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

 

Thursday
Mar132014

Diane Ravitch marshals data to de-bunk charter claims

Quixotic, Herculean Diane Ravitch takes on claims by charter-school maven Eva Moskowitz that her schools (Success Academy) achieve greater success than public schools, with school #4 the "highest performing school in New York State..." in 5th-grade math: 

On the fifth grade state math test, the students at Success Academy 4 are, in fact, #8 in New York City (tied with another school) and presumably even lower when compared to schools across the state. The fourth grade math test scoresare #54 in New York City (tied with six other schools). The third grade math scores rank #63 in New York City (tied with 6 other schools). The school’s rankings are even worse in English. The fifth grade English test scores rank #59 in New York City (tied with seven other schools), the fourth grade English test scores rank #81 in New York City (tied with five other schools), and the third grade English test scores rank #65 in New York City (tied with eight other schools)....

Moskowitz’s interviewers have said that the students at Success Academy 4 are the “most disadvantaged kids in New York City,” to which she assented. She has said “it’s a random lottery school. We don’t know who they are.”

We do, in fact, know who the students at Success Academy are. They are not the most disadvantaged kids in New York City. Harlem Success Academy schools have half the number of English Language Learners as the neighboring public schools in Harlem. The students in Success Academy 4 include 15 percent fewer free lunch students and an economic need index (a measure of students in temporary housing and/or who receive public assistance) that is 35 percent lower than nearby public schools.

Moskowitz’s Success Academy 4 has almost none of the highest special needs students as compared to nearby Harlem public schools. In a school with nearly 500 students, Success Academy 4 has zero, or one, such students, while the average Harlem public school includes 14.1 percent such students....

Moskowitz said, referring to the students in her schools, “we’ve had these children since kindergarten.” But she forgot to mention all the students who have left the school since kindergarten. Or the fact that Harlem Success Academy 4 suspends students at a rate 300 percent higher than the average in the district. Last year’s seventh grade class at Harlem Success Academy 1 had a 52.1 percent attrition rate since 2006-07. That’s more than half of the kindergarten students gone before they even graduate from middle school. Last year’s sixth grade class had a 45.2 percent attrition rate since 2006-07. That’s almost half of the kindergarten class gone and two more years left in middle school. 

There are many noteworthy bits in this exchange. ONE, however, is that there is a boatload of data that enables Ms Ravitch to take down Ms Moskowitz easily and effectively. Big data and transparency cut in many directions.

Wednesday
Jan292014

RIP Mr Seeger 

Jeez, they're dropping like flies. 

There is no American, ever, who has more clearly stated his or her opposition to unjust persecution by hegemonic government. Pete Seeger's life should be taught in every school. 

Hang out for the last verse, the new verse, about keeping New York state free from fracking. Go, Pete.

There's more, of course, from this heroic 92-year long life. Pete's testimony before the House UnAmerican Activities Committee (HUAC): 

MR. SEEGER: I decline to discuss, under compulsion, where I have sung, and who has sung my songs, and who else has sung with me, and the people I have known. I love my country very dearly, and I greatly resent this implication that some of the places that I have sung and some of the people that I have known, and some of my opinions, whether they are religious or philosophical, or I might be a vegetarian, make me any less of an American. I will tell you about my songs, but I am not interested in telling you who wrote them, and I will tell you about my songs, and I am not interested in who listened to them.

There's more, of course. Mr Seeger was a distinguished patriot, a world-class lover of freedom, and a world-class musician. (From "This Land is Your Land"):

When the sun came shining, then I was strolling,
And the wheat fields waving, and the dust clouds rolling,
A voice was chanting as the fog was lifting,
This land was made for you and me.

One bright sunny morning, in the shadow of the steeple,
By the relief office I saw my people,
As they stood there hungry, I stood there wondering if,
This land was made for you and me.

Was a big high wall there that tried to stop me,
Was a great big sign that said, "Private Property,"
But on the other side, it didn't say nothing,
That side was made for you and me.

Nobody living can ever stop me,
As I go walking my freedom highway,
Nobody living can make me turn back,
This land was made for you and me.

We should all be so good. 

 

Tuesday
Dec172013

RIP Teresa M Peters

Teresa Peters died yesterday, 16 December, 2013, at the age of about 46, after a five-year battle against breast cancer. Teresa was the founder and from about 2000 - 2006 the ExDir of bridges.org, a mighty NGO based in Capetown, South Africa, that for several years led the fight to change policy and practice to achieve digital inclusion. 

I owe Teresa many things, but chief among them is... 

