A non-profit devoted to providing children everywhere with a quality, innovative education through the OLPC education program.
The idea of one computer per child dates back nearly 40 years, to the Constructionist learning theories pioneered by Seymour Papert, an MIT mathematician, computer scientist, educator, and protégé of Jean Piaget, the father of cognitive development theory. Constructionist learning involves students drawing their own conclusions through creative experimentation and the process of making things. According to Papert, computers provide children with a highly flexible platform for learning through creating. Computers also give children the opportunity to share ideas and express themselves. By facilitating learning, computers further the cognitive development of children.
Since the 1970s, there have been numerous pilot projects involving one computer per child in the U.S., India, Latin America and Southeast Asia, involving children and the use of computers. All had positive results.
In 2004, Nicholas Negroponte, MIT professor and founder of the MIT Media Lab, concluded that it was time to turn theory into reality. The technology to build a connected laptop affordable for all of the world’s children was available. In January 2005, Negroponte unveiled the One Laptop per Child initiative at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
Each OLPC Laptop comes with software designed specifically for children. The Sugar learning environment promotes collaborative learning through rich-media expression as part of an effort to provide an opportunity for a quality education to every child. With a collection of more than 200 software applications, including web browsing, art, music, writing, math, games, programming, Sugar provides children a rich environment for learning. Three attributes make Sugar unique and special:
-Simplicity – Sugar has a “low floor” so that even children as young as 2 and 3 years old can start to use it. At the same time, there is no limit to what children can achieve. Children can use Sugar to reach very complex ideas. They are not bound by its simplicity; but rather, they use its simplicity as a catalyst for growth.
-Collaboration – Sugar has built-in mechanisms for collaboration that make it very easy for children and teachers to work together on projects, to share ideas and to engage in critical dialogues. With Sugar, learners balance the exploration of knowledge with expression of their own ideas.
-Reflection – Sugar maintains a journal of everything a child does. It is a record of what the learners make and the construction process. A portfolio tool pulls material from the journal, enabling a child, parent, or teacher to monitor progress as a means of assessment.
The Sugar learning platform is not about instruction, it is about learning. Children using Sugar learn under the guidance of their teacher and peers.
Sugar can be mapped to any existing learning curriculum and contains built-in portfolio assessment tools. A team of educators from around the world provides pedagogical input. Sugar supports local customization and development. It is also supported by a worldwide development community.
OLPC believes that learning is the basis for full human, social and economic empowerment. To achieve success in today’s global economy, children must develop essential skills in four areas:
-Creativity and innovation}
-Critical thinking and problem solving
Along with a solid foundation in subjects such as mathematics, science and the language arts, digital fluency is now a basic requirement of a 21st century education.
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