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5 Key Barriers to Educational Technology Adoption in the Developing World

Clayton R. Wright

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Educational technology will continue to be implemented incrementally in many parts of the developing world. More rapid uptake and success are unlikely to occur unless five items are addressed – power, Internet connectivity and bandwidth, quality teacher training, respect and better pay for teachers, and the sustainability of implementations.

1. Electrical Power

It is a fact: you need power to run technological devices and until power is widely available, reliable, and affordable for many in Africa and elsewhere, educational technology uptake will be slow.  About 70% of those living in sub-Saharan Africa do not have easy access to electrical power. Even if people could not afford to purchase various electronic gadgets, access to power as noted above, would improve their lives because they would be able to read after dark and would be healthier as they would not be exposed to fumes caused by burning fossil fuels and plant matter.

While conducting an extensive workshop for an international organization at the African Medical and Research Foundation (AMREF) in Kenya, we discussed how we could minimize the cost of delivering distance educational materials. One suggestion that was well-received was to reduce the size of the print, therefore less ink and paper would be used. On the surface the suggestion was brilliant until I closed the window blinds, and said, let’s take a print module with an 8 or 10-point font and see how easy it would be to read via a kerosene lamp and a candle. Material containing small-point fonts and serifs were difficult or impossible to read under low light conditions. Thus, one may save ink and paper by using these fonts, but the materials would be unreadable 12 hours each day when it is dark in many tropical countries.

Sometimes recommendations made from afar sound ideal, until implemented in a particular environment. When funding agencies indicate that they are willing to support educational technology initiatives, they should also consider how power will be provided to these devices; solar power and batteries being one option. Since China has made major investments in Africa and Southeast Asia, perhaps along with its extensive mining and road building projects it will add power-generation to its list of initiatives.

On June 30, 2013, in Cape Town, President Obama announced Power Africa – an initiative to double the number of people who will be able to access electricity on that continent. Initially, the project will focus on increasing electrical capacity in Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Nigeria, and Tanzania. That is a good start, but what about the rest of Africa?

2. Internet Connectivity

The potential to increase Internet connectivity has risen substantially during the last four years due to the laying and planned installation of marine telecommunication cables. However, countries that are land-locked such as Chad and those that seem to show limited business demand for Internet services, such as Eritrea and Sierra Leone, are likely to experience difficulty increasing Internet access and bandwidth in the near future.

The challenge for all countries in the developing world is delivering the last “mile” of connectivity to homes for a reasonable cost. In addition, the bandwidth must be capable of carrying compressed videos so that citizens can have access to the wide variety of educational materials available in a video format and be able to exchange reasonable quality photographs and video clips. Increased Internet accessibility and increased bandwidth are unlikely to occur without commitment by governments and the involvement of private enterprise such as the mobile phone operators. In time perhaps, broadband access to the Internet will be considered a basic human right.

3. Training and Professional Development

Electrical power, Internet bandwidth, and electrical devices may all be present, but teachers need to know how to use them effectively. Teachers who have been brought up in a world with limited technology can find it difficult to use technology to engage and support learning. Whatever training and professional development opportunities that are provided to teachers must be long enough for them to grasp the concepts behind teaching with technology, to have hands-on experience using the technology, and to revise or develop one lesson that they can use when they return to their classroom or online environment.

Sessions should be held to help teachers locate, adapt, and translate open educational resources (OERs) for their learners. Based on my experience in countries such as Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, translating materials into the local language and having interpreters present may require additional resources and/or reduce the amount of content that can be given in a specified time. But at the end of the training session, a greater number of participants have increased knowledge and are better able to apply what they have learned. Teachers need quality pre-service training, but they also need on-going training and support from mentors.

Government bodies or funding agencies often talk about the need to foster a quality learning environment, but then provide funding for a large number of people to receive minimal training within a short period of time. Their focus seems to be on quantity not quality. Perhaps, when funds are limited, a more effective approach would be to give solid training to a few and have each commit to provide training to three others and so forth – a pyramid approach.

One of the initial failings of much publicized large-scale technological interventions such as the One Laptop per Child (OLPC) Project was the lack of training and support provided to teachers. (Though OLPC may have failed in some ways, the initiative spurred the development of affordable, mini computers for education and the discussion of the criteria to judge the success of educational technology implementation projects.)

