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Making Learning Visible


Address correspondence to Claudia Urrea, OLPC Foundation, 222 Third Street, Suite 02134, Cambridge, MA 02142; e-mail:


Almost two million children in more than 40 countries around the world have received a One Laptop per Child (OLPC) XO netbook computer. These netbooks represent the commitment of politicians, community leaders, and educators to implement disruptive, large-scale education reform initiatives that will advance their countries into the 21st century and prepare their children for interconnected, global, creative, and knowledge economies. Expectations for the success of these initiatives are high, and local stakeholders as well as numerous international organizations look to these experiments with cautious optimism. These programs hold the promise to expand the learning and creative potentials of broad populations. As such, arguably, one of the greatest challenges facing these initiatives is designing and implementing mechanisms that help make the outcomes visible, understandable, and actionable by all audiences. In this article, we discuss initiatives being developed by OLPC at different levels of scale: at the meta level to understand impact across nations and learn about the emerging developments in the different programs; at the mezzo level to allow stakeholders to understand the development of the program in their countries and their schools; and at the micro level to help teachers and students understand emerging learning by children over a given period of time. We present some examples of student work to illustrate how some children are making creative contributions to OLPC.

Inspired in the collaboration and work by Project Zero and Reggio Children, this article was given the name “Making Learning Visible.” Beyond the title, the work presented in this article recognizes the child both as an individual and a group learner; recognizes the acts as well as the products of learning; and above all, values the children's reflections and approaches to make their learning visible.