Selected publications (.pdf)

"Education Change, Leadership and the Knowledge Society" 
Global e-Schools Initiative (GeSCI)  

Survey of ICT in education in the Caribbean
Volume 1: Regional trends & analysis
Volume 2: Country reports
infoDev 

Using technology to train teachers:
Appropriate uses of ICT for
teacher professional developmen
t
 
infoDev (Mary Burns, co-author)

Project evaluation:
Uganda rural school-based telecenters

World Bank Institute
(Sara Nadel, co-author)

The Educational Object Economy:
Alternatives in authoring &
aggregation of educational software 

Interactive Learning Environments
(Purchase or subscription req'd) 

Development of multimedia resources 
UNESCO (Cesar Nunes, co-author)

Real Access/Real Impact
Teresa Peters & bridges.org
(hosted for reference; RIP TMP) 

ON TOPIC:

Learning, technology & development

 

Tuesday
Aug012017

big data, artificial intelligence, smart nigel shadbolt rocks

"It's not enough to not do evil. What does it mean to do good?"

I don't totally know what to say about this conversation between Sir Nigel Shadbolt and Mr. Quentin Hardy, head of editorial at Google Cloud. (Mr Hardy does a pretty good job of identifying the hot spots. Sometimes he tries a bit too hard to seem like he is able to comment on them. But hey...) But it's very cool. Sir Nigel is just way, way smarter and way more focused on this stuff than I could ever be.

A couple of points of interest: At about 24:00 Sir Shadbolt discusses open data and says that "the world just got better." He suggests that it's not about opening everything, it's about opening data that enables decision-making and innovation. Right after that, at 25:50, Sir Nigel talks about empowering citizen data warriors (my term); as the goal: citizens who not only allow some of their data to be used, but who use open data to solve problems and answer questions. And a bit later on (@ 48:40), they talk about the potential for intensifying the north-south divide in relation to data and data use and innovation. 

(It's hard to imagine that citizen data warriors would ever be able to access the databases AND the computing power necessary to creat the inflated, titillating, strippy-tease information that would enable people to get close to their potential oppressors.)

it's important to note that that divide, such as it is, emerges not from the openness of data per se, but the opennness of government and more broadly attitudes about privacy, accountability and knowledge -- and knowledge is itself the point where value is harvested -- 

Pay attention, if you will, to the overall attention to profit. The interlocutors discuss the potential hegemony of the transnational corporate sector and essentially suggest that someone should do something about this. But at least they mention it. 

Very, very many points later in the discussion about the affective/meta/cognitive differences between humans and their machines. 

Wednesday
Jul122017

On net neutrality

It's 2017, two years after the first go-round with net neutrality. (Whew! Dodged that bullet!)

But it's back. The current administration is trying to get it off the ground again, even though the biggest of the big tech giants reject the concept entirely.

The Natoma Group (the Nano-Natoma Group?) is tiny. But net neutrality is even more critical for us and for educators than it is for Facebook. Support it!

Monday
Jun262017

Health care, education and YOU!

I'm sorry, this message is really about learning, not about politics. BUT... Today the Congressional Budget Office listed their "scoring" of the Senate healthcare bill, the Better Healthcare  Act (BHCA I think). CBO states that 22 million people will lose healthcare insurance over the next 10 years. Most of the news that I read is going nuts about this, hoping that voters will realize that the congress is enacting a massive transfer of wealth in the form of tax cuts to the top 0.1%. 

On the Fox News website, however, you would have all of this discussed in only 457 words. What could be more economical?

Other news includes: North Korea "amazed" by Spanish beach resort known for drinking binges, Supreme Court decision shifts momentum in Trump travel ban, Supreme Court to decide if gay rights trump everyone else's rights, Prison officials under fire for treating inmates to stripper show. 

All this. And more. http://www.foxnews.com

(Ok, there's your photo. Headline is: "Seattle's $$ Struggle: Minimum wage hurting low-level workers, costing jobs.") 

So. Why is this about education and learning? Because the site cited is covering the biggest news by not covering it much at all (while the negative impacts of the rise in the minimum wage, with that photo and front-page treatment, gets 511 words). 

We need our children (and our adults) to be able to discern when they are being gamed. That might require understanding that an n=1 experiment is valueless. That might require checking another news source to see what's what. That might require empathy, understanding that the closure of Planned Parenthood clinics in distant states _terminally_ "inconveniences" women.

(Sorry to go all political on your a**. This is about learning, not politics, but the conclusion that we must reach is that in fact "learning is political." i hesitate to say, "learning in a dictatorship is political." We are not there yet. Learning is the antidote to authoritarianism. Perhaps we can agree on that.)

