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500,000 laptops for schools in Portugal

October 12th, 2008 by Graham Attwell

it has been a busy week. From Thursday to Saturday I was in Braga speaking at a conference for teachers on Web 2.0 technologies for learning. About 250 teachers turned up and worked until eight in the evening. I greatly enjoyed myself (fabulous hospitality) and was impressed by the level of commitment. I also greatly enjoyed the chance ot chat with George Siemens who was also presenting at the conference. More later this week on some of the ideas we discussed.

Back to Portugal. According to Reuters “Portugal’s Socialist government began the roll-out on Tuesday of 500,000 ultra-cheap laptops for school children in a programme that could be extended to Venezuela, the government said.

The computers called ‘Magellan’ after the 16th-century Portuguese explorer will use Intel (NSDQ: INTC) processors and will be offered to schools at a subsidised price of 50 euros.

The government hopes the Magellan will boost the computer literacy of school children aged 6 to 11, it said in a statement.

“The government’s educational technology plan aims to make Portugal one of the top five most technologically advanced countries in Europe,” it said.

Portugal has some of the lowest school achievement levels in western Europe and Socrates has made boosting education a key priority. The government hopes the Magellan project will raise computer access at schools to two students per computer by 2010, up from five this year.

While the computer will be assembled in Portugal by a company called JP Sa Couto, it is based on Intel’s Classmate PC, a cheap computer that has been adopted in various formats in countries such as Brazil and Indonesia.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who has visited Portugal several times in the past year and is due in Lisbon later this week, has said the Magellan could also be used in Venezuelan schools.”

I was aprticually impresed at the conference with ideas for using computers with younger children. But of coures there are worries. I have no doubt that the kids will know how to use teh computers. But there needs to be a big programme of professional development to ensure the teachers udnerstand how to use teh computers for learning if the full value of the programmee is to be realsied.

3 Responses to “500,000 laptops for schools in Portugal”

  1. jen says:

    hi gra

    Just proving that I am using my new toy. Am getting superfast on I-pod touch. Sitting in pub playing with bloom. Try it

  2. admin says:

    hmm, the should be allmighty admin still has no new toy ;-/

    dirk

  3. Mada says:

    Graham,

    I’m just a secondary school in Portugal.
    for 27 years (alreday!).
    I’ve been in Braga last 10th. I loved listening to you. Everyone calls me crazy when I talk about my way of understanding learning (and helping learning, not TEACHING). Mainly when I speak as a teachers trainer.

    I’m a dreamer concerning education (& life as well), but:

    Please, don´t get impressed with portuguese campaign of magallen. just marketing.
    well, some PCs for schools indeed, but at school they don´t work because there´s no money for wi-fi taxes in schools. In my school there are 15 laptops but that´s a problem to ask for them to classrooms – they must be brought by a worker, under our signature and responsability – and just for a class at a time (in the whole school). And world wide they don’t work.

    In fact, today in Portugal Education is in such a bad situation that this month 700 teachers asked for retirement with lost of money – and they love to teach, but governement is asking too much written papers! No time for school – teachers are working about 50h a week and not for their students. Last year 3 500 nteachers asked for retirement and this year it is already near 5 000!
    And there´s an environment of fear in schools – our government is democratic because it was ellected by the people but is not acting in a democratic way (I think I can be punished by saying so!). But please read portuguese papers and you’ll find what they say about present education politics.

    A program called New opportunities (Novas Oportunidades) is giving a degree in 4 or 5 months in private schools while regular sts must attend classes for 3 or 4 years and exams at the end. Our government only wants to show europe an increase in nº of degrees but not in real knowledge.

    Everyone at school is so worried that next 8 or 15 November there will be a great walking over Lisbon to show our disapproval. No political (party) intention – just a whole profetional class near to a breakdown.

    Although I’m still fond of helping my sts learning. That´s why I was in Braga and always trying new ways, knowing that persons are the most important in the education system and in life, even in the digital era – “we are the web”.

    Please go on speaking about open schools – walls make it a prison.

    Glad for meeting you in my life!

    Madalena Relvão

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