Tuesday, April 09, 2013

The Whys and Wherefores of OLPC

Nicolas Dantaz-Rico, a teacher in Uruguay, spoke about his research relating to teacher education and the laptops being introduced into the country for the Plan Ceibal. He started by talking about the positive effect the introduction of laptops into primary schools

He asked teachers if they were confident about using the laptops and how often they used the computers. He found the teachers he asked were not using the computers as much as was first thought.

One of the problems he found was that a lot of teachers feel overwhelmed, and what teachers really need to know rather than how to use the technology, is how the technology can be used to enhance learning.

Nicolas promotes the idea of partnering pedagogy, as suggested by Mark Prensky, as the way forward. He also thinks that the idea of the computer as a source of motivation is worrying and he thinks it needs to be what the teacher asks the learners to do that should be the source of the motivation rather than the actual machines themselves.

The role of the student was also examined by Nicolas, and he identified a number of roles, such as investigator, technology expert, content recipient, etc. the key to success, he feels is letting the kids find and follow their passion. He also believes more should be made of using whatever technology is available, not just the laptops and the kids should also be researching and finding information, sharing thoughts and opinions, creating presentations in text and multimedia. The teachers need to be good at creating and asking the right questions, giving students guidance, putting material in context, creating rigor, ensuring equality and explaining one-to-one.

Partnering pedagogy should be about student centred learning, problem and project based learning, case-based and inquiry-based and task-based learning. Nicolas believes that we are in an interesting moment to implement this and that the computer should just be one more tool that a teacher can use to help her teach the students.





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