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


Entries in 21st-century skills (2)


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. 


Principle 2—Use ICT to enhance students' knowledge and skills

This principle seems obvious, doesn't it? (Perhaps all principles should seem obvious.) But the key, if there is one, is that programs should enhance students' knowledge and skills. I think we know (no citation, in other words) that as students increase their understanding and awareness of the world around them, including some concepts and information that appear in school curricula, they increase their capacity to build literacy, numeracy and other basic skills. (As E.D. Hirsch says.) 

When you're planning an ICT project in schools in a developing country, there will be plenty of gaps to fill. Even when basic skills and schools' abilities to teach 'em are lacking, look for ways to build conceptual and contextual knowledge. 

As usual in reviewing these principles,* it's best to go straight to the core sub-principles. And those are: 

  1. Help students build literacy skills & basic skills in all subjects 
  2. Help students build 21st-century life and learning skills 
  3. Focus on learning outcomes

Statements 1 and 2 aren't mutually exclusive, or contradictory. 

(*And why, you might ask, review these principles at all?)

This display dresses up the Armenian alphabet

In schools that are really low performing—one teacher shows up, for example, there are few books, kids have nothing to write on or with—ICT can be used to mitigate teachers' lack of capacity and to facilitate PD by providing direct instruction to students in one form (IRI) or another (e-learning). Depending on students' needs and the system's capacity, ICT can support instruction (of students and teachers both) across a range of skillsets running from basic to complex. Students can use an MP3 recorder to listen to phonics instruction; and they can use the same MP3 recorder to make podcasts for their classmates or to share messages with members of a distant team. Don't make the mistakes of assuming that without basic skills kids can't learn anything, or that basic skills will if all else fails and kids leave school be sufficient. 

(If your project is based on IRI [Interactive Radio Instruction—direct instruction in basic skills using audio], include stories. How hard is that?)