XOs in Brazil: impacting early reading and writing

Post via Silvia Kist

Seymour’s Papert ideas are a source of inspiration for many teachers and researchers in Brazil and had a big impact on how the country’s computer lab program was shaped in the past. One Laptop Per Child brought to life Papert’s vision for a Children’s Machine, and also inspired many teachers and academics in the country.

Because of this history, the strongest characteristic of the OLPC project in Brazil is the involvement of universities researching how laptops can create powerful educational experiences, and promote cultural change around learning. Many research labs from Brazil’s top universities are working with OLPC in this challenge, and have developed field studies: including LEC/UFRGS, NIED/UNICAMP, LSI/USP, CERTI/UFSC, UFC.

One of the first investigations in Brazil, was conducted under the supervision of Prof. Léa Fagundes. It studied how the XO impacted the reading and writing learning process of 6 year old children in a public elementary school at Porto Alegre. The full study was published in Portuguese. A summary:

They hypothesized that each child having their own laptop would change the practices of reading and writing by students, impacting how they create concepts about the written language. Student practices were observed and analyzed in two ways: practices proposed by the teacher and things that students did spontaneously.

After 7 months of observations, the research concluded that daily use of networked laptops allows children to use writing and reading in real life situations, differently from artificial activities in school. This kind of usage builds a symbolic environment helpful for understanding the function and meaning of written language (fluency) and leads to a conceptualization process driven by the need to understand others (literacy). In the class that was analyzed, the teacher’s proposals and some other conditions were necessary for that to happen. Project work, laptop ownership by students, connection to the Internet, and the use of a virtual learning environment were among them.

TEDxRio : Rodrigo on OLPC and viewing children as our future

Rodrigo Arboleda spoke about OLPC at TEDxRio this week to a crowd of 800, with 7000 people watching online.  The conference was a big hit in the Brazilian blogosphere, and one of the top trending topics in the world that day.  TEDx has really captured the essence of TED without much of the overhead, and it’s great to see it flourish.  Everyone there felt they were discussing how to contribute to human knowledge and development, and they left wondering how they could follow up on the event in more rural parts of the country – a great audience for an olpc talk.

The session will be up online soon, and you should watch it; for now, an image from the floor:

Rodrigo speaking at TEDxRio
"Children are a mission, not a market"

Juliano on Rwanda

The Global Center for Laptops and Learning in Kigali has been updating their blog recently. This past week, Brazil and Rwanda students met via Skype for the first time.

Juliano Bittencourt, who spent a year in Rwanda with his wife, recently posted a lovely email about Rwanda developments to the OLPC Brasil mailing list.

He points to Silvia Kist’s personal blog (in Portuguese) as a source for more information about the work there, along with the ‘laptop learning’ photostream.