However, it must be recognized that in many developing countries there is a shortage of qualified teachers; thus, efforts are placed on quantity not quality. Perhaps massive open online courses (MOOCs) are the answer, but not in the form that is prevalent today as current MOOCs tend to appeal to people who are already well-educated and have access to adequate Internet bandwidth to view well-crafted videos. For those in developing countries, MOOCs may need to be more localized, more practical, and require less bandwidth than those offered elsewhere.

The videos may need to be shorter or consist of several self-contained but inter-related segments. The MOOCs may also need to be part of a blended learning environment that fosters the development of local learning communities so that learners can obtain the face-to-face contact that is part of their rich-cultural heritage.

4. Value Teachers

Teachers should be valued more, yet in many places they are not. Being paid a proper living wage relative to others in an area is part of it, but the other is respect for the profession. People cannot focus on teaching if they must hold several part-time jobs in order to support themselves and their families. Teachers should be looked upon as cornerstones of the society as upon them rests the responsibility of educating the next generation.

Thus, the best minds need to be attracted to teaching. People who genuinely care about helping others need to be attracted to teaching. Yet, some teachers I meet in emerging nations think of teaching as something to do rather than something they want to do. They think of filling heads with content rather that engaging students to solve problems and encouraging them to view the world from different perspectives.

Today, one needs teachers who are willing to try new methods and technology, and willing to fail as they strive to improve themselves. Trying, failing, and succeeding is what learning is all about.

5. Sustainability

The outcome of any educational technology project in the developing world must have at least two aspects. First, how does the technology or instructional method improve learning and second, how will the technology or method be sustained once initial funding has ended? I personally know a few educational professionals who get excited by the latest trends – currently, the use of tablets or MOOCs.

When I ask them about sustainability, they raise their eyebrows and wonder why I am not focused on the potential merits of a new device or method. Why am I not exciting by the possibilities? I am. But experience has demonstrated over and over that glitzy technology is initially very appealing and accompanied by exaggerated claims of being a “dragon slayer” or a solution to all that ails the educational system; but if it cannot be supported and maintained, it becomes a sophisticated paper weight.

New instructional methods that cannot be sustained frustrate those who spent considerable time to learn them only to find that they can’t maintain them. Resources and time are lost. Developing countries do not have resources to lose or time to waste.

Yes, the implementation of educational technology could facilitate and support effective teaching and learning, but there are many challenges involved in implementing technology in developing countries (see Recurring Issues Encountered by Distance Educators in Developing and Emerging Nations and Developing and Deploying OERs in sub-Saharan Africa: Building on the Present).

We can talk as much as we want about various educational technologies and their potential, but until the above issues are addressed in a significant manner, educational progress will be slow in some parts of the world.

Clayton R. Wright, International Education Consultant, Canada

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44 Responses to “5 Key Barriers to Educational Technology Adoption in the Developing World”

  1. Spot on! Nice piece. And we should all remember that many of these issues (especially 3, 4 and 5) are global challenges that apply to all nations. I know we have made advances but ‘mature’ folk like Clayton and myself have been making these points for many decades. Innovators and facilitators do make a difference – but the results are bounded and often of limited duration. Sort of shifting oases in an ocean of sand, and the sand is piled high into dunes that are hard to climb … That perhaps sounds a little negative and I don’t mean it to be. We just need to focus on producing and cultivating more oases. Maybe one day they will join up. However, those who have read the Dune series of books know that far-reaching changes have far-reaching consequences!
    Enough … Carmel

    • Clayton R Wright

      Thank you Carmel for your response. Yes, we need more oases of success – oases that last, that are sustainable. And, they will act as a beacon for others in the region.

      As you mentioned, issues 3, 4, and 5 are global issues, but to varying degrees. Because they involve attitudinal changes, the change process will take some time to occur. But first, one must want to change. One can be provided with the rationale of why change is necessary, but until one wants to change, little progress may be made. Will students/learners demand changes be made? Will teachers/professors change on their own? Or will the change come from the top down?

      Originally, my submission was entitled the “The Future of Educational Technology in the Developing World: One Perspective”. The title was changed by the publishers to include the term “barrier”. Personally, I try to avoid using the term “barrier” when conducting development work as it implies stoppage when that is not the case. Development will still proceed but on a much slower pace until the factors I identified are addressed. The factors are more like “speed bumps”, not barriers – they affect the rate of progress rather than inhibit progress. During development workshops, I had to learn the hard way the impact of the word “barrier” on the participants.