Teresa and bridges.org were instrumental in shoving, manhandling, womanhandling the field of development informatics (OK, ICT4D) along on the quest for impact. For outcomes. For being accountable for something other than, as Teresa termed it, "performance metrics"--how machines were bought and installed. 

bridges published "Real Access/Real Impact" in 2002, outlining 12 criteria to determine whether or not people have "real access" to technology, access that makes use possible, and that can lead to "real impact," or improvements in social and economic well being. As described by the Association for Progressive Communications, "The concept of Real Access/Real Impact emerged from this report, and it provides a good overview of the main underlying issues."

Seems like a no-brainer, doesn't it? Real access? And impact? Teresa and bridges weren't the only parties pushing to hold projects accountable for impact. But check the history of, say, outcomes-based evaluation or results-based management among the UN organizations. You'll be shocked at the earliest dates you can find. 

"We operated for that long without insisting on impact?" you might ask. Yes, I'm afraid we did. 

But Teresa and her supporters (she was pretty-well connected, not brilliantly connected, but ethically so) were on it. You can read an abbreviated version of the bridges.org report here, courtesty of the APC. 

Saturday
Dec142013

War is over, but what about that new challenge...?

Mr Paul Krugman posts the encore of a perf by Lucius of the John Lennon / Yoko Ono tune "Happy Xmas: The War is Over." 

 

How cool of everyone. Of Mr Krugman, for going to a Lucius show. Of Lucius, for the homage to peace and JohnYoko. Of the crowd, for singing along. 

I'm struck by the fact that the War -- The war of the United States against North Vietnam is referenced -- was a singular, and unifying, force in 1971. Today, everyone in the crowd can sing the chorus,

A very Merry Xmas
And a happy New Year
Let's hope it's a good one
Without any fear

War is over, if you want it
War is over now 

... but no one can say what is the war that will be over if we all want it enough. Now. There is war. There are wars, in Syria, in Central African Republic. But there are invisible wars, wars that rely on drones, on PACs, on governments that are bought, paid for, and in the pocket.

The struggle -- and it IS a struggle -- is now chimerical, multi-faceted in the extreme. We see that it is chimerical, and we realize that we were fooled before. The valor of singleminded resistance against an unjust war has evanesced. We are besieged.

Friday
Dec132013

"Growing rapidly, transforming slowly" in sub-Saharan Africa

The Princeton University economist Dani Rodrik discusses the reasons that high rates of economic growth among sub-Saharan African countries will not be sustained. 

The underlying problem is the weakness of these economies’ structural transformation. East Asian countries grew rapidly by replicating, in a much shorter time frame, what today’s advanced countries did following the Industrial Revolution. They turned their farmers into manufacturing workers, diversified their economies, and exported a range of increasingly sophisticated goods.

Little of this process is taking place in Africa. As researchers at the African Center for Economic Transformation in Accra, Ghana, put it, the continent is “growing rapidly, transforming slowly.”

Two speculative points:

Education might not be the answer (or at least, not public education, and not any longer)
In the case of the industrializing US and later among the Asian tigers, national, regional and local governments successfully engaged in educating their urbanizing populations to prepare them for manufacturing, clerical and other jobs. (See the magisterial, if sketchily written, work of Gilpin and Katz, with my review here, for the link between industrial technologies and public education in the US.) 

At present, however, the abilities of those organizations to transform public education, or even—in the case of the US—to provide public education, is increasingly in doubt. Massive shifts in spending from public schools to the private sector, both as private schools per se and as corporate support for public schools. (I believe that the education software market in the US is running about $8 billion per year, with projected increases in response to the common core standards likely to double that by 2018 [something like that, Stanford VLAB event in October bandied these figures about and they stuck in my head]. Equally, the introduction of technology-mediated learning is causing and will increasingly cause transformation of "school-mediated" learning. And this transformation will happen in Africa, despite lagging infrastructure, and might be most profound, because African public schools perform poorly so often, and the effect of mobile technologies will be most profound in non-formal learning.

(Don't believe? 67% of African adults have mobile phone subscriptions [ITU facts and figures 2013].) 

Entrepreneurship will be at a premium
In part as a result of shrinking returns to education, and shrinking opportunities in general (after 10 years of growth), entrepreneurship will increase in value, first to individuals and then to governments.(Support for this idea comes from research conducted during the "great recession" in the US.

To recapture its lost relevance, education will increasingly, and with increasing effectiveness, aim to build entrepreneurship skills. (For those of you who care, think of this shift as simply contextualizing the learning process. The context is... survival via business innovation.)