If Bermudians are to survive in the digital age it is imperative that we make the early jump to equip every child in school with a laptop. Such a trend is increasingly happening around the world as countries are discovering the need to expose their youth to the benefits of technology so they can ensure no child is left behind in tomorrow’s future. We should be looking to take the best ideas from around the world and utilizing our wealth to properly invest in our youth to provide tangible opportunity for the future and the best education system possible.
CNN has an interesting article on how the government minister for technology in Macedonia, one of Europe’s poorest countries, has decided to improve the country’s educational system by outfitting schools with a slew of new computers using thin-client technology.
What is particularly fascinating about the article is the discussion of whether Macedonia should be investing in the One Laptop Per Child initiative instead:
Walter Bender, One Laptop Per Child’s director of software and content, derides the traditional model, in which children get to use PCs only in computer labs for a few hours a day, as “antiquated” and “ineffectual.”
“It’s such a backward way of actually educating people in computing,” Bender said. “It’s better than nothing, but it’s not going to touch the families, it’s not going to be used as engine for entrepreneurship, creativity, exploration. … Maybe it’s economical from the dollars and cents perspective, but not from the learning perspective.”
Ivo Ivanovski, Macedonia’s minister of information society, defends his decision to equip schools with thin-client computers as the One Laptop Per Child route would be unrealistic for a country where educational resources are stretched so thin that half the children attend school in the morning and the other half in the afternoon. He contends that his plan will better equip all of Macedonia’s 420,000 students even with their limited resources.
However, Bermuda is not limited like Macedonia. Indeed, being one of the richest countries in the world we are far from it. With our own situation of a poorly performing education system and questions arising of how to revolutionize it, should we be leaving ourselves to be left behind when third world nations around the world are preparing to equip every student with a laptop?
Bermuda could be in the position to lead the way if we were to embrace truly progressive forward thinking and begin strategizing how we could equip our own students with the tools for success. Ideally, we could be taking the best of both worlds by equipping our students with laptops that act as thin-clients supported by a high speed wireless network with benefits such as being able to host centrally managed virtual machines for youth to connect in to which would remove a great many of the maintenance hurdles while still affording youth the abilities to explore, create and entrepreneur their way into a digital future.
Bermudians need to encourage and embrace a future that will provide the best possible opportunities for our youth. We need to take heed of the changes happening worldwide and rather than being left behind, take the lead by being one of the first to empower our youth. We should be taking the best ideas from around the world and investing in the best possible education system to provide the most opportunity we can manage. Every Bermudian child should be equipped with a laptop.