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Depending on the school types where laptops were deployed sufficiently adult pupils may be available who could be encouraged to form mentor-protégé relationships with younger pupils.
Software to encourage mentoring
Software could be designed to invite older pupils to take an interest in the education and extracurricular activities of younger pupils voluntarily or as a requirement of the curriculum.
Mentoring and Metacognition
The role of a pedagogue should be beneficial for a mentor to develop an extensive active mental vocabulary for metacognition and adequate social goals towards his or her protégés.
- Coaching lessons could be bought from tutors with a currency system like the Saber, but restricted to a single school or school district.
- Chatbots/Virtual Assistants
- Chatbots/Virtual Assistants explain how e.g. the XO or a program works and help the kids work their way through a learning program. They really become their buddies. Since the OLPC educational initiative focuses especially on kids in regions where teachers have limited education themselves or there are no teachers even parents anymore, Chatbots/Virtual Assistants are extremely valuable. More: Chatbots/Virtual Assistants
- Mentors could use a program to monitor the activities used by their protégés. Some activities may also produce records for student performance assessment. Mentors could be allowed to access and evaluate such information like teachers. A goal of a mentor could be to recommend adequate activities to his or her protégés and to watch over their application usage. Duties of a mentor could also include:
- A mentor could be encouraged to fulfill the role of an activity leader as used in the Creativity, Action, Service component of the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme.
- A mentor could guide his or her protégés to identify, to phrase and to follow higher-order volitions (e.g. concerning media consumption, game use and educational goals). The mentor could then offer nonjudgmental feedback and advice concerning the pupil's success to implement the self-imposed limitations.
- A mentor could be expected to invite his or her protégés to use certain activities, which could be unavailable to a child until activated by a mentor or teacher, and to explain and to guide use of these activities. This would introduce artificial scarcity into the availability of activities with the result that individual activities could become more valuable and the person acting as the moderator could gain some additional respect. (Yes, that is, at least superficially, in contradiction with the idea to allow kids to trade activities freely. The child that is given one well considered program at a time may gain more than the child that gets a whole box of software at once) Teachers could use the number and time of activation of activities to form a first impression about the work of a mentor.
- A variant of trading activities could be that children could actually trade with them: An application migrating from laptop A to laptop B could disappear from laptop A but require another application to have moved from laptop B to A. A psychological effect could be that children could be encouraged to assign more value to an application, to cooperate and to share. Migration patterns of clever applications and less clever applications as well as immobile applications could also be useful to form opinions about their users. The exchange of applications between a protégé and a mentor could allow the mentor to release any type of application that was currently released under its threshold. In case of very popular applications mentors could also agree to change the threshold of an application, but this could require agreement among a group of mentors, which provides both an excuse for refusal to release an application and a motivation for the mentors to form a group. The teachers could in turn monitor the thresholds of applications in different groups to form an opinion about the work of the mentors. Wildly dancing thresholds would indicate mentors abusing the system to follow the whim of their protégés. The children could be encouraged to form a class council to discuss any issues with application sharing. In case the children decided unanimously to remove a threshold for a certain application the teacher could allow that to happen, but only for a single application beyond the activities that were generally available anyway. Pupils could be required to fill in a dialog asking if they saw the exchange of an application as profitable or generous and they could fill in what applications they were waiting for. A pupil asking to be given unrestricted access to all applications could be given manuals on mentoring [Parent education courses], as mentors would obviously have full access.
- Teachers could receive automatic reports about the use of the mentoring software by individual pupils. Additionally mentors could be asked to write regular reports about their mentoring duties. Teachers could also be able to track tutoring and mentoring assignments, should the school administration choose to make mentoring an explicit part of the curriculum.
- Mentoring examples provided in educational activities
- Pupils who can observe examples of mentor-protégé relationships in educational activities could be encouraged to try to follow the examples without further motivation. The "virtual mentors" could be well-known characters with many different SVG animations for typical gestures which could be available to all activities prepared to use this feature. An example for virtual characters as positive role models is Luka und das geheimnisvolle Silberpferd (a free adventure game developed for the crime prevention advisory service of the German police) The same characters could function as tutors for the user in the online help, being able to walk through the desktop and to operate widgets to explain their use. (This could sneakily gain the trust of the naive user) Use of the OLPC laptop itself could already be explained by a group of virtual tutors with virtual OLPC laptops.
- Daily episode
- A school server could transfer a daily episode to pupils' laptops. A daily episode could vary between interesting questions and references (e.g. to wikipedia articles), mentoring tutorials and seasonal references (e.g. an advent calendar with art/craft projects for children before christmas, which could be written for the point of view of a mentor inviting younger pupils to participate or for protégés, depending on the audience) Virtual mentors could also address health topics.
- See also: Storytelling Alice
- Social games, philosophical arguments and science experiments for kids
- E-books with social games, philosophical arguments and scientific experiments for kids can be useful for mentors to get ideas what to do with their protégés. Examples are Entertaining Science Experiments with Everyday Objects, The Philosophy Gym: 25 Short Adventures in Thinking, Win-Win Games for All Ages: Co-Operative Activities for Building Social Skills, 700 Science Experiments for Everyone (compiled by UNESCO) and Wikijunior:Big Book of Fun Science Experiments
- http://eric.ed.gov/ERICWebPortal/recordDetail?accno=ED502220 (Cross-Age Peer Mentoring. Research in Action. Issue 7)
- Assistant teacher course (Wikiversity)
- Assistant teacher program in developing countries (Wikiversity)
- Mentoring Handbook (Wikibooks)
- A formal approach to school-based cross-age youth mentoring