School visits (pt. 1)

June 12, 2009 at 3:04 pm 1 comment

Today all of us were sent to different primary schools in Rwanda which have XOs to get hands on experience training teachers in the basic XO programs.  While most of the schools have had the laptops for a while, they are rarely incorporated into the curriculum.  The teachers aren’t very familiar with them, likely attending only a few workshops, and also have difficulty integrating them into lessons.

This seems like a common problem that is easily underestimated.  Since the vast majority of the schools in Africa are dealing with tons of students and scarce resources, the primary method of learning is route memorization, i.e. the teacher copies material to the board and students write it down in notebooks.  This is obviously a method which constructionism directly challenges: the laptops open up many opportunities for individualized exploration.

But in instances like Rwanda, the curriculum is fairly rigid as it is tested in an examination at the end of 6th year which determines whether students can continue to secondary school.  How can the teachers use the laptops constructively when dealing with classes of more than 50 students and the demand of the national curriculum?

In this context, OLPC’s insistence on preserving the ability of the students to take the XOs home makes sense.  Entirely transforming educational systems would require more time and resources than just giving XO to every child.  But, if the students can take the XOs home, then they can explore and learn independently.  The kids can teach themselves and each other, regardless of the classroom environment, which will eventually help the entire school.

Today’s experiences also made me even more committed to comprehensively training the teachers before we give the laptops to the kids.  With a significant language barrier with most of the teachers, the training takes time and can also easily be overwhelming.

Michael and Kate will post later tonight about their experiences at the schools they visited today.  On Monday, we’re all going back to our respective schools to work with the kids taught by the teachers we trained!

-Mary

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OLPCorps Official Launch Dispatch from Kigali: On OLPC’s Future

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Mary-Frances  |  June 14, 2009 at 1:27 am

    If the Sekoly Lova Soa has 90 students, and 1/6 of them graduate every year, will OLPC then need $3000 (15×200) early in the summer before each school year to supply the new first year students?

    Reply

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This is the OLPCorps team from GWU and UMD. We'll be deploying 100 laptops to a rural village in Madagascar this summer. Stay updated by subscribing to our feed and checking back regularly. For more information on what we're doing, use the tabs above!
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