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Mobile learning in developing countries in 2011: What's new, what's next?

Michael Trucano's picture

After finding out that I had visited the recent BETT show in London (billed as the world's largest educational technology trade show -- previous post here), a number of people who also attended asked me versions of the same query:

Where was all of the mobile (phone) learning?

How to identify and locate national ICT and education policies

Michael Trucano's picture

they come in many shapes and sizesAs part of our advisory work here at the World Bank on ICT and education topics, we are often asked not only for advice, perspectives and information, but also for strategies on locating various types of information.

For example, we often get asked by countries for examples of 'ICT and education policies' to help inform their own planning processes in this area.  We get this request so often that we have decided to (more) systematically document and catalog these sorts of policy documents in the coming months, with the assistance of some of our partner organizations, and make them widely available as part of a global ICT/education policy database. We'll provide periodic updates on this work on this blog. 

Until then, and it case it might be useful to anyone looking for such things, we thought we'd post some thoughts on how others might locate and retrieve these sorts of documents themselves, as we have done previously for topics like Tracking ICT use in education across Africa and Finding (useful) research on ICT use in education in developing countries.

What's happening with educational technology in 2011? A visit to BETT

Michael Trucano's picture

a new take on the traditional London phone boothThe annual BETT Show, which takes place every January in London, claims to be the "world's largest education technology exhibition and trade show", with over 600 exhibitors and 100 seminars. Those who visit it are typically overwhelmed by the vast scale of the exhibition space at London-Olympia, by the big crowds, and, for lack of a better term, all of the cool stuff.  As in past years, I was fortunate to be able to participate in the Education World Forum (EWF), an annual gathering of 60+ education ministers that occurs during the two days before BETT begins (the last morning of the Forum actually takes place at BETT itself), and so was able to stay on and tour the BETT exhibition space.  As in previous years, my goal was to visit every vendor and exhibitor.

In case it might be of any interest, and like I did back in 2009, I thought I would share some random impressions (ten of them, in fact) from this tour below:

What Are the Costs of Not Investing in ICTs in Education?

Michael Trucano's picture
empty pockets?
empty pockets?

Kentaro Toyama has started 2011 off 'with a bang' on our sister Education Technology Debate site, which is sponsored by our friends at infoDev and UNESCO.

There is much to comment on in Kentaro's post, 'There Are No Technology Shortcuts to Good Education' -- to say nothing of the insights and assertions in the 100+ comments that follow it, many of them from people who are quite well known in the field.  Subsequent contributions on the ETD site from Larry Cuban, Cristobal Cobo, Claudia Urrea and Lowell Monke should provide further grist for debate and discussion.

Kentaro lays out a number of arguments in his piece.  One of them is the following:

"I’ve so far argued that technology in education has a poor historical record; that computers in schools typically fail to have positive impact (with the rare exceptions occurring only in the context of competent, well-funded schools); that information technology is almost never worth its opportunity cost; and that quality education doesn’t require information technology."

 
My aim here is not to contest (or support) any of the assertions in Kentaro's piece (I'd recommend you look in the comments section of the ETD site for this sort of thing).  Rather, it is to note that, in many instances, Kentaro's assumptions about what drives policy may well be beside the point.

Debating Technology Use in Education

Michael Trucano's picture

finding a place to air one's viewsInitially conceived by a diverse set of partner organizations during one of the follow-up meetings to the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) as a way to continue in public a number of on-going discussions that were largely occurring in private, since 2009 infoDev's EduTech Debate web site has featured contributions from an eclectic mix of experts and practitioners on a variety of topics related to the uses of ICTs in education, especially as they relate to developing countries. Drawing inspiration from an online debate sponsored by the Economist in late 2007, the ETD site has featured disagreements (and occasional agreements) on around themes like impact assessment, gender, sustainability and a variety of specific technology tools.

Re-visiting some of the issues explored in that Economist debate, in 2011 the EduTech Debate site kicks off by hosting a high level discussion around the question, Are ICT investments in schools an education revolution or fool’s errand?

Top World Bank EduTech blog posts of 2010

Michael Trucano's picture

ten from 2010The World Bank EduTech blog recently had its second birthday.  As we did last year, we thought we'd gather together an idiosyncratic collection of 'top posts' and themes from the past year exploring issues related to the use of information and communication technologies to benefit education in developing countries.

