Archive for February, 2010


Fundacion Omar Dengo, Costa Rica


The partnership between the Ministry of Education and Fundación Omar Dengo in Costa Rica is seen by many as a model for introducing, implementing and evaluating technology use in education. The Omar Dengo Foundation (ODF) is a private non-profit organization that has been managing and carrying out national and regional projects in the fields of human development, educational innovation and new technologies since 1987. Its different projects have benefitted more than 1.5 million Costa Ricans, including children and young people, students, educators, professionals, people from the community, and senior citizens, contributing to renovation of the national educational processes by introducing and taking advantage of digital technologies. A few programs of  ODF are highlighted below.

Through Innov@ Institute, the unit responsible for creating proposals for programming and the products and services offered, the organization has gained expertise in ‘education informatics’, ‘cognition, programming and learning’, ‘digital government’, ‘robotics and learning’, ‘entrepreneurship and digital productivity’.

Labor@: Centers for entrepreneurial practice” teaches the high school students, office productivity software, logical reasoning and effective use of ICTs in business – by providing a simulation of working in a firm, a part from, business management and entrepreneurial skills.

Explor@: Using digital technologies to foster youth talents” is collaboration of government with Walmart and Microsoft aimed to target 20,000 youth inspiring them to use ICTs for innovation. The project organizes workshops for electronic game design, digital newspaper editing, web-designing, disaster prevention, data processing packages and software.

The magazine Zon@ M is a digital newspaper distributed twice each year over the Internet, prepared by students in grades 7, 8, and 9 who participate in the Digital Journalism Club.

CADE program is an educational program designed to promote active citizenship. The program seeks to strengthen and develop deliberative capabilities in children and adolescents using digital technologies as didactical resources.

Robotica is an Educational Robotics Program providing a digital environment relying on digital technologies and inspiring innovation, creativity, thought, analysis, design and troubleshooting. The program also includes training for teachers and a discussion blog. The official website states the motive as:

“The purpose is to use the work done on projects to create a scientific-technological culture where the students prepare significant programming products, build prototypes related to industrial or technological process simulation, or recreate sites and events linked to their socio-cultural setting.”

New Millennium is a digital magazine for students published on the Internet in two annual editions. This project seeks for Costa Rican students to be creative and active Internet users, using this medium to express themselves and share what they have learned with boys and girls from around the world. In addition, it is an attempt for students to be able to appropriate the technology, i.e, know how to use it and build significant products.

Edunov@ explores the use of mobile technology in education.

Reviews of Omar Dengo Foundation’s project can be seen here, here and here.

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Nokia Innovation Contest


Finally the details of the NOKIA Innovation contest as prophesized in our previous post are out. The contest details are available at the Official Site. The targeted contest for Pakistani Developers are here. The contest focuses on development of mobile applications.

Access all details regarding the contest here. read more

Innovative ICT-enabled educational practices in Australia


Australia’s primary school students are now being equipped with the skills needed for the digital age. School students are now being switched on to some of the most up-to-date technology available, from laptop computers for students in years 9-12 to interactive whiteboards, video-conferencing equipment and even virtual classrooms.

The West Australian Education Department recently trialled a program that allowed students and teachers to download free information and resources through iTunes U – an area of the iTunes store offering free education content from top institutions around the world.

students using interactive whiteboard in a school in NSWSchools throughout Australia will be using the technology of interactive white-boards, which have the capabilities of connecting immediately to the internet so students and teachers can access information immediately. By connecting the whiteboards to a laptop computer and projector, teachers can also convert freehand writing on the whiteboard into text, and then print it for students.

The Victorian education department is now trialing virtual classrooms – a computer accessible, online learning environment intended to fulfill many of the learning facilitation roles of a physical classroom. The
Queensland Education Department has a similar concept in the Learning Place – a comprehensive online eLearning environment available to all staff and students with anywhere, anytime access through a dedicated portal.

Source: Sydney morning herald

MAB using TTS to bring internet to visually impaired


NormalText-to-speech (TTS) is an application that converts text on a webpage to synthesized speech so that people unable to read the text owing to their visual impairment could understand the web content with their hearing ability. Over the years, the Malaysian Association for the Blind (MAB) has been working very hard to provide training in this aspect for blind people.

Rahim using internetAccording to MAB’s  ICT manager Encik Silatul Rahim bin Dahman: developed countries have made it compulsory through legislation for web content operators to conform to a set of design guidelines called the Web Content Accessibility Guideline (WCAG) in order to facilitate the “reading” of their content with the help of TTS technology. For instance, every image on the web page must be tagged with an alternative text so that visually challenged web users could “listen” to the text read out to them by the speech synthesizer.

