Blog Post

Tecno-Tzotzil: Learning to learn with laptops in Mexico

On 13th and 14th of August at the CONAFE offices in the city of San Cristobal de las Casas, we conducted an intensive development course with the community instructors of the two chosen schools: Claudia Hernandez-Ruiz and María Diaz-Perez form Tilil and Alfonso Gomez-Santis from Nectaktik; other educational actors from the region participated also. The course included:

  • A brief explanation of the TecnoTzotzil project
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  • Training in the use of the Classmate laptops and the Sugar operating system and activities
  • How to develop lesson plans that integrate CONAFE curriculum with Sugar activities  following the constructionist methodology -mainly a) Have the kids plan, design and build physical or virtual artifacts that represent some aspect of their learning b) Share result with other children or the instructor c) Gather feedback and improve design d) Reflect on learning and register reflection. Instructors are encouraged to let kids explore the design space rather than impose a fixed design in order to spark creativity; and to allow for playing time. 
  • The researchers shared some lesson plans already developed by us. Each of these plans follow some thematic content of the curriculum and can be used by children of several ages, as the CONAFE classrooms are multi-level. So they typically start with some simple activity related to the plan Theme that can be extended in several directions for older children.  
  • The community instructors then had the opportunity to develop a couple of their own plans, receiving feedback from the researchers.
  • We finally presented our research questions and the research instruments that will be used during the project

 

The two girl instructors for the Tilil school will be in their first of two years with the children and they were quite excited to be able to use the laptops in class. The instructor for Nectaktik will be in his second year and showed slightly less command of the computer. He will likely require special support later on.

 

Also taking the course were two master's in education students from Tecnologico's Graduate School in Education that will do their thesis on aspects of this project: Ramiro Espinoza-Guajardo and Alejandra Fontanes-Miceli. Other participants included Enriqueta Perez-Ortiz, academic coordinator of the Los Altos Chiapas zone, Raymundo López, assistant at the CONAFE office; Silvano Hernández, educational assistant for the Chiapas Region corresponding to Los Altos; and Maria Magdalena Hernández, in charge of instructor training for the three instructors.

 

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We left laptops for the instructors and one for the CONAFE office so that they keep exploring the hardware and the software. The laps for the children will arrive September 10 on the fourth day of classes.
All content and software developed for this project will be uploaded to the project site with a Creative Commons licence. As part of the project, we have also been collaborating with the Sugar Labs open-source project that develops the Sugar software in order to have it ready and fully translated into Spanish for TecnoTzotzil. Some translations to the tzotzil language will be done later on.
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