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June 2009

Sugar on a stick, and other delectables (praise for the lowly USB drive)

Michael Trucano's picture


another innovative USB stick | image courtesy Wikimedia Commons, used according to the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 What's peripheral? In the case of the use of technology in schools around the world, it is becoming increasingly hard to tell.

In many developing countries, for better and/or for worse, the traditional way to approach large-scale ICT procurements is to divide such undertakings into four primary components: hardware; software (which often includes 'e-content'); connectivity; and peripherals. (Thankfully, 'training' is showing up as a fifth component more and more ... although in most instances we are still only talking about 'technical training'). 

The category of 'peripherals', a catch-all category where one typically finds things like like printers and projectors, is often treated as the poor cousin of the other, 'flashier' components.  But this may be changing.

Why we need more (not fewer) ICT4D pilot projects in education

Michael Trucano's picture

a different kind of pilot ... | image courtesy of World Bank via Flickr, used according to terms of its CC license.One message that is heard consistently at many ICT4D gatherings is that 'we have too many pilot projects', and that this is especially true for the education sector. 'What we need', or so the sentiment usually goes, 'is to scale up the pilot projects that have been on-going'.  Indeed, 'scaling up' seems to be the answer to the funk that many prominent ICT4D organizations currently find themselves in these days, with changes in funding priorities in international donor organizations, foundations and the international private sector provoking many groups to re-examine many of their current practices. Scaling up is then a way to demonstrate (and re-affirm) the relevance of what many organizations have been doing since their inception, and by pursuing no more pilot projects such organizations can better orient themselves to working at scale. Or so the story goes.

I would like to sound a contrary note:

What we need are more ICT4D pilot projects,
not fewer,
especially in the education sector!

Mobile Phones: Better Learning Tools than Computers? (An EduTech Debate)

Michael Trucano's picture

Photo courtesy of the World Bank | Photographer: Eric MillerinfoDev and UNESCO have teamed up to sponsor a series of monthly on-line discussions on low-cost ICT initiatives for educational systems in developing countries.  The debate for June is titled Mobile Phones: Better Learning Tools than Computers?