A post by new contributor Antonio Battro, OLPC's Chief Education Officer
Recently, there has been much debate about whether computers, video games and electronic gadgets are helpful or harmful to the cognitive development of children. Some naysayers point to a study that says that multi-tasking degrades cognitive performance. The proponents assert that new digital technologies provide new opportunities for creativity and collaboration. This debate is also being played out in ministries of education, universities and classrooms all around the world. The outcome will have a major impact on the education and development of our children.
New disciplines coming from the neurocognitive sciences are changing our theory and practice of education and shaping the new field of neuroeducation. At the same time, new communication and information technologies are changing the way we teach and learn. Millions of children and teachers of the world are sharing and shaping a new neurocognitive digital environment. This formidable transformation has opened a debate that often mixes facts with myths. One of the most disruptive “neuromyths” is that early introduction of computing can harm the brain development of a young child and cause "attention damage.” Some even argue that computing in schools should be introduced only to older children. These are myths that we must replace with facts.
One of the amazing facts is that first and second languages are processed in the same cortical regions of the brain when the second language is learned early in life. Otherwise, the second language is shifted to different circuits of the cortex. In a sense, when humans use a computer and share the same digital environment they are using a second language, or "digitalese." Postponing the new linguistic skills needed in a digital world contradicts scientific findings in neurolinguistics.
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OLPC learns and grows from every distribution, small or large, and actively seeks out feedback, documentation and analysis. OLPC partners and communities are critical contributors in this feedback loop and likewise are usually interested in how monitoring and evaluation studies from different countries can offer insight into successes and challenges of one laptop per child programs.Read the rest of this entry
At OLPC this morning Rumi Chunara, PhD, a Research Fellow at HealthMap and Harvard Medical School gave an inspiring introduction to her work - http://healthmap.org/en/. It's a live site that tracks global health issues through local submissions -- tracking needs that are pressing a community most direly.
OLPC has been conducting research and fieldwork that focuses on education for children in crises, cutting across areas of crucial needs such as health and shelter. The effects of tools like Health Map and Ushahidi linked to an XO for family and kid support can have untold benefits for providing life saving information to a community.
OLPC's global community of contributors and volunteers is gathering for its largest ever meeting to date, on the weekend of October 22-24, in San Francisco! Thanks to the OLPC San Francisco Community led by Professor Sameer Verma, and our gracious host San Francisco State University. If you want to take a stand for global education rights For All in this 21st century, now is your time -- OLPC's Global Community is a friendly and supportive network inviting you too to Stand & Deliver
I've lost count of how many times the demise and resurrection of OLPC and Sugar have been proclaimed and celebrated. What makes these projects tick? Grow? I ask myself this question whenever I start feeling burned out, wondering why I remain attached to the project and this green machine.
My own journey with OLPC, Sugar and all things related, has been underway for years. I'm a techie at heart, a "thinly-disguised" business school professor, teaching IT strategy and researching business models and consumer behavior. Every once in a while, I'll sit down and compile a kernel, or run a packet sniffer. (What can I say? It's instant gratification and a lot more fun :-) I think of the tech as the supply side of my interest: The XO makes for a great technology platform. The mesh (whether 802.11s or ad-hoc), suspend with the screen lit, robustness, low power, etc. is all very cool. Cool enough for a grown man to walk around with a funny-looking green machine slung around his shoulder. The software stack too is amazing, flexible, free. The content is rich. Wikipedia in a box? Awesome! The tech definitely keeps me tethered. Then there's the demand side: a part of my family lives in rural India, in Bhagmalpur. A village where I have seen the simple life. Clean air, good food, quiet living. Its also stricken with poverty, sanitation issues, water shortages, and seriously untapped ingenuity
After 3 years, in dozens of countries, OLPC challenges the world to put the story of OLPC accomplishments on the map. Photographically, telephonically, viscerally - the passionate doers of our community movement are connect more intimately than ever before. No matter their deployment size, their age, or their creed.
In Cambodia, where last year nearly 250 people - one-third of them children - were killed or injured by mines and unexploded bombs, educating the next generation on how to avoid the detritus of war is vital.