A Shining Example of Sustainability for Education programs from Portugal

As part of The CoSN International Delegation this week, I have been exposed the past few days to an amazing ICT initiative in Portugal.  Portugal serves as a shining example of how a partnership of government, industry and the education community can create programs that are sustainable beyond the ever changing political landscape.  Portugal has focused on delivering devices and network access across the country that benefits all  citizens and serves as a catalyst for disruptive changes in how learning happens in schools and at home.   The real genius in the program is that the investments required to launch this program are spread across all the stakeholder groups.  These investments are also tied to return on investment for each of the groups to provide economic incentive for government, community and industry to provide ongoing support. Stay tuned for more details as the learning continues……


Powering Up a Country

The CoSN International Delegation participated in a series of presentation on Tuesday regarding Portugal’s program to change not only their educational system, but their entire country by putting ensuring that every child has access to a computer and to broadband Internet connections both at home and at school. 

Mario Franco, President of Portugal’s Foundation for Mobile Communications, with a discussion of Portugal’s efforts and some of the results.  Portugal’s program is not a “give-away”, but rather a program with shared financial responsibility.  Under this model the state carries approximately 27% of the overall cost while the scale helps to ensure that families at the very lowest income levels can participate.

The results are that more than 1.7 million individuals have directly benefited from this program.  But, wait…there’s more!  While the primary focus is education, this program has also enabled changes in the way that government delivers services and connected families to the Internet. Mario estimated that perhaps 42% of Portugal’s population has benefited from the program.

From Industrial Age to Digital Age Education

Glenn Kleiman from the Friday Institute shares that the model in classrooms must change in order to transform learning.
Industrial Age Education System

  • Common pace and type of instruction
  • Time is constant; achievment is variable
  • End of course or year assessments
  • Teacher centered
  • School based, fixed place and time
  • Printed static text as main resources
  • Informal learning disconnected
  • 3R’s focused

Digital Age Education System

  • Individualized, variable pace learning
  • Achievement is constant, time is variable
  • Ongoing assessments embedded in learning
  • Student centered
  • Anywhere, anytime
  • Digital, interacted, up-to-date resources
  • Informal learning integrated
  • 3 R’s new literacies and 4 C’s focused

Data and Politics

We just had a very interesting discussion with Anja Balanskat of European Schoolnet and Mario Franco about the intersection of data collection on 1:1 intitiatives in European countries, and the politics of rolling out a large scale (nationwide) initiative like the one in Portugal. What researchers label a “1:1 initiative” vs a “BYOD initiative” can have significant implications for policymakers who have taken the political risk to rollout a large scale ICT initiative.