[OLPC Brasil] Aprendizado um-para-um: a visão de Walter Bender

José Antonio Rocha joseantoniorocha at gmail.com
Fri May 16 02:35:37 EDT 2008

Aproveitando que Walter Bender, ex-OLPC, lança a comunidade Sugarlabs.org,
aqui vão alguns de seus pensamentos sobre o aprendizado um-para-um,
construcionismo e o ambiente Sugar:

One-to-one computing in support of learning

* 1. Background
The past two-to-three years has seen the advent of a number of efforts to
bring about a global transformation of education through the provision of
connected "ultra-low-cost" laptop computers, most notably the OLPC XO-1
laptop; the Intel Classmate; the ASUS EEE; the One2OneMate StudentMate; and,
most recently, the HP Mini-Note and Elonex ONE.

These efforts, by both for-profit and not-for-profit organizations, are
about giving children who don't have the opportunity for learning
that opportunity: it's about access; it's about equity; and it's about
giving the next generation of children in the developing world a
bright and open future.

These efforts are predicated on the fact that children lack opportunity, not

   1. High-quality education for every child is essential to provide
   anequitable and viable society;
   2. A connected laptop computer is the most powerful tool forknowledge
   3. Access on a sufficient scale provides real benefits for learning
   because critical mass is necessary to establish a sustainable community.

A connected laptop is not in itself a cure to the problems of poverty and
ignorance, but it is an agency through which children, their
teachers, their families, and their communities can manufacture a cure.
Computers are tools with which to think, sufficiently
inexpensive to be used for work and play, drawing, writing, measuring,
composing, editing, mathematical thinking, programming, communication, and
economic development.

How big an opportunity is this? In just its first six months of mass
production, One Laptop per Child Association shipped 0.5 million
laptops. Other vendors are claiming sales at a similar volume.
Unequivocally, a market for an ultra-low-cost laptop computer is only
just emerging and with it comes an opportunity to impact learning. The
challenge now is to engage more people in participating in this global
learning initiative.
2. Learning learning*

The great task is to construct a personal epistemology, ontology, and
> ethics, not as a formal system, but as behavior, even brain structure.
> Epistemology is the construction of personal standards for telling fact from
> fancy, truth from fiction, and certainty from doubt. Ontology is the
> construction of theories of what exists. Ethical constructions remind us of
> what we think we should do even if we don't want to, and why. Everybody has
> them, and normally no two of us agree on them. The epistemology of
> Prussian-style education is, the King and his ministers are always right,
> and even if they weren't you would have no business questioning them. Or, at
> the classroom level, "It's true because I said so, now shut up and sit
> down!" The same attitude is common, even usual, in ontology and ethics as
> well. It's real because I said so, You have to because I said so.
—Seymour Papert*

Papert paints a grim picture. While the theoretical layer of didactic
methods has advanced, unfortunately, in much of the world's formal education
systems, there has been little progress. The computer serves as a power tool
for getting new pedagogical approaches into the system. While getting
computers into the hands of more children is undoubtedly of benefit, the
question remains, "how does one maximize the learning that occurs?" The
question arises whether a "teacher-centric" approach  versus "child-centric"
approach is best. This dichotomy is a false one; While we should not be
proscriptive, we should be striving for a "learning-centric" approach, where
teachers mentor students as they engage with powerful ideas.

While we want to give children access to knowledge—through media such as
electronic books, the world-wide web, and multimedia—we also should try to
skew the odds toward children and teachers appropriating this knowledge by
putting it to use and engaging in critical dialog. That is not just going to
happen by itself; we have to try to make it happen by giving them tools that
put them in the roles of consumer, critic, and creator within the context of
a learning community. Learning is not a service — it a process of active

One of the forces being unleashed by the one-to-one computing initiatives —
where children have access to computing "anytime" and "anywhere" — is the
change in the way software developers and computer-makers think about the
education industry. A  combination of strong and capable leadership—by
technologists and epistemologists — and cross-community collaboration is
necessary to ensure that the ideals of freedom, sharing, open critique, and
transparency will be part of the interface to learning that touches children
in the world's classrooms.

These ideas are embodied in the culture of free software, which is a
powerful culture for learning. It is possible to instill in the
education industry some of the culture, technology, and morals of the open
source movement. Such a transfer of culture could greatly enhance the
education industry and its ability to engage teachers and students:
empowering them with both the freedom to act and the freedom to be critical.
Criticism of ideas is a powerful force in learning and in fostering economic
development; unleashing that is an important part of the mission.

*3. What is Sugar?*

Information is about nouns; learning is about verbs. The Sugar interface, in
its departure from the desktop metaphor for computing,
is the first serious attempt to create a user interface that is based on
both cognitive and social constructivism: learners should engage in
authentic exploration and collaboration. It is based on three very simple
principles about what makes us human:

   1. everyone is a teacher and a learner;
   2. humans by their nature are social beings; and
   3. humans by their nature are expressive. These are the pillars of a user
   experience for learning.

Sugar also considers two aphorisms:

   1. you learn through doing, so if you want more learning you want more
   doing; and
   2. love is a better master than duty — you want people to engage in
   things that are authentic to them, things that they love.

