Digital teaching and learning resources: An EduTech reader


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real textbooks in real shopping carts ... so *that's* where the metaphor comes from!
real textbooks in real shopping carts ...
so *that's* where the metaphor comes from!

Yesterday the World Bank hosted a great discussion related to strategies for tackling the high cost and low availability of textbooks, with a specific focus on needs and contexts across Sub-Saharan Aftrica.

This event served as the Washington, DC launch for a World Bank publication which debuted last year at an event in Cote d'Ivoire, Getting Textbooks to Every Child in Sub-Saharan Africa: Strategies for Addressing the High Cost and Low Availability Problem.

(Those interested in the topic of 'textbooks in Africa' more generally may also wish to have a look at a companion book published by the World Bank in 2015, Where Have All the Textbooks Gone? Toward Sustainable Provision of Teaching and Learning Materials in Sub-Saharan Africa.)

As a complement to yesterday's discussions, a number of posts related to the use of digital teaching and learning materials that have appeared on the World Bank's EduTech blog have been collected here, to make them easier to find, and in case making them available in this way can help in a small way to help enrich any related conversations.

(Please note that additional links will be added to this page over time as relevant related posts appear on the blog.)


Sachet educational publishing in a digital and mobile world
Might new business models for educational publishing emerge out of developing country contexts?

Investing in digital teaching and learning resources: Ten recommendations for policymakers
What might government policymakers do well to consider as they explore financing the provision of digital educational content in their countries' schools?

Complexities in utilizing free digital learning resources
Much has been the made of the potential for the use of 'free' educational resources in schools in developing countries; how does this work in practice?

A few myths and misconceptions about digital teaching and learning materials in Africa
"Don't confuse me with the facts", numerous decision makers are meant to have commmanded over the years. Absent facts and data, what are some key beliefs animating the interests of some policymakers in the use of digital education content across Africa?

Calculating the costs of digital textbook initiatives in Africa
Using digital textbooks will save us a lot of money -- or, maybe doing things digitally will actually cost a lot more. How can we know?

Mapping Open Educational Resources Around The World
Much has been made of the potential for the use of OERs around the world -- where are things actually happening?

Textbooks of the future: Will you be buying a product ... or a service?
Learning content has traditionally been considered a 'thing' to be 'purchased'. How might this be changing as things 'go digital'?

Textbook policies in an increasingly digital age
As technology transforms societies, to what extent might textbook policies need to change as well?

Who owns the content and data produced in schools?
Did you hear the one about the teacher who made a million dollars selling her lesson plans online? More and more educational policymakers are wrestling with new issues related to who stands to benefit from content and data produced in schools.

A model for educational technology development from … Afghanistan?
How do you create digital teaching and learning materials in a place not known for creating digital teaching and learning materials? Here's one interesting approach.

What happens when all textbooks are (only) digital? Ask the Koreans!
A few years ago, Korea famously announced that its education system would be moving en masse to a digital textbook future. Things didn't quite work out as planned; here's a look at some of the original related thinking.

Translating and implementing the Khan Academy in Brazil
Perhaps no digital learning initiative has received more publicity than that of the Khan Academy. What happened when it traveled to South America's largest education system?

Contextualizing lessons from the use of the Khan Academy
How might we consider understanding and interpreting some of what is being learned from efforts to introduce the Khan Academy in schools around the world?

Evaluating the Khan Academy
What do we know about how Khan Academy is actually being used in practice, and how might this knowledge be useful or relevant to educational policymakers in developing countries?

Can eBooks replace printed books in Africa? An experiment
It's tough, and expensive, to get textbooks into many schools in Africa. Might e-readers offer an alternative?

An update on the use of e-readers in Africa, E-Reading in Africa & More on e-books in Africa
Initial hypotheses about the potential for the use of e-readers in educational settings and Africa are being put to the test in a number of real life settings. Here's some of what is being learned along the way.


Some additional information about the World Bank's work related to textbooks in Africa:

For an historical perspective, see World Bank support for provision of textbooks in Sub-Saharan Africa - 1985-2000. Issues related to 'textbooks' have consistently been identified as a pressing challenge in numerous World Bank publications over the years, such as Education in Sub-Saharan Africa: Policies for adjustment, revitalization, and expansion (1988) and A chance to learn: Knowledge and finance for education in Sub-Saharan Africa (2001). And for what it's worth, here are the World Bank operational guidelines for textbooks and reading materials
that were published back in 2002.

The Global Partnership for Education, for which the World Bank serves as a trustee, does a lot of work related to textbooks in Africa. A number of quite useful related documents are available on the GPE web site, many as presentation files; one notable example is Textbook Development in Low Income Countries: A Guide for Policy and Practice, the result of a well-received related seminar and workshop a few years ago.

While we're on the topic:

A Global Book Fund to help support the provision of teaching and learning materials in Africa (and elsewhere) is being explored, led by USAID and a number of other donors. Here's some quick related information, as well as a paper exploring why Every Child Should Have a Textbook (Global Education Monitoring Report Policy Paper 23).

An OECD report from 2009, Beyond Textbooks, a product of an initiative which explored 'digital learning resources as systemic innovation' in the context of schooling across the Nordic countries, may also be of interest.


Note: The image used at the top of this blog post of rows and rows of books ("real textbooks in real shopping carts ... so *that's* where the metaphor comes from!") is ©Jorge Royan. It comes via Wikimedia Commons and is used according to the terms of its Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.



Michael Trucano

Global Lead for Innovation in Education, Sr. Education & Technology Policy Specialist

andy brookes
February 23, 2016

I also had been thinking about information resources and that was because we had been aiding a school in Ghana on the outskirts of Accra. Some people think as long as children are in school that's the end of the problem but is more likely to be the start of the end of the problem.
Schools on low turnover and minimal profit procure the best teachers they can afford;even high calibre teachers can not retain every fact for ever. Teachers without a good information resource and direction can degrade in quality if not careful.
Of course one fantastic source of information is the Internet but it was not even an option for us most of the time due to poor band width (a dongle could hardly support more than one user), electricity power off, cost etc
So my angle was not just a comprehensive information resource in digital form equivalent to 22 volumes of the printed form of encyclopedia but also searchable & preferably 100% solar powered. On being compact I had already enhanced a “static” and none searchable resource from SOS children & had it working on a Raspberry PI. I estimated you can pack 500 raspberry Pi motherboards with protective plastic case in a box 60cmx 60cm x 60cm costing around sixty pounds to ship to Ghana from the U.K
After retuning to the UK I have submitted a beta software this time written in python, using kivy as a GUI & sqlite as database.
The advantages are that sqlite is server-less meaning the system does not have to be in a webserver like XAMPP and could be just zipped up and unzipped for users. Distribution would be via disc or USB pen drives. Python runs on any platform and kivy, which is basically a python library can be installed on Linux or Windows.
Because python OS open source it means the system can be used on any computer operating system; use of kivy means it can work with traditional screen or with touchscreen.
Updating might be an obvious question but that would just be a case of distributing up date files to overwrite existing files- put simply copy & paste.
Where I am at the moment, is that the python version is on github here which means its open to developers or like minded individuals. All that's needed is to match a computer screen that can be solar powered to a micro-motherboard such as the beagleboard which can be also solar powered and you would have at least a partial solution