[iDC] learning ecologies

elana langer elana.langer at gmail.com
Sun Apr 11 15:20:51 UTC 2010

One Laptop Per Child is an interesting example of a learning tool that
reflects the educational philosophy of the developers and development
facility, but not the environments into which it was intended to
function. Open source computing and constructionist learning is so
deeply ingrained and accepted into the MIT Media Lab that the laptop's
capabilities and intended uses were not in sync with what teachers
were able to integrate into their classroom experience. The need for
educational support in most cases outweighed numerous technical
challenges that arose.

In more traditional learning environments, like Mongolia, teachers
were often too frustrated with the OS to even attempt to use the
computer in the classroom. Nine months after 1000 laptop were donated
and introduced to 2 schools - less than 15% of teachers had students
using the computer during school hours for anything other "break
time". Teachers were left untrained, unfamiliar with programming
language, and had no understanding of a project based, collaborative
model of learning. There was no structure in place for trouble
shooting, reporting of bugs, and solving simple technical problems. At
it's best computational thinking can introduce systematic reasoning
and critical thinking into a classroom and learning environment. But
without necessary support, the tool is often used, as Mcluhan
explains, as a replacement for a previous technology.   In the case of
the laptop it becomes a word processor or calculator, or in the worst
case - a paperweight. This challenge is not simply for the XO but all
computer labs installed in schools. There is little if anything
budgeted for educational support and innovation. The same challenge
was experienced attempting to integrate the laptop into the US school
system.  However, in Brazil, where constructionist learning is a part
of the culture, there was a much easier time doing project based
learning, understanding the idea of collaboration, and maximizing some
of the learning opportunities the XO enables.

On Sat, Apr 10, 2010 at 8:07 AM, Trebor Scholz <trebor at thing.net> wrote:
> elana langer:
>  >Critics of technologies that range from radio to computers focus on
>  >analyzing the educational potential and uses of emerging technologies
>  >and not enough time focusing on the educational processes into which
>  >these technologies are embedded. As a result, the media produced be it
>  >filmstrip or CD-ROM reflect the limits of the educational philosophies
>  >rather than the limitations of the technology itself.
> I agree with you but I'd like to learn about specific examples of your own
> work with the One Laptop Per Child Project.
> Could we also hear from Michael and Julian?
> ts
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