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DEVELOPING INTERACTIVE EDUCATIONAL ENVIRONMENTS TO STIMULATE LIFELONG LEARNING

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1-Laboratório de Sistemas Integráveis da Escola Politécnica da USP (LSI -EPUSP)-Av. Prof. Luciano Gualberto, travessa 3, nº 158 -São Paulo -CEP: 05508-970 2-PMSP-SME -Av. Interativa nº 100 -São Paulo -SP -CEP: 02820-020 3-Universidade Presbiteriana Mackenzie -Pós Graduação em Arte e História da Cultura Rua Piauí, 143 -São Paulo -CEP: 01241-001 ABSTRACT The current access to information and communication technology -ICT facilities can enable individuals to use advanced technology in teaching and learning actions since the beginning of individuals' education, as well as can stimulate the integration and interoperation of educational actions between basic and higher education. This paper presents experience showing how it has been applied advanced technology related to ICT facilities and visual communication to stimulate curriculum improvements, individuals' knowledge development and lifelong learning. It includes basic and higher education collaborative participation in a one-to-one mobile computing model proposed by OLPC. The instruments used to achieve these goals are electronic systems, web-based technology and low cost multimedia tools and files in combination with learning theories and methodologies such as zone of proximal development ZPD, constructionism and experiential learning. The use of web-based technology interoperation and integration such as Hypertext Markup Language -HTML and Virtual Reality Modeling Language -VRML on teaching and learning actions has supported individuals' collaborative work, cognitive and perceptual development, better understanding of curriculum subjects and how technology can be used to sustain ones' professional or hobbyist life development within a lifelong learning process.
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DEVELOPING INTERACTIVE EDUCATIONAL
ENVIRONMENTS TO STIMULATE LIFELONG LEARNING
Jorge F. Franco(1, 2), Sandra R. R. Cruz(2), Edna Aquino(2), Edna O. Teles(2), Márcia Santiago(2) Nilton F.
Franco(3), Irene K. Ficheman(1), Alexandra Camargo(1), Roseli D. Lopes(1)
1-Laboratório de Sistemas Integráveis da Escola Politécnica da USP (LSI -EPUSP)- Av. Prof. Luciano Gualberto, travessa 3,
nº 158 - São Paulo - CEP: 05508-970
2-PMSP-SME - Av. Interativa nº 100 - São Paulo - SP - CEP: 02820-020
3-Universidade Presbiteriana Mackenzie - Pós Graduação em Arte e História da Cultura
Rua Piauí, 143 - São Paulo - CEP: 01241-001
ABSTRACT
The current access to information and communication technology - ICT facilities can enable individuals to use advanced
technology in teaching and learning actions since the beginning of individuals’ education, as well as can stimulate the
integration and interoperation of educational actions between basic and higher education. This paper presents experience
showing how it has been applied advanced technology related to ICT facilities and visual communication to stimulate
curriculum improvements, individuals’ knowledge development and lifelong learning. It includes basic and higher
education collaborative participation in a one-to-one mobile computing model proposed by OLPC. The instruments used
to achieve these goals are electronic systems, web-based technology and low cost multimedia tools and files in
combination with learning theories and methodologies such as zone of proximal development ZPD, constructionism and
experiential learning. The use of web-based technology interoperation and integration such as Hypertext Markup
Language - HTML and Virtual Reality Modeling Language - VRML on teaching and learning actions has supported
individuals’ collaborative work, cognitive and perceptual development, better understanding of curriculum subjects and
how technology can be used to sustain ones’ professional or hobbyist life development within a lifelong learning process.
