MIT Massachusetts Institute of Technology

BLOSSOMS on Futura and the Challenge for Brazilian Education

November 4, 2014

By Lúcia Araújo, director of Canal Futura

High school and teacher training are two of the main sticking points in Brazilian education. There’s a deficit in terms of quality content production. There’s also the challenge of guaranteeing an appropriate methodology and environment for learning. It’s necessary to invest in educators, to mobilize them and take them beyond the limits of the classroom, giving students access to culture, sport, science and technology.

Futura is in tune with this view of education as training for life, and it’s now 17 year since the channel committed itself to making a contribution to Brazilian education. Our way of making TV sees the educational environment as a “school without walls”. Our work is visible both on the screen and beyond it. For example, we act through Futura Classrooms (Salas Futura). These are spaces, set up within communities, where the TV channel’s content is freely available to the public. We also reach people through the Futura Suitcases (Maletas Futura), multimedia learning materials produced thanks to an extensive network of varied social actors. Finally, there are the focus groups of the Educators’ Council, which evaluate our programming, amongst other contributions.

The Futura model is fundamentally rooted in partnerships, dialogue and plurality of viewpoints. These are the characteristics that differentiate us from other educational channels. They are the characteristics that inspire us, and that generate productive relationships such as that we’ve had with MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) since 2011.

With our thoughts focused on the 46 million Brazilians who regularly watch Futura, amongst them two million educators, we broadcast video classes from the Blossoms project (Blended Learning Open Source Science or Math Studies). This material relates abstract learning to daily life, in the fields of mathematics, chemistry, physics, biology and engineering.

We screened 32 video classes, produced by educators from various countries, about biotechnology, sustainable energy, innovations in engineering and entrepreneurship, amongst other themes of universal interest. Public response was registered in a notable growth in the audience for the Blossoms project website. Brazil became the second placed country in terms of users of the site, behind only the United States. Access to the site came from all five regions of the country, and was followed up by email contact. It’s irrefutable proof of the quality of these video productions, and also of the growing interest of Brazilians in themes related to science and technology. 

Against such a promising background, we are strengthening the partnership. Starting in November, another 19 Blossoms video classes will air, on a daily basis. The challenges of contemporary living, and correlations with the natural sciences, will still be on the agenda in this new season. Our highlights include the classes given by researchers from the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, with three lessons about developments, treatments and innovations in the area of cancer research.

Beyond broadcasting the Blossoms classes, cooperation between Futura and MIT has evolved due to students’ and educators’ transformative interaction with the programming. We’re working, in parallel, on the production of video classes with Futura’s partner universities. We currently have 37 higher education institutions within our collaborative network, which works through the exchange of knowledge, journalistic production and the broadcast of content via University TV channels and Canal Futura itself. We expect excellent results soon!

The fruit of a living social structure, built on an ongoing basis and rooted in a multiplicity of knowledge and ideas, Futura distinguishes itself as an agent of integration. Our mission is to connect distinct realities, aiming to promote personal and community development. So just as we take MIT’s video classes to Futura Classrooms deep in the rainforest, we also show the peculiarities of Amazon culture to the population of big cities. In this way, we seek to support society in the struggle for equality of opportunity for all Brazilian citizens.