Colombia may be on the brink of the future but can only go as far as the education system will allow. However there are gaps such as access to quality digital content, this gap is being addressed by a new Colombian initiative to provide over 900.000 tablets for students and teachers.
Nearly half of the tablets are being provided by telecommunication companies as part of their obligation after they received 4G spectrum in a recent auction. The remainder are being provided by the government.
The terms of the distribution are intended to put the tablets in the hand of schools that have enough infrastructure as well as the entrepreneurial attitude to get the most out of the devices, recipients are also required to make sure teachers using them will receive training both in use of tablets and effective teaching with digital content.
Some of the benefits for students are:studying at home as well as at school, libraries, parks and some other places with free access to wifi, not being burdened with huge backpacks, being able to do online homework, developing technical skills to be more effective in the work place. Benefits for the teachers include access to wide variety of digital content, ability to create their own content through specific platforms and develop their own technical proficiency.
One platform is already being developed by one of the spectrum 4G winners CLARO. It allows teachers to create their classes on the platform and allows students to be connected at any place and time to those classes. Educlic is the biggest community of teaching and learning in Colombia.
The tablet distribution program has the potential to impact Colombian education in a positive way. It can help reduce the gaps between richer and poor, urban and rural, public and private while creating greater equality and quality for all students and teachers.