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Honoring Seymour Papert and Helping the World, Too

by Brian D. Sadie
On Wednesday, December 4, One Planet Education Network (OPEN) and Small Solutions, Big Ideas (SSBI) hosted an event honoring education and classroom technology pioneer Seymour Papert. Experts and innovators shared their experience and insight about current developments in educational gaming and related products and approaches.

Sandra Thaxter, Executive Director of SSBI, and OPEN Executive Director George Newman opened the night’s presentations, discussions, and demonstrations. SSBI provides computing technology that enables better communication and children’s education in Africa. OPEN has established a system of educational games and media approaches that facilitate a broad, hands-on education about such problems as poaching of endangered species, environmental degradation, and hurdles to effect and enforce progressive, humane policy change.

Constructivist and former MIT Professor Seymour Papert was honored for his prescience and contributions to children’s education, including his promotion of technology use in classrooms. Speakers included Mitch Resnick of the MIT Media Lab; artificial intelligence and education expert Cynthia Solomon; Brian Silverman; publisher and author Meredith Hamilton of BumpBump Books; Artemis Papert; and Gary Stager.

The night’s event underscored cooperative problem solving: The technology available and provided by such non-profits as SSBI helps OPEN connect students worldwide, students who not only learn about math, science, and basic humanities, but also about the world and its ways in politics and business and the role of cultural difference in both causing problems and finding solutions to them.

Inspired by Papert’s thought and work, the organizations promote collaborative projects to improve educational, environmental, and human rights conditions, particularly by developing effective education systems in the world’s deeply impoverished areas. SSBI’s unique access to emerging market economies and its partners for development and field use of products and programs enables it to both provide students with necessary items and teach them skills that will enable them to work in the global milieu even if they continue to address global conservation or human rights challenges. OPEN’s series of educational programs encourages students to learn of real-world challenges, such as poaching endangered species, communicate and partner with others wherever they may be, and pragmatically address the problem. OPEN is currently in the second phase of Kids Worldwide Unite: Save the Black Rhino and is preparing a major undertaking to further education about and address the depletion and degradation of the ocean environment.

An Evening honoring Seymour Papert, co-hosted by Small Solutions, Big Ideas and OPEN

December 4, 2013 @ Cambridge Innovation Center, 1 Broadway, Cambridge, MA. The vision of Seymour Papert and his years at the MIT Media Lab produced students who continue to carry on his legacy, creating innovative technology and methods based on his theories and practice. These students, educators, and technologists paid tribute, shared personal stories and experiences, and discussed the many important ways Professor Papert continues to influence their work, illuminating the way forward for other contemporary educational scholars and practitioners.

The panel discussion was followed by dinner, lively conversations, video tributes and future program announcements, the recent work of our US and international students, and demos of the latest learning software and games by Small Business, Big Ideas, OPEN and their partner.


Citizens Bank RR Donnelley

One Planet Education Network (OPEN)

is a leading provider of online multiplayer adventure learning games that engage and inspire kids to develop critical thinking and problem solving skills. OPEN’s mission is to transform teaching and learning by combining the power of 3D virtual video games with educationally rich storylines that challenge children and inspire a 24x7 passion for learning.

OPEN’s educational 3D learning environments integrate STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math), social studies content, and common core standards with game narratives based on real places and scenarios that address important challenges of our 21st century civilization. Students use content embedded within authentic tasks to meet challenges and achieve goals during play. In our realistic park environments students take on apprenticeship roles across a diversity of disciplines, including environmental field researchers, energy conservation consultants, archaeologists, and engineers. As they navigate storylines, students make decisions that affect their virtual world and the trajectory of the narrative. As they travel in time and to different locations, they become protagonists in the story of human history – past, present, and future.


OPENs Video Games for Learning & Teaching

"Teach Your Children"
© Graham Nash - Thank you Graham!


US Department of Education - Institute of Education Sciences

OPEN has received a series of Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contracts to develop 3D educational learning environments as a supplement to upper Elementary and Middle School science, mathematics, social studies, and literacy curricula. These realistic 3D environments are based on representations of real-world National Parks and World Heritage Sites. These include Virtual Mesa Verde, Virtual Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Saving the Black Rhinos of Mkomazi National Park. Our latest worlds that were also supported by IES include Virtual Machu Picchu (Spanish and English), and Olympic National Park. read more…

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