Monday, January 25, 2010

International Conference on 1-to-1 in Education

An international conference hosted by the Austrian Ministry of Education and jointly organised by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), and the World Bank (WB) will be developed on February 22-24, in Vienna, Austria.




Background
Low-cost computer devices, ranging from handhelds to the current reinterpretation of laptops or netbooks, have gained an important market niche. To some, they represent an open window of opportunity in education: by allowing every pupil to connect to the Net and access valuable resources irrespective of place and time.

Some countries are beginning to make (or seriously considering) massive investments in '1-to-1 computing' (i.e. every child receives her/his own personal computing device -- usually a laptop). This is based on a belief that, by enabling EVERY pupil to connect to the Internet, and to each other, to access valuable resources irrespective of place and time, countries can help to bridge the digital divide while at the same time transform education to better suit the needs of networked knowledge societies.

Countries as varied as Uruguay (where every primary school student now has a free laptop) and Portugal (where the government is rolling out a scheme for every student to have their own personal laptop) have made bold decisions to invest in '1-to-1 computing' for all of their students, and many other countries are engaged in pilot projects at a smaller scale.

While many initial investments in this area were, truth be told, based more on faith in a concept than on hard evidence, some interesting and useful lessons and models are emerging to help answer questions such as:

  • What does this cost?
  • What is the impact of these sorts of initiatives (and how should we measure such impact)?
  • What useful implementation and procurement models are emerging?
  • What challenges do these sorts of initiatives present for policymakers, and what are some useful policy responses?
  • What technologies should we be considering?
  • To what extent -- and how -- do we need to re-engineer our education systems (teacher training, curricula, content, assessment) if we want to take advantage of such investments?

It is against this context that this international conference should provide an opportunity for engaging in a dialogue, drawing on existing experiences and discussing their benefits and the problems encountered with a forward looking perspective. Both developing and developed countries could benefit from such a discussion.

Objectives of the Conference

  1. To present the main experiences in large-scale uses of digital devices (ranging from handhelds and cellular phones to netbooks and notebooks) under the paradigm of 1-to-1 computing, and examine the opportunities and risks from an educational and socio-economic perspective.
  2. To review the research evidence about the cost-effectiveness of these experiences, the effects on teaching and learning processes, and on educational performance, as well as the wider benefits (local providers, families, communities).
  3. To identify the knowledge gaps and suggest opportunities for further research.
  4. To discuss the lessons learnt and the eventual policy implications.
  5. To provide opportunities for peer-learning among countries and international networking.
More information and Registration: www.bildung.at/nml-conference2010

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