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Young brains and computers: facts and myths

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. Read the rest of this entry

Radio Free XO

Best of Luck to Team One Beep (http://tiny.cc/flay5) next week as they compete in the final international round of the MS Imagine Cup. Their success in transmitting content over FM radio frequencies to an XO is a nice partial solution. Connectivity is a forever problem. As OLPC continues to develop programs in areas where infrastructure is subject to frequent disruption from natural or man-made causes its use as a communication device is full of possibilities.Read the rest of this entry

XOs for High School: new design, Uruguay snags 90,000

We have been working on a new XO laptop for high school students -- one with a larger and more responsive keyboard better suited to the hands of older students.Read the rest of this entry

Pennsylvania's Charter School success

The Chester Community Charter School in Chester, Pennsylvania, with roughly 2500 students, is the largest pilots of XOs in a charter school, and one of the largest single-school pilots in the US.Read the rest of this entry

Nindoma Sherpa and a yak deliver XOs to Nepal

The WFP has been developing some lovely materials to support their work with OLPC in Nepal. In a recent animation short, Nim Doma Sherpa (the youngest woman to climb Mt. Everest) and an acrobatic yak (who seems to have been working with her for some time) snowboard down a mountain to deliver XOs to a school of children. Priceless.