Before starting the pilot with EasyBits, Magalhães laptops were at home and the use of computers was limited to the ICT room, working with computer classes for three years at Colégio de Alfragide. José Romão, pedagogical director, explains that the students who had Magalhães could not take it to school because it was not possible to control its use in the playground and it was not being used in the classroom.
But, since the pedagogical responsible for this Alfragide school discovered EasyBits’ educational software, the scenario has changed and today the school is part of a pilot project involving students, teachers and parents and extending to the laptops distributed under the initiative and -school but also to the ICT room, where students have computer classes, and to other classrooms, even preschool.
The pilot project that has been going on since May started with a class but quickly involved the whole school, with teachers and students showing a great interest in participating. The Inspirus software was installed on 60 students ‘Magellan, plus some machines from parents who chose not to purchase this model, and teachers’ computers and the computer room, where there is also an interactive whiteboard. JP Sá Couto, who joined the project, joined 24 Magalhães 2, who are part of the experience that should continue in the next academic year.
The Inspirus software developed by EasyBits, and which TeK has already mentioned, is already in pre-launch but is still a beta, and should be available in final version in September, Tiago Resende, responsible for the company in Portugal, confirmed to TeK.
The aim is that this application, which allows schools and teachers to take control and security while offering an easier environment for children to use, is adopted at Magalhães2, which will be distributed to students in the new phase of the e-school.
Tiago Resende believes that this integration is guaranteed through the partnership with JP Sá Couto, supplier of the equipment, not least because despite the Ministry of Education having the final say in the image of software to be installed on the laptops – which is still being worked on – the experience shows that “the solutions are awarded according to the suppliers’ proposals”
After a few months, the results of this project are already noticeable in children, who “this year learned more than in previous years”, as noted by João Oliveira, ICT teacher, stressing the ease of the interface that simplifies the use of the tools even by students who still have difficulty reading. At the same time, the teacher’s control over students’ activities on computers is much greater, making it possible to define the tools they can use, which can be done in real time.
“With Inspirus we can create three different usage environments for Magalhães computers, for school, classroom and family, defining the tools to be used in each of the environments”, stresses José Brandão, pedagogical director of the College who highlights the importance of ICT in education, a bet that was already made a few years ago at school but that is now reinforced and gains flexibility with the use of Inspirus.
In addition to creating a protected environment and easy to use interface, Inspirus integrates a series of tools, including the Creative Studio creativity package that includes a word processor, spreadsheet, presentations, drawing and image editing.
The various tools are powered by touch screens, which although not yet disseminated in the reality of portable computers in Portugal are part of the future evolution routes. For this reason, Touch Screen Games is also being tested in this project, an application developed for netbooks that includes 21 multi-player and single player games, which can be played individually or in groups, also on the interactive screens of schools.
The video below demonstrates the features of these games.
Games are one of the areas that most attract students, but with a little creativity from teachers and educators, Colégio de Alfragide also has reference projects that link these tools to literacy.
One of the good examples is that Educadora Ana Dominguez works with the preschool classroom, where four-year-old boys started to publish their stories of the day on Twitter last year, an experience that this year evolved for the Blog and gave them it allowed contacts with several people who ended up contributing to the reinforcement of experiences, including philosophy classes for children and even contact with the author of a book that became part of the Casa das Histórias Mágicas.
These experiences are reinforced every day with new ideas and stories that end up transforming the raw reality of those who only see hardware and software in the analysis of computer tools in a school and classroom environment. And the educator guarantees that they do not steal time to paint, cut and create with traditional materials.
The experience of Colégio de Alfragide is to continue, as José Brandão guarantees. For now with the strengthening of the wireless network infrastructure – which had to accommodate the more than six dozen Magellan – but also with a deeper integration with the day-to-day of the school and even with the new applications that the EasyBits is preparing.