Tuesday
Jun062017

The race between self-driving cars and education

The connection between education and employment has never been better explained than in Katz and Goldin’s The race between technology and education. Katz and Goldin describe an education system in the US that emerges over a period of, say, 1850 to 1950, in response to the needs of industry. That system includes nods to business (my mother-in-law rest her soul learned shorthand, the 10-key add[ing machine], and touch typing, all skills that are gone away or that are going) and to academe. The premium attached to college education is more slight when there are union jobs or at least good-paying jobs for young adults who have specific skills. But as the job market matures (and as unions go away, at least in the US), everything changes: The extreme targeting of specific jobs and matching those with specific skills goes away. 

The auto-manufacturing market (it’s a market for graduates from the point of view of educators) is a case in point. At present, specific skills are in demand, sufficiently so that where there are factories there are jobs
and there are high-school graduates to fill them. 
(Don't miss the irony, btw: The auto industry gave education one of its most persistent frameworks, one in which teachers are the producers and students are the products; now as the industry's needs and those of society are changing, that model is woefully inadequate and has produced [see what I did there?] students who have become educators and decision-makers who are themselves limited.)
In the future, as demand for new cars dwindles, demand for specific skills will dwindle as well. The ability of TVET to shift to meet the need for specific skills will be undercut by increasing need for general skills and capacities—empathy, communication, problem-solving. But each of these skills in isolation won’t be enough. You need to employ all three, probably, to be successful.
And add to that, um, innovation. Or creativity. 

 

 

Tuesday
Jun062017

Driverless cars, the gig economy and education worldwide



... prototype self-driving car Marc van der Chijs / Flickr CC BY-ND 2.0

(CC-BY licensed image from megadox.com)

What are the implications for education of change in the automobile industry?

 

Decreased efficiency of TVET plus increased importance of academic curricula.
Change drivers in the auto industry (and thereby in TVET) include: 1) The development of driverless cars; 2) the gig economy. These two emerging events are linked, of course, because gig-economy capitalists look fondly on the possibility of not investing in gig-economy labor. In any event, these factors are going to lead to the reduction in auto manufacturing.   And auto manufacturing is a big-deal sector, worldwide; there were about 94,000,000 cars made in 2016, by more than 9 million people supported by another 41 million employed in “indirect” jobs related to the industry (per the International Organization of Vehicle Manufacturers, or OICA).
We don’t imagine that people are going to make fewer trips — on the contrary — but we can predict that they will buy fewer cars. If car ownership costs me US $4,000 per year in California (where we _know_ we will get driverless cars first), that’s probably approx 200 trips. In which I can use my phone and my laptop, focus on my conversation with my lovely wife, Sandra, swap texts with my niece, read the new york review of books, see the Democracy Now! podcast, and generally enrich my life or increase my productivity (which fortunately might include building knowledge of popular culture as embodied by, say, Game of Thrones or Dear White People) and by doing anything other than driving. And, I’m not competing with the guy with the Tesla or the guy with the Corvette, I’m in the car that arrives with me in it.
And this car is unowned by me and by any other individual. So why would I buy my own car? 
Once “my” car arrives and offloads me it’s off to the next pick up, all night and all day long. One car doing the work of three or four cars belonging to three or four Uber drivers who (I hope) sleep sometime. 
So the use of cars becomes more efficient. 
So what does that mean for school systems in the US and elsewhere. The US is 2nd-largest manufacturer of cars in the world; China is the first, and has been since 2009. If I'm not buying a car, and neither are the three or four Uber drivers who have been made redundant by Uber's driverless metal beast, we're talking a serious reduction in demand for the automotive industry's product. (Over time, not right away. This all might start in California, but we are a ways from exporting driverless tech to, say, Burundi.)
I visited a vocational-education secondary school in Indonesia in 2010, a country that produced over 1 million cars in 2015.  The school is really well run, but of course jobs-for-graduates are the sine qua non of both school performance and community satisfaction. As new hires at the local auto manufacturing plant started to dwindle, the principal reached out to ask, Huh? What? Why? 
The auto guys responded that in fact they needed new hires with CAD (Computer Aided-Design) skills. So the principal lobbied the school-community committee or association or whatever to purchase a CAD system (US $200 for educator versions in 2010, between $1 and $4,000 for businesses). The community ponied up and the kids gained skills and were again employable. 
TVET is huge. It’s the closest thing to demand-driven education that we have. And also the most consistently implemented program of learning by doing. We can assume that TVET will evolve to pace change in the auto industry, as best it can. But we should also assume that there will be a huge drop-off in demand for new cars and the workers who (would) build them.