Deployment Guide/Teacher Preparation Student Facilitation

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8. Teacher preparation/ student facilitation

Learning workshops

OLPC runs monthly week-long learning workshops where we introduce the learning model behind the laptop experience. We urge you to send teachers, administrators, and technical-support personnel to one of our workshops early in the deployment planning process. OLPC will also help in-country teams develop workshops that are facilitated by in-country teams for training-the-trainers and more wide-scale teacher preparation.

The goal of both the OLPC and in-country learning workshops are to strengthen local deployment teams so as to maximize learning. Attendees should have a focus on learning; administering and implementing a 1-to-1 laptop initiative; working with children; working with teachers, schools, and communities; developing activities and content, or other similar educational issues.

Workshop content and activities vary based on the needs and experience of the participants. However, the basic approach/methodology and some content are common to all workshops.

  • They are hands on—we expect teachers as well as students to “learn through doing”.
  • They include a discussion of the “Constructionist” theories of learning pioneered by Seymour Papert more than 40-years ago as well as a discussion of how to augment and enhance existing curricula, educational goals, and evaluation with the laptop.
  • They emphasize community building and a discussion of how to involve parents in the learning process
  • and, often, they culminate in a “fair”, where participants share their accomplishments with each other in a manner similar to a science fair.

Some involvement by students and teachers who have previously been using the laptops is always a plus. The OLPC Learning Team has a wealth of experience and examples to share from previous deployments and interventions. Finally, everyone should take the time to disassemble a laptop, just to prove to themselves that it really is that easy.

The primary objectives of learning workshops are:

  • a progressive deepening of understanding of the learning process;
  • how the XO laptop enables more effective learning through construction, expression, and collaboration;
  • the roles of technology in general and one-to-one environments in particular;
  • the pragmatics of children, laptops, and learning;
  • plans for successful deployment at scale (i.e., a discussion of the contents of this document);
  • development of and participation in an international network of practitioners of 1:1 environments.

Topics to be covered:

  • learning and child development
  • computers and learning
  • building teams for successful deployment
  • experiences to date in 1:1 laptop deployment
  • curriculum, content and materials in 1-to-1 environments
  • teacher development
  • collaboration and learning networks
  • local creation of materials
  • saturation models of laptop deployment
  • growing to large-scale high-impact
  • project-based learning
  • constructionism and constructivism
  • using public media to build support and awareness
  • community-based activities
  • leveraging the university, NGO, and free software communities

Teacher preparation

The most important aspect of teacher preparation is in regard to how children learn. Educators have long recognized that children learn best when they are active, when they pursue their own interests, and when they participate in cultures of knowledge and engagement. With 1-to-1 access to connected laptops, children actively engage in knowledge construction and are not limited to passive reception of information. Each child (and the teachers themselves) can pursue learning in areas of strong personal interest and the classroom is not limited to a pre-determined, one-size-fits-all approach. (A series of short articles by MIT Professor Marvin Minsky that are published in the OLPC wiki drive home this point.)

Teachers benefit as well. Not only do they get to use the laptops at home for their own learning, but the connected laptop becomes a conduit for customized professional development. This enables the teachers to gain access to expertise and colleagues and allows them to pose and respond to practical questions.

Children (and teachers) can participate in the study of global issues while simultaneously using local context for understanding. They can fully participate as producers of knowledge and not just as consumers of materials produced by others.

Nepal's teacher preparation program is one possible point of reference. There are a number of teacher preparation documents here.

A guide to the Peru (in Spanish) deployment can be found here.

A teachers preparation workshop that was deployed in Pakistan can be found here

Community preparation

Both nationally and locally, the community needs to know what one laptop per child means—the children are your best ambassadors, but engage parents and community leaders as well.

Note from Oceania

We hold a separate session with parents and leaders in the community covering such topics as:

  • Parents responsibility in looking after the laptop and supporting their children's learning with the laptop;
  • Establishing rules for sharing the laptops at home and asking the child if the laptop can be shared;
  • Looking out for bullying involving the laptop, especially from older siblings and children;
  • Safely charging the laptop (this is important with mains power and young children);
  • Learning about the laptop and Internet from children;
  • Making sure the child takes the laptop, fully charged, to school.

We also ask parents to sign a simple agreement covering the above points.

Evaluation

It should involve the whole child: Prior 1-to-1 laptop experiences have demonstrated tremendous gains in learning, more time spent on schoolwork, development of technological fluency, and a stronger sense of inclusion among the students. Not only do children go far beyond standard curricula, but also they learned to care, talk, share, explore, and teach.


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