      Trust that your current Middle East experience is giving you insight into the evolving relationship between students and teachers as the modern world presses against long-held cultural beliefs.

      Clayton

  2. Gissy M.

    This is so true! Not only in African countries, but also in Latin America. Each factor presented here applies to a certain extent to Latin American countries. Even when #1 and #2 are starting to be taken care of, we have left 3, 4 and mainly 5, which is the hardest to achieve (even in developed nations, as said in the previous comment). It’s not worth the effort to invest in equipping educational institutions and providing professional development to teachers, when there is not a follow up to this investment to keep it going. I’m a huge advocate of technology integration, but I’m aware that it is not a magic bullet to improve learning. There are a lot of things to take into account, and even when we the electric power access and internet access issues are solved, we need to teach our teachers (and administrators) how these resources can be used effectively, and efficiently. Training and Valuing our teachers is a must, so they don’t feel their job as a painful burden, but as an indispensable service. Enough said, teach all stakeholders about sustainability, so that the next generations do not try to reinvent the wheel.

    • Clayton R Wright

      Gissy, you are so right one needs to monitor projects during and after implementation.

      Too often, funding agencies seem to be satisfied with “happy sheet” evaluations that are conducted immediately after an implementation and provide an indication of participants’ reaction to a training session. But agencies rarely seem to assess the more meaningful long-range impact. Does the initiative help learners to apply a skill more effectively and efficiently after training? Do individuals noticeably change behaviour after the intervention? Does the training received by individuals help the organization they work for achieve its mission and goals? Does the training enable the individual to better aid/serve the community in which she or her lives? All four levels of Kirkpatrick’s four levels of evaluation need to come into play – reaction, learning, behaviour, and results.

      Thanks for your comments, Gissy.
      Clayton

      • Gissy M.

        Wow, those are the same questions I ask myself when I read the literature out there on how successful some studies are when using a given (technology) intervention, training, . Everybody was satisfied, gain scores were higher than the control group, among other “benefits”, but then, what? Thinking of a broad spectrum of studies I’ve read during my grad school life, I wonder what happens in a long term in those settings where these interventions have been successful. Does that really make any difference in the long run in any of the parts involved? Now that you mention Kirkpatrick, it’s been a while since I last heard the 4 levels of evaluation even mentioned in regards of evaluating projects related to educational technology. I think it would be worth to look at this approach and start facing these challenges from a different perspective. Thanks for you reply :)

  3. Genevieve Gallant

    Clayton, I enjoyed your view on MOOCS:

    “The MOOCs may also need to be part of a blended learning environment that fosters the development of local learning communities so that learners can obtain the face-to-face contact that is part of their rich-cultural heritage.”

    Developed countries should consider this too, case in point, education in our aboriginal communities.

    Thanks for sharing!
    Genevieve

    • Clayton R Wright

      Yes, Genevieve, by encouraging formal and informal learning communities around MOOCs, it appears that students’ persistence increases. Not everyone is a total independent learner; some benefit, especially first nations peoples, from more social or collegial approaches.

      One of the side benefits of MOOCs is that the topic has stirred a much needed debate about what constitutes an education – a quality education. The topic has also made some recognize that distance education is not knew, it goes back to at least the 1800s. But the delivery mechanism and methods are new. And, our perception of distance education is changing. Perhaps one day, no distinction will be made between online and face-to-face instruction as the two forms will be entirely blended.

      Thank you for your comment.

      Clayton

  4. CRW, you have captured it, we identify with your assertions. There might be difference within elite schools, ie those following European, SHELL curriculum( some Dutch schools in Kenya) where they teach their schools in themes- preparing them for the future.

    Some of us in a small way have tried to change the teaching approach of students. In the process we have noted that the structure, instructional design of the institutions can be a bottle neck. Teachers are paid via face to face contact,( part time) and the contract reads the same. This discourages innovation. I personally give a face to face and teach online( my personal initiative). Usually a lot of level of effort, i only get paid for the face to face element. If institutions were the ones seeking innovative ways of teaching, then things would be easy.

