Los profesores no son el problema

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“Over the years I have talked with lots of people who see teachers (and teachers’ unions) as a ‘problem’ that needs to be ‘solved’. One ‘solution’ increasingly considered is to figure out ways to use ICTs as a sort of metaphorical stick with which to prod teachers into various sorts of actions. This impulse is perhaps understandable in places that suffer endemic challenges related to (for example) teacher absenteeism, which is certainly a very serious problem in certain (often poor, rural) communities. That said, it may not be all that productive at a practical level.

A well known study done by researchers at the MIT Poverty Action Lab a number of years ago (and well worth reading, in my opinion) looked at a program in Udapur, India in which “teachers were instructed to have their picture taken each day with students and were paid only when the cameras recorded them present.” According to the authors, in this case “objective monitoring with incentives worked” — in other words, a mechanism was found to motivate teacher attendance. On numerous occasions, in conversation with policymakers in many different countries, I have heard this study cited as proof that technology (in this case, a digital camera) can be a ‘solution’ to the problem of teacher absenteeism. Perhaps.

But there is a real danger in many such discussions of confusing the symptons with the underling pathology. So-called ‘silver bullet solutions’ (aim the right weapon at a problem and you can ‘kill’ it) figure prominently in the checkered history of educational technologies. Things are seldom so simple, however.

Yes, the fact that mobile phones with cameras are increasingly ubiquitous in rural communities around the world does mean that it may be possible for community members to stand outside schools and take pictures of teachers as they enter and exit (a scenario I have had pitched to me on three separate occasions — in one case students were meant to wield the cameraphones themselves) and send them on to education authorities or post on a web site for public shaming.

But there just might be some unintended consequences from such activities ….

Another option might be to explore how ICTs can be used to support teachers with positive incentives linking them to other teachers via text messaging groups to help form professional support communities, or to help them save time in lesson preparation by providing additional learning resources via television (or delivered all at once on a USB stick), or to help improve their mastery of the subjects which they teach through interactive radio instruction. Sticks can sometimes work … but so can carrots. Do you want to use ICTs to punish, or to nourish?”

Leer 10 criterios a considerar cuando se introducen las TIC en ambientes educativos de bajos ingresos.

Por qué las niñas deben aprender a programar

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“Today, only 0.4% of female college freshmen plan to major in Computer Science. This lack of participation in such an important and growing field has serious consequences for the future of technical innovation. If women aren’t represented in technology, their ideas, concerns, and designs won’t be included when we create the cities, cars, infrastructure, medicines, communications, companies, and governments of tomorrow.”

“Hoy, solo el 0.4% de mujeres en los ciclos básicos de las universidades piensan hacer una especialidad en Ciencias de la Computación. Esta falta de participación en tan importante y crecience campo tiene serias consecuencias para el futuro de la innovación técnica. Si las mujeres no están representadas en la tecnología, sus ideas, preocupaciones y diseños no serán incluidos cuando creemos ciudades, carros, infraestructura, medicinas, comunicaciones, compañías y los gobiernos del mañana”

Ver enlace completo en Why Coding is Kind of Big Deal

Linus Torvalds y la enseñanza de la programación en colegios

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“En realidad, no creo que todo el mundo deba necesariamente, tratar de aprender a escribir código. Pienso que la programación es algo bastante especializado; y nadie realmente espera que la mayoría tenga que hacerlo. Esto no es como saber leer y escribir; y saber hacer operaciones matemáticas básicas.


Foto por Nestor Cagnoli. Algunos derechos reservados.

Dicho esto, creo que debe haber alguna manera en que la gente entre en contacto con esta, de modo que descubra que lo disfruta y que tiene la aptitud, que conozca esta posibilidad. No porque todo el mundo quiera o necesite aprender, sino únicamente porque tiene una gran vocación.

Puede ser que haya mucha gente que nunca se dio cuenta que le habría gustado ‘decirle’ a los ordenadores qué hacer. Así que, en ese sentido, creo que los cursos de computación en las escuelas son una gran idea, pero no creo en el lema ese de “¡Todo el mundo debe aprender a programar!”. – Linus Torvalds.

Ver entrevista completa a Linus Torvalds en Business Insider. Traducción por CHW.

Tomar notas en papel versus tomar notas en teclado

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“Two psychological scientists, Pam Mueller of Princeton and Daniel Oppenheimer of UCLA, wondered if laptops, despite their plusses, might lead to a shallower kind of cognitive processing, and to lower quality learning. They decided to test the old and the new in a head-to-head contest. (…)


Mujeres tomando nota. Fuente Wikipedia. Algunos derechos reservados.

The findings, which Mueller and Oppenheimer describe in a forthcoming issue of the journal Psychological Science, were a bit surprising. Those who took notes in longhand, and were able to study, did significantly better than any of the other students in the experiment—better even than the fleet typists who had basically transcribed the lectures. That is, they took fewer notes overall with less verbatim recording, but they nevertheless did better on both factual learning and higher-order conceptual learning. Taken together, these results suggest that longhand notes not only lead to higher quality learning in the first place; they are also a superior strategy for storing new learning for later study. Or, quite possibly, these two effects interact for greater academic performance overall.” – Wray Herbert.

Ver artículo completo. Ver texto de Muller y Oppenheimer.