After an exciting trip on an overnight night train we’ve landed in Nizhniy Novgorod, Russia. We spent most of today in the community around the Gorky Automobile Plant (GAZ) where Microsoft is working with NGO Free Deed to provide students with PCs loaded with affordable Windows, Office and educational tools designed to develop essential learning and computing skills software.
Currently over 10,000 students have their laptops and additional shipments are underway. These students use these laptops at school and at home. The first school we went to lies in a neighborhood that is feeling the impact of the global financial crisis – we were told that some factory workers are temporarily out of work due to a decrease in demand for automobiles. Despite the fact that these circumstances impacted the families of many of the students we saw, the halls of the school were alive with laughter and energy as we were warmly welcomed.
Throughout the visit we were invited to observe lessons taught via the PCs. What amazed me was how engaged students were once the computers turned on. The teacher controls the lesson from a laptop on her desk and she can see each student’s progress at any time. As they go through the program the teacher enthusiastically circles the classroom asking questions. Hands shoot up everywhere and a lively discussion ensues. The first lesson we saw was titled ‘Informatics’ and the kids were learning the definition of an algorithm by placing cartoon images in to the right spots in a logical sequence. We were all impressed – seven-year olds and algorithms!
The credit goes to the teachers who create much of the education content for the lessons themselves. I kept imagining how far the teachers could take these lessons if the entire classroom had access to the internet…something for the team to discuss. Microsoft is working with Free Deed and the Ministry of Education in Nizhniy Novgorod to make sure that teachers have a forum to share these lessons and communicate feedback on their experience in the classroom to other teachers in their community and across Russia.
Viacheslav Gershov, who manages the project with Free Deed, gives an overview of the day’s activities in the video below.
- Jeremy Gittins, General Manager Central Eastern Europe, Microsoft Unlimited Potential Group