Video poker machines, a former symbol of fraud and gambling in Brazil, are now being converted into computer-based educational tools for Brazilian public primary schools and also for governmental and non-governmental institutions dealing with communities of poverty and social exclusion, in an attempt to reduce poverty risks (decrease money spent on gambling) and promote social inclusion (increase access and motivation to education).
Thousands of illegal gambling machines are seized by federal authorities, in Brazil, every year, and usually destroyed at the end of the criminal apprehension process.
This paper describes a project developed by the University of Southern Santa Catarina, Brazil, responsible for the conversion process of gambling machines, and the social inclusion opportunities derived from it. All project members worked on a volunteer basis, seeking to promote social inclusion of Brazilian young boys and girls, namely through digital inclusion. So far, the project has been able to convert over 200 gambling machines and install them in over 40 public primary schools, thus directly benefiting more than 12,000 schoolchildren.
The initial motivation behind this project was technology based, however the different options arising from the conversion process of the gambling machines have also motivated a rather innovative and unique experience in allowing schoolchildren and young people with special (educational) needs to access to computer-based pedagogical applications.
The availability of these converted machines also helps to place Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) in the very daily educational environment of these children and youngsters, thus serving social and cultural inclusion aspects, by establishing a dialogue with the community and their technological expectations, and also directly contributing to their digital literacy.