Many decisions about school ICT projects are made based on electoral needs, partners' offerings or other factors. These factors will not disappear. But decision-makers should use available information about what's really happening as their primary guide: What % of teachers has completed teachers college? What's the ratio of textbooks to kids? If these areas pose problems for schools, check the feasibility of using ICT to address them. And, given the fact that we're introducing information tools, think about collecting and reviewing more comprehensive and nuanced information.
OK, the core sub-principles are as follows:
- Keep tools simple at the school level.
- Collect data that address goals.
- Ensure that data can be easily accessed and shared.
- Develop information-management tools in stages.
- Support the use of data in schools and communities
These sub-statements all touch, at least tangentially, on the idea that schools themselves should benefit from data. School report cards (there's one from Georgia, the country not the state, below) should help school personnel see where they fall in relation to quality-assurance standards (like, class size, textbooks-per-kid, and so on) and in relation to other schools like theirs.
But what's interesting (and this links to one of the sub-principles addressed previously, "focus on learning outomes") is that new tools for data collection might open more complex and authentic fields of learning to developing-country researchers and decision-makers. If, for example, teachers were trained to recognize collaborative interactions in small groups, they might be able to use smart phones or tablets to assess kids' interactions in real time. This potential renders a soft, 21st-century skillset, comprised perhaps of cooperation, communication and empathy, into something measurable at both the school level and nationally.
And in education in developing countries, if you can measure it, and you can pilot-test it, you increase the chances that you can, eventually, maybe, make it happen at scale.