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 google (3)


Competition (between giants) is a good thing I suppose

Google has (lightly) funded a competition for the creation of Wikipedia pages in Kiswahili by university students in Tanzania and Kenya. (First place for most entries gets a laptop.) Why this sudden interest and largesse? Because Google's in a race against Bing for most eyeballs, and there are a few million Internet users in Sub-Saharan Africa who might -- if they aren't multilingual university students, for example -- look for information in Kiswahili. This is out of about 100 million Kiswahili speakers. 

“Our algorithms are primed and ready to give you the answer you are looking for, but the pipeline of information just isn’t there,” said Gabriel Stricker, Google’s spokesman on search issues. “The challenge for searches in many languages for us no longer is search quality. Our ability to get the right answer is hindered by the lack of quality and lack of quantity of material on the Internet.”

The "right answer," just to be clear, might be accurate and true, but it must be in a language that's appropriate for the searcher. Students quoted in the article have posted the same information to both the English and the Kiswahili Wikipediae, but at least one English version has been earmarked for removal if citations aren't added. 

But the question unanswered by the Times reporter, Noam Cohen, is how creating a specific page on the World Wide Web confers advantage on Google and not on Bing. Aren't they both crawling the same Internet? Is Bing less poly-lingual? I dunno.


More on Google Books and libraries (we'll skip the enlightenment this time)

Here's a bit of followup to my post on Google Books, libraries and Robert Darnton's article in New York Review of Books.  

My long-time friend Jen Schaffner at OCLC (the Online Computer Library Center) is way deeper into the thicket of negotiations between Google Books and various US libraries than I am. She's provided a list of resources (below) that un-tangle some of what's going on. She has also described the widely held concern, among librarians, about the impact of Google's mass digitization process on the availability of book-based information online.

An exemplary problem: While access to the materials online might not be at issue (or it might be, as I said, it's complex), the participating libraries only receive their own, storable digital copies of books that they provide. Since GBooks is only going to digitize each title once, this arrangement will likely lead to a "swiss cheese" model: libraries will have digital copies of the books in their collections that GBooks has scanned, but there will be holes in the parts of their collections GBooks scans using copies owned by other libraries. 

Is this a big deal? 

It might be. Libraries can use digital copies as safeguards against the degradation of original print books, printing and circulating new books made from the digital copies that they have in their possession. If GBooks scans copies from another library, however, our first library will be out of luck in relation to using digital copies to conserve their print collection.

My overall impression is that the GBooks partnership agreements and legal settlement are separating libraries, rather than supporting strong library networks, and that they're potentially pitting libraries against each other. 

The most eloquent description of the libraries' plight, as described by a librarian, appears in a report by Intelligent Television, commissioned by OCLC Programs and Research: 


We were approached singly, charmed in confidence, the stranger was beguiling, and we embraced. For the love of selfish confidence, we spoke neither our fortune nor our misgivings with our neighbors or our friends. We felt special, invited to loud weddings on far away islands of adventure; in the quiet we may wonder if we were given broken jewelry.
We could have chosen to question the worth of the marriage under the terms offered. We might have chosen to hold off the sequined cloaks of confidence that wrapped our suitor's gifts. The glamour of it! Yet we knew there were other wives already, and we might have joined them in union, consulted openly, wondered what would be best for all instead of merely ourselves; but our concerns were narrow. In our selfishness, and wrapped in the fears we were given, we re-wrote and redefined our aims, misplaced our responsibilities, allowed the light and glory of the ideal to suffuse its glow over the bargain's deficits.3

That about sums it up. Other resources passed on by Jen include: 


An 4-page OCLC summary of the settlement.

An OCLC blog post interpreting the settlement. here

A  informed and readable account of the problems, by Paul Courant



Libraries, Google books, the enlightenment

"Robt Darnton in the New York Review of Books says:

Google also digitized an ever-increasing number of library books that were protected by copyright in order to provide search services that displayed small snippets of the text. In September and October 2005, a group of authors and publishers brought a class action suit against Google, alleging violation of copyright.... . Google will sell access to a gigantic data bank composed primarily of copyrighted, out-of-print books digitized from the research libraries. Colleges, universities, and other organizations will be able to subscribe by paying for an "institutional license" providing access to the data bank. A "public access license" will make this material available to public libraries, where Google will provide free viewing of the digitized books on one computer terminal. And individuals also will be able to access and print out digitized versions of the books by purchasing a "consumer license" from Google, which will cooperate with the registry for the distribution of all the revenue to copyright holders. Google will retain 37 percent, and the registry will distribute 63 percent among the rightsholders.

One of Mr. Darnton's points is that we're oh-so-close to achieving an ideal library that is one of the logical outcomes of the Enlightenment--the Age of Reason; another, however, is that such an ideal library, and management of the copyright of its books, should be handled by some central, publicly accountable entity. To trust in Google, given that it is privately held, is to trust in a kind of free-market system of information management.

What, Darnton asks,  if Google seeks to maximize profits by raising prices once users have been "hooked"?

Google has already scanned 7 million books, of which 5 million are copyrighted but out-of-print, 1 million are copyrighted by in print, and 1 million are public domain. The money lies, as you can guess based on these numbers, in the 5 million that have been scanned but are otherwise available. To print one of these, you need to pay. You need to pay Google and the author (or the rightsholder).

Darnton pines pretty much throughout his slightly turgid and decidedly romantic essay for a centralized and idealized service to ensure that the fruits of reason are available to all. Of course, the Age of Reason was so called because they--Descartes, Hume, Locke, Kant--turned reason into a hallucinogen. They used reason to explore the human mind and the nature of reality. The minor thinkers Jefferson, Franklin and Madison, whom Darnton cites, used reason to lay the groundwork for a voracious, powerful, but only fitfully rational state. (The United States that they created is more Rabelaisian than rational.)

So what of Google Books? I say, the government had its chance, scanners have been around for 15 years. Governments in non-English-speaking countries still have chances. But Google has found a motive, or several, they've created partnerships with authors, they've actually scanned 7 million books. Which is way more than the Library of Congress has scanned. And they're going to put a computer terminal in every library to promote access to the books that they've scanned. (Don't these libraries already have computers? Uh-huh. Can't all computers access the books? Uh-huh.) Darnton's problem, perhaps, is that he sees compares the actuality of Google Books to his idealized online library of alexandria. Which isn't happening. If it were, we could talk about it. Darnton's second problem, perhaps, is that he thinks in terms of English-language books, and of their copyright within the US. Do we really want access to all literature and publications that have ever been written in Mandarin to fall under control of today's Chinese government? Would we have wanted control over access to, say, Huck Finn to have fallen under control of the Bush administration?