Friday, March 14, 2008

Innovation in the Classroom

The city of Serrana, Brazil, has decided to take matters into their own hands instead of depending on Intel and Nicholas Negroponte, who heads up the One Laptop Per Child Project to supply low cost laptops to the Brazilian federal government for use in the classroom.

But how important is mobility to younger kids? It’s not as if they need to check their emails on the go like corporate executives. Keeping the PC in the classroom will reduce the misuse of these devices.

CNet recently interviewed Victor Mammana, who heads up the display branch of the Brazilian government's Ministry of Science and Technology, about his new project that he is heading in Serrana, Brazil. Victor has co-invented a tablet PC that will be integrated into desktops in classrooms. By the end of this month, over 200 desktops will be transformed into the “Serrano Digital Desk”. Here’s a video of the desk (this newscast is in Portuguese).

These 15in LCD screens cost $30 to build and cost about $550 to integrate them into desktops. The laptops though, only cost roughly $100 to $200, but the city of Serrana seems fine with this decision. Here’s why…

What’s so great about this project? Not only are kids in the city of Serrano getting access to computers in their classroom, but the city of Serrana has decided to employ local citizens to help build these desktops. Even though the tablet PCs are more expensive then laptops, the city is investing in its economy. Victor Mammana mentions:

"The idea is not to make a business out of that, but more like a social franchise. It's interesting, this idea of providing a local solution for a local problem."

This is a great start for the country of Brazil, but I would like to see this implemented on a wider scale in bigger cities. Whether that is feasible is another story…

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