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Cyberspace Takes Durham Students to Brazil

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DURHAM — Brazil is miles and miles away. Sure, North Carolina students can learn about the country from history books -- but traveling there is much more fun. Now students are using cyberspace to visit classrooms in a different country.

Monday afternoon Gov. Jim Hunt a technology agreement between North Carolina and Brazil, enabling students in both places to be"Wired for Learning."

With Rio De Janeiro Education Secretary Lia Faria watching, Carrington Middle School students learn and communicate on the Internet.

Working with IBM and Duke University, Durham Middle Schools use "Wired for Learning" to connect teachers, students and their parents. A special framework of software was developed allowing planning, e-mail and Web pages.

"We tried to work with the teachers and the schools and say, 'What kind of problems do you have? What can we help you with?' And really gave them a voice in that software development," according to Carolyn Coggins, the "Wired for Learning" project manager.

The partnership will give students and teachers from North Carolina and Rio De Janeiro the ability to learn together and share ideas -- without concern for distance. Brazilian educators look forward to participating.

"He can contact other teachers and others students and the community in general so that's the kind of conception, that's very close to the conception of the 'Wired for Learning' project," said education technology coordinator Heloisa Moura.

Durham schools followed Charlotte's lead in adopting the "Wired for Learning" program. Teachers comfortable with computers take to it quickly; others have to be sold on the idea.

It does take a few minutes to learn how the program works. But then it makes life easier.

For students in North Carolina and across the equator in Brazil, perhaps life is also richer and more exciting.

"Wired for Learning" is part of IBM's Reinventing Education initiative. Twenty-one grants have been awarded in the U.S. and six internationally.


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