Buildings, classrooms, laboratories, and equipment- education infrastructure - are crucial elements of learning environments in schools and universities. There is strong evidence that high-quality infrastructure facilitates better instruction, improves student outcomes, and reduces dropout rates, among other benefits.
For example, a recent study from the U.K. found that environmental and design elements of school infrastructure together explained 16 percent of variation in primary students’ academic progress. This research shows that the design of education infrastructure affects learning through three interrelated factors: naturalness (e.g. light, air quality), stimulation (e.g. complexity, color), and individualization (e.g. flexibility of the learning space).
Although education policymakers are increasingly focusing on the quality of education and school learning environments, many countries use a fragmented or piecemeal approach to investing in their education infrastructure. In Romania, for example, decisions about education infrastructure investments have historically been made under an uncoordinated and decentralized model, driven by ad hoc needs and limited funding availability, rather than a strategic approach.
We just got back from Nepal to see how results-based financing has, or hasn’t, changed the way their education system functions. Over lunch, we asked our counterparts at the Ministry of Education: “What’s been different since the introduction of results-based financing?” Their response: “Oh, we just pay more attention to the indicators.” While this may sound peripheral, it speaks to the power of RBF.
"If you want one year of prosperity, grow grain. If you want a decade of prosperity, plant trees. If you want 100 years of prosperity, invest in people."
Every person needs and deserves quality education. But what does quality education mean? Even for countries which have affirmed their status as “quality education service providers,” there are arguments supporting or refuting education service quality. For developing countries, the challenge is even greater ¾ limited resources, major needs, and lack of experience are common problems faced by decision-makers in education. Various methods are used globally to compare the quality of education system—one of which is the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA).
Last year an article on Mashable made waves among some of the people I follow on Twitter. Kindergarten Teacher Earns $700,000 by Selling Lesson Plans Online (a later article bumped the figure up to over a million dollars) may admittedly describe a rather outlier occurrence. That said, it did bring attention to some emerging issues related to the educational content developed by teachers as part of their jobs, and the fact that such work may have economic value that can be quantified and realized in ways that, as a result of the introduction of new technologies and technology-enabled services (and the emerging markets that such things can catalyze and fuel), would have been thought impossible even a handful of years ago.
Not many people go into the teaching profession to make a lot of money. Few students expect to receive any monetary reward for anything they produce in school (beyond perhaps a few congratulatory rupees now and then from their proud grandparents). However, as more and more digital content and data are generated as a result of normal day-to-day teaching and learning activities in schools, might these data and this content have economic value that can be monetized, and if so:
Who stands to benefit?
Who has the rights to this content and these data,
and what might they do (and not do) with them?
I have recently been involved in discussions with three countries that are considering *huge* new investments to introduce lots of new technologies in their primary and secondary education systems. Such discussions typically focus quite a bit on what technologies will be purchased; what additional products, services and support will need to be provided if the technology is to be used effectively; and how to pay for everything. Increasingly (and encouragingly), there is also talk of how to measure the impact of these sorts of investments. To measure 'impact' (however you choose to define it), you of course need to know what has actually happened (or not happened). When you are putting computers in all schools, or rolling out lots of new digital learning content, or training lots of teachers, how do you know that these sorts of things are actually taking place?