Bett Latin American Education Leaders: What are the key challenges regarding education and technology in Latin America (Part 2)?

jorge_sequeiraIn part one of the interview Jorge Sequeira outlined the key areas and concerns which Latin America faces in regards to improving educational and technological standards. Now in part 2, Jorge finally explains where he believes the solutions lie:

As modern societies increasingly rely and are based on information and knowledge they need to:
  • Build workforces that have ICT skills to handle information and are reflective, creative and adept at problem-solving in order to generate knowledge
  • Enable citizens to be knowledgeable and resourceful so they are able to manage their own lives effectively, and are able to lead full and satisfying lives
  • Encourage all citizens to participate fully in society and influence the decisions which affect their lives
  • Foster cross-cultural understanding and the peaceful resolution of conflict.
A UNESCO response: the ICT Competency Framework for Teachers
These social and economic goals are the focus of a country’s education system. Teachers need to be equipped to achieve these goals, and to respond to this challenge, UNESCO has developed an international benchmark which sets out the skills required to teach effectively with ICTs: UNESCO’s ICT Competency Framework for Teachers. 
This Framework is intended to:
-Inform educational policy makers, teacher-educators, providers of professional learning and working teachers on the role of ICTs in educational reform
-Assist the countries in developing ICT competency standards for teachers with a Master Plan approach on ICTs in Education.
The Framework emphasizes that it is not enough for teachers to have ICT skills and be able to teach them to their students. Teachers need also to be able to help the students become collaborative, problem-solving, creative learners through using ICTs, so they will become effective citizens and members of the workforce.
The Framework therefore addresses all aspects of a teacher’s work:
  • Understanding ICT in education
  • Curriculum and assessment
  • Pedagogy
  • Proper ICT
  • Organisation and administration
  • Teacher professional learning
The Framework is arranged in three different approaches to teaching (three successive stages of a teacher’s development).
a)The 1st is Technology Literacy, enabling students to use ICTs in order to learn more efficiently.
b)The 2nd is Knowledge Deepening, enabling students to acquire in-depth knowledge of their school subjects and apply it to complex, real-world problems.
c)The 3rd is Knowledge Creation, enabling students, citizens and the workforce they become, to create the new knowledge required for more harmonious, fulfilling and prosperous societies.
Jorge Sequeira will be a part of the Bett Latin America Leadership Summit taking place on the 31st October 2013 in São Paulo. To find out more about the conference agenda visit the website here.

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Bett Latin American Education Leaders: What are the key challenges regarding education and technology in Latin America? (Part 1)

jorge_sequeiraWe are carrying out a series of interviews before the Bett Latin America Leadership Summit takes place. This is the first in our series with Jorge Sequeira who is Director of the Regional Bureau of Education for Latin America and the Caribbean, at UNESCO. This is part one of the interview in which Jorge outlines some of the key issues the region faces in regards to improving educational and technological standards. Stayed tuned for part 2, where Jorge explains where he believes the solutions lie:

“Information Communication Technology has indeed become a fixture of classrooms in many parts of LAC. From low-cost radio and television, to laptops and tablets, teachers are increasingly using technology to enhance and extend learning.

Thus, it is not so obvious to generalise in this regard, considering the great heterogeneity of the region in respect of ‘e-readiness’. There are countries where less than 1% of schools are connected to the Internet or where the provision of basic electricity in schools is a challenge, with an average of 122 pupils sharing a single computer. At the opposite end, in Uruguay broadband coverage at schools is universal.

Challenges may range from provision of electricity (in several Central American countries) to teacher training in use of ICT for learning (most countries).

The latest UNESCO-UIS report reveals that Caribbean countries have higher levels of ICT-assisted instructions using computers and the Internet, more so than South and Central America, where lack of infrastructure is an obstacle to ‘e-readiness’.

Despite the relatively high integration of ICT into the schooling system of some countries, there is a serious lack of teachers properly trained in the use and monitoring of ICTs in the classroom. Thus, a general challenge across the region is the development of appropriate contents, and teaching strategies to integrate ICTs in the classroom. As for in- and pre-service training of teachers on ICTs, while it is clearly considered as paramount, it is neglected when it comes to formulate and implement ICT-related projects in education.

According to the following study: ICT in Education in Latin America and the Caribbean: A regional analysis of ICT integration and e-readiness (carried out in 38 countries), shows the extent to which factors such as education policy, teacher training, and infrastructure drive or hamper the integration of ICTs in schools. This report provides regional benchmarks for countries monitoring the integration of ICT in education.

