ICTD2010 (XI). Technology Sharing in Education

Notes from the Information and Communication Technolgies and Development — ICTD2010, held at the Royal Holloway University of London, Egham, UK, on December 13-16, 2010. More notes on this event: ictd2010.

Paper Session: Technology Sharing in Education

MetaMouse: Improving Multi-user Sharing of Existing Educational Applications
Kurtis Heimerl, Janani Vasudev, Kelly G. Buchanan, Tapan Parikh, Eric Brewer

We use to design for individual users, but in disadvantaged regions, most computers are shared by several students. This ends up with a single student e.g. controlling the mouse. And it you do not control/use the mouse, the problem is not only that you cannot participate, but that you end up not learning (and not only not learning how to use the mouse).

The solutions so far just allow for multiple mice to be used, but they have problems with most games and educational material.

MetaMouse uses multiple cursors controlled by multiple mice and based on the key idea of “location-voting”: it is assumed that users agree on a button / option on the screen if their cursors are in the same location, thus requiring all (consensus) or most (majority) users to agree.

An evaluation was made with three scenarios: single mouse, MetaMouse based on consensus, and MetaMouse based on majority. Findings show that the majority variant enables laggard students to participate much more than with the traditional mouse variant and a little bit more indeed than with consensus.

MetaMouse, though, created discussion from “come to this” to “why this”, thus making everyone more involved. On the other hand, MetaMouse actively encouraged students to teach their peers. There was less fighting, more participation or equality.


Q: What happened with gender dynamics after the experiment? A: There was no evaluation on that. Nevertheless, the experiment was participated by extremely dominant girls too, so levelling might have worked both ways.

Evaluating an Adaptive Multi-User Educational Tool for Low-Resource Environments
Emma Brunskill, Sunil Garg, Clint Tseng, Joyojeet Pal, Leah Findlater

Help teachers provide quality education.

Work on interfaces & HCI proved that it could improve interactions using multiple inputs.

With MultiLearn System each students works on a different exercise using their own numeric keypad. Students compete to be the first to answer 12 questions correctly.

How to keep everyone engaged? How to prevent one student domination the session?

MultiLearn+ personalized the problem selection, including a dynamic selection of the problems according to the (right or wrong) answers provided by the student.

3 scenarios were then compared for analysis: control (group spelling computer game), MultiLearn (non-adaptive grup math game) and MultiLearn+ (adaptive grup math game).

The adaptive condition showed that game dominance was reduced. Reducing dominance is a side benefit of a feature designed to improve educational effectiveness. on the other hand, there was no significant effect of adaptivity or math software over control condition, though there was a good correlation on student performance. In summary, adaptive, multi-user software has potential to help improve education.

Collage: A Presentation Tool for School Teachers
Saurabh Panjwani, Aakar Gupta, Navkar Samdaria, Edward Cutrell, Kentaro Toyama

ICTs alone cannot impact learning by much; engaging teachers is necessary. On the other hand, ICTs can help good teachers teach better. How can software be designed to facilitate classroom instruction via a digital projector? What’s a good presentation software for teachers?

PowerPoint and variants were never designed for teaching, but for general-purpose presentations (though it is used by +6M teachers worldwide). Document cameras are a digital substitute for overhead projectors (OHP), but they can not be programmed and they are quite costly.

Collage aims at being specifically designed for teaching in schools.

A first analysis of urban public and private schools in India showed that teachers used intensively paper and the blackboard, they had a strong desire to use PCs for teaching and, despite the desire,usage was low, especially because of lack of tools to prepare content.

Collage features: textbook page interactions (zoom, highlight, overlay), inking (through graphics pad), scratch space.

Collage has few features, but it is very easy to use and even allows real time authoring. Indeed, textbook scans proved to be highly beneficial, especially because of a better recall of visual information.

Key takeaways:

  • Using paper in digital presentations is valuable. Both teachers and students seem to benefit.
  • Teachers like to author content in real time. Collage caters to this liking.
  • Deployment of Collage still a challenges. Content assembly takes time, and using it has the associated hardware cost of the PC and the projector.


