e.Studyante : A new OLPC + connectivity program in the Philippines

Philippines has a number of amazing pilots underway. The grassroots eKindling group reports some remarkable success stories from their Lubang program, and have helped the province of Occidental Mindoro build on that success.

Now a new e.Studyante program in the Philippines, started in the Manila, plans to providing primary students with OLPCs and connectivity for the next 25 years. This program was started by P&G Philippines, along with Smart Communications (providing Internet connectivity) and the Synergeia Foundation.

e.Studyante recently launched at the Manuel L. Quezon Elementary School in Tondo, Manila. The program focuses on engaging education, supported by technology: it distributes XOs to students, provides other tools and training for teachers, and includes vetting and updating educational software and materials. It aims to make learning “fun, empowering, relevant, and easier” for kids, and to reach 1 million primary students by its 100th anniversary in 24 years – roughly 40,000 a year.

Chad Sotelo, P&G’s Country Marketing Manager, explained:

“We intend for this to complement traditional learning methods and tools instead of competing with them… A laptop and Internet connectivity becomes [their] window to the world’s knowledge and places it at their fingertips in real-time. People and places they had no access to before are now within their reach. These tools expand their horizons and minds and encourage them to dream and attain a brighter future.”

The program is funded in part through the sale of P&G promo packs, at retail outlets across the country; part of the price of each pack goes to the program.

Stager salutes Sylvia’s Super-Awesome Maker Show

Gary Stager writes a short, readable rant about the state of support for exploration in primary education in the US, inspired by watching an episode of “Sylvia’s Super-Awesome Maker Show“. The show is a sporadic video blog about “everything cool and worth making” by the daughter (now 10) of a veteran tech ninja.

Stager wonders whether educational computing (and now ‘edtech’) is a proper discipline or “just a shopping club”. He suggests many teachers might not support such a bright and curious student in their class, if it meant dealing with distractions or diverting from a fixed curriculum they were committed to teaching. I suspect others would love such a student and find ways to work with them outside of class, but feel constrained within it. Here’s his post:

Super-Awesome Sylvia in the Not So Awesome Land of Schooling

Hat-tip to Juliano Bittencourt.

Update from the Field: Birmingham, Alabama surveys

Earlier this year, Shelia Cotten and coauthors HaleMoroneyO’NealBorch published an overview of their data from surveying 27 schools during the first year of the city-wide OLPC project in Birmingham, AL.  In the 2008-2009 school year, 1st – 5th Grade students and teachers, in every public primary school in the city, received XO laptops via this program. — amounting to over 15,000 students and teachers. and every public primary school in the city.

The paper, “Using Affordable Technology to Decrease Digital Inequality“, appeared in Information, Communication & Society Volume 14, Issue 4.  From the summary:

[F]ourth and fifth grade students at 27 Birmingham City schools were surveyed just prior to receiving the XOs and then again about 4.5 months later. A total of 1,202 students were matched between the two surveys… students who used a computer to do homework before receiving the XO, tended to make greater use of the XO and felt it helped them in their education. Teachers’ use of the XO was also an important factor. Students who reported their teachers made greater use of the XOs in the classroom tended to use the XO more and felt that the XO had a positive impact on their education.

These findings highlight the importance of training teachers to make effective use of new technology and the need to develop curriculum to integrate computers into the classroom.  Dr. Cotten is currently leading a National Science Foundation funded project that helps… teachers receive training which builds technology-teaching capabilities so that students develop the attitudes and the skills necessary to succeed in a technologically advanced society.

Their research has continued since then, and they will also publish about longer-term results.