Energy/electricity is an important pre-requisite for effectively using ICTs in schools and most countries in the region have 100% coverage. However, there are exceptions, even in countries with relatively high per-capita income such as Brazil where around 10% of primary schools do not have electricity. Countries even more affected include Nicaragua, Dominican Republic, Venezuela and Panama.

In general, there are many countries in LAC that are developing and implementing policies that use ICT as a main component to improve the quality of education e.g. in Colombia, Uruguay and Mexico. It is being recognised that ICT4E and escaping the ‘middle income trap’ i.e. changing the structure of the economy to a knowledge-based one are both interrelated. Conferences on this theme across the region have multiplied e.g. Virtual Educa, Educa Digital, Tijuana Innovadora and many others.

The transformation required for the introduction and use of ICTs in the classroom is not that simple. Schools are traditionally institutions designated to preserve and transmit previously established practices, knowledge, abilities and values. They generally tend to work at a different pace as opposed to the speed and interactivity that characterize the use of modern technologies.

The introduction of ICTs in the classroom thus requires new definitions of roles, especially for teachers. ICT tools allow students to acquire greater autonomy and responsibility in the learning process, compelling the teacher to go beyond his/her classic role as the “sole” source of knowledge. Unfortunately, in many countries harnessing ICT skills does not make part of the pre- or in-service teacher training. It is not uncommon to observe the perception that students are sometimes ahead of their teachers in this subject.

This generates uncertainty, tension and fear among teachers, students and parents. New education practices through technology are needed, from pre- and in-service training to the assessment of learning outcomes. Thus resulting in national and sub-national policies that need to be:

  • Time-bound
  • Pragmatic
  • Measurable
  • Realistic

As for schools, teachers and students, they should develop practices that include:

  • Access to digitalized information, not printed on paper
  • Images in motion and music, rather than text
  • Feeling comfortable while performing multiple tasks
  • The acquisition of knowledge and experiences by processing discontinuous, not lineal, information.

At the policy level, there should be an increased understanding about how ICTs impact on the school system:

  • Curriculum management: how the curriculum is organized, how the teaching is planned, what the teacher’s actions and responses should be in the classroom, how to integrate ICTs properly into the curriculum
  • Leadership: school management, the role of the school principal, monitoring of the progress and any obstacles that may occur
  • Free and fair access and training for all students, and eventually parents and communities, including websites and portals to improve school-family communication
  • Paramount: professional development of teachers i.e. pre- and in-service teacher training, and participation in specialized groups of interest
  • Assessment of learning outcomes i.e. how to monitor the education progress of students whenever ICTs intervene in the teaching/learning process, including interactions with the teacher: reading, interpreting, Maths, Sciences, etc.

Which decisions and considerations are taken regarding the setting up of policies of ICTs in education?

  • National or commercial software and the implications
  • The case of intercultural and multilingual societies and teachers. How to cope with it?
  • Are ICTs a factor that contributes to reducing inequality or exacerbating it?

Please stay tuned for part 2 of this interview, which we will publish in due course, where Jorge explains where he believes the solutions lie.

Jorge Sequeira will be a part of the Bett Latin America Leadership Summit taking place on the 31st October 2013 in São Paulo.

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Bett Latin America 2014: Powering Learning in Latin America

What is Bett Latin America?

Bett is the global meeting place for the education technology community, providing the very best solutions to inspire and improve learning for over 30 years. 2014 will see this world-class event arrive in Brazil, housed alongside Educar and Educador in São Paulo.

The event will attract Latin America’s highest level buyers and decision makers in the public and private education systems, all on the lookout for the latest products and solutions from across the world. Bett Latin America offers the perfect environment for these influential visitors to source suppliers, make lasting relationships and learn from peers in a series of inspirational seminar sessions.

Who will exhibit?

The highly international range of exhibitors at Bett Latin America will span:

  • Content and tools for teaching and learning
  • Data tools for leaders and administrators
  • Devices, equipment and infrastructure
  • End-to-end solutions for education decision-makers

Exhibiting at Bett Latin America

Bett Latin America will be located alongside Educar, with a high level of visitor crossover guaranteed. Complete with two “Learn Live” seminar theatres, and adjacent to the exhibition centre’s catering areas, Bett Latin America will provide strong footfall and networking opportunities for our exhibitors.

