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Information and Communication Technologies

Education and Technology in an Age of Pandemics

Michael Trucano's picture

image used according to the terms of its Creative Commons license; image courtesy of Edgar Antonio Villaseñor González via FlickrFor some people in other parts of the world, it was the picture of two top Mexican futbol teams playing earlier this week in an empty Estadio Azteca (one of the world's largest capacity stadiums) that made clear the severity of the current swine flu outbreak.  While the sporting passions of the 100,000 missing spectators could presumably satisfied by watching the game on TV, it was less clear how to immediately satisfy the learning needs of over seven million students who were sent home after their schools were ordered closed.

Many educational reformers have long held out hope that computers and other information and computer technologies (ICTs) can play crucial and integral roles in bringing about long-needed changes to education systems.  Indeed, many see the introduction of ICTs in schools as a sort of Trojan horse, out of which educational reform and innovation can spring once inside the walls of the traditional (conservative) education establishment. While not denying the potentially transformational impact of ICT use to help meet a wide variety of educational objectives, history has shown that bringing about positive disruptive change isn't achieved by simply flooding schools with computers and related ICTs.

As a result of swine flu, many Mexican schools are experiencing quick, disruptive change of a different sort right now.  How might technology be relevant in cases like this?  Given the status quo, the use of technology in schools isn't enough to bring about systemic change.  But: How might ICTs be useful, even transformational, when this status quo is severely disrupted by some other exogenous factor ... like a pandemic disease outbreak?

On video players and video services.

Sameer Vasta's picture

If you've taken a look at our Meetings blog, you may have noticed a series of videos called "VOICES" that we've been posting all week. The videos feature quick interviews with some of the people attending the 2009 Spring Meetings (from inside and outside the Bank) shot by simple handheld Flip Video cameras.

Youthink! officially launches blog

Sameer Vasta's picture

spotlight on Hyderabad | image from Azgar Khan used according to terms of its CC license, see below for infoHow do you develop the skills in your workforce necessary to compete in dynamic, fast-moving sectors of the global economy?  I just returned from India, where I joined colleagues from Africa in a series of site visits, learning events and presentations in the Indian IT hubs of Mumbai, Hyderabad and Bangalore in seeking answers to this (and related) questions.  More specifically, the trip provided a rich opportunity to learn more about the 'India success story' of the last 20 years in the areas of IT, IT-enabled services and business process outsourcing (BPO), gathering policy and practice lessons of potential relevance and application to Africa.  In many countries, including many African countries, proposals for the widespread introduction of computers in schools is explicitly tied to goals to develop so-called 'knowledge workers' to work in nascent IT industries. How explicit is this link in reality?

A (work-in-progress) comment guideline.

Sameer Vasta's picture

If you've tried to leave a comment on this site or any World Bank blog, you may have noticed that we moderate comments here. We've decided to take that decision in order to help manage spam and other offending (slander, hate speech, etc.) comments, and not to stifle discussion.

The Use of ICT in Education Reform: Sharing the experiences of Jordan and Indonesia -- and Singapore

Michael Trucano's picture

screen shot from ICT and education videoconference, Indonesian speakersEarlier this month, the World Bank and the Global Distance Learning Network (GDLN) helped to facilitate a "South-South" dialogue on the use of ICT as part of larger education reform initiatives.  The video for the event is now available online.  This dialogue, mediated by one of Indonesia's leading talk show hosts and watched live by groups in eight Asian countries, included exchanges between the ministers of education in both Indonesia and Jordan, as well as contributions from other leading figures involved in education and technology in those two countries.  Dr. Thiam Seng Koh of the National Institute of Education in Singapore brought in perspectives from the experiences of Singapore, considered one of the world leaders in thinking -- and action -- in this field.


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