Mobile Learning in Brazil
The Center for Brazilian Studies at Columbia University has published the book “Mobile Learning in Brazil: management and implementation of current policies and future perspectives”, the result of research conducted in the five regions of the country examining ICT in education actions initiatives in the public educational system.
Co-authored by Fernanda Rosa and Gustavo Azenha, the study presents a challenging reality. Despite efforts to acquire tablets and laptops for teachers and students by the federal and local governments, deficiencies exist in the pillars of infrastructure, digital content and teacher training, which are all necessary for the development of policies that effectively integrate digital technologies in education.
In the political sphere, the lack of a focus on learning is the main challenge to overcome. Policies have been established without medium and long term planning, among budget contingencies and windows of opportunity with clear disconnection between the desired results and the direction and implementation of actions. The consequence is a predominant focus on the acquisition of hardware without appropriate focus on improvements in student learning. Low development of institutional and regulatory aspects related to the online privacy of students and teachers also stands out.
The infrastructure pillar deserves special attention given both its limited governance within the education departments, and the lack of clarity about the investments required, as there are several layers not always visible to administrators and educators, but necessary to ensure quality internet connectivity in various areas of schools. That involves proper electrical network and solutions for broadband connection, at speeds compatible to the amount of users: students, teachers and staff. The average speed of most school systems surveyed do not exceed 2 Mbps in schools, while international standards point to the need of speeds of 100 Mbps to allow taking advantage of mobility.
The digital content pillar, albeit more diverse thanks to the emergence of new companies in the market, faces major challenges. These involve a lack of clear objectives of education secretaries and their teams to guide the definition of the most appropriate model, purchase or local production of digital content, and ensure the personal and financial resources for development projects. In addition, the roles of public and private sector are not always clear in the implementation of actions, which also impacts the effectiveness of the results. This does not prevent the existence of good experiences, found all around the country, but the discontinuity of actions is what most stands out.
Finally, the pillar of continuing education for teachers to use ICTs points to an unstructured setting. The teams responsible for such training are usually of reduced size, courses are more geared to tools and software teaching, while those aimed at teaching practices – due to the lack of integration of training into the curriculum to be working with the students – end up having approaches and teaching with low potential to transform the teaching-learning process.
The study seeks to contribute to articulating a normative concept for supporting the design of effective mobile learning policies, which it regards as central, beyond the three pillars discussed above, to student learning and mobility of current technologies present in many schools. The authors also present a qualitative classification, which identifies five profiles of teachers and can help formulate more effective continuing education programs tailored to the heterogeneous knowledge of and engagements with technology among teachers. The research recommendations conclude with a monitoring and evaluation plan to monitor and sustain the development of more structured mobile learning policies.
To download the book, in English or Portuguese, as well as to access the videos and presentations (ppt) of the book launch conference, click here: www.aprendizagem-movel.net.br