Otherwise, what they might hear could just be jumbled up vocals that do not make sense to them. He pointed out that TTS is not only applicable to personal computers; it could also be applied to mobile phones.

Rahim was the first blind Malaysian to have received TTS training in the United States. He helped set up a training centre in Penang upon his return to the country in 1993,
while the centre at Brickfields began its operation in 2005. Another training centre was recently set up in Kuching, Sarawak this July. “I may be 100% blind but the internet has taken away 50% of my disability,” says Rahim.

Normally it takes a learner about five days to pick up the fundamental skills of surfing the net with TTS. There are some 30 computers at the centre open for visually handicapped individuals to use. There are currently 20,500 blind people
registered with the Social Welfare Department, of whom some 2,000 people or about 10% have received TTS training from the MAB. Other than providing training courses for local blind people, MAB also offers courses for people from other regional countries such as Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar and Indonesia. In addition to IT training, MAB also provides a broad range of other services to help the blind people, including rehabilitation, recreational facilities, pre-school programes, vocational training (woodwork, massage, reflexology, computer programming, etc.) as well as disaster relief.

Sources: MySinchew, The nut graph
(image courtesy to nut graph)


“Partners in Learning” is a global initiative designed to actively increase access to technology and improve its use in learning. Since its launch in 2003, Partners in Learning has touched the lives of more than 135 million students, teachers, and education policymakers in 101 countries.

Its program “Innovative Schools” helps schools around the world to move beyond the limits of the classroom and traditional learning models. For instance, In Singapore, the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore and Microsoft have initiated BackPack.NET, an ambitious five year program which encourages inquiry, creativity, and student-centered learning through advanced applications of technology in the classroom. It includes a pilot project that puts Tablet PCs into the hands of every student at a number of “pioneer schools.”

“Innovative Teachers” connects and empowers educators worldwide. For example, in India, Microsoft is working with education departments, colleges, and universities to incorporate pre-service information and communications technology (ICT) curriculum in a sustainable and scalable model. Already, 160,000 teachers and hundreds of teacher educators have been trained in ICT skills. The Innovative Teachers Network enables teachers to learn from one another and work collaboratively on new approaches to learning through national or region-wide portals. Today, on a daily basis, more than 400,000 teachers on 52 local networks connect and share ideas, practices, and professional development resources.

“Innovative Students” aims to provide students with access to programs and curriculum that help fully integrate technology into the learning process, both in school and at home. It also enables qualified governments to provide used computers and affordable software to underserved primary and secondary student households that aspire to own a PC. Microsoft is also supporting the Innovative Teaching and Learning (ITL) research project to contribute information and policy insights on effective education transformation.

Detailed information about Microsoft Partners in learning initiatives in five Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries: Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Viet Nam can be found in this case study.

Source: Adapted from Microsoft Partners in Learning webpage and brochure.

UNESCO SchoolNet Project in South-east Asian Countries


SchoolNet is an initiative that promotes the effective use of information and communication technologies (ICT) in learning through supporting the connection of schools to the Internet and by creating a network of schools. The UNESCO SchoolNet project, “Strengthening ICT in Schools and SchoolNet Project in ASEAN Setting”, was initiated in recognition of the need to assist teachers in integrating ICT into teaching and to facilitate participation of teachers and students in the Asia-Pacific region in SchoolNet telecollaboration activities.

The project was launched in July 2003 and focuses on three subject areas, languages, mathematics and science. SchoolNet activities have been piloted in 24 schools in8 participating countries of the ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations) region: Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Viet Nam.

The UNESCO SchoolNet project aims to encourage use of ICT in teaching-learning, improve connectivity, expand access to the wealth of educational resources available via the Internet and establish and promote SchoolNet in the Asia-Pacific region. National coordinators facilitate project implementation in each participating ASEAN-region country. Project partners include Japanese Funds-in-Trust and ASEAN Foundation.

Source:UNESCO SchoolNet Project resource


The IBM KidSmart Early Learning Program integrates new interactive teaching and learning activities using the latest technology into the pre-kindergarten curricula. The program is now being implemented in 60 countries internationally, serving more than 2 million children from remote geographic areas to underprivileged areas of town and cities.