The presence of other people is always present in the Sugar interface:
collaboration is a first-order experience. Students and teachers engage in a
dialog with each other, support each other,  critique each other, and share

Sugar is also discoverable: it can accommodate a wide variety of users, with
different levels of skill in terms of reading, language,
and different levels of experience with computing. It is easy to approach
and yet it doesn't put an upper bound on personal expression; one can peel
away layers and go deeper and deeper, with no restrictions.

Sugar is based on Python, an interpreted language, allowing the direct
appropriation of ideas: in whatever realm the learner is
exploring — music, browsing, reading, writing, programming, graphics, etc. —
they are able to drill deeper; they are not going to hit a wall, since they
can, at every level, engage in debugging both their personal expression and
the very tools that they use for that

* 4. Sugar Labs: a software-development association*

The Sugar development platform is available under the open-source GNU
General Public License (GPL) to anyone who wants to extend it. "Sugar Labs",
a (soon to be established) non-profit foundation will serve as a support
base and gathering place for the community of educators and software
developers who want to extend the platform and who have been creating
Sugar-compatible applications.

Sugar supports the notions that learners should "share by default" and be
able to "explore, express, debug, and critique." Thus Sugar puts an emphasis
on "activities" rather than "applications." The foundation will focus on
solving the challenges that are relevant to these aspects of the interface,

A goal is to make it "simple" to share Sugar activities. This will require
an architecture that allows discovery of activities.

A second goal is to create versions of Sugar that run on multiple operating
systems and on multiple hardware platforms. It should be "simple" to install
Sugar everywhere. Specifically, it means packaging for every distribution
and every virtual machine—removing
hardware-related dependencies wherever possible.

A third goal is to make it  "simple" to write Sugar activities. This
necessitates stable APIs and   example code that uses these APIs.

A fourth goal is to make Sugar activities even more secure. Our principal
user community is comprised of children; they must be
protected from malware, phishing, botnets, etc.

In order for Sugar to be successful, it needs the participation of a large
number of people who share a common goal while maintaining independence, so
that each participant has the ability to act independently. For these
reasons, Sugar Labs subscribes to these principles (from


   - Clear mission – Full disclosed objectives.
   - Declared commitments – Affinities and aversions explained.
   - Explicit connections outside – Relationships with other organizations


   - Horizontal organization – Teams and facilitators work on
   responsibilities and agreements.
   - Identified contributors – Who is who, people are reachable.
   - Clear responsibilities – Who is in charge of what.
   - Activities described – All the ongoing work is acknowledged.


   • Open participation – Anybody can access the information and get a first
   • Meritocracy – Responsibilities are acquired (or lost) based on own
skills and contributors' support.
   • Voluntary (non-)engagement – Nobody is forced to be involved or to keep


   - Regular reports – Reported activities and future plans allow monitoring
   and participation.
   - Information accessible – Even internal operational information is
   available by default.
   - Explicit confidentiality – It is explained what areas are confidential,
   why and who can access them.


   - Economic model – Feasibility and sustainability plans are exposed.
   - Resources – Inventory of items detailing who contributed what and why.
   - Public accounts – It's clear where the money comes from and where it

* 5. The Learning Learning Consortium: support and training for deployment*

In addition to sustaining the Sugar development platform, it is critical
that a number of redundant support organizations be fostered.
The Learning Learning Consortium is a (soon to be established) global
consortium of universities whose purpose is to advocate
constructionism (and other learning models), make educational content
available, providing learning software built on top of the Sugar platform,
support one-to-one computer deployments, observe, evaluate, and share the
lessons arising from them.

When a community chooses to do a "one laptop per child" deployment, the
Learning Learning Consortium will engage the local universities and help to
establish locally "owned" service organization—steering resources into local
capacity building.

The consortium will be device-agnostic, focusing entirely on the learning
ecosystem, from deployment to content to Sugar. Support is fundamentally a
social problem; engaging local universities is a great point of departure.

While there are many models of engaging university students in research and
community service, one particularly effective program is the MIT
Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP). Students are paid a
small stipend and course credit to work with faculty on authentic research
problems (as opposed to academic exercises). A program modeled after UROP
that gives students an opportunity to do field work in association with
deployments is being put into place in Peru; it can serve as a model for

* 6. The Sugar Franchise: local-capacity development*

There is an opportunity to establish commercial (for-profit) organizations
within the context of one-to-one computing in support of
learning as well. In a model that takes its inspiration from the world of
micro-finance, capital can be provided to small for-profit support
organizations around the world to establish Sugar "development and support"
franchises in local markets. These could be as "local" as teenagers
supporting a single school to regional or national programs for service and
repair, localization, customization, content generation, etc.

Thus we are helping spur investment locally and also sending a message that
investment in the local software and content industries is both necessary
and viable.



nome: "José Antonio Meira da Rocha" tratamento: "Prof. MS."
atividade: "Coordenação do Pós-Graduação Jornalismo em Mídias Digitais
googletalk: email: MSN: joseantoniorocha at gmail.com
ICQ: 658222 Skype: "meiradarocha_jor"
veículos: [ http://meiradarocha.jor.br http://olpcitizen.blogspot.com ]
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