    • Clayton R Wright

      Norbert, I am familiar with the educational environment in East Africa and recognize that traditional face-to-face instruction is prized. Thus, individuals working under such conditions will receive a level of pay that is higher (or no pay) than received by those who use technology. One must remember that the current decision makers in some parts of the world had limited or no exposure to technology during schooling and are now making decisions about technology that they have little knowledge of or first-hand experience. Further, innovation is a slow process, particularly in education which prides itself in passing on the social and culture norms of the community from one generation to the next.

      But all is not lost. I think that people like you and the learners you affect will put pressure on the system to change, to innovate. Institutions such as the Open University in the UK and the MIT OpenCourseWare initiative have demonstrated that distance education does work and that ICTs can be effectively employed in the educational world. More closely to your home, the African Virtual University and the South African Institute for Distance Education (SAIDE) are providing new models of learning and instruction that can be quite effective. Change will come, perhaps slowly at first. But change will NOT occur without people like you demonstrating the success of new methods and learners demanding to be brought into the 21st century.

      Enjoy your 27 degrees in Nairobi. I recently saw snow out my window!
      Clayton

  5. I just wanted to touch on point #4 and the value of teachers.

    In many parts of the world being a teacher, a doctor does not cover the very basic needs of an individual. I have seen excellent teachers in the Philippines earning around 12,000 pesos per month which is around $285 dollars or less. Many would argue that this might an OK wage since living expenses are cheaper, travelling to the Philippines many times I can see the high cost of food prices, electricity, natural gas and basic needs is not that low relative to the wages teachers earn.

    Therefor from that one example I can see the value of teachers is there they are valued by the society, but the issue of money is still on the table. Many teacher’s look for other opportunities to earn money on the side and now teaching is not their primary focus as they have to look for other opportunities after their day job.

    It does not make sense to me where a call center agent can earn around 20,000 pesos+ for a starting position while some provincial teachers can earn as low as 10,000 pesos. A principal at a school in the Philippines will earn around 15,000-20,000 pesos while a call center manager can earn anywhere from 40,000 pesos to 80,000 pesos.

    This is where the value of teacher’s is a big issue in developing countries. I can go on with other examples like Cuban doctor’s being Taxi drivers/Bartenders in resorts to cover their basic needs as there is no solid support system to value these individuals, and what I mean by value is giving the financial support they need and removing the money issue from the table so these individuals can focus on what they are passionate about which should be teaching and being a doctor in my two examples I given.

    So I think the government in some of these countries and many others which are developing needs to setup a system that can financially support these individuals as they contribute so much to society.

    Great article. Clayton!

    • Clayton R Wright

      Adam: I can’t argue with your point of view that teachers deserve more pay in a number of developing countries in which I work. But the countries may lack the level of economic activity that will enable the government to disburse adequate funds for education. They may know that educated girls are more likely to raise healthy children, that those with some secondary or tertiary education are likely to earn higher pay and thereby contribute more tax dollars to the government, and that education is the pathway to sustainable development. (See The Significance of Education, ODL & ICTs to the People of Developing Nations, http://repository.alt.ac.uk/2115/) But, it still can be a challenge to divert funds from other departments to education and to obtain funds (and comply with their requirements) from international organizations such as the International Monetary Fund, the African Development Bank, and the Asian Development Bank.

      In a few countries, I continue to be surprised by what may be the disproportional amount of funds spent on military and security activities or due to political or community pressure, projects are funded that involve building “bridges to nowhere”. And I applaud people like Joyce Banda, the President of Malawi, who sold the presidential plane purchased by her predecessor and took a 30% pay cut. Although her actions are relatively small compared to the financial challenges her country faces, they are significant as few leaders make such down-sizing decisions.

      Although I tend to be optimistic, I do have my doubts that educators have the solution to the economic ailments faced by developing countries. Yet, I do need to highlight that poor teacher pay and low respect for teachers leads to the employment of individuals who may be passionate about teaching, but who are unable to devote their time and effort to the profession as they must seek alternative means to support themselves and their families. Taking on educational technology projects may not be high on their priority list.

      Perhaps others have suggestions regarding valuing teachers and paying them fairly relative to salaries in their communities. But I can’t argue with a person such as yourself who signs off each e-mail with the following quote from Nelson Mandela “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

      Clayton

      • I am continuously disappointed that my government is one of the countries that spends disproportional amount of funds on military and security activities (way more than any other) or due to political or community pressure, projects are funded that involve building “bridges to nowhere”, all the while our schools and their teachers are not prioritized. Oh, and I live in the USA.

