The One Laptop Per Child Programme.

Last week I wrote about 2 different programmes. I explained that one demonstrated the benefits of introducing technology into the classrooms of developing countries whilst I explained that the other was an example of how the introduction of ICT was not beneficial in the slightest. 

I mentioned that a programme called the ‘one laptop per child’ programme that was used in Peru in order to introduce the use of computers and technology to young children in the classrooms. The programme was arranged by the Ministry of Education in which each child was provided with a brand new shiny computer. They were provided with the intention of improving ICT and content-related skills of children across the country however due to poor teachers training and other various factors such as out of date software, researchers found that the computers were not used and served minimal purpose in the classrooms of Peru.

When reading about this programme I did find that it has attracted many criticisms especially in regards to it’s impact on Peru, however I must admit that I was taken by surprise of it’s success in other countries. Critics argued that money should be spent on more ‘practical’ things such as clean water and medicine. I must say that I completely agreed with this until I heard of the impact it had on children in other countries. The OLPC’s mission is to empower the world’s poorest children through education and I have learned that the program has been introduced in countless countries other than Peru, including America, Afghanistan, India and Kenya. 

An example of the beneficial impact that the OLPC programme has had is evident in the schools of Afghanistan. An intensive empirical analysis on test performance of pupils in the country before and after the introduction of the OLPC program demonstrated that there was an average improvement of 21.33% across all students in standardised tests in a period of only two months. The study confirmed that there was a significant improvement in childhood education as a result of the introduction of the computers (Hirji, 2010). These statistics suggests that when used properly, the programme has the capability to provide several beneficial factors to both pupils and teachers and goes against the criticisms that were associated with the impact of the programme in Peru. 

Literature suggests that although the introduction of the OLPC programme is relatively recent therefore there has been a limited amount of time to conduct any longitudinal assessments on it’s impact on children, the findings from existing evaluations are largely positive in nature (Nugroho & Lonsdale, 2010). 

For more information on this program, please visit:

 http://one.laptop.org/ 

References

Hirji, Z. (2010). One Laptop per Child Projects. One Laptop per Child Foundation Learning Group. 7. Retrieved from http://wiki.laptop.org/images/e/e7/OLPCF_M%26E_Publication_(1).pdf on March 2013 

Nugroho, D., Lonsdae, M. (2010). Evaluation of OLPC programs globally: a literature review. Australian council for Educational Research. 4, 2-23.

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Introducing technology into the classroom in developing countries – should we or shouldn’t we?

I am researching whether modern technology in education is beneficial to teachers and pupils or whether we should stick to the traditional and familiar methods of teaching and learning. I had never heard of the programmes I am about to discuss until I researched alternative forms of education used in schools that are being assisted immensely by the development of modern technology. I have previously stated that I sit on the fence in regards to the argument of traditional vs. modern education although I do strongly believe that traditional methods of learning should not be totally excluded from classrooms in favour of more modern learning methods. However I am investigating whether I can be proven wrong and that the introduction of modern technology can in fact outperform the traditional learning and teaching methods that have been successful in schools around the globe for hundreds of years.

The Mobilink-UNESCO program was launched last year and is used by Pakistani women that live in rural regions of the country and are unable to travel to the main stream schools which are located some distance away. The SMS-based literacy programme is used as a communication tool between the ‘pupil’ and teacher and is used in attempt to increase literacy skills among girls in Pakistan. Pupils use their mobile phones to send an SMS message to their teacher. After sending, the pupils receives messages from the teacher in response, which they carefully copy by hand in a notebook to practice their writing skills. The pupils do this from the safety of their home and with their parents’ consent (Smith & Winthrop, 2012).

A five-month pilot project was conducted before the program was launched. The pilot involved 250 adolescent female learners who were provided with mobile phones and received informative daily text messages which they were expected to respond to (Unesco 2010).

The initial outcomes looked positive. After only 4 months, the percentage of girls who achieved an A level on literacy examinations increased from 27% to 54% and the percentage of girls who achieved a C level grade decreased from 52% to 15% (Unesco, 2010).

The power of mobile phone technology appears in this case to be a successful tool for education by introducing new ways to support learning for rural pupils who experience limited opportunities to attend school.

This programme has recently been expanded and now includes a further 1,250 girls in rural areas of four districts of Punjab. (Unesco, 2010).

