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Information and Communication Technologies

PPPs, ICTs & Education: Lessons from India

Michael Trucano's picture

a public view of one particularly successful Indian partnership | image attribution at bottomNext week the World Bank is holding a forum on public-private sector partnerhips (PPPs) in the education sector as part of its ongoing initiative investigating this increasingly important topic.

Consideration of the formation and use of  PPPs is especially relevant in many countries when the use of ICTs at scale in the education sector is considered.  There a variety of reasons for this, but two of the most common reasons that governments give in support of the use of PPPs in this area are related to (1) cost and financing issues ("this stuff is expensive, so we need to find creative ways to share costs"); and (2) the perception that competence and experience in new, 'innovative' areas like the use of ICTs is best found in the private sector, and not government ("the IT people are more advanced than we are in government, so partnering with them is a way for us to 'catch up'").  While developing countries as diverse as Kenya and the Philippines are exploring this in a variety of ways, some of the most interesting and varied cases of PPPs to support the use of ICTs in education can be found in India.

Building national ICT/education agencies

Michael Trucano's picture

one model of evolution -- in practice it looks much messier! | image attribution at bottomMany developing countries have embarked upon – and others are seriously considering – large-scale roll-outs of information and communications technologies (ICTs) in their education sector.  Similar processes began in most OECD countries 10-20 years ago, in many middle income countries more recently. Structurally, education systems organize themselves in various ways to fund, implement and oversee these sorts of initiatives, which are typically quite expensive – and complex – and the related organizations evolve, in ways incremental and radical, over time.

Despite the highly varied local contexts, in most countries, a single institution is core to the implementation of ICT/education initiatives.

What do we know about how such institutions work, and what suggestions might we have for governments creating such institutions for the first time, supporting these sorts of agencies over time, and/or restructuring such organizations to meet future challenges?

EVOKE -- When spider webs unite, they can tie up a lion

Robert Hawkins's picture

I have no idea what they're doing ...As a follow up to my last post on educational games, I wanted to provide an update on EVOKE – nearly two weeks into the game.   For those of you who missed my last post, Evoke is a social networking game that is free to play and open to anyone, anywhere.  The "text book" for this course is an online graphic novel. Set in the year 2020, the graphic novel follows the efforts of a mysterious network of Africa’s best problem-solvers.  Each week, as players unravel the mystery of the Evoke network, they will form their own innovation networks: brainstorming creative solutions to real-world development challenges, learning more about what it takes to be a successful social innovator, and finding ways to make a difference in the world.

Technology Use and Educational Performance in PISA

Michael Trucano's picture

one view from Pisa ... | image attribution at bottomEvery three years, students around the world participate in an international assessment of their competencies in reading, mathematical and scientific literacy as part of the Programme for International Student Assessment, more commonly known as PISA.  In 2006, schools from 58 countries were randomly selected to take part in the effort, overseen by the OECD, to test how well students can apply the knowledge and skills they have learned at school to real-life challenges. (When you read a press report about a given country being highly ranked -- or doing poorly -- in comparison to other countries on how its students do in reading, math, or science, quite often this a  reference to the so-called 'league tables' that are published by the OECD in this regard.)

PISA provides a goldmine of data for researchers interested in many topics, and the OECD has just its analysis of Technology Use and Educational Performance in PISA, which notes that "OECD countries [here's the list of them] have undertaken significant investments to enhance the role of technology in education. What are the results of these investments? Are they fulfilling expectations? PISA 2006 provides a wealth of comparative data to begin answering these questions ..." 

How Can Assistive Technologies Increase Learning? An EduTech Debate

Michael Trucano's picture

shades of inclusion -- and exclusion | image attribution at bottomThe excellent EduTech Debate (ETD) site is wrapping up a month of online discussions around the topic of assistive technologies.

For those of you who haven't visited the site: ETD seeks to promote a substantive discussion of how low-cost information and communication technology (ICT) device initiatives for educational systems in developing countries are relevant to the very groups they purport to serve – the students, teachers, and their surrounding communities.