      • I just hope many corrupted politicians realize that stealing tax payers money and money that should be part of the governments budget will only hurt their nation.

        I am also not going to name countries here but some countries have politicians that think “free money” is always good money regardless where it came from perhaps the hospital’s budget where the hospital no longer can afford to buy beds for more patients many situations like this.

        But how do we change the mindsets of these politicians, well proper education I think if they need to grow up in a patriotic environment and have an understanding how things are interconnect and are passionate about the success of their country they will no longer make these bad poor decisions.

        So we are back at proper education. Proper education will create proper leaders, as Clayton mentioned some of these things are speed bumps and I think the next leaders that come after the current leaders will do a better job and learn from mistakes of the past (hopefully that’s what we would like to think)

        There is nothing wrong being rich, but earning that money by hard work and dedication and paying the appropriate taxes is important as these will bring development and strengthen the system.

        Touching on Wayan’s point military budgets in my opinion should not exceed health & education budgets. (but that’s my opinion not everyone would agree here.)

  6. Opaletswe Baipoledi

    Yes indeed the five points stated are valid at varied degrees depending on the locality. Some areas are not electrified hence issues of internet connectivity do not apply. These calls for governments to ensure electrification of villages including the remotest. By the way teachers are not as commited as those with passion. Teachers should value their profession to the point of defending it at all levels. And the powers that be should come to the realisation that teachers are the pinnacle of the education system. Therefore, their training and continued development should be paramount and should not be compromised. Consider the life of that innocent little child in that classroom in twenty years to come. Will that child be a proud citizen of your country or a rascal? Inadequate resources also tend to frustrate committed teachers.

    • Clayton R Wright

      Opaletswe you raise excellent points: teachers with passion are committed to the profession and that governments must recognize the significant contribution teachers make to the educational system and to the country.

      As you are aware, I travelled more than 3,000 km in your country interviewing teachers in rural and urban areas. And, work with teachers in other nations. I consistently hear that teachers want to be paid on time. They feel that governments do not consider they are important; if they were, the government would ensure that they receive their pay cheques/packets (or deposits into their bank account) so that they don’t have to beg their landlord or bank for forgiveness over late payments. They want to know that they have enough money to buy food. In two countries in west Africa, teachers frequently go for months without pay. Those who continue to teach students without pay for weeks or months at a time feel undervalued. They want and deserve recognition. People WANT to be valued by peers and the community, but they NEED to be paid on a regular basis.

      Perhaps participants in this Ed Tech Debate have other suggestions that will lead to teachers feeling valued.

      Clayton

  7. Henry Paul

    It is with great interest that I have read this article, and while I agree with the ideas expressed; I wish to point out that one of the major reasons for failure of many ICT educational projects/programmes is what I call ‘straight thinking’ by critical individuals involved in such programmes. What do I mean by straight thinking. Very simple- If we provide power, train teachers, give computers etc. then all will be well and we shall see improvements in our educational systems. Well, the results in many parts of the world is showing that where there is no total and comprehensive involvement of the teachers, success is limited. In my view we have to asks the rights questions to get the rights answers. Are our teachers ready to focus on such programmes when the individual teaching philosophy and pedagogical knowledge required are not yet exposed to such teachers? Do such teachers know why they should integrate ICT into there teaching in the first place? Do you think that a one week or two weeks or even six courses or training makes them ready. Based on my experience- no.

    There is this constant top-down approach to education development that continues to hamper progress all over the world. It is as if teachers have no voice. But they do, even if they are not trained. The first responsibility of education authorities is to ensure that teachers are trained and are competent in the subject areas they teach; secondly, they must be trained in the pedagogy ( how to teach) and thirdly, they can then be trained in ICT integration in their teaching. By so doing we are dealing with the critical components of any successful intervention of educational transformation. As one who is involved in distance education I can indicate that teacher support and student support are critical in the classroom and online. Our teachers need constant help and training all the time, not only for the duration of the project.
    Henry

    • Clayton R Wright

      Henry:

      You are absolutely right, “straight thinking” and lack of teacher/faculty involvement affects the “what” and “how” of implementation. It is not only in developing countries where this occurs, but in developed countries as well. For example, I and several co-authors recently wrote an article that emphasizes the need to involve faculty and students in the selection of learning management systems (http://www.educause.edu/ero/article/selecting-learning-management-system-advice-academic-perspective). Frequently, LMS decisions are made by computer personnel and administration, yet it is the instructors and students who are the primary users of the system.

