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EDC-Center for Children and Technology: Report on Argentina
Author: Daniel Light, EDC- Center for Children and Technology | August 8th, 2012

edc_logoEducation Development Center (EDC) has released the first of three research reports on one-to-one laptop programs in classrooms in three diverse countries: Argentina, Russia, and Korea. The first report, on the introduction of digital tools into rural schools in Argentina, describes teachers adapting familiar pedagogical practices to new technology.

Much of the research on laptops and classroom experience has been done in wealthy, Western countries and may not reflect the experience of schools in different parts of the world. This project, funded by Intel®, began with case studies of three rural schools participating in Todos los Chicos en la Red (All Kids Online) in San Luis, Argentina. All Kids Online is a one-to-one laptop program in which the provincial government presents all students with their own Intel Classmate PC, a notebook computer with productivity and education software and wireless Internet access.

EDC and Intel had been looking for a one-to-one program in a developing country that had achieved sufficient scale and that had external evaluation data showing the success of the program in improving student’s academic performance. All Kids Online fit both criteria. By 2010, the program had already distributed 7,500 laptops and various evaluations and expert reviews had found an impact on academic performance.

All Kids Online is actually only one strand of a much larger provincial initiative to promote the long-term transformation of the province’s economy and society. San Luis Digital, started in 2007, is an ambitious, province-wide digital inclusion initiative with its goals rooted in closing the digital divide through social and economic development. In part, what enabled the successful development and implementation of All Kids Online, and all of the subsequent education programs, was the creation of an information superhighway. In 2008, connectivity was distributed for free to all areas with at least 20 inhabitants.

Each of the three schoos in the case study is unique. Two of the schools visitied were traditional public schools, and the third school was an innovative model school run by the ULP under a separate charter that had only been open for three months.

EDC observed teachers and students using laptops in the classroom. Although some of the teachers observed were also experimenting with innovations such as project-based learning, in their daily routine they were not completely abandoning their old resources and practices, nor were they resisting ICT. Rather, they were adapting familiar practices to the new, technology-saturated context. Infusing ICT into existing practices produced some fundamental changes—making them potentially more effective.

Five impacts EDC describes in the report are:

• Efficiency in classroom management. Technology-facilitated logistics, such as distributing and presenting resources, allowed teachers to spend more time teaching. With a four-hour school day, time was a precious resource.

• Access to educational resources. The Internet offers access to a wide range of resources well beyond the few generally available in classrooms across the developing world. The technology also allowed teachers to create their own resources.

• Increased student ownership of the learning process. Shifting more control of their own pacing and progress onto the students increased their autonomy and allowed them the opportunity to push themselves harder. With the laptop, students could easily find their assignments, and those who were moving faster could do extra work. Students also were able to do work at home or use the Internet to explore a topic.

• More frequent feedback to students. The introduction of even simple interactive digital resources is a way to give students immediate feedback across a range of basic skills and abilities, such as math and spelling, enabling them to try something, assess, and redo on their own. This enables teachers to make better use of their time with students, and allows students to study outside of school.

• Fluid communication among teachers, students, and parents. Internet connectivity changed how students, teachers, and parents communicated. Some of the families began to use email. All of the students were using a chat tool like Skype or Messenger to keep in touch with their friends, and most of them chatted with their teachers as well. Through chat, teachers were able to remind students about homework, and students were able to ask teachers questions.

Be sure to check out the report in its entirety here: (http://cct.edc.org/report.asp?id=284)

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