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Technological policies for education and digital literacy: the governmental program ‘e.escolinha’

Keywords: Technological policies for education , e.escolinha , Magellan laptop , digital literacy

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Abstract:

In 2008, the Portuguese government announced the initiative ’e.escolinha’ which included the distribution of computers ‘Magalh es’ to students of the 1st cycle of basic education for three consecutive school years. Currently suspended, the programme was a agship of the XVII Constitutional Government, led by José Sócrates, but it was also subject of controversy from the opposition parties and from the school community, especially due to the apparent emphasis on access to technology rather than a greater concern with the training and pedagogical practices. Under the Technological Plan for Education, the ’e.escolinha’ initiative was part of a broader policy for the development of a competitive and dynamic economy, responding to the goals set by the EU in the Lisbon Strategy 2000. The initiative was presented to the country with ambitious goals regarding the expected changes to teachers’ pedagogical practices, the process of children’s learning and school success in general. However, the most visible face of the policy, although it may comprise other nuances, may have been reduced to the question of access, investing little in other dimensions of digital literacy. Based on interviews with key actors involved in the conception and implementation of the ’e.escolinha’ initiative, and on of cial programme documents, this paper intends to discuss how policy makers and companies set out and evaluate the objectives of this initiative. It is intended, in particular, to understand if they share the idea that this governmental measure follows a technological drift or if they discern any digital literacy objectives in it. This piece of work is part of a research project titled "Navigating with Magellan: Study on the Impact of Digital Media on Schoolchildren," that is being carried out at the Communication and Society Research Centre at the University of Minho, funded by the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology ((PTDC / CCI-COM/101381/2008)) and co- nanced by FEDER (COMPETE: FCOMP-01-0124-FEDER-009056).

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