Syndicate content

Add new comment

This semester I've been taking a class in educational technologies, and my group project was on programming and technology for developing countries. Along with Ed Popko and Cooper Smith, I found the following resources that may be helpful to you. The descriptions from our wiki are included. Hope this helps! Digital StudyHall, Digital StudyHall (DSH) is a social-learning system used in India. It employs a “hub-and-spoke” video-sharing arrangement to maximize the skills of the nation’s most highly educated and best-qualified teachers.1 These teachers record educational videos, which are then copied and sent out to a circle of learning communities. Each of those groups then gathers together to watch the recordings. But this is a far cry from parking the kids in front of a TV to keep them occupied. A local teacher, or even an especially bright student, regularly stops the program and engages the “class” in related activities and discussion, in what DSH calls a “mediation-based pedagogy.”2 While DSH is funded by a variety of organizations in developed countries, a vital feature of this program is that the educational materials are made by Indians for Indians. This empowers both the teachers and the learners, and eliminates any potential language, social, and cultural issues. In addition, DSH is adaptable to the technological resources of a given community. Video is the primary medium for two reasons: First, because while many villages do not yet have Internet service, most have televisions. Even in areas with no electricity, the televisions can be watched using battery power.3 Second, according to DSH, 60 percent is a generous estimate of India’s literacy rate, so through the use of video and storytelling, they can reach as many learners as possible.4 (Please note that other sources list India’s illiteracy rate as 66–72 percent.5) 1 Digital StudyHall, 2 Digital StudyHall, 3 Brown, John Seely, and Richard P. Adler, "Minds on Fire: Open Education, the Long Tail, and Learning 2.0," EDUCAUSEreview, January/February 2008, p. 22. 4 Digital StudyHall, 5 "Literacy in India," Wikipedia, Pocket School, Pocket School, while focused on young learners in Latin America, skillfully enumerates the assorted technological and pedagogical issues involved in using mobile technology to improve education in developing countries. Ironically, as the authors state, the fast-forward technological revolution we are experiencing in developed nations puts people in developing countries even further behind and creates even more roadblocks to their advancement.1 In addition to literacy and translation issues, the Latin American population of poor, indigenous children faces other obstacles that usually only occur in developing countries. For example, in Mexico alone, about 400,000 to 700,000 children have no stable homes because their parents are migrant workers; therefore, there is simply no way to engage these children in a traditional classroom environment.2 The authors show how mobile technology can overcome many of these difficulties, and reminds us of the need to pay careful attention to social and cultural issues if we want to be effective. 1 Kim, Paul, Talia Miranda, and Claudia Olaciregui, "Pocket School: Exploring Mobile Technology as a Sustainable Literacy Education Option for Underserved Indigenous Children in Latin America," International Journal of Educational Development, Vol. 28, No. 4, pp. 435-445; web version, p. 5.2Kim, Miranda, and Olaciregui, "Pocket School: Exploring Mobile Technology as a Sustainable Literacy Education Option for Underserved Indigenous Children in Latin America," web version, p. 3. Related Links: ■"Mobile Learning Technology for Migrant Indigenous Children in Mexico: Innovations for Learning," ■"Paul Kim, Chief Technology Officer for Stanford University School of Education, shares his perspectives on mobile learning opportunities in Africa after his recent trip to Rwanda, Burundi, and Kenya," In Ethan Zuckerman’s TED Talk, he discusses the importance of translation of content in order to increase access to Internet information. is a site established by native Africans to translate South Africa’s eleven languages with open-source tools such as Mozilla’s Firefox web browser and Oracle’s OpenOffice. These are two key pieces of technology: a web browser for accessing content and a suite of applications very similar to Microsoft’s Office for creating content.’s choice of open-source platforms is also noteworthy, because these tools are free, are open to anyone to modify and contribute those modifications back into the code base, and can run on most computing platforms, including older hardware. This is not the case with commercial platforms, where decisions on localization are largely based on market size.