IBM’s KidSmart program includes the Young Explorer™, a computer housed in brightly colored, kid-friendly Little Tikes™ furniture and equipped with award-winning educational software to help children learn and explore concepts in math, science and language. Through KidSmart, IBM donates one Young Explorer unit to select schools and also installs educational software for free on a school’s existing computers. The program includes follow-up services: If the schools experience software-related problems, IBM will fix the problems and reinstall the programs if necessary.

The program’s main target is children who do not have access to computers. IBM thus coordinates with the National Education Ministry to select schools to be included in KidSmart. IBM also runs teacher training workshops as part of KidSmart to introduce teachers to the technology, and also to teach them how to integrate KidSmart as a classroom activity.

Since its launch in 1998, IBM has invested more than $106 million in the KidSmart Early Learning Program, including the donation of more than 45,000 KidSmart Early Learning Centers. The program is now in 60 countries, and has trained more than 100,000 teachers and served more than 10 million students.

There’s also a web site available to support teachers and parents. The KidSmart Early Learning website was created in collaboration with the Center for Children and Technology, Bank Street College of Education and United Way. Available in 9 languages, the website includes a guide for parents to encourage early learning at home and a section for preschool teachers that details how they can best use technology to support learning in their classrooms.

Source: IBM website

Cisco and Portuguese government partner to connect schools


Cisco is partnering with the government of Portugal under Technological Plan for Education, which aims to bring information and communication technology (ICT) literacy to students and promote the use of new technologies in the educational system. Cisco® technologies will be used to provide high-density local-area network and wireless access in every classroom in every secondary school in Portugal.

Cisco would be working in cooperation with Portugal Telecom, the prime contractor of the ‘Internet in the Classroom’
project, to equip 1,220 schools with 215,000 Ethernet ports and 15,000 wireless access points. The Portuguese
Ministry of Education
launched the Internet in the Classroom project as a foundation for the Portuguese government’s Technological Plan to bring high-speed fibre broadband access to every school and put fixed and wireless networks in the classrooms to connect all students and staff.
The Technological Plan for Education will also see a number of secondary schools establish Cisco Networking Academy® programs to teach key ICT skills to a diverse student population. Five academies are being set up with further plans to increase the number to 200.

With Technological plan for Education, Portugal is on its way to completely digitize the education system with several
ICT- related activities. Provision of ICT skills to teachers, computers for schools and laptops for students are among key initiatives of this project.

Source: Cisco press
release, Ministry of Education Portugal
resources

Intel trains teachers of Asia Pacific region


UNESCO Bangkok and Intel have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to impart technologically up-to-date teaching skills to pre-service teachers in 9 countries in the Asia Pacific region. These countries are: Bangladesh, Cambodia, Indonesia, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.

Teachers in a training

UNESCO and Intel would together deliver the ‘Next Generation of Teachers’ Project with the objective to enable teachers to integrate Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) efficiently in their teaching methodology. The program would deploy resources from Intel Teach Program in Teacher Education Institutions (TEIs) across the region. Under this collaboration, workshops already have been conducted in Bangladesh, Mongolia and Philippines in over 23 teacher education institutions.

The Intel Teach Program enables teachers to be more effective educators by training them on incorporation of technology in education as well as on promotion of analytical thinking, problem solving and cooperation skills in their students. To date, the program has trained more than 6 million teachers in over 50 countries, including 15 countries in Asia Pacific.

Participants Intel Teach Philippines

Intel Teach is running a huge project in Indonesia, in collaboration with USAID; the program enables master teachers to integrate ICTs in their daily lessons, who further train their fellow teachers on Intel teach program. The project aims to train at least 15,000 Indonesian teachers by 2010. Under a similar project, Intel trained around 80,000 teachers in Philippines and also donated some Intel-based personal computers.

Intel’s another initiative, Intel World Ahead program is designed to provide affordable computers, Internet access and localized digital content; hence helps connecting people to technology.


 computer lab in Philippines schoolThe department of Education (DepEd) in Philippines has joined hands with several private corporations and social organizations to launch DepEd Internet Connectivity Project (DICP). Under this program, DepEd has fully adopted and supported Gearing up Internet Literacy and Access for Students (GILAS) project.

Launched on May 15, 2009, DICP aims to connect all the public schools in Philippines to internet as well as providing necessary training to teachers and students in about five years. Provision of electronic library system and integration of ICTS in all learning areas of curriculum are also on the target list of DepEd. So far, the project has already connected 2,375 out of 6,505 schools throughout the country.

Through DICP, Philippines was the first country to affiliate with ‘ICT for Education project’ of Intel. Globe Telecom, IBM, Microsoft Philippines, Apple South Asia, and Philstar.com are among many other partners of the program.

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