were adopted.  (More details after the jump.)

 

Continue reading Powerful ideas in Brazil: Etoys authoring and conceptual development

Ecuador gets laptops for 3800+ elementary students

Two progressive towns in Ecuador is launching an olpc scheme: 4000 students and teachers in elementary schools in the cities of Cuenca and La Libertad will get laptops this year. The program includes its own plan for repairs and support, comprehensive training for teachers, and work integrating digital content. Schools involved will get one of XOs, Classmates, or HP netbooks, and the results will be compared. In all, the program will cost $2.5M, and will serve as a pilot for the district. If successful, it will be expanded to further elementary schools.

From a summary of the program:

El Ministerio de Educación de Ecuador firmó un convenio en septiembre del 2010 para Mi Compu, un programa piloto Uno a Uno en las escuelas. El plan se propone distribuir computadoras portátiles a 3.200 estudiantes y 172 docentes en la ciudad de Cuenca, y a 622 / 26 en la ciudad de Santa Elena.

Las computadoras portátiles XO, Classmate y HP se distribuirán y se compararán en cuanto a sus ventajas técnicas y pedagógicas. El piloto ofrecerá también un soporte técnico robusto, mantenimiento de las computadoras, conectividad y software para docentes y estudiantes; va complementado por 120 horas de capacitación docente que consta de tres módulos: familiarización con el hardware y el software, uso pedagógico de las TIC en el aula, y una introducción a las herramientas de medios digitales tales como software especializado para maestros, investigación en Internet y contenido digital educativo.

El objetivo es estudiar el impacto de las computadoras laptop sobre los estudiantes y los docentes, tomando en consideración la distribución de computadoras, su capacidad y el soporte técnico. Para más información, sírvase leer: “Se Entregarán Laptops en Cuenca y La Libertad”, Boletín informativo Pizarra, Ministerio de Educación, Noviembre 2010, No. 3