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Submitted by Ron Canuel on
As the Director General of the Eastern Townships School Board, located approx. 80 miles east of Montreal and having directed a free 1:1 laptop computer initiative for all of our students, since 2003, we have lived through many challenges and hurdles. We invited Dr. Alvaro Moerzinger, Ambassador of Uruguay to Canada, to our school district in 2007 to witness our deployment and offer whatever assistance to our colleagues in Uruguay for the Plan Ceibal. We hosted teachers from Uruguay and have sent two teams to Uruguay, in the last 18 months, to provide further insights into how technology can and should play a major transformational role in the classroom and in the community. I could not agree more with the commentary that whenever we seek to change a classroom context, we are, in effect, seeking to transform a society. It is no accident that education has been referred to as Society's R&D, and as such, it creates an obligation for us to ensure that the children are being very well served. The Plan Ceibal, as our Enhanced Learning Strategy, will generate results but we must be patient. In our district, even with increased student achievement results and decreased dropout rates, there is always room for further change. The walls of our classrooms are now increasingly permeable, knowledge moves in, out and through them. Technology, in the form of a laptop is a portal for children to knowledge, plain and simple. Yes, educators will need to continue to play a significant role in the process but then again, we are teaching children in Japan, synchronously, from one of our schools. I believe that it might be a good idea to discuss how classrooms are emerging into global contexts. The children in Uruguay will now also begin to receive instruction and knowledge from around the world, whethter we like it or not. As I said to my colleagues in Uruguay last year, the biggest challenge for our colleagues implementing the Plan Ceibal is that there is no going backwards. Technology in the hands of children has now shifted our entire platform of "what is best for children." Bravo Uruguay and to other nations stepping forward.