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
Jul022013

Testing, testing, 1 - 2 - 3: Change is coming (to the Bac in France)

And while the US empowers test-makers to shape classroom teaching, change is coming. However, right now, it's coming somewhere else.

National high-stakes exams (funnel exams) are the strongest barriers to transformation that we have created in our education systems. But we will one day be free of  these notorious, spirit-crushing exercises in memorization, calculation and re-presentation. We will build systems that respond—however slowly—to our pressing need to build and assess skills needed for the 21st-century. 

It's happening.

In France, not close to the leading edge of education, the end-of-high-school Bac is wheezing and showing its age

...for all the reverence, nostalgia or stress that it still inspires, its utility is growing ever less clear, according to French officials, students, parents, teachers and employers — most everyone, really.

“Each year more ridiculous, the comedy of the bac has returned,” Luc Ferry, the philosopher who once served as education minister and oversaw the test, wrote this month in the newspaper Le Figaro.

France once liked to think of its educational system as a model for the world, but studies show academic performance here to be unexceptional and on the decline, and officials have in recent years begun to fret. Increasingly, the bac is viewed as the flagship of a flawed system, a symbol not so much of French excellence but of what is wrong with education here.

Check it out. The NY Times article is chock-full of casual Bac-dissing:

"It’s more a rite of passage than an exam,” said Ms. Ripoll, 18, dragging lightly on a morning cigarette. "That’s why it would be a shame to get rid of it. Everybody’s been through it. It’s traumatized everybody."

As the article (finally, finally) states, the purpose of such exams (and they're everywhere!) is in part to allocate scarce resources (university placement). But these exams do a lousy job of it. If you believe that university placement (it's scarce, OK?) should be based on potential contribution, well, testing as conducted is a terrible predictor, and one that completely fails to account for economic inequality and cultural difference.

I've heard, elsewhere (São Paulo) that funnel exams are necessary to ensure equity. But we don't provide the preconditions for equitable assessment in our societies or our schools. AND as France, the US and Korea (!) have shown, the exams can be gamed, they elicit cheating. 

Sunday
Apr282013

I'll show you where to put that STEM, buddy

Check out this quiz (courtesy of Wonkette, verified or the process of verification by Snopes.com. Draw your own conclusions about the prospects for STEM education in the U.S. One antidote: the novella Cain, by the great (great) Portuguese novelist José Saramago. 
Thanks, 3 people who sent me this!

Sunday
Mar032013

Zimbabwe! What's going on? 

You won't believe this. The 2012 data in CIA World Factbook shows Zimbabwe as number 2 (TWO!) in terms of in-migration, or population growth due to immigation: 

(MIGRANT(S)/1,000 POPULATION)DATE OF INFORMATION
1 Qatar
40.62
2012 est.
2 Zimbabwe
23.77
2012 est.

For points of reference, the US is number 26, with an in-migration rate of 3.62; countries ranked 72 through 103 (Azerbaijan to Yemen) post 0.00; Bulgaria, where I am currently, posts in-migration of -2.84 (which is out-migration, obviously) and is ranked 174; the most out-migrating people are in the Northern Mariana Islands, ranked 221 and posting an immigration population change rate of -41.32. 

But Zimbabwe? Zimbabwe! What is happening there that's leading to this influx? Hints?

Saturday
Mar022013

TED goes out on a limb with Sugata Mitra

The 2013 TED Prize winner is the charismatic, deadly smart Sugata Mitra, whose TED-prize wish is to build a School in the Cloud that supports students around the world to engage in in self-organized learning. 

Thumbnail for version as of 21:04, 2 December 2010

What's the risk to TED? Sugata (I've had a few drinks with him, I'm comfortable calling him "Sugata" although he'd probably call me, "Who?") notoriously avoids serious experimental assessments of the hole-in-the-wall computer, has proposed self-organizing learning as a cure for almost all educational and social ills (e.g., growth of terrorism among rural South Asian youth), and is following in the questionable footsteps of Nicholas Negroponte in postulating the benefits of teacher-less (teacher-free?) learning. 

Fine enough, let's drop a $1 million on this experiment. Sugata might be the only person who can pull it off, based on his experience, notoriety and single-minded pursuit of learning for the unschooled. 

But it's a prestigious award. Is there follow-up? If the resuts are lousy are we asked to say, "Ah, well, it was high-risk, after all"?

But my main question is, Is there any risk to TED's prestige? Next time they drop their award on an outlier-awardee will people again toot the horns of celebration, or will they get that sense of deja vú all over again? 

Monday
Feb182013

scattered observations of mobile learning week

Greetings from UNESCO's Mobile Learning Week in Paris (18 and 19 February). Following are a few observations and thoughts. These might present a more-than-reasonably skeptical view of the proceedings... 

  • It's tiring when the socially focused representative of a global corporation responds guardedly about open platforms. Someone here was asked about providing open APIs and opening their platform; the response was somehing like, "We've determined that if we opened our platform we couldn't provide the rich user experiences that we currently provide." OF course it's about money, probably, and why not acknowledge this? You've just demonstrated impact among 7 million users (or more, I lose count), you don't need to justify or obscure a profit motive in that instance... 

  • A lot of the projects on the podium here approach English language learning via mobile tools. Cool, but getting content and mother-tongue instruction is IMHO much more critical. And much more difficult -- in part because of funding.

    At least, if that's what you're doing, cite evidence that learning English in a given context leads to improved social and economic well being. Hmmm?