The Biblioteca Virtual do Estudante Brasileiro (The Brazilian Student's Virtual Library)is an award-winning web resource that has been in existence since the late nineties. It is a humanitarian project to provide the Brazilian public and the world free access to educational resources in the Portuguese language. The availability of these resources on the Internet addresses worldwide equity issues, specifically the scarcity of high quality materials in public libraries, and the scarcity of high quality online learning materials in Portuguese. The Bibvirt, as it is commonly called, is a project of the Escola do futuro of the University of Sao Paulo. It began with the support of the AT&T Foundation and the International Council for Distance Education. It has since had the support of such partners as Palm, Livraria Cultura, and Microsoft.
The humanitarian goal of Bibvirt is evident in its focus on providing access to Portuguese materials to as wide an audience as possible. Its materials include the complete versions of literary masterpieces, texts, articles, documents, and sound and image galleries. For the visually-impaired, Bibvirt contains "talking books", audio versions of great works such as Jose de Alencar's Iracema and Machado de Assis' Dom Casmurro.
Type of Material:
Users can read works online or download them to their PC or PDA.
Audiotexts are available in Real Audio or Mp3 formats.
Identify Major Learning Goals:
Users will enhance their knowledge of Portuguese and many other disciplines through interaction with primary texts and other multimedia materials.
Target Student Population:
Users with intermediate to advanced proficiency in Portuguese will make the best use of these materials.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
Listening and reading Proficiency in Portuguese.
Bibvirt does an exceptional job at placing high quality public domain materials in the hands of users. It exemplifies powerful, non-commercial uses for the Internet, while respecting the rights of authors. In addition to its ample collection of literary texts, documents, images, sounds, and multimedia, it gives the user access to the Gutenberg Project, which is itself internationally known for its collection of 3800 works in a variety of languages.
Bibvirt is exceptional in the potential it has to engage all learning styles. Visual, auditory and global learners will all find materials here. The feature of listening to literature read aloud by native speakers will be appreciated by those who want to improve pronunciation and listening comprehension.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
For students both in and outside of Brazil, the easy access to primary texts is a major convenience. One can read the texts right on the screen or download them. The texts available for PDA download include the works of Camoes, Machado de Assis, Goncalvez Dias, and many others.
The image collection can be projected on a large screen for classroom use and the clipart can be used for educational purposes in presentations. There is a collection of images of Brazilian flora and fauna as well as the flags of the different states. There are also photos of various personalities including former presidents and politicians. There are drawings of historical importance and samples of cover art from the popular literatura de cordel.
In the Sons(Sounds)collection, one can find the Vozoteca, with sound files from some of the same personalities in the Image section. There is a whole section on Brazilian percussion instruments that could be used in music classes and there are sounds of the rain forests and its inhabitants. It is also possible to hear the narration of a cordel text read by the original author.
In the Infantil section of Sons,
one can listen to excerpts from a CD called Cancoes do Brasil:O Brasil cantado por suas criancas All of the songs are interpreted by children from the different regions of Brazil, singing in the musical and instrumental style of their regions. The first selection from Bahia features children from world-famous Pelourinho, drumming and singing in the inimitable Bahian style. It can be used at any level to show the emphasis Bahians place on their cutural heritage. Links to the actual CD are also available on this page.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
Bibvirt is very easy to navigate and has an attractive color-coded site map to help the user quickly find areas of interest. Audio files load easily and are available in two formats. Videos are also available on the site. The home page has a graphically interesting look on a clean white background. The design highlights the wide variety of features within. The six iBest awards and many national awards that Bibvirt has won include acclaim for its sophisticated design.
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