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04/11/2011

Laptops, tablets, oh my!

OLPC The idea of One Laptop Per Child, pioneered in the MIT media lab, provided a vision for providing laptops in the classrooms of developing countries at an affordable cost.  In Brazil, this concept resonated with government officials, and twice the Department of Education has authorized rounds of funding to support laptop installation in classrooms.  Most recently, Positivo--one of our sponsoring companies-- won the grant to install 3 million laptops in approximately 150 schools.

However, after our visit with Certi, which helped support One Laptop Per Child in its bid for wider dissemination in Brazil, we learned about some of the barriers to wider adoption of the one computer per child concept:

  • Support: How do you teach and provide a support system for educators in the classroom to use the new technology? 
  • Results: How do you measure the results and impact of technology in the classroom?
  • Resources: Given limited funding and many innovative education ideas, is the laptop the best place to allocate resources?

While skepticism remains among public officials looking for cost effective results and teachers struggling to obtain support, other innovative technological tools are being sought out in the classroom.  The Department of Education touted tablets as a wave of the future, and companies like Positivo are already making educational tools available through applications.  I hope to learn what the future of technological innovation in the classroom holds for Brazil on a subsequent trip to the country!