'Discussants' in this month-long debate included Cliff Schmidt, Fernando Botelho, Mike Dawson, Paul Lamb, Tom Babinszki, and Yasmina Sekkat (with Wayan Vota moderating).

To dig deeper into this monthly discussion (or to browse archived past 'debates'), head over to the ETD web site. Here's a flavor of how the discussion has gone so far:

1-to-1 educational computing initiatives around the world

Michael Trucano's picture

replicating one-to-one, to one, to one ... | image atribution at bottomThe One Laptop Per Child program has brought much attention to issues related to '1-to-1 computing' (each child has her/his own personal computing device).  While perhaps the most prominent initiative of this sort in public consciousness, OLPC is just one of many such programs around the world.  At a recent event in Vienna, the OECD, the Inter-american Development Bank and the World Bank brought together representatives from these programs, the first such face-to-face global gathering of leaders in this area to share information and insights about their experiences. 

In putting together this event, it was clear that there was no consolidated list of leading '1-to-1 educational computing initiatives'.  Here's a first attempt at such a list, based on participants in this event (links are meant as pointers to more related information; not all lead to the specific project sites):

Ten comments on 1-to-1 computing in education

Michael Trucano's picture

moving down from a high level view down to messy reality | image attrribution at bottomFor the next three days, representatives from most of the prominent initiatives rolling out '1-to-1 computing' initiatives in education systems around the world are gathering in Vienna, Austria. This meeting is believed to be the first global event of its kind to bring together the principals from such projects together in one room to share knowledge and experiences.   Until recently, most initiatives of this type have taken place in Europe and North America, but some middle income and developing countries are beginning to make (or seriously considering) massive investments in providing every student with her/his own personal computing device (usually a laptop).

While many initial investments in this area were, truth be told, based more on faith in a concept than on hard evidence, lessons and models are emerging to help answer questions such as:

EVOKE -- a crash course in changing the world

Robert Hawkins's picture

EVOKE trailerIn 10 Global Trends in ICT and Education, I included gaming as a trend to keep an eye on.  The gaming industry has been growing faster than the movie industry in the past number of years and is occupying an increasing number of hours of time in a young person’s day. Educational games it can be argued have the potential to reach students outside of the classroom where some traditional educational methodologies are failing. This genre of “serious games” has indeed mushroomed over the past number of years. A number of “serious games” have been developed in the fields of education, business, health, politics, engineering, defense, etc.   In order to better understand the impact and potential of such games, we decided to develop and evaluate an educational game focused on youth social innovation and development – Evoke: a crash course in changing the world

Evaluating the One Laptop Per Child Initiative in Sri Lanka

how do we know she's learning? | image attribution at bottomThe Sri Lanka Ministry of Education (MOE) recently decided to pilot the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) program by purchasing laptops from the OLPC Foundation, with funding from the World Bank, and distributing them to 1,300 students in selected primary schools throughout the country. The scheme may eventually be scaled up, depending upon the educational benefits of the pilot stage.

ICT & Education: Eleven Countries to Watch -- and Learn From

Michael Trucano's picture

KERIS looms increasingly large on the international ICT/education scene | image attribution at bottomAs part of engagements with ministries of education around the world, I am often asked to provide lists of countries considered to be 'best practice examples of ICT use in education'. I am asked this so often that I thought I'd provide a representative list here to help point people in some useful directions, in case doing so might be of any interest.

But before I get to the list ...

First, I'd like to say that I prefer the term 'good practice' to 'best practice'.  This may seem to be unnecessary semantic nitpicking, but in many if not most cases and places, learning from and adapting 'good' practices is often much more practical -- and more likely to lead to success. 

And: Given that many initiatives seem immune to learning from either 'best' or even 'good' practice in other places, I am coming to the conclusion that it may be most practical to recommend countries that have had 'lots of practice' (of any kind).  Is this ideal?  Obviously no -- but it tends to yield better results. For whatever reason, there appears to be a natural learning curve that accompanies large scale adoption of ICTs in the education sector in many countries, and that there is an important element of 'learning by doing' that appears to be important, even if this means 'repeating the mistakes' of others. (This is a process often known in international development circles as 'capacity building'.)

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