[IAEP] Its.an.education.project Digest, Vol 4, Issue 8

Bill Kerr billkerr at gmail.com
Tue Jul 8 02:19:12 CEST 2008

On Tue, Jul 8, 2008 at 4:24 AM, Edward Cherlin <echerlin at gmail.com> wrote:

> On Mon, Jul 7, 2008 at 6:20 AM, Walter Bender <walter.bender at gmail.com>
> wrote:
> Bryan Berry <bryan at olenepal.org> wrote:
> >> Again, the culture at Bill's school is radically different from 99.9% of
> >> all schools in Nepal. The culture here is very conservative and
> hierarchical.
> >> We aren't going to change this over night or even in several years.
> >
> > I wonder. Albeit with some external intervention in the form of
> > mentoring the teachers, in both Pakistan and Nigeria, some "very
> > conservative and hierarchical" classrooms did change--not overnight,
> > but within *weeks* of the introduction of Sugar.
> As also documented in Ethiopia. See the report at
> http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Academic Papers
> > Maybe the secret
> > sauce is to provide support to the teachers for engaging the children
> > in a new approach to learning: the "hard stuff" on Alan's diagram.
> > Sugar itself cannot do this itself, but a community that forms around
> > Sugar can!! In both Peru and Uruguay, the education bureaucracy is
> > trying to establish such a mentoring network. Maybe this is the
> > liability of being a small trial as oppose to a massive deployment.
> No, it worked with mentoring in a small trial in Ethiopia.

the ethiopian paper link is:
(underscore added)

interesting study, thanks edward, it does provide some evidence for methods
to break down rigid, hierarchical teaching methods (culture of politeness)

in broad terms the method was to find ways of establishing some continuity
with the  existing culture and then, down the track, ask questions about
what learning is being achieved through existing instructionist methods -
the way of joining but tweaking the existing culture was to provide
interactive digital textbooks, rather than paper textbooks -  the
interactive features began to be used and appreciated by students and

Melepo, an interactive book reader developed by Eduvision (
http://www.eduvision.ch/en/OurService/melepo.php) was added to the OLPCs and
for the older classes seems to have been the main software used (younger
kids used games too)

Should this software be added by default to Sugar? Is that possible, is it
free, open?

The school was atypical in a sense (page 11, "the prestigious nature of the
schools served to attract unusually experienced and dedicated teachers") -
the above average teacher quality would have contributed significantly to
the success

Duration of the project seems to have been fairly short --> 3 weeks (page 7)

the authors of the report are cautious about their claims:
"There was great willingness to please amongst the teachers and the
students. This resulted in difficulties obtaining honest and accurate
feedback. Whilst methods were devised to overcome this constraint it
remained a constant factor through the trial ..." (page 12)

"it would be premature to draw summative conclusions concerning the overall
efficacy of the programme at this stage ... " (page 13)

> > If
> > I am correct, this would suggest that we should accelerate our efforts
> > on building a social network for teachers.
> Good idea regardless. The rest of the world needs to hear from our
> teachers, not just from management and outside researchers. Also a
> global network for students.
> >The network is the thing
> > that is different this time: let's exploit it.
> Yes.
> > -walter
> > _______________________________________________
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> >
> --
> Edward Cherlin
> End Poverty at a Profit by teaching children business
> http://www.EarthTreasury.org/
> "The best way to predict the future is to invent it."--Alan Kay
> _______________________________________________
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