Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Models 1 to 1 in education: Review, Prospects and Challenges


The International Conference on Models 1 to 1 in education, organized jointly by the IDB, the World Bank and OECD, and hosted by the Ministry of Education of Austria, has been an excellent opportunity to review the state of the art in implementation of such strategies in the world.

The coverage of the event we did in this blog (summaries of session 1, session 2 and session 3) and through Twitter, permit to visualize the vast amount of experiences presented, each with its own characteristics and contexts. Undoubtedly, the opportunity to have them all together in a single time and space, has been a huge gain to participants and organizers.


The delegation from Latin America had an outstanding participation. Invited by the IDB, exposed Fernando Brum (Ceibal Plan, Uruguay), Oscar Becerra (One laptop per child, Peru), Franklin Dias Coelho and Maria Helena Cauteiro (Pirai Digital, Brazil), Cecilia Alcala (Paraguay Educa, Paraguay), Patricia Sierra (Pies Descalzos, Colombia), Alejandro Piscitelli (Argentina) and Miguel Nussbaum (Chile).

The main consensus of the conference was that 1-to-1estartegies did not represent itself a solution to the challenges of education. Investment in technology for students and teachers are necessary and indispensable, but require the development of broad initiatives, holistic and complex approach, if they want to have real impact.

In the same vein, it was a great consensus on the need for initiatives that use technology in education should aim at improving the quality of educational outcomes. The costs for this type of investment is expensive, especially for developing countries, so we must make special efforts to ensure that this effort is effectively translated into opportunities for a better quality education. The goal of equity of access is important, but insufficient to sustain the effort over the long term.

In line with the conceptual framework developed by the IDB, the findings can represent the expected impact of models 1 to 1 in education in four areas: motivation and commitment of the actors, new educational practices, educational achievement in core subjects and new skills.

Regarding the motivation and commitment of the actors, all the experiences reviewed in the three-day seminar realize that this is a result that in the short term can be worked and successfully measured. In each one of the presentations, we discussed how students, teachers, families and the community saw in these initiatives cause for enthusiasm and involvement. The surveys, interviews, attendance, dropout and enrollment rates, consistently show that indeed there is an almost immediate impact in this area.

Less clear is the effect can be demonstrated so far in changing educational practices. Neither the traditional experiences in projects that were implemented in top-down way or "cascade" strategy, nor the most radical, in which the devices were delivered to students rapid and massively have documented and assessed the changes, and often nor even been planned or prepared. The consensus that, for impact on learning, is a condition that the introduction of devices change the practices of teachers, students, families and schools, makes urgent to predict and measure this with much greater thoroughness.

Several countries have measured or are measuring the impact of the 1 to 1 models introduction on the acquisition of basic curricular skills (math, language arts, science), but many have not yet planned. The impacts found are generally positive but moderate. There was also consensus on the need to deepen the implementation of instruments to measure, but above all, ways to better align supply device so that effectively bring new teaching approaches and methodologies for teaching these subjects.

Finally, on the development in students of higher level skills, also called "21th century skills", supported by the introduction of such strategies, there was consensus on its necessity and lack of knowledge and specific tools that allow their development and measurement. There is great hope in the work he has initiated a consortium of universities in this regard (www.atc21s.org) and should provide results from this year.

In short, countries are investing in initiatives 1 to 1 in education despite all the limitations described. Beyond the "lack of evidence", the model is perceived as a very attractive opportunity to shake the educational systems and open new options for profound changes that improve the quality of their results.

This will require that the initial commitment and enthusiasm aroused by this model on the actors, increasingly focuses on changing educational practices, so as to make them relevant to the new demands of students and society. A more personalized education, more focused on the characteristics and conditions of each student, it seems necessary condition to produce better learning outcomes.

The Inter-American Development Bank, together with OECD and World Bank will continue working together, in order to monitor and support the efforts of countries, publishing papers and presentations from the Conference, and organizing within two years, a new international conference to follow up to what is known at this time.

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