KEYWORDS
Knowledge Development, Desktop Virtual Reality, Communication, Cognitive Transformation, Literacy, Collaborative
Work
1. INTRODUCTION
There have been lots of problems related to individuals’ low level of literacy skills in Brazil, including the
“digital divide” what can bring about social exclusion (INAF, 2005; Balboni, 2006). For instance, people
lack reading and writing skills to deal with complex information, particularly, individuals under economic
disadvantage, according to recent survey in (Montenegro, 2003). According to the same survey, beyond the
economic issues, another bad reflex of individuals’ low level of literacy is that, ones’ access to culture and
arts has decreased. On the other hand, the learning experiences inside a primary school supported by
interactive electronic systems and web-based technology have demonstrated that is possible to transform
individuals’ attitudes related to a better use of the combination among technology, sciences, arts, education
and culture, not only as consumers, but also as producers (Franco et al, 2006a; Perlin, 2007; AMM, 2007;
Franco, 2001; Castells, 2005; Selwyn and Facer, 2007a). Furthermore, the school community engagement in
the ICT projects has brought about awareness of technology existence and relevance for the future of the
community. So, students and educators have improved their ICT knowledge and skills, and cooperated for
developing in collaboration with researchers of the higher education, school and third party projects, bringing
about the school community proactive participation in a one-to-one mobile computing learning experience
model proposed by One Laptop Per Children project (OLPC, 2007; Yahoo News, 2007; SPTV Globo, 2007).
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However, in a more general picture, related to education as a whole, there has been a lack of educators’
ICT preparation to understand and use effectively the digital resources available in order to improve
curriculum content presentation and development during the undergraduate courses (Franco, 2001; Prado and
Valente, 2003). According to (Prado and Valente, 2003) even if it were possible to develop a system for
improving educators’ ICT knowledge using experienced post-graduate ICT individuals to do the work in
Brazil, there would not be enough number of them to support the system development in quantity and quality
effectively. So, in parallel and beyond the external efforts of the society to improve educators’ ICT
knowledge, to propose and develop a collaborative lifelong ICT technical training to educators and children
inside school environment has proved to be a challenge, however, an effective way of constructing and
achieving good work quality, as well as learning and showing ways to minimize the problems described.
Through individual and collaborative educational actions, this work has addressed the problem of
awaking and preparing students and educators of basic education to understand and deal with electronic
systems and web-based technology in order to improve education quality and prepare individuals to live with
effectiveness in the knowledge society of 21st century as investigated, recommend and applied in (Dede,
2000; Franco, 2001; Beck, 2004; Tapscott, 2006; Turner, 2006; Uskov and Uskov, 2006; G1 Globo, 2007).
A good work quality at primary school education involving inter and transdisciplinary work for
developing individuals’ polycompetences supported by adequate infrastructure in terms of human and
technology features can bring about a school learning environment enable to support individuals’ cognitive
improvements and knowledge democratization (Morin, 2002), and attempting to decrease the problem of
creating lots of special projects for reeducating children under risk situation as (Projeto Clicar, 2007).
The infrastructure of hardware and software facilities available at school computers’ lab has been used to
do educational experiences supported by information visualization and computer graphics principles
employed as problem-solving tools in the sciences (Cunningham, 2007; McGrath and Brown, 2005). This
kind of action has served to improve educators and students’ ICT knowledge; develop curriculum through
hands on programming and producing digital content with support of inter and transdisciplinary work and
innovative technology related to web-based low cost multimedia technologies (Franco et al., 2005; Franco et
al. 2006a;). For instance, by using the combination of low cost desktop virtual reality technologies with arts
and culture to develop, organize and present digital content figure-1 (Franco, 2002; Franco et al., 2007).
Figure 1. On the left a hybrid interface used and reused that is based on VRML features bitmap and movie textures to
aware educators inside and outside school in 2006. On the right a hybrid interface built by an 8th grade student in May
2007 to organize his research and presentation about Charles Chaplin’s life to the Portuguese language teacher.
A sequence of actions like these has supported to build an interactive learning system, which has
benefited the school and surround community. The work has been improved, extended and influenced other
researchers, educators and communities through individual and collaborative learning actions (Franco et al.,
2005b; Franco et al., 2007). The learning experiences have contributed to individuals’ understanding human-
computer interaction - HCI in practice within the context of organizational work (Franco et al., 2006b).
