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Scratch Around the World, Part 1 of 4: Developing Scratch in Developing Nations

In this four-part ScratchEd feature, we explore three educators’ experiences implementing Scratch-based educational programs in classrooms around the world, with a focus on developing countries. We were honored to interview Alisha Panjwani, Julia Reynolds, and Claudia Urrea for this series. All three interviewees have had extensive experience developing, directing, implementing, and assessing international Scratch programs. From Rwanda to Nigeria, from India to Ecuador, each story in the series describes the opportunities and challenges of working with Scratch in developing nations:
Part 1: Developing Scratch in Developing Nations
Part 2: Advocating Awareness with Localized Storytelling
Part 3: Engaging Community through Peer Learning
Part 4: Confronting the Challenge of School Culture
For Part 1, we introduce our three interviewees. Read on to learn more about their backgrounds and experiences with Scratch.
Alisha Panjwani, discussing her prior work with Project Vision India
Currently a graduate student in the Lifelong Kindergarten group at MIT Media Lab, Alisha Panjwani previously worked as a Design and Research Associate for Project Vision, a design and research collective at Srishti School of Art Design and Technology, India. Project vision incorporates constructionist pedagogies to design curriculum in K-12 schools and learning centers for underprivileged children in Bangalore, India. With an academic background in Design and Education, Alisha’s core interests focus on the intersection of art, technology, and education. In our conversation, Alisha shared how she created interdisciplinary learning modules for children ages 10-13 in India by classifying Scratch as a medium for expression rather than simply a technology tool.
Julia Reynolds, discussing her prior work with OLPC Rwanda
Before starting as the Program Manager for MIT-AFRICA, which is part of MISTI, MIT’s largest study abroad program, Julia Reynolds spent four years as Country Manager and Field Learning & Development Coordinator for the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) team in Rwanda. Julia worked in concert with ministry officials to introduce Scratch in Kigali classrooms and libraries – part of a national initiative tasked to eradicate the lack of culture around reading and writing and to transform Rwandan public libraries into safe learning spaces for young children to create, explore, and exchange ideas. With the adoption of OLPC technology in 2009, the organization has since deployed 200,000 laptops to primary public school children throughout the country.

Claudia Urrea, discussing her prior work with OLPC Latin America
Claudia Urrea served as Director of Learning for the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) program from 2008 to 2012 and has worked on a wide range of educational outreach projects in many countries around the world. The day of the interview, Claudia found time to Skype with us while attending an event related to Scratch in Ecuador. She shared her other recent activities, including social investment programs in Nigeria and Latin America, and cooperating with teachers in Uruguay to garner support for educational technology at community, district, state, and national levels. Claudia joined the MIT Media Lab in 1995 as a Visiting Scientist, completed her Ph.D. with Seymour Papert, and has been a supporter of Scratch throughout its development and deployment.

NEXT: Scratch Around the World, Part 2 of 4, "Advocating Awareness with Localized Storytelling"