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Information and Communication Technologies

Laptops for education: $10, $35, $100 and points in between (but not above!)

Michael Trucano's picture
what price is right for you? | image attribution at bottom
what price is right for you?

When I started working full time exploring issues related to the use of educational technologies in developing countries about a dozen years ago, many ministries of education would express their desires for introducing computers in schools by saying things like 'We want something that can enable students and teachers to do x and y and z'.

More recently, this conversation has switched in many places, as increasing numbers of ministries (and especially their most senior officials) have initiated their related planning processes by saying that 'we need a computer that costs $___'.

The implications of this shift on planning practices in many places have actually been pretty profound.

Now, it is true that, in the 'early days', the initial rationales behind putting computers in schools were expressed in rather vague terms (e.g. 'we want children to access the world of information on the Internet').  That said, such formulations often presented a  useful starting point for discussions of what the educational goals of a particular ICT program for schools might be.  For the past half-dozen years or so, however, it appears to me that there has been a much greater focus in many quarters on *only* the retail prices of various devices, with discussions of what specific learning goals these devices are meant to help meet -- and how -- shunted to the side.

Proactive vs. Reactive Transparency

Naniette Coleman's picture

 

"Transparency, is transparency, is transparency I thought.

 

It is transparent is it not?

 

Well except when it is proactive, that makes it not reactive."

N.H. Coleman

 

My poetic dalliances aside, Helen Darbishire’s recent World Bank Institute commissioned and CommGAP financed working paper on standards, challenges and opportunities in transparency made me think. “Proactive Transparency: The Future of the Right to Information” looks at, among other things, the drivers of transparency, the best of transparency provisions on the national and international stage, and notable outcomes grown from the examination of transparency provisions. So, what exactly is proactive transparency and why is it important? 

Frank Talk About Social Accountability

Sabina Panth's picture

An important book has just been released by the World Bank: Demanding Good Governance: Lessons from Social Accountability Initiatives in Africa (edited by Mary McNeil and Carmen Malena). The book is important because the content is provided by practitioners in the field, who share real life examples from their firsthand knowledge and experiences.  This is likely to further South to South learning, and, therefore, a departure from the standard literature in the field.  
 

The book describes and analyzes the work of seven countries in Sub-Saharan Africa: Benin, Ghana, Malawi, Nigeria, Senegal, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe. The case studies were identified from multi-country social accountability stocktaking exercises commissioned by the World Bank Institute in view of representing a variety of approaches, strategies and objectives within a range of political, social, cultural and institutional context.  The analysis and descriptions of these seven initiatives are intended to serve as a resource for government and civil society representatives who are interested in exploring similar possibilities for their countries and for research communities and donors to promote and support enhanced social accountability and demand for good governance in Africa.  The following are some questions that the book attempts to answer:

Why Talking About Failure Matters?

Aleem Walji's picture

Aleem Walji at FailFaire Event on Monday, July 26th, 2010

How many of us succeed the first time we try something? I would venture to guess not many. But how often do we talk about what we learn from failure, how we would do things differently, and what others could do to avoid making the same mistakes as us? I would guess not often. But in dealing with technology, it's vitally important to do it, and do it quickly.

The Power of Innovation - free Webinar TODAY at 3PM EST

Ihssane Loudiyi's picture

Join Aleem Walji, formerly of Google.org, now the Practice Manager of WBI’s Innovation Team and one of the lead authors for a webinar to mark the launch of a special issue of Development Outreach magazine on “The Power of Innovation.”

Join webinar on WBI's 'The Power of Innovation'

Edith Wilson's picture

On Thursday, July 22, the World Bank Institute is launching a special e-issue of Development Outreach magazine whose theme is "The Power of Innovation," and we're inviting you to help us tell how innovation can be a game changer in solving the biggest global development problems.

Get involved by signing in to a special webinar on Thursday that will be led by WBI Innovation Practice Team Leader Aleem Walji, one of the lead authors of the Development Outreach special issue.

The webinar begins at 3 p.m., but sign in early -- by 2:30 or 2:45 p.m. -- because the number of participant slots is limited to 100.

In a post-crisis world, innovation may be the single most important driver of economic growth and competitiveness. The time is right to move development forward through creative uses of technology. We now have the capacity to scale up innovative approaches to meet the needs of people at the bottom of the pyramid when traditional markets fail to do the job.

How to do all this is detailed in "The Power of Innovation."  Top experts tell how to mobilize innovative solutions to reduce poverty--smarter, better, faster, and differently.

*Ke Nako: Celebration and Interrogation

Naniette Coleman's picture

Highway Africa

The cradle of humanity created technological innovation and, despite media depictions of rampant difficulties, there are numerous successes that can be attributed to both the African Continent and the African Diaspora.   One of these such success stories is “highwayAfrica.”

 

From July 5-7 attendees at the 14th annual “highwayAfrica: African Voices In The Global Media Space” conference gathered to “celebrate and interrogate” African journalism and media. “At the center of Africa’s debates on journalism, media and Information and Communication Technology (ICT), the conference has, over the years, become the largest annual gathering of African journalists in the world.” 

Does having a computer at home improve results at school?

Michael Trucano's picture

do you think the students are at home learning with their computers? | image attribution at bottomLast week's EduTech blog asked, How would you design an ICT/education program for impact? 

A recent paper suggests that a good answer to that question is *not* to simply make computers more widely available in homes and leave it at that.

Scaling the Digital Divide: Home Computer Technology and Student Achievement [pdf], an NBER working paper by Jacob Vigdor and Helen Ladd released in June, used administrative data on North Carolina (U.S.A.) public school students in attempt to help answer the questions, Does differential access to computer technology at home compound the educational disparities between and rich and poor? and Would a program of government provision of computers to early secondary school students reduce these disparities? In this case, Vigdor and Ladd found that the


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