Some quick background, context and history ('thinking aloud in public')
In 2009 the World Bank's education sector conducted a year-long pilot experiment to explore a variety of new methods and channels to disseminate its messages and engage with stakeholders and practitioner communities in new ways. One of the most prominent of these initiatives was the Bank's first blog in the education sector:
Its goal, as is stated at the upper right hand side of each web page (at least when viewed through a browser: the mobile-optimized version omits this objective), is to explore issues related to the use of information and communication technologies to benefit education in developing countries. By doing so, it is one modest attempt to highlight particular initiatives, studies and emerging trends that we think, based on our 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.
In contrast to many standard World Bank publication efforts, which effectively document the end of a multi-year research effort and disseminate key findings from such research, EduTech was also conceived as a way to initiate conversations on various topics with a globally dispersed group of experts and practitioners in a very open and public manner. Its posts were -- and are -- meant to catalyze and open up discussions around many emerging topics, along the way hopefully (and in an admittedly small way) helping to increase the transparency of the activities of the World Bank around related topics by providing insight into emerging World Bank thinking at early stages, inviting comment and criticism.
When it comes to technology use in education, we certainly don't think we have all the answers -- far from it! That said, hopefully some of the perspectives and information documented and explored in various EduTech posts can help readers (and the writers of the psots as well) as they seek to ask some better questions.
Frankly, we are not big fans of using the term 'developing countries', as often is done on the EduTech blog. This has been done this intentionally, if reluctantly, in an attempt to subtly reinforce the context of the comments and questions we include on the blog. One memorable academic commenter on one of the early posts (about the use of mobile phones in education) said basically that 'there is nothing new here, we've been aware of all of these issues for some time'. This may indeed be true – if you are sitting in Cambridge or Helsinki. (One could of course that note that being aware of something, and doing something useful and impactful as a result of this awareness, are not necessarily the same thing.) However, these are very new discussions – and often very different discussions, it should be noted! – in other, less economically privileged parts of the world, and it is to catalyze and participate in such discussions that the EduTech blog was conceived.
An animating conceit of the EduTech blog is that just because someone works in, say, Silicon Valley or Cambridge - or Washington, DC or Seoul or Delhi for that matter -- doesn't, and certainly shouldn't, automatically endow that person with some sort of special authority in these sorts of issues. Given how much we don't know, and how fast (some, many) things are changing, and the diverse sets of user needs and perspectives in different places, when it comes to the use of technology in education, we all live in so-called 'developing countries'.
Posts on the EduTech blog are not meant to be exhaustive in their consideration of a given topic,
but rather to point to interesting developments and pose some related questions.
They should not be mistaken for peer-reviewed research or World Bank policy papers.
The views expressed on the EduTech blog are those of the author(s) alone, and not those of the World Bank.
Sharing and re-republishing
The blog is available for sharing and re-use according to the terms of its Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported (CC BY 3.0) license. (For more information on usage rights, please see http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/.) We welcome the re-distribution of blog posts in newsletters, listservs, online magazines and via other media, as a way for the posts, and the initiatives, ideas and perspectives they attempt to help document and explore, to find wider audiences.
Audience and readership
Posts on the EduTech blog are typically read by about 5,000 people on the World Bank web site each week (with about the same number of readers via RSS; an additional 1000 people subscribe to the posts via email). Popular posts usually are read by about 10,000 readers on the site; untold more read the posts through various syndications schemes or via re-postings on other sites or off-line compilations. These numbers are decidedly modest when viewed against the wider ‘blogosphere’, but, as one of the few regular blogs on this topic, our goal has been to appeal to a rather narrow niche: professionals (including policymakers) engaged in exploring the use of ICTs to aid a wide variety of developmental objectives in the education sectors of so-called ‘developing countries’. Posts on the EduTech blog have been collectively read over a million times since the blog's inception in 2009.
Most weeks, the EduTech blog features images that are made available via a variety of Creative Commons licenses for broader use and re-use. We consciously utilize such images not only because it is easy and inexpensive to do so (although that of course is true as well), but also to highlight the fact that different approaches and mechanisms for the sharing of information and media resources are emerging that may be of special relevance to our counterparts and partners working in the education sector in developing countries. Please let us know if you feel that any of the images reproduced here have been used in ways contrary to such licenses.
In response to requests from readers in developing countries with poor access to the Internet, seven annual compilations of posts from the World Bank EduTech blog have now been published as separate, stand alone documents, re-purposed to enable off-line reading of the entire collection, plus access via a variety of 'new' devices (like e-readers and mobile phones):
2009: Perspectives on the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) to benefit education in developing countries. Excerpts from the World Bank’s EduTech blog
2010: Worst Practices in ICT Use in Education, Low-Cost Gadgets, e-Books in Africa and a Hole in the Wall: Learning from the use of educational technologies in developing countries. Excerpts from the World Bank's EduTech blog (Volume II)
2011: Separating the Hope from the Hype: More perspectives on the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) to benefit education in developing countries. Excerpts from the World Bank’s EduTech blog (Volume III)
2012: Mobile learning and textbooks of the future, e-reading and edtech policies: Trends in technology use in education in developing countries. Excerpts from the World Bank’s EduTech blog (Volume IV)
2013: Tablets & MOOCs, Digital Textbooks & Matthew Effects: What's new (and what isn't) in technology use in education in developing countries. Excerpts from the World Bank’s EduTech blog (Volume V)
2014: Mobile Phones & National Educational Technology Agencies, Sachet Publishing & the Khan Academy: What's happening with educational technology use in developing countries. Excerpts from the World Bank’s EduTech blog (Volume VI)
2015: Teachers and tablets, mobile devices and 'MOOC Times': Innovations in technology use in education in developing countries. Excerpts from the World Bank’s EduTech blog (Volume VII)
While these collections have been published as PDF documents to enable off-line reading, blog entries typically contain multiple links to resources on the Internet, and so they are best sampled when Internet connectivity is at hand.