Saturday, April 30, 2011

Conozco Uruguay:Day 1

Today I got to sit in on an Uruguay volunteer conference (several groups were there to discuss the laptop project). During a break, I got to meet the European/Canadian/American volunteers who have already arrived.

The conference was well done, with teleconferences out to 3 locations further into the country. A volunteer wondered if they could get GNOME on the Olidata Classmate PC. Someone mentioned Plan Ceibal's robotics initiative and discussion of that was heated - partially because it's a new technology for teachers to master and integrate, partially because it might be closed/limited platform. One volunteer wanted to get back to basic application skills (word processing) because it is more practical.

There was a lot I missed (arrived late, people spoke Spanish), so read Christoph's blog post for full details.

I talked with a teacher afterward about activities and content. The number one problem, he tells me, is that they have lessons to teach the computers, but they need ways to integrate the computer into their main lessons. Especially biology - he couldn't find any biology content for his class. Fortunately, we are looking at National Geographic for our eBook library. There are also some good map demos that he could use. Got his e-mail so I can send these along and talk to him later.

His second point was that the parents (in English he said "fathers" which I interpret to be "padres", parents, but I dunno) do not see a use for the laptops. These concerns are making it difficult to launch the high school program. This despite my stats that the Map activity is used late into the night (Christoph confirms that Plan Ceibal wireless use doesn't fully drop off until 1AM).

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