Paraphrasing (Te’eni, 2007), similar to the problems which the field of HCI attempts to understand,
individuals have shaped and reflected about the way people interact with computers: the processes they
engage in, the resources they use, and the impact they accomplish in diverse levels of use (formal / informal)
and in different times and spaces. Paraphrasing (Microsoft Education, 2007) the strategy used is related to
influence individuals with a host of sophisticated skills, including the ability to solve problems, communicate
effectively, think critically, and grasp complex systems. To achieve these goals, citizens require a
significantly more advanced education. Beyond the demands of formal education, workers need ongoing and
timely training to meet the needs of the workplace—and to create better life opportunities for themselves.
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2. RELATED WORK
Around the world, researchers have been employed several tools and techniques such as consumer
multimedia devices (videos, digital cameras etc.), computer hardware and software as well as the Internet,
among others resources in order to design and improve interactive virtual and real learning environments and
communities, which can bring about to enhance open education and contribute to decrease the “digital
divide” effectively (Perlin, 2007; Greenfield, 2005; Selwyn and Facer, 2007a). Through these devices and
tools, including video games, 3D environment representations have enjoyed success for teaching and sharing
knowledge in a more interesting manner. The current facility of employing conventional desktop and mobile
computing at schools linked in an Intranet or on-line (Internet) makes 2D and 3D virtual environments
potential tools for revolutionizing education. For instance, current individuals’ access to facilities such as
mobile computing resources can bring about ones’ cooperative lifelong learning supported by concept of Just
in time Learning, not only in the corporate field but also in the education one (Selwyn and Facer, 2007b;
Sambataro, 2000; OLPC, 2007; UCA, 2007; Interact lab, 2007; Yahoo News, 2007; G1 Globo, 2007 ).
We have attempted to understand about how people learn and grow to provide better support for
designing teaching and learning materials and interactive environments as in educational projects related to
improve children’s writing, reading, researching and communication skills through computer graphics and
electronic media such as in NIMIS (Brna et al., 2000) and NICE (Roussos, et al., 1999) projects. The
software of these projects is composed by open standards languages such as C++, JAVA, HTML and VRML.
The SENSE exploratory project – a collaboration between the Universities of Bath, Nottingham and
Sussex, UK. The researchers explore air quality in the local environment, and carbon monoxide in particular,
with Year 6 pupils at Glenbrook Primary School, Nottingham and Year 9 science pupils at Varndean School,
Brighton. The project seeks to explore the links between e-Science and e-Learning in the classroom. The aim
is to provide teachers and school children with increased accessibility to scientific resources, enabling them
to appreciate the scientific process, and promote an understanding of the role of science in their everyday
lives. The project is developing and evaluating technologies that are appropriate for teachers and children,
integrating with the curriculum and classroom environment (Sense Project, 2007).
Projeto Clicar is an activity-based, non-formal educational program for children and adolescents that live
in a situation of social and personal risk and who spontaneously visit the public science museum, Estação
Ciência (Science Station) in the city of São Paulo. Projeto Clicar is developed into a space organized
especially for this public containing computers with internet access, printers, webcams, a library, board
games, art supplies, diverse educational software as well as tables and areas for learning, studying,
completing homework assignments, or for simply having conversations. The educational portion of the
project is developed (and continually reworked) by a team of educators experienced in working with children
and adolescents in a situation of social and personal risk along with student interns. Since the interns are
university students from diverse disciplines (including pedagogy/education, psychology, literature, biology,
geography, history, mathematics and art), Projeto Clicar is able to amplify the number of activities offered,
stimulating the youth to partake of the interns’ expertise, without losing sight of the world from which the
children come and their own knowledge base (Pranzetti, 2007; Projeto Clicar, 2007).
3. CASE STUDY - CONTEXT AND INTERACTIVE DEVELOPMENT
The methodology used to develop interactive learning environments was to combine opportunities for
individuals to access to the Internet, new technologies and devices related to ICT facilities, as well as to
support users to understand and use these technologies through direct manipulation and programming to
develop knowledge and express their feelings and thoughts.
