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
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.
Friday
Jun022017

And finally, demand-driven education

Just a question: What would demand-driven education look like?

And an answer: Different everywhere.

Friday
Jun022017

More on community networking

In light of the publication of the ISOC community-networking summit report, another question arises, something like: What are the processes that lead to internet access for under-served communities? 

These could include pure private-sector extensions of mobile-broadband networks, Universal Service Obligations (USO) that support either private-sector or civil-society initiatives, the establishment of community networks that serve as transitions -- either by providing infrastructure for sale or by demonstrating demand -- that lead to the introduction of private-sector networks. OR by the establishment of community networks that never transition. 

---

I would like to note that the ISOC report refers to two such networks, Mesh Bukavu and Connecting Eenhana, that provide communications and information within the network but that aren't connected to the internet. Others have very limited internet access but post / publish information that is assumed to be of local interest and value. 

Wildly cool. 

Friday
Jun022017

Community networking - Internet Society posts report on summit

In May 2017 the Internet Society (ISOC) published its analysis of a November 2016 summit on community networks -- communications networks in which infrastructure is deployed and operated by citizens to meet their own needs. The publication, Understanding Community Networks in Africa  is light on context and light on data for my tastes, but it adequately represents the concerns of the network operators in terms of resources, regulatory support, technical support and other issues.

It would be great to have a more clear understanding of the processes that have given rise to these networks. The implication is that they are demand-driven, but some of the discussion of funding and origination also suggests that the networks are "pushed" into likely areas without concern for local capacity or demand.  

While in some cases it was the more informed community members who started the community network, individuals who were external to the community informed other communities about the potential of establishing their own network. In the latter case, close collaboration with local institutions and structures (tribal authorities, schools, hospitals, etc.) was established from inception to make sure the initiative aligned with local communication needs and sensitivities 

Hmm. I would love to know more about the information exchanges that are described here. There are some really great, proven and effective models for community-based decision-making. (The one that comes to mind is Jhai Foundation's modification of Saul Alinsky's approach, which Jhai used successfully to establish a community network in Phon Kam, Lao PDR, in about 2003.) Also, as there's no template for community-networking initiatives, perhaps this would be a good place to start. How to engage stakeholders in discussions of issues around communications....

Here btw is a photo I took of the installation of a Wifi repeater that was part of the Jhai network. 

 

 The Jhai network was started (with much hoohah around a bicycle-powered computer) primarily because the villagers identified communication as a pressing need -- interrelated with local markets, conversations with family members gone in the Lao diaspora, and so on. The original dialogs about problems and needs arrived at the solution of a community network entirely naively, the determination could have been that water harvesting or accounting skills or a coffee cooperative were sorely needed. In any event, the Jhai network struggled in the face of government decisions (which is to say, perhaps, interests, which is to say, perhaps, well, never mind...). Some years later, Jhai did establish a coffee collective, however that was much farther to the south in Lao.

It's possible that the community networks at the ISOC summit resulted from facilitated stakeholder dialogs similar to those used by Jhai. But the publication gives the impression that community networks have a specific virtue, that "the world" needs more of them even if stakeholder communities aren't so sure.

Friday
Jun242016

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 *(https://www.usaid.gov/sites/default/files/documents/1865/E1-FP_ICT_Compendium.pdf). 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. (Premise.com, 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…)