Ceibal Project: A Country-Wide Gamble on Educational Technology

June 22, 2011 at 9:36 am 7 comments

Alan Kay sent me a link to this interesting video.  I hadn’t heard of the Ceibal Project before — according to the video, 100% of schoolchildren in Uruguay now have OLPC laptops, and 92% of the schools have Internet access. It’s a big gamble.  The Economist says that project is “less than 5% of the education budget.”  The video paints a compelling picture of improving the society through equalized access to information.  (The Wikipedia article on the Ceibal Project is interesting in a weird way.  It’s decidedly negative in tone, but with odd complaints like potential access to pornography and bacteria being transported on keyboards.)

It’s such a huge project that I wonder how you measure it’s impact.  Do you measure learning at the individual student level, or do you look for larger social trends (e.g., how often do the computers appear in television, and how often do people talk about using computers or seeking a job in IT?)?  I am curious as to how the curriculum changes with the technology.  Do we see schools introducing computer science, because now they can?

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7 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Alan Kay  |  June 22, 2011 at 1:03 pm

    Lot’s of interesting facets here … and not the least, the interesting politics that got the whole country to agree to have 100% participation by the children.



  • 2. Dave P.  |  June 22, 2011 at 1:58 pm

    On a related topic, does Uruguay have anything like free online courses for adults, perhaps available in public libraries?

    • 3. Alan Kay  |  June 22, 2011 at 5:42 pm

      Hi Dave

      I relayed your question to the IAEP (It’s An Education Project) list and got this answer from:

      Organización eduJAM! 2011
      There are all over the country what we call “Centros MEC”, from the ministry of education, where there are computers with connectivity and focus mostly on digital literacy for adults.

      However I’m not aware of any “online course for adults”.

      One excellent Uruguayan resource for adults to start learning is “the cuckoo of the computers” (http://ludo.com.uy/cuco/en/), which also has a version that runs on the XOs (in Spanish):

      • 4. Alan Kay  |  June 23, 2011 at 7:33 am

        Another reply from IAEP

        Hi Alan,

        there are two portals that I am aware of:

        Uruguay Educa [1]: educative material for teachers, school children and

        Plan Ceibal Portal [2]: material for the use with the XO for teachers,
        school children and parents


        [1] http://uruguayeduca.edu.uy
        [2] http://ceibal.edu.uy

  • […] has never been about the hardware.  Look at the XO laptop — whether one considers it an overall success or not, what success it has had is due in large part to its software and to the infrastructure behind it […]

  • […] dollar bets.  Why do people have such (unproven) faith in technology?  Is this the same as the arguments for the OLPC in the developing […]

  • […] when I graduated with my PhD. My post on constructionism is still one of the most-read. In 2011, I thought that the One Laptop Per Child project would work. I read Morgan Ames’ The Charisma […]


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