Since 2002, Internet-based and low cost technologies learning experience have been carried out at the
Ernani Silva Bruno School, a public school situated in the suburbs of São Paulo. The children attended by the
school come from very low income families and are in socio-economic disadvantage. Projects that allow
users to improve and share knowledge are relevant because they help provide individuals’ social and digital
inclusion. There are many children and teenagers that live in a situation of social and personal risk,
accordingly to ‘Projeto Clicar’ survey in (Mahiri, 2007; Pranzetti, 2005). In August, 2006, we visited the
Projeto Clicar and met an 8 years old student of the Ernani School engaged in educational activities.
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At the Ernani School, web-based technology experiences started on the second semester of 2002 with a
learning action involving the computer lab teacher, an educator and forty 4th grade students. The experience
involved the use of VRML to build a virtual chess board and the application of HTML to prototype a home
page for enhancing students and teacher’s cultural artwork and research about Brazilian carnival. According
to the teacher, the web-based interactive learning initiative supported collaborative work among students,
improved communication among the educator and the students and enhanced students’ self-esteem. This
experience served as a reference the current work inside and outside the school environment (Franco et al.
2007).
The collaborative work carried out between the computer lab teacher and other teachers, brought about a
a series of activities envolving culture, arts and interactive technologies with twenty, 6th, 7th and 8th grade
students. Students practiced with VRML and HTML languages building simulated homepages and 3D virtual
worlds presenting them to the school community and local authorities. They engaged in learning desktop
virtual reality and computer graphics techniques by researching and reading Portuguese tutorials and
accessing Internet resources oriented by the computer lab teacher (Barros, 2004; Harb, 2007, Parallel
Graphics, 2007; Artifice Tutoriais, 2007). Examples of students’ work are their support to the
interdisciplinary work involving Math, Geography, Arts, English, Geometry, and ICT Educators for
understanding the metric system, cartography, scale and spatial concepts through building parts of the School
in 3D using VRML movie and bitmap textures, and the 3D interface they developed for the 8th grade and
adults’ education graduation ball. To build the 3D interface they used their photos and enhanced them with
animation to bring about a sense of presence at the graduation ball (Franco et al., 2006a).
3.1 Ict Facilities Supporting Collaborative Knowledge Network Development
The engagement of students and educators in a knowledge development network related to ICT facilities has
happened with the support of School multimedia projects and the interactions with researches and projects of
the Laboratory of Integrated Systems (LSI) of the University of São Paulo. For example, through the
participation of educators and children as protagonists in a workshop grounded on interactive media, arts and
culture at CAVERNA Digital™, Poli, USP, during Feira Brasileira de Ciências e Engenharia – FEBRACE.
During a 3 days workshop, participants interacted with the audience in a stand installed in the fair; authored a
play based on Tarsila do Amaral’s artwork, developing a text, a 3D computer graphics background using
VRML, and a prototype of a homepage using HTML. They presented it within the CAVERNA Digital™
(CAVE) (Franco and Lopes, 2005b). Other examples of these basic and higher education interactions are the
visits of the students and educators from the School to the University’s computing facilities to participate in
interactive workshops based on the (Atelier-Lab, 2007) approach. The workshops were developed under in
collaboration with a University professor, Etienne de la Croix and the computer lab teacher, and support of
researchers of LSI on the Art and Programming subject in (Franco et al., 2006a; Franco et al., 2006c).
The collaborative learning actions that have been carried out between the School community and the LSI
team brought about the School to be invited to participate in the learning experiences related to one-to-one
mobile computing model proposed by OLPC.
The Federal Government has been ruling a project aiming to implement low cost laptops in large scale at
Brazilian schools as a form of improving education quality and reducing of the digital divide (SPTV Globo,
2007). There is a committee of pedagogues and technicians (CPT) which has supervised the project development.