Policy makers and ICT buyers at the highest level will attend Bett Latin America. From educators, principals and governors, through to bursars, business directors, and educational ministers, our clients can rest assured they’ll be rubbing shoulders with the industry’s most influential names.

Bespoke opportunities

Want to establish your brand as an innovator? Network with key decision-makers? Be associated with the foremost thought-leaders in the field? There are a huge range of ways you can get involved at Bett Latin America, to gain exposure and raise the profile of your organisation.

Get in touch

Our team would be delighted to hear your business objectives, and together find the perfect solution to grow your business in 2014. Contact us for more information:

Katy McDonnell


T: +44 (0) 20 3033 2248 / +44 (0) 783 497 9988

Gustavo Melo


T: +55 (41) 3033 8100

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Hooking Students’ Minds With Handheld Devices

All of a sudden, technology in classrooms is undergoing a transformation. But the changes may not be visible at first glance.

The Internet has been around for 17 years or so, interactive white boards are well established in schools, and various forms of touch screen technology have been around for a decade at least. So what’s new now?

Rather like planets aligning and producing a new view of the solar system, three developments in the ICT space are opening up a new vision of what is possible in the classroom. The combination of broadband access to the web, ubiquitous interactive whiteboards and affordable touchscreen devices, allows for learning experiences that simply weren’t available just a few years ago.

This is how the magic happens: hand every student in the class a tablet device, connect them to the resources of the Internet, while demonstrating the same pages on an interactive whiteboard. All of a sudden, the child is in control of their own learning, to an extent never before possible.

Send students to a page that demonstrates equivalent fractions, for example, and let them explore and play with the models presented. What will happen? Students will likely try out crazy ideas. Can you find an equivalent fraction for 5/8? Move the “denominator slider” to the right, starting at 1/16ths, and go right up to 1/96ths! What do you see? Now try it with 6/8 – how is it different?

Learning activities like the one described above are simply not possible with the technology of a previous generation. ICTs, in the hands of the child, allow an engagement, a connection between the device and the student’s mind that helps the child construct understanding of hundreds of topics, in every subject.

I, for one, am excited to be alive at this time when so much is possible through ICTs that are already here. Bett 2013 showcased ideas that no one of us could have imagined, and opened up our imaginations to new possibilities.

Author: Dr Peter Price

Dr Price spent 16 years teaching primary classes, before returning to university to study how students react to physical or ICT representations of maths. He and his wife founded Classroom Professor to produce engaging, excellent resources for teaching maths.

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A challenging but great time to be an educator

It’s no secret that students have evolved into tech savvy, connected individuals who work best in an engaged, participatory learning environment. They have been born into the digital age and are entering school with a heightened digital acumen. The sheer scale of Bett in terms of participation and reputation  is testament to the importance placed on technology in schools and the impact it can have on the lives of today’s students and teachers.

In sharp contrast to these millennial students, extensive observations and research shows that while education, students and technology have changed, the classroom environment of fixed, row-by-column furniture that faces one direction has remained the sameBlog.  It brings to the surface one of the biggest challenges facing educators today: how can technology, teaching methods and space more effectively support them in improving student success?

It is only by engaging with pupils and creating an environment that fuses together pedagogy, technology and space, that learning and engagement can truly be optimised. Teachers and teaching methods are diverse and evolving. Classes today employ lecture mode, group mode, group setups and individual work. From one class to the next, sometimes during the class period, classrooms need to change. Thus, the classroom should easily and quickly adapt to different teaching and learning preferences. Unfortunately, many of today’s classrooms don’t allow for this adaptation of teaching modes.

The majority of classrooms in use today were built for traditional, “chalk and talk” pedagogies and passive learning, not for today’s active learning approaches. Inflexible layouts and furniture with limited mobility hamper interaction among students, instructors and content. Technology access is also highly variable and often poorly integrated.

Flexibility is key to overcoming the challenge. Classrooms should incorporate flexible furniture to support these shifts and allow access to the technologies in the room, regardless of the classroom’s configuration and learning mode. Technology and furnishings can work together to support the progressive pedagogies being used and enhance the exchange of ideas at a more effective pace. Providing flexibility will support a more holistic “active learning ecosystem.” Sean Corcorran is General Manager at Steelcase Education Solutions.

By Sean Corcorran, General Manager, Steelcase Education Solutions




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