A Month-Long EduTechDebate Focused on OLPC in Peru


Resumen en español al final del artículo

(Editor's Note: This month's articles over on EduTechDebate are focused on Peru's OLPC project "Una Laptop por Niño". We've extensively covered the project here on OLPC News and I also wrote a long EduTechDebate post about it after I visited it back in mid-2010. Now I'm closely following the articles and comments over there and will contribute a post of my own later in the month. So I invite you to also head over to EduTechDebate and participate in the ongoing discussions there which were initiated with this post by Wayan which I've added below.)

In 2007, Peru announced it would distribute tens of thousands of XO laptops from One Laptop Per Child to children in rural schools across the country, and expanded the program every year since. Almost 1 million laptops later, the program is now the largest XO deployment in the world and one of the most faithful to OLPC's technology-centric Constructionist principals.

Teacher training was downplayed, with the belief that exposure to XO laptops alone would create a learning environment where children were excited and inspired to learn learning. Rather than developing relevant digital content, the focus was on how to use existing "Activities" (software applications) on the XO laptop to teach different subjects.

This was a radical change from existing ICT4E best practices, which tend to focus on teacher professional development and locally relevant content as equal or greater in importance than hardware, and invited close evaluation. The Inter-American Development Bank responded with a multi-year randomized evaluation of the impact of the OLPC project in Peru - the first rigorous attempt to examine the impact of the largest "1-to-1 computing" initiative in a developing country.

Results to Date

So far, the IDB has issued two synopsis examining the academic achievement and impacts on cognitive skills that XO laptops facilitated in a 15-month randomized control trial with 21,000 students in 319 schools - an initial report in 2010, and a second report earlier this year. The summary findings should not be a surprise to EduTechDebate readers:

The effective implementation of the "One Laptop per Child" program was not enough to overcome the difficulties of a design that places its trust in the role of technologies themselves. The use of technologies in education is not a magic and rapid solution through which educational problems and challenges can be solved with the simple acquisition of technological devices and systems.

The IDB did find some positive and significant results in cognitive ability - a five-month lead over non-XO students - but no overall significant differences were found on Mathematics and Language standardized tests 15 months after the implementation.

What Does This Mean for ICT4E?

We took a deep dive into OLPC in Peru with the Inter-American Development Bank during a Technology Salon to figure out what these results mean for OLPC in Peru, "one laptop per child" projects regardless of technology, and ICT in education in general.

In the discussion, several good questions came up in relation to this study on OLPC in Peru that we should all think about.

Since IDB did not find remarkable educational outcomes from OLPC:

  1. Do any ICT interventions have impact? Or are we all just wasting our time with technology?
  2. Do we actually know how to measure the impact of ICT on education? Or are we testing the wrong things to see impact?
  3. Can any single intervention have impact? Or do we need to have more interventions over longer timeframes for impact?
  4. Are all laptop programs doomed? Or was Peru's approach itself the problem?

During this month's Educational Technology Debate, distinguished members of the ICT4E community from around the world will give context to the report and expand on these and other questions the report raises.

Your context and input is welcome in the comments on this and every post, and if you find yourself writing a multi-page essay answer to a comment, consider submitting it as a Guest Post instead - email it to us and we'll make sure it's seen by everyone.

The full OLPC in Peru discussion on EduTechDebate

Resumen en español: Nota del Editor: Los artículos de este mes en el EduTechDebate, están enfocados en el Projecto Una Laptop por Niño (OLPC) Perú". En OLPC News, hemos hecho una cobertura extensiva sobre dicho projecto; asi como también he escrito un largo comentario en EduTechDebate sobre "OLPC en Perú" luego de mi visita a mediados del 2010. Actualmente, estoy siguiendo muy de cerca todos aquellos artículos y comentarios que se publican en EduTechDebate , a los cuáles agregaré mi propio comentario a fines de este mes. Por lo tanto, los invito a visitar la página EduTechDebate, y a participar en el debate iniciado en el "post by Wayan" que he agregado a continuación de esta nota.

Traducción al español hecho por Cristina Abell.


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