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Information and Communication Technologies

Finding (useful) research on ICT use in education in developing countries

Michael Trucano's picture

image of pressed papers in Insadong, Seoul, Korea from Flickr user Jared at flickr.com/photos/35468148654@N01/296520686, used under the terms of the Creative Commons by attribution 2.0 license (via Wikimedia Commons)I am often asked to recommend "useful research on ICT and education issues in developing countries".

While there are resources to which I inevitably turn (and which I recommend time and again, a topic for future consideration on this blog), there is a question which I have a more difficult time answering:
 

"How do I find, and stay in the loop on, useful research, documentation and lessons learned on ICT and education issues in developing countries?"

Making ICT and education policy

Michael Trucano's picture

public domain image from Jossifresco via Wikimedia Commons

India is currently engaged in a consultative process to formulate a new ICT and education policy.  The United States is doing the same to prepare its new National Educational Technology Plan.

In the context of a discussion of ICT/education policies, GeSCI's Jyrki Pulkkinen takes a step back and asks, who really needs policy? While he doesn't provide answers to this question himself in his note (yet -- I suspect this is coming), he follows up with a set of high-level, practical guiding questions for people involved in these processes.  

When thinking about the questions that Jyrki poses, I had a few questions of my own: What are best practices for the development of such policies and plans?  Where can we turn to for examples of such policies and plans to help inform work in this area?

Surveying the use of mobile phones in education worldwide

Michael Trucano's picture

image courtesy of the Wikimedia Commons, sourced from Flickr user saschapohflepp, used according the terms of its Creative Commons licenseThe Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) schools in India has just announced a mobile phone ban, echoing similar calls in many other places (from Sri Lanka to South Korea, from the UK to the Philippines to France) to restrict student access to what are often seen as 'devices of distraction'.

Why then will the World Bank will be kicking off a study next month looking at "The Use of Mobile Phones in Education in Developing Countries"?

Extending Reach and Increasing Impact

Michael Trucano's picture

ICD09The recent release of the World Bank's new flagship publication on ICT for development (ICT4D) contains much food for thought for educational policymakers. IC4D 2009: Extending Reach and Increasing Impact takes an in-depth look at how ICT, and particularly broadband and mobile, are impacting economic growth in developing countries.

How can education systems help develop the type of workers increasingly needed for jobs that increasingly require familiarity (and in some cases mastery) of ICTs -- a challenge complicated by the fact that many of these jobs may not yet even exist?

How to measure technology use in education

Michael Trucano's picture

one way to measure ... | courtesy of the Tango Desktop Project via the Wikimedia Commons ICTs are increasingly being used in education systems around the world. How do we know what the impact of such use is? How should we monitor and assessment the use of ICTs in education? How can, should and might answers to these questions impact the policy planning process?

Tweet tweet -- Twitter in education

Michael Trucano's picture

this one tweets instinctively ... | image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons, used according to terms of the GNU free documentation license

Some Professors' Jitters Over Twitter Are Easing, announced an article in The Washington Post last week, reflecting the explosion of interest that this relatively new communications tool is experiencing this year.  As with discussions of any new technology, reporting on Twitter is a often a combination of breathless enthusiasm and snarky criticism, as well as a fair amount of befuddlement and misunderstanding.

(For those unfamiliar with Twitter, the related Wikipedia article might be helpful.)

While discussions about the use of a tool like Twitter are now, suddenly, quite mainstream in many places, educators have been exploring the tool for awhile.  Search Google and you'll find lots of useful references, like this one from way back <grin> in 2007.  (Or better yet, search on Twitter itself!)  As occurs with any potential new innovation in education, response to this exploration and experimentation has at times been rather heated (have a look at the comments to the article from U.K.'s Guardian newspaper in March when it announced, with just a touch of hyperbole,  Pupils to study Twitter and blogs in primary schools shake-up).

So what, you might ask, does all of this have to do with the use of ICTs in education in developing countries?

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? 

Computers in secondary schools: Whither India?

Michael Trucano's picture

CC-licensed photo courtesy of World Bank via Flickr, SDM-IN-097The German scholar Max Müller famously remarked that "If I were asked under what sky the human mind has most fully developed some of its choicest gifts, has most deeply pondered on the greatest problems of life, and has found solutions, I should point to India."

No doubt there are many other countries also deserving of similar sorts of accolades, but the challenges that India currently faces related to providing universal access to a relevant and quality education for everyone -- and the solutions it deploys to meet such challenges -- are of increasing interest and relevance to people around the world.  This is especially true as it relates to the use of ICTs to meet a variety of educational and developmental objectives.

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