Uruguay’s Math Students Go Online With bettermarks

Government initiative decides on a learning platform made in Berlin
The goal is a sustainable improvement to school education

Berlin, 24 April 2013 – The decision has been made: Uruguay’s government initiative “Plan CEIBAL” has chosen bettermarks as the mathematics platform for the nationwide digitalization of school lessons. Effective immediately, the Berlin company’s online learning system is being implemented in all the country’s public schools. This makes bettermarks the first digital learning platform for mathematics to be used as the official tool for the public education system of an entire country. The new system is intended to improve the mathematics skills of Uruguayan children.

The Berlin-based company bettermarks won the tender against competitors from around the world. Miguel Brechner, President of Plan CEIBAL, explained the decision in the following words, “Not only could bettermarks fulfill all our requirements and give outstanding references, with its micro and macro adaptability, bettermarks was head and shoulders above the competition.“ After the preliminary decision, the system underwent a pilot phase over several weeks at the end of 2012. Here, bettermarks performed convincingly, winning over the decision makers at Plan CEIBAL and the users. The intuitive system comprehensively and thoroughly covers the topics from classes 4 – 10, with a variety of pedagogical methods unrivalled in the field. In school lessons, the program supports teachers, helping them to meet each student’s individual needs. It also enables each student to learn at his or her own pace.

Implementing bettermarks across an entire public school system poses technical and logistic challenges for the company. The complete system has been localized to meet Uruguay’s requirements. This included translating the content to Spanish and modifying it to fit Uruguayan teaching curricula and pedagogical methods. Then the computer server structures were adapted and their capacity was drastically increased to cope with the demands of up to 300,000 pupils from Uruguay accessing the bettermarks system. “Another major challenge was training around 20,000 teachers in the system, especially because some of them only had very little experience with computers“, said Diego Carbonell Gonzalez, the  bettermarks project manager for Uruguay who is leading the implementation in the country. “We have conducted around one hundred training sessions and we have developed our own online training module so that bettermarks can be used across the board from day one. The feedback we have received so far is overwhelming. One child even asked us how it feels to be able to help so many children with bettermarks. The answer: We are all very proud, and it is a pleasure to be able to support Uruguay in promoting mathematics education with such an important contribution to the education system.“

The education system in Uruguay is one of the most modern in Latin America. However, teachers face a great challenge, because in some rural areas there are many different ages in one class. This makes individualized teaching tricky. In 2007, the government initiative Plan CEIBAL started a comprehensive program of investment to significantly improve schooling in Uruguay using digitalization. Uruguay was one of the first countries to equip all its public schools with computers to give children from all social classes access to computer-based education. So far, around 500,000 of the child-friendly XO laptops from the “One Laptop per Child“ initiative have been distributed to Uruguayan schoolchildren.
The comprehensive use of laptops in public schools in Uruguay is an important step for bettermarks on its journey to conquer the world market with its multi-award-winning online learning system.  At the moment the program is available in English, German and Spanish. Together with partner Macmillan, bettermarks is being piloted in India and Mexico.

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