Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Critical technology being implemented (pdf)

My reading of things related to what I am calling "Critical Technology" continues. My interest in the $100 laptop also continues. So in my internet searches for readings related to Critical Pedagogy and Paulo Friere these two interests came together. This paper describes the "educational content" and how the approach to developing the educational content for the $100 laptop will be very Frieriean and modeled after the succesful projects in Brasil where technology and learning were brought together. The paper confirmed that the approach toward educational content will be very grassroots and driven by the learners. Of course this is an oversimplication of what the paper said. Just the fact that they are leaning toward a Frieriean approach bodes well in the laptops success. This paper also confirmed the importance of the critical technologist, a mentor or facilitator of critical approaches to learning within a technology rich environment.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Pedagogy of Curiosity

A discussion between Paulo Freire and Seymour Papert regarding the future of school. So much good stuff within this discussion between these two great thinkers. I believe it is best if you read the whole transcript yourself and/or watch the videos. What I have included here are what I consider the highlights of this discussion;
The pedagogy of the question, not the answer.
His (Papert) analysis seems to be metaphysical and mine (Freire) is politico-historical.
In general, the discussion is centered around three simple stages of learning;
  1. learning through exploration (baby to toddler)
  2. learning by being told (k12 schooling)
  3. back to exploration (later university and beyond)
Both Freire and Papert agree to these three stages to learning. And they agree that the second stage needs to change, they differ in how they see it changing. Interestingly, the second stage was developed due to the other two stages. According to Freire, the perpetuation of the second stage is due to politics not ontological reasons. And Papert believes that with all the current and future enabling technology future generation will revolt against the second stage. Freire would see the change happening within the existing structures and having a critical approach to change the surrounding politics, Papert would see a change initiated by the coming generations of learners. Both agreed education should empower the learner with the "raison d'etre" -- reason for having.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Critical Technologists

In my previous post I spoke to the idea of teachers well versed in the critical technology approach. It would seem that the GIIP has already begun the development of these Critical Technologists.

Critical Technology Defined

After some reflection I am going to create my first statement defining Critical Technology as I believe it to be.
Fundamentally it will be based upon Critical Pedagogy. I believe the use of technology within education should be from the grass roots (meaning; those who are using the technology, the "students"). How the technology should be used is defined by the students and the teachers well versed with the critical technology approach.
More on all this after I have completed my research. Currently, I'm reading some books, papers and watching some videos. When significant pieces of information form I will write a post in this stream of conciousness blog.

Friday, April 07, 2006


This podcast summarizes the previous 18 posts. To view the transcript of this podcast visit this sites academic companion blog.

$100 laptop, microfinance, constructivism and critical pedagogy

Offer $100.00 laptops to economically resiliant microfinanced families with children available for education and combine that with constructivist learning methods and teachers well versed in critical pedogogy. Once you have all the pieces in place you can work with the local community and identify a group of cohorts (Gow, 2001) that meet the optimal laptop profile and build on the success already within these families.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

UN Millenium Goals

Two of the UN Millenium Goals have good alignment with the introduction of the $100 laptops goal of a laptop for every child in the next five to seven years. The two millenium goals are;
Goal 2. Achieve universal primary education
Goal 3. Promote gender equality and empower women

Over 30 million served

Since its inception the microfinance approach to helping people out of poverty has served between 30 and 50 million people. All these small loans amount to a total 2.5 billion dollars being loaned out by thousands of these "banks for the poor".

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

A closer look at the $100 laptop

Microfinance programs are available

All the places targeted to pilot the $100 laptop already have established microfinance programs. These locations would have the required financial infrastructure and families to utilize these laptops in their families education.

Community Source

How will all the software and curriculum get built? To begin with the operating system is based upon the open source offering of Linux, therefore all the open source software currently being built is freely available for the $100 laptop. A number of open source courseware (MIT & Educational Commons) initiatives have started up. The $100 laptop could take advantage of these or begin to create its own open courseware initiative. The courseware would be built by community source where groups of development teams come together and share the costs and efforts of building new curriculum and then share this curriculum back into the open courseware community...

$100 laptop isn't without critics

The $100 laptop initiative doesn't come without its critics. The criticism falls into four main areas;
1) People need to eat first
2) How are you going to dispose of them once they are done
3) Where is the curriculum going to come from
4) Wouldn't the billions of dollars to build these things be better spent on (low-tech) educational initiatives.
I believe the content of this blog answers 3 of the 4;
1) I'm proposing that Laptop recipients are engaged in some asset stabalization (like microfinance) and are already reading their family to send one of their children to school.
3) Leverage the ideas of Critical Pedagogy; where cohort programs are set up to create groups of teachers within each community. Constructivist learning methods are used.
4) Yes, maybe the Billions of dollars would be better spent somewhere else. But there not going to be, so better to engage and help it be a success and join in with helping the UN Millennium Development Goals be a success.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Microfinance works

The most passionate claims always lead back to educating their children. Fortunately, education is seen as one of the keys to ending poverty.

Ending poverty has become pop culture

With all the media exposure and all the pop stars getting involved the attainment of ending poverty may be more real now than ever before.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Based upon constructivist methods

The MIT labs have stressed the importance of using constructivist (Bender, 2006) methods when building cirriculum for the $100 laptops. Its about the world teaching its children... And it will be built from the bottom up. The recipients of the laptops will determine how they use them to learn.


Sunday, April 02, 2006

Enter the $100 laptop

When MIT introducted the $100 laptop and said they were going to be giving them away to the third world, I was skeptical. I believed they would be sold for food on ebay days after their arrival. basic needs become more important than a laptop when you have no food. Having basic needs already met should be a requirement for receiving a 100 dollar laptop. Programs like microfinance should be included as a part of the collaborative effort in introducing these laptops.

Technology and Critical Pedagogy

The connection of technology and the emerging pedagogy is a mute point, they are interrelated (Travers, 1999). One cannot discuss one without the other. Within the current and emerging pedagogies are contructivism and critical pedagogy. It should be noted that critical pedagogy and social constructivism are similar and the terms are sometimes used to describe the same thing (Travers, 1999). Both these pedogogical theories stress the important of the social context of the learning and that knowledge should be constructed from this social, political, cultural, ideological place. When it comes to the use of technology within learning both constructivism and critical pedagogy should be referred to when building curriculum.

My greatest joy is I can educate my children

Microfinance is focused on providing small loans to families stuck in the cycle of poverty. These loans have been hugely successful in bringing families out of poverty. Once out of poverty the families priorities often shift to educating thier children. The common expression from two women is surprising;
"My children give me great joy because they have this opportunity to study." - Woman in Nigeria
"My greatest joy is I can educate my children." - Woman in Mexico

A coordinated combination

The elimination of poverty includes focus on many fronts. The ability to have self reliance, food, water and shelter are the first steps. Building upon the self-determination afforded by microfinance includes many services.

A coordinated combination of microfinance and other development services to improve business, income and assets, health, nutrition, family planning, education of children, social support networks, and so on. (Dunford, 2002)

Education can be a great help to eliminating poverty only it needs to be introduced with the correct combination of services and family health.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Microfinance works, and is a place to start

The idea of Microfinance is simple. If we loan people small sums of money to make the first step and become self reliant. They do become self reliant and the success builds upon itself. Once their basic needs are met, then they can consider education.