The computer can help get new pedagogical approaches into the classroom. While getting computers into the hands of more children is undoubtedly of benefit, the question remains, “how does one maximize the learning that occurs?”
A “learning-centric” approach
The question often is framed in terms of teacher-centric versus child-centric methods. With Sugar, we strive for a “learning-centric” approach, where teachers mentor students as they engage with powerful ideas, “teaching less and learning more.” While we want to give children access to knowledge—through media such as electronic books, the world-wide web, and multimedia—we also want them to acquire this knowledge by putting it to use and engaging in critical dialog. With Sugar, we help learners acquire knowledge by giving them tools that make them consumers, critics, and creators of knowledge; Sugar welcomes them as members of a learning community.
Learning is not a service—it’s a process of active appropriation.
One-to-one computing initiatives—where children have access to computing “anytime” and “anywhere”—is changing in the way software developers and computer-makers think about the education industry. Cross-community collaboration between technologists and teachers ensures that the ideals of freedom, sharing, open critique, and transparency will be part of the interface to learning that touches children in the world’s classrooms.
The free software culture
These ideas are embodied in the culture of free software, which is a powerful culture for learning. Educators are discovering the culture, technology, and values of the open source movement which engages both teachers and students: empowering them with both the freedom to act and the freedom to be critical. Criticism of ideas is a powerful force in learning and in fostering economic development; unleashing that is an important part of the mission. Teachers are learners too and Sugar provides a way for teachers and students to share.