From OLPC's Community News:
Juliano Bittencourt participated in a Sao Paulo meeting of the five Brazilian 1:1 schools. In the spring of last year, the Brazilian government selected five schools in the country to test different models of educational laptops donated by three vendors.
OLPC donated laptops to two schools; one in Sao Paulo and other in Porto Alegre. Intel donated Classmates to one school in the city of Pirai and another in Palmas. An Asian vendor, Encore, donated 40 laptops to a single classroom in a school in Brasilia.
The three-day meeting included the teachers, principals and students of the five schools, plus representatives from the ministry of education, President Lula's office and several universities involved in the Brazilian 1:1 initiative. The meeting's purpose was to promote useful interaction among teachers and principals of the schools. It also provided a good opportunity to see how the various deployments were progressing.
Juliano reports that the schools that used the XO were more advanced towards building an innovative environment than the other three schools. This fact can be credited to several variables.
However, the powerful key ideas behind the OLPC philosophy helped these schools move well beyond a digital literacy initiative to the creation of a new, more progressive, learning environment, the essence of constructionism.
The XO schools were the only ones among the five where saturation deployment and child ownership of the machines were strongly advocated. A shortage of laptops meant that the students in Sao Paulo had to share their XOs, four to a machine. However, the teachers from this school argued most eloquently that each child must have his or her own laptop and must take it home. The school at Porto Alegre is the only school in Brazil where this is true.
Juliano found the children's level of comfort with their XOs astonishing, as was the way they expressed their opinions about the project. The children self-organized and defined their presentation topics, and talked about the things they are doing, and the problems they are facing with the laptops. They even made demands of the politicians who were present.
In a private conversation, the Sao Paulo teachers complained over the lack of activities on XOs that enable the students to express themselves and be creative. They explained that some of the machines in their school's computer lab have a configuration similar to the XO, but offer more opportunities for the development of projects and to engage children in creative activities.
Simple tasks like basic photo editing, sound mixing and web page development can't be done on the XO. The teachers' criticism was for the most part very constructive and mature.
The government intends to open a new bid for the purchase of laptops for schools in December. However, many of the issues that compromised the bid last year still remain.
Epilogue from Augusto Arantes, Indian Encore, through its representative in Brazil Comsat, won the bidding for 150,000 educational laptops