Friday, December 21, 2007

Uruguay + One Laptop Per Child = CEIBAL

One Laptop Per Child Uruguay Ceibal One Laptop per Child or OLPC is a program aimed to provide one mobile personal computer to every child in the world (as the name implies). Ceibal is the code name of the implementation project in Uruguay. It's an acronym for "Basic informatic educative conectivity for on-line learning" in spanish.

This program started to run in Uruguay this year, as one of the firsts countries in the world to adopt it, if not the first. In 2007 the scope of the adoption was reduced to one city, Cardal, in the Florida department, as a pilot project. It is expected to go national by 2008 & 2009, meaning one laptop for every uruguayan kid.

Right now universities, and companies willing to collaborate are studying ways to contribute to this. In this month I've heard about volunteering posibilites from three different sources, the truth is, there are a lot of aspects required to push this thing that go far beyond the machine. For instance you need conectivity, technical support, training for teachers and parents. All costs that are not included in the 100$ per laptop original budget (which has increased to almost 200).

I am motivated to participate in some way in this project and give my two cents worth. I'm in the process of understanding the project and consuming as much information about it as I can (I've also came into contact with the OLPC laptops last week).

The Ceibal project for me is one of the boldest moves this government has made. I've come to learn that is much more controversial than I had thought of. Some sectors in the Uruguayan public education system are openly against the whole project, arguing that the goals of the project are unclear, that there's no evidence that one laptop will necessarily help six year old children learn more, or better, that the pilot project should last five years, not one, etc.

Some of the arguments are sound and valid, but others are just hiding fears related to loss of power from some sectors (teachers for instance), or concerns related to the true nature of the drivers behind this project. I've participated in discussions with people with a more radical point of view that say this project is not so much about reducing the digial gap in the third world, but more about creating One Consumer per Child, one consumer per uruguayan kid, for an imperialistic machinery which has nothing to do with our benefit. This being the more paranoic bell of the left wing.

For me the word in this case is... faith. This is a project I have faith in, a project I believe in. Providing the kids with access to information and knowledge, and the means to generate content is a good thing, of critical importance, in an information era society. There are the obvious risks like porn, theft, internet addiction, but I believe the outcome will be very positive, I think Uruguay has certain conditions that make it a good candidate for fully adopting the OLPC program.

You can find more information about the project in the following links:

By the way merry xmas everybody!!!!!...


rabble said...

If you figure out how to help, i'm a hacker and would love to also help out.

Anonymous said...

what a nice computer, like that from our czech republic, hi, this is plukovníkBepk from cze,

Mauri! said...

Hola! soy nuevo por aquí, Realmente me parece fantástico lo del OLPC, soy de Colonia, he trenido a oportunidad de usar una, para los chicos esta muy bueno, didáctica y todo.
Recuerdo el año pasado en la JIAP hablaron del tema, y me gusto la idea, y ahora que lo veo implementada me pone contento, no se pienso que capas que viene otro futuro

Un saludo.

Gabe said...

I have cousins in Uruguay, ones being from better neighborhoods (Carrasco) and others being from the poorest department in Uruguay, specifically Artigas. After speaking with both, I've come to the conclusion that the one-laptop-per-child isn't necessarily a great idea. I've heard of teachers in rural parts of the country not having been trained to make these laptops part of their curriculum.

What would I change? Well, for starters, I would put a computer room in each of the schools (secured of course) and hire an actual professor to teach classes specifically about computers. Keep the lab open after school so children have access to the lab. Once a child reaches a certain age (let's say 12 years), then they could receive a laptop having already established a foundation of computer skills through the lab.

Just my 2 cents.