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

Using technology to train teachers:
Appropriate uses of ICT for
teacher professional developmen
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 &
(hosted for reference; RIP TMP) 


Learning, technology & development



PPPs and getting things done in ICT4D and E


I made an error. Not the first I’ve made ever, and not the most egregious, but among the more opportunistic: A few years ago I developed, in collaboration with the smart, experienced and dialed-in Anthony Bloome of USAID, a a white paper or other kind of publication supporting the design of ICT4E projects *( Ten principles that were intended to help USAID country officers and others engender (that would be design and manage the implementation of) technology projects in schools and education systems. 

Hog wash. Or something. 


I left out the most important principle. I wouldn’t junk any of the others, at least not usually, but just now I don't find them readable and I'm not going to share them here. The entire premise of that paper is that with appropriate support and in collaboration with private-sector and government partners, USAID education officers can achieve effective designs of technology projects. 


learning aid for four cardinal directions, Kabul
We are talking about decisions that require expertise in several fields. One of these is the most dynamic, innovation-oriented fields in human history, and one that has had profound changes on social, economic and individual conditions—the personal computer began its evolution about 40 years ago (1977, date of the launch of Apple II and TRS 80), gaining momentum through the launch of the Maciintosh in 1984, Windows 3 in 1986, and so on. The World Wide Web got its start more recently, about 1992. Since then, we’ve seen the emergence of mobile devices, lower-cost solar, mobile broadband, mobile money, social enterprises. (, a social enterprise in Silicon Valley, makes big-data analytics available to development organizations and others.) 


At the same time, as I’ve mentioned elsewhere, development has “matured” as a field: bottom-up and participatory solutions (and rhetoric), focus on girls and women, micro-loans and micro-enterprise, education in emergencies, outcomes-based programs and assessments—elements that seem natural, obvious, have required a long time (˜60 years) to be normalized because we’re dealing with a field in which the starting assumption is that having the money and having the power meant having the intelligence to make a difference. Not true. Perhaps we have gotten wiser; perhaps we are casting about for new methods; perhaps economic growth has had impact that outstrips that of development.


In any case, how can we expect a list of principles to enable someone to navigate in this dynamic environment? How can we expect a development person to understand the importance of the shit-canning of SCORM and its replacement by Tin Can? We can’t. We shouldn’t. 


The most important element in the design of successful ICT4D and ICT4E projects is the team. That team needs the right combination of expertise and the opportunity to bring that expertise to bear on a significant problem in a significant way. 


(Why do I think this? I’m just finishing my report to USAID on digital library design to support the provision of mother-tongue books to young readers. Cool. I’ve learned a lot. I’ve had to learn a lot. If I were in another position—staff guy, private-sector guy, government guy—that learning would have been impossible. I and USAID and, more importantly, kids asked to learn to read, would be out of luck. More on this by Monday…)




libraries in afghanistan

There are two points to bear in mind relative to my current affiliations and engagements:

1 - Books are precious
In Afghanistan and many other places, access to books is irreplaceably valuable. And community libraries--whatever form they take--provide an irreplaceable service.

2 - School performance is malleable
Education systems represent the biggest governmental employment sector in many countries. That makes the system prone to abuse (e.g., ghost schools and ghost teachers in Afghanistan), but it also make the education system--if it is properly calibrated--an unequaled agent of change.

What do these points mean, taken together? That school should be engaged as potential recipients of books, that school libraries are critical, and that re-imagining these libraries as community libraries is essential to school improvement, to improved literacy outcomes and to increased levels of social and economic well being in communities.

That's a lot to find in a small article. You are welcome to inquire about my reasonsing.



Democratization of big data

Very very informative interviewers by Moira Gunn of TechNation with Brian Sager, the co-founder of Omnity, a semantic-web-based search engine.

Omnity offers a free service, as part of its effort to bring the benefits of big data (or maybe "big processing") to all. At this point, at least, the results are not thrilling, but this appears to result from limited intake of publications.

The interview as mentioned is informative about search and discovery, about metadata-based search, and about taxonomic cataloging. The interview is worth a few minutes and Omnity is worth watching.


Don't miss it. Teacher Center on Comedy Central

And stay for the BMW commercial at the end, too. 

Teacher Center with Key and Peele

And in other news, dream on. 


Mobile repair cultures in Oakland

About 2005 Jan Chipcase--who has worked it out so that he gets to think and explore his thoughts for a living--noticed that mobile-phone repair was a service available in developing countries (India, China) but not in developed countries. Phone providers in developed countries worked with a replacement model, rather than a repair model. In developed countries, the phones are valuable enough to warrant repair, and to elicit the emergence of repair supply chains and micro-enterprises.

I was somewhat happy to experience this difference in Syria, where I briefly considered having my t-mobile smart phone repaired in the coastal city of Lattakia. 


I didn't do it, because I was only in Lattakia for 2 days and the repair would take 3 (sourcing parts, primaily).Instead I bought a Nokia basic phone (with Arabic characters) for US $15; that phone has worked in 10 or 20 countries since that time (with new SIM cards) and continues to work.  

And now, 10 years more or less after Chipcase's observation, I can see that mobile-phone repair has come to my city of Oakland: 

At 40th St and Telegraph Ave there is a real, house (not street-based) mobile-phone repair business. 

What are we to make of this? 

One possibility is that the cost of mobile phones has increased relative to incomes, so that repair becomes an appealing option -- instead of the junk/replace approach or the dispose-of-responsibly/replace approach. But is that true? I don't know, but given sales information for iPhones (Apple reports record sales of 74.5 million units for the first quarter of 2015) I doubt that this is reason.

Instead, I'm going to suggest that slow growth in wages, lack of employment opportunities for youth, and resulting demand for jobs that entail apprenticeships and on-the-job-training all play roles. 

In addition, there's something (warning, "something"  = "I'm guessing") of a "reverse technology transfer," as 1st-generation and immigrant Americans adopt business models that have worked in other countries. Plus (plus, always plus, ONE of these reasons have to be correct!), supply-chain issues are involved, as even Apple has made it possible for their stores and 3rd-party vendors to get parts for repairs (OK, at least of broken screens). Finally (at last!), demand for smart phones, as they have become essential tools even for the homeless, has risen among the 99% to the extent that there's a market for used, repaired and affordable units.

Which means, if you'll bear with me, that the cost of phones hasn't risen, but that the market for phones has expanded to include people for whom cost is a bigger issue.