In one of the committee’s meetings, June 2006, the ICT facilitator of Ernani School was inquired if the laptop
project were run at Ernani, the educators of the school would be able to rule a project using digital media without
him. The facilitator said yes, because the school community was aware about technology influence in the learning
environment through the diverse collaborative projects carried out by educators and students of the school
according to examples described on section 3.0 and in the work presented in (Franco et al., 2006a).
From that, the school community participated on the research process of mobile computing project
acceptability related to its use at school (Corrêa et al., 2006) and was invited to take part in the one-to-one
mobile computing learning experience in July 2006 (O Estado, 2007). Since then, meetings between Ernani’s
educators and researchers from LSI have taken place in order to adapt the learning environment in technical
and pedagogical terms. After consulting the educators and school coordination, two classes were chosen to
start the project the 2nd grade C and the 5th C. The laptops arrived at the school in April 2007. Initial
experiments happened on April 16th with a project related to Monteiro Lobato’s life carried out on 2nd C. In
April 19th, Nicholas Negroponte and other researchers of the ONG One Laptop per Children (OLPC) visited
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2nd C and saw the work the educator and children developed blending digital and physical material from the
School library and experiencing traditional and digital literacy in (Yahoo News, 2007). The students wrote
short texts related to Lobato’s characters, took photos form the covers of the books and did small videos.
The work with 5th C involves diverse disciplines, educators and students have used the laptops to
research on the Internet, build graphics to understand data collected on the surround community, creating
content and visualizing information in real time to understand Geography, History and Science concepts as in
(Rhyne, 2004; Sense Project, 2007). Seeking for complete school community involvement in the learning
experiences and knowledge democratization, the learning experiences have been expanded to other students
and soon all the 1200 students will be sharing the machines. It has been developed intensive training to
educators and monitors in diverse times and spaces for achieving such goal figure-2.
Figure 2. Interactive moments of educators and students’ preparation for using the laptop at school
Due to the good work quality the project sponsors have seen, the school has received more laptops and it
will be possible to use about 40 laptops for each two classes per period. There are four periods with 9 classes.
The logistic for expanding the access to all the students is supported by monitors that have been prepared to
assist other ones, transport the laptops, and input new data in the interface through learning how to program
with technical assistance of the LSI team. The logistic is ruled under the concept of just-in-time learning
through incorporating Web-and intranet-based applications such as an internal blog (Sambataro, 2000).
The project development has influenced collaborative work among Federal and Municipal Government to
run the project at school, LSI and Prodam teams to setting up the wireless network through the existing cable
network and hardware managed by Prodam. The school was visited by Brazilian federal deputies, a federal
government assistant, OLPC managers, Inter-American Development Bank directors, and AMD South
American manager for special projects and government relations in June 2007, the CPT in July, and MIT
researchers in August. All of them talked with educators and children at the school and the visitors left school
satisfied with the good work quality they saw.
These diverse visits and the possibility to influence the decisions related to the one-to-one mobile
computing project and its software quality have enhanced educators and students’ self-esteem. Furthermore,
this project has brought about opportunities for the school community to interact with cultural, artistic and
scientific resources of the city of São Paulo. For instance, in August, students from 5th grade level and
Laptop project monitors visited the exhibition ‘Memórias do Futuro’ ‘Memories of the Future’ at (Itaú
Cultural, 2007). Some of these students recognized in the virtual artefacts exposed similarities to the work
done at school related to low cost virtual reality (VR) as in examples of the section 3.0 and the ones in
(Interact Lab, 2007; Roussos, et al., 1999).
The 2nd C and 7th A, B and C students went to the Science Station Museum (SSM, 2007) and had a very
interactive educational day in which 7th grade students visited the Clicar project. The interactive educational
day involved pre work related to School educators who went to visit the SSM before the children to combine
with the monitors of the SSM the best way students would enjoy the visit and also link the explanations with
the subjects they were studying. For instance, the Geography teacher was teaching about earthquakes and the
students had the opportunity to experience it in a simulation machine, understand why and how this natural
phenomenon happens and direct manipulate interactive maps of the SSM. After that, within a post work at
school, the Geography teacher conducted research in the classroom through the laptop. The students used the
laptops to read and take notes related to the earthquake phenomenon, as well as examine diverse maps to
consolidate the knowledge about that subject.
