Julci Rocha (known as Julciane Rocha) holds a major in Portuguese/French Language and Literature at University of São Paulo, as well as an M.Ed in Curriculum at Pontifical Catholic University of São Paulo. Specialist in Education Management, Instructional Design and Innovative Education. Member of the Innovation Network for Brazilian Education managed by CIEB (Innovation Center for Brazilian Education). She is one of the authors of the book “Active methodologies for innovative education: a theoretical-practical approach”, by Penso (2018), organized by Lilian Bacich and José Moran. She is the author of textbooks from Editora Moderna. As a Microsoft Educator Fellow, she represented Brazil at two international events (E2 – Education Exchange) for her successful experiences in Brazilian education: in Singapore (2018) and Paris (2019). In 2020, she was hired as a management consultant during São Paulo Media Center implementation from March to August 2020 working with the Secretary of Education Rossieli Soares. This public policy involves more than 5.8 million Brazilian students. Julci is the Founder of Redesenho Educacional, an institution that supports Brazilian schools, leaders, and teachers to
innovate, focused on digital technology, multiliteracy, active learning and curriculum innovation. Nowadays, she´s also a university professor in Singularidades Institute (São Paulo/ Brasil) and Senior Consultant at the Lemann Foundation, coordinating the Vamos Aprender TV Project.
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced schools and education systems around the world to create remote alternatives to continue teaching. According to the World Bank, more than 1.6 million students from around the world were left without face-to-face classes in April 2020 in more than 177 countries. In Brazil, most schools remain closed to this date. Although digital resources and internet have been used in a massive way, there is still part of the population that doesn´t have access to either. In Brazil, according to the Digital 2020 report, led by We are Social, around 71% of the population has some type of internet access, 12% more than the world average, which is 59%. Although it is a reasonable number, still there’ 25% of the population with no access to the vast majority of which from the most disadvantaged social classes or from the rural area. The Household ICT Survey (2019), in Portuguese, TIC Domicílios, carried out by the Regional Center for Studies for the Development of the Information Society (Centro Regional de Estudos para o Desenvolvimento da Sociedade da Informação – CETIC.br) deepens this data, showing that only 50% of rural areas and households in social classes D and E have access to the Internet. The survey also reveals that 58% of the population logs the internet only via mobile phones, which makes using the internet more instrumental. The survey data show that the Brazilian use of the internet is more focused on communication (Whatsapp and social networks) and entertainment (watching videos and listening to music). Only 40% of the interviewees assert that they carried out some educational action through the internet.
There is a very common modality in Brazil, which is the prepaid cell phone, with unlimited internet access to social networks and the Whatsapp messaging application. Often, internet access for low-income communities is limited to these applications
In addition to all the access challenges listed above, there is also the proficiency of teachers towards the efficient digital resource’s usage. According to a survey conducted with public state and municipal networks in Brazil by the National Union of Municipal Education Directors (União Nacional dos Dirigentes Municipais de Educação – UNDIME) and the National Council of Education Secretaries (Conselho Nacional dos Secretários de Educação – CONSED) in partnership with NGOs and UNICEF (2020), 41% of state networks states that one of the challenges faced is the difficulty of teachers with digital technologies, followed by 39% in municipal districts. With this reality at hand, many education systems in Brazil and in the world have adopted more than one remote teaching strategy, using television as a vehicle to broadcast educational content. Although it expands the possibilities of reaching more students by being in more than 80% of the homes of school-age children and adolescents (UNICEF, 2020), in some regions of the world such as Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, less than half of the children have television. The number drops to 10% when we analyze children in conditions of extreme poverty. Social inequality is even crueler in a pandemic. According to a survey of 122 countries carried out by UNESCO (2020), cited by United Union Report (2020), TV was widely used to continue remote education, on all continents, as shown in the graph below:
In the same survey lead by UNDIME and CONSED, in May 2020, among the 27 Brazilian state networks, 14 of them used the TV as a remote teaching strategy, combined with other strategies. In municipal districts, the number drops to 2%. The reason for the low use of the TV in municipal districts is its high cost of production and broadcasting. Even if the network has a partnership with some public TV to broadcast the content, capturing and editing quality content requires investment.
A report from the New York Times in August this year reveals that the Media Center of Amazonas (Brazil) founded in 2007 to address the demand for access to education for students living in remote areas, gave the content of its programming to other states, reaching 4.5 million students. Some states, such as São Paulo, the richest in the country and one of the largest educational systems in Latin America, decided to create their own São Paulo Media Center in record time. The author of this text was hired as a management consultant during the period of implementation of the São Paulo Media Center from March to August 2020, for her experience with managing large-scale educational innovation projects in Brazilian public networks.