This is undoubtedly an example of how the development of modern technology has provided a significant facilitation to pupils’ education. However, on the other side of the world in Peru, the development of technology for education has not proven to be so helpful.  Due the introduction of a programme called the ‘One Laptop Per Child’ that was arranged by the Ministry of Education, a number of colourful and expensive laptops are gathering dust in the corner of classrooms across the country. They were provided to pupils with the intention of improving ICT and content-related skills however without the proper support for training the teachers in how the laptops should be used, no repair and maintenance warranties and out of date software, the laptops are unusable and serve little purpose. In contrast to the Mobilink-UNESCO program, in this case technology has not helped to improve the educational experience of learners (Smith & Winthrop, 2012).

Both of these studies demonstrate that while there are many examples of how technology is used to the great benefit of teachers and learners alike, there are also many cases in which it does little to impact educational processes and outcomes and supports my argument that traditional forms of teaching should not be completely dumped from classrooms in favour of impressive gadgets and colourful robots.

References

Smith, M. S., Winthrop, R. (2012). A New Face of Education: Bringing Technology into the Classroom in the Developing World. Brooke Shearer Working Paper Series. 1.

Unesco. (2010). Expnasion of women’s “literacy by mobile phones” program. United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. Retrieved from http://www.unesco.org/en/literacy/dynamic-content-single-view/news/expansion_of_womens_literacy_by_mobile_phone_programme/back/11922 on March 2013

Should the teacher be replaced with an X-box console?!

As I have decided to discuss the use of technology in classrooms, this week I am going to consider the effects that video games have on children’s education. Could the use of video games actually improve a child’s education and cognitive development? Or are the critics correct in stating that they can be extremely dangerous and excessive play should by all means be avoided?

The impact of video games has caused enormous controversy amongst professionals and members of the general public especially when it comes to children and young adults. In 2004 a 17 year old boy from Leicester was charged with the murder of a 14 year old boy by mimicking a violent killing that was used to score points in a video game called ‘Manhunt’. The victim’s mother called for a ban on all violent video games however a spokesman for the publishing company for ‘Manhunt’ said that they refused to take any responsibility for any association between the murder and the game because the game was classified 18 by the British Board of Film Classification therefore it should not have been in the hands of a juvenile (BBC News). Although the murderer’s actions can not be justified it is hard for me not to point a finger and see that the video game undoubtedly had an impact on his deed that day.

Furthermore hundreds of video game and video player studies have demonstrated possible links to problems such as addiction, aggression, social development, violence and a variety of stereotyping and sexual morality issues. Kirsh (2003) found that violent video games influence aggressive behaviour whereas Anderson & Bushman (2001) found that violent video games increase aggressive behaviour in children and young adults, exposure to violent video games increases physiological arousal and aggression-related thoughts and feelings. They also found that playing violent video games also decreases pro-social behaviour.

However whilst I was researching the negative effects of video games I discovered a reoccurring theme – all the negative effects were associated to the violent content of the game rather than the actual participation of active play. Squire (2003) argued that the cognitive potential of video games have been largely ignored by educators and that gaming can suggest powerful new opportunities for educational media. 

I have discovered that there is a drastic limitation when it comes to finding research that suggest that gaming can be beneficial in education. Personally I can’t think why it would not work – If children enjoy playing video games and parents struggle to tear their children away from their computer and their consoles then why not take advantage of this by introducing education into gaming? This could develop a positive attitude to education, children would participate in active learning and the overall learning experience would be considered enjoyable rather than more of a chore!

I hope to find that more research will be conducted in this field in time to come.

References

Anderson, C. A., Bushman, B. J. (2001). Effects of Violent Video Games on Aggressive Behavior, Aggressive Cognition, Aggressive Affect, Physiological Arousal, and Prosocial Behaviour: A Meta-Analytic Review of the Scientific Literature. Psychological Science. 12(5), 353-359.

BBC News. (2004). Game blamed for hammer murder. Retrieved from http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/leicestershire/3934277.stm on March 2013.

Kirsh, S. J. (2003). The effects of violent video games on adolescents: The overlooked influence of development. Aggression and violent behaviour. 8(4), 377-389.

Squire, K. (2003). Video Games in Education. Games & Simulation. Retrieved from http://www.skatekidsonline.com/parents_teachers/Video_games_in_education_Updated.pdfon March 2013.