Ten Lessons for ICT and Education in the Developing World

[also via The Development Gateway]

Very interesting paper [PDF, 86Kb] by Robert J. Hawkins.

He’s working at World Links, a World Bank pilot project to foster the use of ICTs in learning environments in developing countries.

The ten lessons of the paper are:

  1. Computer labs in developing countries take
    time and money, but they work
  2. Technical support cannot be overlooked
  3. Noncompetitive telecommunications infrastructure, policies, and regulations impede connectivity and sustainability
  4. Lose the wires [i.e. go satellite, go wi-fi]
  5. Get the community involved
  6. Private-public sector partnerships are essential
  7. Link ICT and education efforts to broader education reforms
  8. Training, training, training
  9. Technology empowers girls [i.e. gender issues of ICT policies
  10. Technology motivates students and energizes classrooms

ICT and literacy

[via The Development Gateway]

UNESCO Bangkok May Features deals about ICT and literacy.

Some quotes:

ICT is now too cheap to ignore

Advanced ICT tools may be relatively more cost-effective for the poor than for the rich

Projects within the digital divide must first and foremost be about learning, and about culturally appropriate content

ICT tools must be consumer-oriented and context/culture sensitive [I really love this one]

Literacy and technology are becoming inter-dependent

The article has also led me to know Bridges to the Future Initiative

The Bridges to the Future Initiative (BFI) will address the Digital Divide of education and technology in emerging economies by improving literacy, basic education, and technological literacy, thereby assisting the world’s poorest peoples to better determine their own social and economic future.

The site is a little bit cryptic. Projects are found under the names of the countries where they take place.

ITU Survey: Is the Internet worth it?

YES.

Surprised?

The results of the survey conduced by the International Telecommunication Union say that 94.2% agree with the statement “cyberspace should be declared a resource to be shared by all for the global public good”:

though it varies slightly depending on the continent you’re on:

When entering specific issues (ensuring access, e-government, e-health or ICT training) the differences amongst continents widen. Man, we’re so blind we don’t see Europe and North America has taken advantage once again and we have to foster ICT where needed. Not even empathy lets us think out of our shells. So sad…

And if you think these differences of criteria are huge, take a look at the bias of the sample: 52.2% respondents were Europeans and 20.78% working for the government. This means there are a lot of people already enjoying comfortably internet access, content and services. I wonder what the results would have been if the survey would not have been carried on on-line but on-site.

What a mess!

Internet Global Congress 2004

On Wednesday I went to the Internet Global Congress 2004, to the “Society, Politics and Culture – Internet for Everyone” track. Well, not bad, but not great at all.

Here come some of my notes, notes to self in fact, as they are neither exhaustive nor formatted. Just notes.

Ramon Sangüesa, talked about Digital cities as knowledge cities, networked cities and social networks.

He quoted Ron Dvir’s “Innovation engines for knowledge cities” and the need for urban facilitators to make of the city a knowledge centre (i.e. universities, newspapers, international airports, etc.)

He also explained Leif Edvinsson’s requirements for key networks: production (pyramidal), development (flat), innovation (network)

What’s needed to start a knowledge network?

  • accessible and good quality initial nodes
  • interaction rules: optimization, legitimized (and with authority) management

My opinion: while social networks are centred in who you are (Orkut, Friendster, etc.), the blogosphere (RSS, Bloglines, and so) is cantered in what you do: isn’t this more efficient/transparent?

Alfons Cornella talked also about Digital cities.

He said a Digital City must think, move (atoms and bytes) and have a market (an international one). It must also be a shared project amongst all the actors.

Robert Kahn, in Open architecture for digital obects, explained us about DOI: digital object identifier. I understood it was something similar to ICANN’s DNS but to identify (quality) objects in the network. More info: www.handle.net

Ashok Jhunjhunwala, in Internet and Rural India, made an astonishing presentation about what India is doing with ICTs for people, and not ICTs for themselves.

ICT4D needs technology, a business model and organization

To be highly replicable:

  • business as drivers for connectivity
  • aggregation of demand where income is low
  • technology designed for specific condition can help

OLS

[Via Sierto]
[Via autounfocus]

Based on MIT’s OpenCourseWare, Open Learning Support (OLS) provides “a space where individuals can connect to share, discuss, ask, answer, debate, collaborate, teach, and learn”.

I’ve sometimes said that MIT’s Intellectual Commons project lacked of a human contact: we’ve got content and technology but no feedback, no trainers at all.

Well, it looks like people at OLS (Utah State University) are filling the gap and are providing OpenCourseWare learning materials with an environment where learners can get in touch with experts and ask doubts, be provided with advice, etc. and experts can provide advice, and train (call it online volunteering ;)

I’m really hopeful seeing things like this. Bringing this to the underdevelopped countries is each time nearer! :)))

OpensourceCMS

OpensourceCMS is a

site […] created to give you the opportunity to “try out” some of the best open source and free php/mysql based software systems in the world. You can log in as the administrator to any site [t]here, thus allowing you to decide which system best suits your needs.

Each system is deleted and reinstalled every two hours. This allows you to be the administrator of any system here without fear of messing anything up.

These systems include Portals, Blogs, e-Commerce, Groupware, Forums, e-Learning and others. In the e-Learning section there’s an installation for Moodle, Claroline and Segue.

I think the most important added value of the site, other than gathering a lot of sowftare existing around, is having it installed and giving you a try in what we’d call a “production environtment” or a “test environment” or a “demo environment”… call it whatever you want (you can call it Al ;)

Great idea.

[thank you César]