The 2nd C students were divided in two groups during their visit. Although, both groups were in the same
place, the learning experiences were diverse. The groups had the opportunity to interact with science and
technology artefacts, registering everything they wish with the laptops in actions similar to the project
(Sense, 2007). As a post work the 2nd C educator developed with the students a collective report because they
were not skilled writers and readers. However, the collective report production is considered an important
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moment of reflection about writing, reading and communication skills and sharing knowledge. The report
was illustrated by personal photos and videos that children did in SSM using the laptop features.
The use of mobile computers at school environment has brought about to use the concept of just in time
learning to research and learn about arts. For instance, to examine some Claude Monet pictures and the
geometry influence on them, as well as to improve computer skills within young and adults education
evening (7pm to 11pm) classes, while the students learn how to use the drawing tool. According to the
teacher of Arts, Gláucia, the opportunity of using the equipment have improved adults self-esteem
stimulating them to keep studying and developing knowledge, which can be an important support for
stimulating their lifelong learning attitudes.
4. CONCLUSION
Aiming to improve education quality, it is thought that using computer graphics and multimedia digital tools
on individuals’ knowledge development since basic education is relevant, due to the fundamental influence
that schools have to build essential knowledge to the most citizens’ lives and the necessity of discovering
new ways of teaching what have not been taught yet (Teixeira, 1977). Diverse researchers have highlighted
the advantages of using computer graphics and low cost multimedia tools to improve individuals’ cognition,
perception, as well as traditional and digital literacy in a proactive way since primary education (Mohler,
2001; Franco, 2005; ACM SIGGRAPH EDUCATION, 2007; GloboCIn, 2007; CIn UFPE, 2007).
In the case of the interactive learning environments and experiences showed in this paper the advantages
of following researches recommendations are clear and effective in terms of improving ones’ knowledge.
The approach that has been used to expand individuals’ knowledge is related to develop diverse small scale
educational experiences using ICT facilities in combination with computer graphics principles at school,
attempting to democratize and employ the same languages and tools that have attracted children to play video
games using personal computers and mobile devices (G1 Globo, 2007; Reuters, 2007). Within a long term
work, these educational experiences have interconnected several agents, bringing about individuals’
awareness related to technology presence in the learning environment and growing up the feelings of
modernity, self confidence and unit to the school community. For instance, improving the interaction
between basic and higher education and leading to a cooperative and collaborative work for implementing
one-to-one mobile computing model at school environment (Yahoo News, 2007; SPTV Globo, 2007).
It remains challenges such as to expand in great scale to the School surrounding community the
knowledge to develop digital content using low cost tools like HTML, Javascript, JAVA, VRML, GIMP™,
Blender 3D. It seems that implementing them as laptop resources and using them for supporting curriculum
content development, it is possible to transform individuals’ minds and cultural habits, bringing about
possibility to ones’ surviving through producing digital material for the growing digital TV industry
according to a survey (Turner, 2006), contributing to reduce the digital divide and promote social inclusion.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT
We would like to thank all the people who have supported this work inside and outside the school
community. God bless you.
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IADIS International Conference on Cognition and Exploratory Learning in Digital Age (CELDA 2007)
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... No Piloto experimental da cidade de São Paulo, segundo a fala de um educador da escola "este projeto tem propiciado aprimoramentos educacionais, humanos e técnicos". Com a crescente adesão participativa ao processo de desenvolvimento da experiência educacional protótipo, via consultas informais aos estudantes, educadores, pais e consultas formais através do Conselho de Escola, a comunidade educativa da escola tem compartilhado um ciclo de progresso espiral, incremental e sustentável de construção de conhecimento, com interatividade e colaboração conforme o encadeamento de ações educativas inovadoras individuais e coletivas [Franco, 2007;. ...
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