Information and Communication Technologies and Development (2010)

ICT4HD. Eric Brewer: Contributions of Technical Research on ICT4D

Notes from the I International Workshop on Research in ICT for Human Development, at the Universidad Rey Juan Carlos, and held in Fuenlabrada, Spain, on May 13th and 14th, 2010. More notes on this event: ict4hd10.

Eric Brewer: Contributions of Technical Research on ICT4D

Traditional development has a very top-down approach, with international agencies funding projects, often with sting and debt attached, difficult to manage (e.g. corruption) and usually with little role for high technology. This just does not fit ICT4D projects’ necessities and way of proceeding.

Cellphones’ evolution was very different: driven by bottom-up demand, because of the ease of use (voice), a dire need for communications (work, remittances…).

Remittances to Africa are circa US$40B and imply much more money than the one involved in aid. This should give an idea about the power of microloans. The Grameen Bank is owned entirely by the poor and has loaned more than US$3.9B. It is mainly used for very short run (up to 6 months) loans, aimed for instance at buying a goat that will pay back the loan with its milk, or paying for seeds that will pay back the loan once harvested. Loans are chained one to the next one and create an important funding and cash flow.

Grameen Telecom allows people to buy phones and rent them to their neighbours. The project covers 50,000-68,000 villages and 60M. The most important thing is that it scales and that the owner (the ‘phone lady’) is indeed interested in the maintenance of the equipment and the sustainability of the system.

Another example: I.T.Mountain.BPO for medical transcription: voice in, text out for medical issues.

The real digital divide is between urban and rural areas: for instance, the mobile phone is an urban phenomenon, as many rural areas have no cellular coverage.

We need to bring connectivity to rural areas, and here is where WiFi comes to the rescue.

Rural connectivity

It has already been demonstrated that the problem is not distance, but line of sight: you can send a signal as far as you can (literally) see. We need to find natural towers (e.g. mountains, hills) to be able to see further.

Aravind Eye Hospital Network: doctors stay at the hospital, patients stay at their homes. 4-5Mb/s per link, video-conferencing — high quality and video are important because the interview really matter —, e-mail, training. Achieved 6,000 consultations/month, over 160,000 patients so far, centers are cash-flow positive, over 30,000 patients have recovered sight, growing to 50 centres covering 2.5M people and possibility to replicate in other cities.

Smart phones

Computers that, nevertheless, are small, portable, have self-contained power, easy to use, culturally accepted…

SmartPhone diagnostic device that, connected to the audio jack (and phones are good at converting analogue signals into digital ones), can provide measurements on heart rate, respiratory rate, temperature, blood oxygen, ECG, fetal heart rate or even blood pressure. The result is a much much cheaper and easy to use diagnostic device. The phone can either convert the raw data into readings of forward them through the GSM network.

CellScope: Cellphone Microscope = (phone) camera + big lens. Its use can be to diagnose malaria after a blood sample is put under the cellscope.

m-Learning: teach English via smartphones and by using educational games. Games have to be based on traditional local games to provide the learner with a familiar and thus understandable context.

If you cannot see the slides please visit <a href="http://ictlogy.net/?p=3375">http://ictlogy.net/?p=3375</a>


Fernando Balducci: we definitely have to avoid the confusion between tele-diagnosis and self-diagnosis, which is a hazard we might run into when such tools become more and more present in end-users’ hands.

Javier Simó: concurrence or cooperation? A: concurrence, but informed concurrence. Every place is different, so solutions cannot be replicated in a strictly straightforward way. And for being informed, a certain degree of cooperation is required.

Q: what about call centres? A: a call center requires connectivity, low power, simple infrastructures. So call centres can be a good way to start to create employment in rural areas. But we should be beyond that (including going beyond software development centres).

David Chávez: smartphone or cloud computing? A: it is very likely that computing power of the phone will increase at a faster path than mobile broadband will. Thus why latest developments have gone into the direction of making the phone perform more work than instead sending to and fro data to “computing centres” to perform these tasks.

Vanessa Frías: how is assessment performed in smartphones? A: within the traditional education system, this kind of assessment is very difficult, as it often implies interaction, synchronous meetings, etc. This is why vocational programmes generally work better than for-credit educational programmes. Indeed, there are other security- and privacy-related issues that are still difficult to handle in m-learning.


I International Workshop on Research in ICT for Human Development (2010)