São Paulo has 3.5 million students and 190 thousand teachers. Despite being a diverse and complex system, it was one of the first to take concrete actions towards remote learning. For 41 days, the Center’s implementation team dedicated itself to defining TV channels partners, hiring teachers, defining the essential skills that would be the subject of classes, producing and delivering printed materials in schools as additional strategy, reorganizing existing contracts to take the pedagogical and audiovisual production of the classes, which involved the creation of four studios in Training Center for Education professionals (Escola de Formação de Profissionais da Educação – EFAPE), in addition to the TV Cultura studio (one of the partner televisions). The classes at the Media Center are live and, in addition to television, they are broadcasted by the Media Center application, with the possibility of interaction in real-time, via chat and through social networks (Youtube and Facebook). An important aspect is a public-private partnership in this process. Due to the ability of the advisors team to mobilize partnership, in particular, the Secretary of Education Rossieli Soares, the application for the São Paulo Media Center was donated, as well as one of the television channels and the preparation of printed materials, among other donations, reaching more than 40 million dollars in services and products.
As the São Paulo Media Center also developed content for the early years of elementary school, which are primarily managed by the municipal education system, the content served as a potential of 5.8 million students in K-12, including youth and adult education. One of the actions that supported the massive adoption of the contents of the São Paulo Media Center was communication. For about two months, between April and May, the Secretary of Education and other advisors held live broadcasting almost daily with public professionals (teachers, coordinators, etc.), seeking to collect feedback and suggestions on the actions implemented, to identify problems and the next steps. The experience of the São Paulo Media Center has become a worldwide case, registered, and published by the OECD.
The document, written by Lucia Dellagnelo Innovation Center for Brazilian Education – CIEB) and Fernando Reimers (Harvard University) points out that the success factors for the experience in the state of São Paulo were:
• Strong political will and leadership is key to enable the mobilization of resources and rapid implementation.
• Developing partnerships with companies and non-profit organizations are strategic to avoid delays due to bureaucratic procedures.
• In order to reach the maximum number of students and their families, school districts need to offer multi-modal learning activities.
• Establishing honest and frequent communication with all stakeholders (i.e. teachers, principals, administrators, students and families) is vital to support the technical and emotional demands of the rapid changes imposed by the pandemic. During the process, some challenges were identified and continue to be continuously addressed by the teams from the education department.
• Reduction of time for planning classes in order to make important information such as class theme, skills and other pedagogical information available to teachers. In this way, network teachers can plan activities that are more aligned with the contents of the Media Center to be carried out by students after they are broadcast;
• Improvement of teachers’ didactics: as the teaching experience on television is very new for teachers and the adaptation time was very short, teachers are developing while they take classes. After a few months of broadcasting, the team began to collect feedback from students at the end of classes, which allowed them to have more information to focus on specific teacher’s development. Hiring pedagogical advisors to review the plans and give feedback to teachers before the class also increased the quality of the content;
• Better match between the printed materials and the content of the classes: at the beginning of the process, not all teachers linked the classes to the activities of the printed materials, which left students and teachers confused;
• Student engagement over time: although no data on access to classes via television has been released by the state education department, students ‘access to classes at the Media Center has decreased over time, according to the teachers. This is not a specific challenge to the state of São Paulo. Most teachers, including those from private schools, report students’ lack of motivation to continue studying in the pandemic. The team of São Paulo Media Center seeks to constantly innovate, promoting classes with diverse themes and methodologies in addition to actions involving personalities known to students, such as the interview with Brazilian Any Gabrielly from the Now United group, held in June 2020
Recognizing the potential of TV as one of the most democratic strategies during the COVID-19 pandemic, NGOs such as the Lemann Foundation, the Innovation Center for Brazilian Education (CIEB), the Roberto Marinho Foundation and UNESCO have joined with UNDIME and (CONSED) to develop a program called Vamos Aprender TV (in English, Let´s Learn TV). Vamos Aprender has more than 180 hours, divided into 320 programs, organized by teaching stages (from kindergarten to high school), aligned with the Common National Curriculum. The contents are playful and include very accessible language to different age groups. This dynamism is enhanced by the audiovisual content provided by more than 30 institutions with extensive experience in producing educational audiovisual content and which are incorporated into the programs.
Vamos Aprender was born from the desire to support municipal and state networks that do not have the resources to produce high-quality television content or need additional content to be broadcast on TVs. If the state or municipal district is interested in the content, the education departments signs a term of use and receives the 320 programs for free. Currently, more than 80 education departments (state and municipal districts) have signed a partnership to receive and broadcast
the programs. In October 2020, Vamos Aprender was also broadcast nationally due to a partnership with a television
channel (REDEVIDA Educação), which reaches more than 395 cities in all Brazilian states. Currently, the author of
this text is the coordinator of this program and provides pedagogical support for the education networks interested in the
partnership. Our expectation is that education actions involving television can continue even after the COVID-19 pandemic, as is already a reality in many countries around the world, even in Brazil. As we demonstrated in this study, television is a democratic vehicle and, combined with other resources, such as applications and printed materials, can enhance students’ learning and engagement. It is not a matter of replacing teachers, on the contrary, developing diverse content that can support the teacher to use his time with students to develop skills and abilities, not to lecture classes. São Paulo educational department already confirms the São Paulo Media Center as a long-term public policy and we hope that other states and municipalities will follow this example.