Uruguay’s Plan Ceibal is in charge of Uruguay’s implementation of its One Laptop Per Child program, including configuring Sugar Software on its XOs, configuring and installing XS school servers, providing service and support, training teachers, and working on new curricula. The name refers to the national flower of Uruguay, the ceibo, or cockspur coral tree.
Now that every schoolchild in Uruguay has an XO, and various other parts of the program are proceeding as desired, Plan Ceibal is turning its attention to education management software, of which Moodle is the best Free Software example, and to content, specifically to replacing textbooks with up to 1,000 digital learning resources. Naturally Sugar Labs proposes Open Education Resources under Creative Commons and other Free licenses. An English translation in Libre Office format (.odt) of the Ceibal RFP is available from the Replacing Textbooks page of the Sugar Labs Wiki.
Uruguay is the first country to introduce a computer-per-child for all students and teachers in public primary education.
After that first phase of the project launch and installation in the field of primary and secondary education, there is the opportunity and the challenge of bringing the project to a new level of development. In order to deepen some aspects to ensure that technology becomes a mechanism to facilitate learning, improve teaching conditions, and ultimately achieve better educational results, this call is made.
The general objective for the acquisition of the required platform and / or digital educational resources is to support the development of new educational practices for students and teachers, to strengthen the educational use of available technology, the appropriation of didactic and pedagogical models in relation to ICTs, in order to achieve more and better learning.
Given one of the key objectives of CEIBAL “contributing to improving the quality of education through the integration of technology into the classroom to the school and to the family” we consider that (i) developing integrated systems and platforms strengthens the monitoring of learning processes of children (ii) facilitates the production and access to relevant educational resources (content) which collaborate in the task of the teacher in the classroom, (iii) promote communication between the teacher with peers, students and their families will be valuable strategies to address the effective integration of ICT for the benefit of best educational practices.
Noble ideals all, and eminently practical with current technology. There are quite substantial quantity and variety of OERs available on a wide range of school subjects, and more constantly on the way. Bangladesh is currently in the lead on implementation, with a full suite of more than 100 digitized textbooks in Bangla available for free download, supported by a UNDP grant. Other governments, including the State of California and the nation of South Africa have substantial offerings, and a multitude of NGOs have more than a hundred thousand offerings, which we are trying to link to, and sift through for best practices.
The problem we face now with Uruguay is one of communication. OLPC and Sugar Labs have a variety of mailing lists and other communication channels in English, Spanish, and other languages, but few of our Uruguayan or other Latin American users are on those channels, Plan Ceibal least of all. We would like to hear from teachers, students, parents, techies, administrators, and others about what is needed and how we can collaborate to provide it, but we are having a hard time convincing people to try it, or even making them aware of the opportunity.
For this particular project, fortunately, Plan Ceibal has provided an open channel for prospective bidders to ask questions about the RFP. Among our first questions:
- Where is the Uruguayan curriculum on the Web? Searching with Google in Spanish on their education Web site has not revealed it to me.
- Can we get copies of the current textbooks, preferably in some digital form from the publishers, or failing that, on paper in several copies each?
- What improvements would Plan Ceibal like to see?
- What are the goals for integrating Sugar software with digital e-learning?
The next question is to you. Would you like to join in this project? We need
- Ph.D. subject-matter experts
- software developers
- Spanish-speaking children and parents (as testers)
and many more individuals, groups, and funding sources. Uruguay has arranged for funding for its own requirements from the Inter-American Development Bank, but we have to think about supporting OLPC user communities in more than 100 languages.
I have started to approach Google and the Shuttleworth Foundation about these issues, and plan to ask several UN agencies and others. Whom would you recommend? Do you have contacts?
Can you help?