Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Paul Woods - One Laptop Per Child

The most important lesson from the places where OLPC (One Laptop Per Child) has been implemented is that you cannot ignore training and teacher development. Paul Woods of the British Council spoke about it being vital if the project is to be successful, although there are experiments by people such as Sugata Mitre (Hole in the wall project) that claim to have success by just giving kids access to the technology.

It's also what you do with the device that makes all the difference. Nicholas Negroponte has also said that OLPC is all about empowering children through education. There are 1/2 million XO laptops in Uruguay and many other laptops all over the world including in Nepal, Afghanistan, India, Rwanda, Madagascar and Argentina, Venezuela and Peru.

Research has been done during these projects, with results reporting greater learner satisfaction, and highly engaged learning taking place. Criticisms in Argentina have been: lack of connectivity and problems over maintenance when Ines go wrong.

Paul Woods then talked about the Plan Ceibal project in Uruguay, where he is involved as Programme manager of the English teaching, and he showed  a video about the project,which is proving to be very successful.

A humorous moment occurred when an interview with Paul appeared in the video and he seemed to be wearing the same shirt!

In Uruguay, Paul has found that the British Council have been writing materials to use on the laptops and for the remote teaching. Every 9 weeks the students are doing tests, and the results of these have been very positive.

The project the British Council is expanding quickly and results of the pilot have shown that many of the kids have taught their parents how to use the laptops.

Paul finished by showing a fabulously cute video taken by a teacher, of two kids demonstrating the English that they had learnt.

Questions from the audience included questions about software (Linux), and whether money would have been better spent on teacher training in the country - there was a concern, and the British Council have told the Uruguayan government that they should be doing this too.

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