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EXPLORING THE CONTRADICTIONS WHEN INTRODUCING PROBLEM BASED LEARNING AND XO LAPTOPS TO ENHANCE 21ST-CENTURY SKILLS IN AN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL IN AN IMPOVERISHED CONTEXT

M. Rivera

Universidad Tecnológica Centroamericana (HONDURAS)
This paper explores the main contradictions inherent in embracing Problem Based Learning (PBL) as a pedagogical model and in using XO laptops as mediators to enhance 21st-century skills in a public elementary school, Centro Básico Padre Claret, located in the San Pedro Sula suburban area in Honduras, which has the highest rates of poverty, violence, and crime in the country. In addition to this external context, the school faces a complex internal context in which teachers deal with large class sizes, lack of control over computer activities, poor school performance, high dropout rates, literacy problems, lack of adequate infrastructure, and teacher-oriented pedagogy. To identify the contradictions that occur when introducing PBL principles and XO laptops, Activity Theory (AT) was used to analyze the activity system of the learning process.
During this research, the school’s teachers were trained in PBL and agreed to shift from using traditional (teacher-oriented) pedagogical practices to exploring a new practice that incorporates technology and active (student-oriented) learning. Introducing PBL in a classroom setting requires a different activity system, one in which the student is the center of the learning process. This study explored the contradictions among: Subject-Tools-Object and Subject-Object-Rules-Division of Labor- and Community-Tool-Object. The data on classroom implementation were collected using video recording, observations, and interviews.

The research results showed that while technology is always changing and providing new devices that can be incorporated, digital devices have a strong effect on how students communicate and on how teachers adopt student-centered pedagogy to teach children to handle technology resources. Information and Communications Technology (ICT) incorporates a wider range of learning styles and equips students with 21st-century skills by providing them with opportunities to express themselves in different ways, including by writing and public speaking, and to practice creativity, critical thinking, self-discovery, and peer education.