Every week, the blog informally attempts to highlight particular initiatives, studies and emerging trends that we think -- based on regular interactions with government officials, NGOs, researchers and companies active in this area in developing and developed countries around the world -- might be of interest to a wider audience. It is also one small part of a larger movement at the World Bank -- symbolized perhaps most potently by the institution's Open Data initiative -- to provide greater transparency to some of the sorts of information, conversations and discussions that previously were accessible only to limited groups of stakeholders and partners. At least in the case of the World Bank's work related to ICT use in education, blogging has proven to be a useful mechanism to share perspectives and 'think aloud in public' along with our partners, expert practitioners and our critics, as well as with people who are simply interested in a particular topic.

Without further ado ...

Online Educa – Where e-learning practitioners go to learn and network

Sheila Jagannathan's picture

listening in on what happened in BerlinDespite the very cold weather in Berlin, on 1-3 December 2010 over 2000 learning and training professionals from 108 countries convened to discuss the latest trends and developments in ICT-supported learning.  This group discussed projects in the corporate, academic and public service sectors at the now famous ONLINE EDUCA BERLIN, which has met annually in Berlin during November/December for the last 16 years. 

Sharing experiences on building national ICT/education agencies

entering Korea's u-class, the classroom of the futureThere was a good reason for the recent Global Symposium on Building national ICT/education agencies to have taken place in Seoul. South Korea has demonstrated that making a single specialized agency responsible for integrating ICTs in the education sector to implement the ambitious goals of government can bring high rate of return. Since its inception in 1999, KERIS (the Korean Education  Research & Information Service) has made a significant contribution into helping build a knowledge and information-based society in Korea, helping to enhance the nation's  education system and research competitiveness through its work at the secondary and primary education levels. Increasingly looking to share lessons from its experience with other, KERIS has established many partnerships in other East Asia and Pacific countries, and is developing partnerships with countries in other regions as well.   Numerous countries invited to the Seoul Global Symposium were explicitly interested in how they 'might set up their own KERIS', and saw the forum as an opportunity to learn firsthand from the Korean experience.  For four days, over 120 representatives from 32 countries discussed a variety of issues related to organizational structures, staffing, funding schemes, institutional evolution, and other challenges along the way when building and developing ICT in education agencies.

Learning from a randomized evaluation of OLPC in Peru

Michael Trucano's picture

some times the goals are clear to see -- it's just challenging to get there | image credit: Martin St-Amant - Wikipedia - CC-BY-SA-3.0The Inter-american Development Bank (IDB) recently released the first set of results from its on-going, multi-year randomized evaluation of the impact of the OLPC project in Peru.
Experimental Assessment of the Program "One Laptop Per Child" in Peru (Spanish version here) is the first rigorous attempt to examine the impact of the largest '1-to-1 computing' initiative in a developing country.  This evaluation, done in concert with the Ministry of Education, looks at the ambitious program to provide computing resources to multi-grade rural elementary schools in some of the poorer communities of Peru.

Is there a role for ICTs in international donor aid strategies for the education sector?

Michael Trucano's picture

charting a new course for tomorrowThe World Bank recently released a draft version of its new Education Sector Strategy 2020 for public comment, the culmination of a global consultation effort over the past year that has included dedicated multi-stakeholder meetings in and with over 70 countries around the world. 

In a blog post announcing the release of the draft strategy requesting public comment, World Bank education sector director Elizabeth King poses the question, "What will the world look like in 2020?" 

Now, some folks will question the utility of trying to look and plan ten years ahead.  Fair enough, such criticisms are duly noted.  (As someone who works in the area of technology, where the winds of innovation can quickly and radically change the operating landscape, challenging deeply held assumptions about what's possible, I do profess a healthy amount a skepticism in this regard.) That said, World Bank education projects often take two to three years to plan and negotiate and then often last for five to seven years, and so a ten-year time frame is actual relevant in practice.  As returns on investments in education generally are often thought to be best considered over a long time horizon, it is thought that the development and articulation of a long term vision and strategy for engagement in and support for the education sector beyond individual budget cycles has some value. In addition, the articulation of a strategy such as this can have an important signalling effect to partners about the direction the institution is moving in.

During the strategy consultation process, and especially since its publication in draft form, I have been asked by many groups what the World Bank's new strategy may mean for issues related to the use of ICTs in the education sector.  (fyi The World Bank's ICT group is also currently in the process of revising its ICT policy, which will contain a section looking at education.) I am not sure it is my place to do so, but I thought I'd offer here some quick comments on the draft education sector strategy in response to such queries, as an input into the final round of feedback that has been requested by 30 November, and especially in the hope that doing so will provoke additional comments and responses.  There is an official comments form available on the education sector strategy site.  For those whose comments don't fit neatly into the format requested there, feel free to post comments below and I will make sure they are seen by the education strategy team.

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