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Latin America Is Fertile With EduTech Experimentation

Roxana Bassi

OLPC in Uruguay

Hello, I’m Roxana Bassi and I’m now a co-editor at Educational Technology Debate.

A bit about me

Almost 30 years ago I connected to the prequel to the Internet, the BBSs, with a 300 bps modem and never disconnected. I grew up in Argentina, but have worked in four continents, the last six years mostly in Africa as Senior ICT Specialist of the Global e-Schools and Communities Initiative (GESCI).

Being an IT and Telecommunications engineer I consider myself a geek. But I don’t get as excited about new cool stuff as I get when I see people REALLY improving their lives thanks to technology. That has always been my objective from my very early days. As a logical consequence, my specialty is ICT for development, but I have spent most of my time working in IT in education.

Being a thorough project planner I love to work on technical areas like TCO (Total Cost of Ownership), large scale deployments of technology, technical support, and alternative energy sources, among others.

I have realized I am extremely diffident of new technologies, I trust more the old proven technologies than new ones. So I am the type that questions every new idea and asks for proof of results before I can really believe. Lately I have been enthusiastic about new areas that open education for everyone like MOOCs (Massive Online Open Courses), while at the same time I am very concerned about the preservation of local languages and cultures in the new globalized Internet.

The View From Latin America

In these last years most of ICT4E effort – and funds – seem to be focused in Africa, probably because it contains many of the under developed countries of the world. But a lot of action is taking place in Latin America. Just consider Uruguay with its one-of-a-kind 1 laptop per child project REALLY deployed countrywide or Peru with the second largest OLPC deployment. With 20 countries and 600 million inhabitants that speak only two main languages, it is a fertile area of experimentation.

Consider that common languages are a fantastic opportunity for educational content development and sharing, supported by RELPE (the network of educational portals). Application of ICT in education in the region is expanding at an incredible rate, with many innovative projects going on, where we have a few lessons of success and many quiet failures.

Through the years working in different parts of the world I have learned that despite of the obvious differences, when it comes to ICT4E projects and deployments the challenges are very similar everywhere I’ve worked, and I am sure the Latin American experience can be used to advance projects in other parts of the world.

So now you know that my heart beats to the rhythms of Latin America, and therefore I hope to bring into Edutech debate examples, failures, case studies and experts from this region. We have many interesting areas of debate planned for this year, and I look forward to the discussion. Please help me expand south to south learning possibilities in ICT4E!

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