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Manifesto

This is a growing (and malleable) list of principles that guide our choices in the lifetime of this project. We make the following assumptions:
  • We'd rather increase opportunities for learning than improve existing learning practices and outcomes. Learning is the interest in and the practice of a process rather than an outcome. Learning objectives (practiced by educators) and learning objects (proposed by computer scientists) are not the solution to the problem we are interested in (increasing opportunities for learning).
  • Useful technology is what people actually buy and use, so we are mostly interested in off-the-shelf components that the community can maintain by itself. After all the project has an expiration date, but learning and classrooms keep going. As a matter of fact, we are rather reluctant to self-advertised "user friendly" or special learning equipment that holds great potential in the future. Off-the-shelf components, DIY and existing user technology are king.
  • Most technologists and an increasing number of educators regard or promote ICT as a solution to an educational problem. In contrast, we consider ICT to be a problem and we aspire to facilitate educators to understand how to arrange ICT optimally for their needs. 
  • Mass communication has promoted cultural integration rather than diversity. Could cultural diversity be sustained or even facilitated through interactive media? In this end, ICT is considered a medium rather than a tool. 
  • During the school-based activities of the project we aim for a minimal disruption and the least possible overhead in the workload of schools. We'd rather have any project activity happen during the "gray time" of students rather than add another assignment in their overloaded programs. Actually, we believe that the most effective educational experiences are self-motivated.  
  • During the last couple of decades a course entitled 'informatics' has been (rather slowly) introduced to Greek schools, in parallel to the rest of the courses, as if informatics does not affect the dynamics of teaching any other course. During that time, the education administrators have been mostly consumed by questions, such as 'what is the syllabus', 'who has the skills to teach informatics.' In contrast, we have been encouraging the use of informatics (as a tool or medium) by the rest of the teachers. Educational advances through informatics might be realized when/if computers become second nature to non-informatics teachers.
  • We are organizing several small scale workshops during each academic year. In addition to discussing state-of-the-art research, we also aim to keep them small and accessible to local researchers and practitioners. We are not negative about big multi-track conferences, but we prefer to focus our energy on the research topics than the logistics of managing hundreds of people.
  • This research is focused on rural schools not because urban schools have fewer problems (they do have lots, too). It has been (well) said that urban schools are catered for by the industry because urban areas are a very appealing market (Eric Brewer, UC Berkeley). The focus on rural and remote schools stems from the need to study new ICT in a noise-free environment. We mean noise-free in many senses: cultural, technological (e.g., overexposure to new technogies), and social parameters (e.g., reluctant stakeholders, such as teachers and unions) are minimized in remote places, so we hope to be able to study and design new educational technologies in a better way.
  • In the educational technology area, if a research problem can be already described with a detailed system design or (even better) with a mathematical model, then it is already solved and outside the scope of our research interests. Instead, we are focusing on those education technology research issues that are not well-understood yet and that require rapid prototypes and iterative deployment in the field.
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