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 smart phones (3)


Mobile repair cultures in Oakland

About 2005 Jan Chipcase--who has worked it out so that he gets to think and explore his thoughts for a living--noticed that mobile-phone repair was a service available in developing countries (India, China) but not in developed countries. Phone providers in developed countries worked with a replacement model, rather than a repair model. In developed countries, the phones are valuable enough to warrant repair, and to elicit the emergence of repair supply chains and micro-enterprises.

I was somewhat happy to experience this difference in Syria, where I briefly considered having my t-mobile smart phone repaired in the coastal city of Lattakia. 


I didn't do it, because I was only in Lattakia for 2 days and the repair would take 3 (sourcing parts, primaily).Instead I bought a Nokia basic phone (with Arabic characters) for US $15; that phone has worked in 10 or 20 countries since that time (with new SIM cards) and continues to work.  

And now, 10 years more or less after Chipcase's observation, I can see that mobile-phone repair has come to my city of Oakland: 

At 40th St and Telegraph Ave there is a real, house (not street-based) mobile-phone repair business. 

What are we to make of this? 

One possibility is that the cost of mobile phones has increased relative to incomes, so that repair becomes an appealing option -- instead of the junk/replace approach or the dispose-of-responsibly/replace approach. But is that true? I don't know, but given sales information for iPhones (Apple reports record sales of 74.5 million units for the first quarter of 2015) I doubt that this is reason.

Instead, I'm going to suggest that slow growth in wages, lack of employment opportunities for youth, and resulting demand for jobs that entail apprenticeships and on-the-job-training all play roles. 

In addition, there's something (warning, "something"  = "I'm guessing") of a "reverse technology transfer," as 1st-generation and immigrant Americans adopt business models that have worked in other countries. Plus (plus, always plus, ONE of these reasons have to be correct!), supply-chain issues are involved, as even Apple has made it possible for their stores and 3rd-party vendors to get parts for repairs (OK, at least of broken screens). Finally (at last!), demand for smart phones, as they have become essential tools even for the homeless, has risen among the 99% to the extent that there's a market for used, repaired and affordable units.

Which means, if you'll bear with me, that the cost of phones hasn't risen, but that the market for phones has expanded to include people for whom cost is a bigger issue. 


Finding that niche between smart phones and netbooks...

... Is going to be very difficult. CNET reports that Intel and LG Electronics: 

are working on a new class of product that are mini-computers that can also be used to make phone calls using a wireless Internet connection. Intel sees the category of product as something that is somewhere between a smartphone, like the Apple iPhone, and a Netbook, a scaled-down version of a notebook computer. 

This is happening because Intel sees opportunities for growth in the midst of the economic downturn. While mobile phone sales were off about 12 percent worldwide last year, smartphone sales rose about 22.5 percent. Intel doesn't make mobilephone chips (ARM, TI, and QualComm do, according to CNET). LG electronics, on the other hand, makes many different phones, a few computer monitors, and zillions of kitchen and laundry appliances. (They don't appear to make computers.) So, together they are envisioning a phone-like device that's a little bigger, a little faster, a little more usable than a smartphone, and REALLY popular:

Intel argues that consumers need a device that's more powerful than a smartphone but not as bulky as a Netbook or laptop. The idea is that consumers who buy a MID could use it to watch high-definition video, make phone calls using the Internet, or download information from the Web while on the go.

Now, the above are all activities that I do, reasonably frequently, on my phone, as per the CNET article: 

Not surprisingly, Intel's vision of a MID is exactly why many people want to buy a smartphone like the iPhone. 

The Intel/LG device will in fact make phone calls--via wireless when it's available. Which highlights the primacy of the network. I don't believe that my phone right now--a 3G iphone--is keeping me from doing much that I want to do (except, ironically, make Skype calls on wireless). A faster network, I know, will result in higher utility from my already-robust smartphone, and will also lead to more applications, more services, and more sophistication in both. Network quality (speed, coverage, reliability and cost) are the limiters of my experience, not the phone itself. 

(Oh sure, I don't like typing on the iPhone anymore than anyone else does. But I don't really consider it a productivity tool as such, I consider it an information and communication tool. A Web reader, etc.) 

And the CNET article makes an interesting point in this regard: 

So far, wireless operators have done a poor job of providing people with a single subscription for multiple devices. 

It's true of course. As the three or four main mobile telcoms fight over the smartphone subscriber markets, they haven't found much advantage to bundling 3G access for non-phone devices with 3G access for smartphones. I suppose that letting me use my iPhone as a 3g modem for my laptop might afford me some increased degree of mobility/communications, but hell, I live in Oakland, I can almost always find WiFi in conjunction with a cup of coffee.


Mobile phones and math learning in North Carolina

The NY Times reports on research supported by Qualcomm showing that kids using smart phones as part of their math learning posted improved test scores in algebra. 

The article also features some points in rebuttal: 

Texting, ringing, vibrating,” said Janet Bass, a spokeswoman for the American Federation of TEa the nation’s second largest teachers’ union. “Cellphones so far haven’t been an educational tool. They’ve been a distraction.”



Bill Rust, an education and technology analyst at the Gartner Group... said that computers and their larger screens offer a range of teaching opportunities, in addition to helping students to write papers and do research online. “I’d like to see if they can improve writing skills with a cellphone,” he said.


But how are the kids using their smart phones? They're recording themselves solving problems and posting the videos to a private social networking site. It's self-reflective, it's focused on the process, not on the solution per se, it's smack-dab in the middle of best-practice math education. (And it's not, at least not necessarily, taking place during class time.) 

Got a problem with that?