In Brazil, Teaching and Learning Happen Outside the Box

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A good quality basic education equips students with the foundational skills (reading, writing and numeracy) they need to function in today’s society and prepare them for lifelong learning. But in many parts of the world, schooling alone is not yielding the expected results, and countries are experimenting with innovative learning and teaching tools, including online platforms.
In Brazil, a Portuguese version of the Khan Academy’s free online education platform (see World Bank Group President Jim Kim’s post last week) is helping thousands of students master basic skills. This effort has been spearheaded by the Fundação Lemann (Lemann Foundation), an organization dedicated to improving the country's education quality. 

As with the original Khan Academy content, a student using the Brazil platform takes a quick test, maps her knowledge, and then masters the content at her own pace. Teachers can see a dashboard, which tells them how students are progressing. This helps decide homework, which is then graded by the system by the next day. They can even replay a video of the student solving the exercise. So teachers can dig in very deep if they wish, which helps them assign students to learning groups more efficiently and to encourage students to master the content during school hours.

The foundation has now made Khan Academy content accessible to 70,000 students, 2,500 teachers, and several hundred schools in Brazil. An eight-hour training program has also been developed for teachers and focuses on areas they could improve on once they have the data from the platform. Helping teachers with critical information about their students is at the heart of the program.
Educopédia, a similar online platform used across schools in the city of Rio de Janeiro, is also providing alternative learning and teaching approaches in Brazil. Educopédia provides lesson plans and presentations that are easily applicable not just for online learning but also for traditional classroom environment. Each curriculum is based on competencies and skills provided by the Municipal Secretariat of Education of Rio de Janeiro.
Online activities typically include videos, animations, text, podcasts, quizzes and games, which are based on the latest knowledge about when and how to use particular strategies for learning or for problem solving. The platform seeks to improve the quality of the educational experience, through the use of new technologies, to create a pedagogical model that can best respond to the demands of children and youth. 
Educopédia not only serves as an innovative approach for teachers who want to integrate technology to the classroom but, more importantly, as a platform for students who need to improve on their learning and develop their skills and abilities. The platform helps teachers monitor students’ progress and intervene when needed.
As the debate about technology in education continues, and points of view diverge, it is important not to impose approaches on schools unless they want it and perceive it as useful. In Brazil, districts have the freedom to choose whether or not they want to participate and use these online platforms. The Brazilian government provides the necessary infrastructure to any district that wishes to use the content.
While the impact of the Brazilian platforms must be evaluated rigorously over time, early findings are encouraging.  Data show that students using the platforms are more likely to show up in class. The platforms also help improve students’ self-esteem. Nearly all teachers have consistently used the platform during the school year. These results hold promise and show that this is clearly a space to watch going forward!




Claudia Costin

Founder, Innovation and Excellence in Education Policies (Think Tank)

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