Computers in School

Visiting Escolar Básico Martim de Freitas in Coimbra.

The teacher I speak with is Pedro and he explains what they currently do with computers and tablets in school. He runs a classroom with over 30 PCs on which a wide variety of programs is offered to students. Today, he is working with his IT guy on the 3D-printer, which was acting up. Students design things using FreeCAD and after their design is checked, they are allowed to print it. A PacMan the size of one euro is an example. Takes 10 minutes to print. Nicely designed, about 7 mm in height, oddly white instead of yellow (their 3D-printer only prints white).Getting the tablet class working was a challenge. The school’s WiFi and internet was not designed to service a full class of tablets which demand high bandwidth. Took them a year to fix it and now the tablet class has it’s own access point which only allows the tablets on it, plus sufficient Quality of Service for the internet itself. Very similar technical issues as we have in the Netherlands. In fact, to scale up the use of ICT in the school, two things are needed (Pedro and I agree upon this):

  • Teachers who have the will and the skill to effectively use ICT;
  • An IT infrastructure and IT staff that can support the load and keep everything working.

Both are missing or under construction at the most.As soon as you have a stable and ubiquitous ICT environment, you will use that to teach. And, on top of that, use it to measure and monitor students. To assist the teacher in deciding how to explain things and who to offer extra guidance.

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