      I do believe that the role students can play in their own education can be undervalued. While working on a project Malaysia, I noticed a room full of new computers sitting in a locked classroom. (I believe the computers and printers had been there for about six months.) I asked why the computers were still in their cardboard boxes. It seems that the teacher who ordered the equipment and software had left as the resources never arrived while he was there. The night before, I had noticed several students in the local internet cafe. So, I suggested to the principal of the school that the students could set up the equipment. The usual and expected discussion occurred – the students were not qualified, the students would steal the equipment, etc. But I won my argument. At the end of the day all the equipment was set up and running and students showed other students and teachers how to operate the computer and basic software. In an institutions I worked in for several years, it was the students who pushed faculty to use an LMS and to use more features of the LMS. Change does not always occur in a top down manner.

      Teachers/instructors/faculty/ and learners/students are integral parts of the education system and should be given the opportunity to provide input into and/or actively participate in educational decisions that affect them. They bring a different, but important perspective to the selection process.

      Clayton

  8. The five barriers are true and the idea of ” education anytime anywhere” is just not applicable in certain parts of the world.One would think lack of electricity can be solved with solar power until you find solar panels on your rooftop stollen.Crime rate makes it difficult to carry one’s laptop.
    Class size is another factor that can make the use of technology quite challenging.There are a whole host of issues in applying these technologies in Africa.

    • Clayton R Wright

      Yes, Leatile, i would agree that “anywhere, anytime” online education is currently a challenge in many parts of the world. But over time, perhaps an extended time, it will be possible if there is a will to make it so.

      You have provided a few very practical challenges. Thank you. Do you have any practical suggestions regarding how these challenges could be address or perhaps you have a technology success story you would like to describe. All ideas are welcomed.

      Clayton

  9. When we look at an education project, we have a simlar list that is a must to be funded and planned out for a successal ICT4D project in education

    The 5 key principles we stress are:
    1. Appropriate, affordable, and assessable ICT hardware
    2. Locally applicable software, OS, and content
    3. Design for local energy, Internet, and environmental issues
    4. Proper training for staff, teachers, and users
    5. Local capacity building for long term support and maintenance

    There are too many pictures of smiling faces around a computer lab when it opens, but not so many smiles 6 months later.

    • Clayton R Wright

      Excellent points Bruce.

      Perhaps you would consider adding variations of the following to your list: setting doable/measurable goals, recording/evaluating outcomes, and assessing impact six months after implementation.

      It is important to measure affective outcomes, but it can be a challenge to measure them accurately. If the purpose or outcome of a change initiative is to yield smiling faces, then one could observe this by presenting learners with a new foot/soccer ball rather than expensive technology. One must be cognizant of the Hawthorne Effect in any educational technology initiative.

      Clayton

      • CRW

        The Howthorne effect is an interesting phenomenon, i had not thought of it, but i will think of how to handle it

        Boruett

  10. Diana Mukami

    Interesting read. The gap in teacher readiness is one that provides opportunities for improvement. In the health sector in many sub Saharan African countries, the teachers of health professionals are often not prepared for a teaching role. Rather, the fact that they themselves have qualified in a particular health profession, say nursing for example, is qualification enough to be employed in a nurse training institution. Even in countries such as Uganda where there is a Health Tutors college, a blind eye is often turned to this requirement because of the shortage of tutors and because there is only 1 health tutor college and hence not enough supply to meet the ever increasing demand.

    This realisation of the need to have teaching skills to improve on training outcomes has led to the development of initiatives to address the gap. The Nurse Education Partnership Initiative (NEPI) for instance in Zambia is set to start a clinical instruction programme targetting nurse tutors. This, and other such initiatives, provide an opportunity to transfer further skills to tutors in the use of educational technology, and therefore impact its adoption in the health sector.

    A move towards partnerships in the development of educational technology could also help with the barrier of cost. Many countries prefer to develop from scratch their own learning content, which often requires a lot of resources – time, money, people. Regional forums could be leveraged to allow for the re-use of learning materials across a number of countries. The East African region through the Forum for East African Nurses (FEAN) has been working towards this for some time. After all, anatomy and physiology, for example, does not change from country to country.

    Thank you for sharing.

    • Clayton R Wright

      Thank you Diana for sharing initiatives in Africa regarding the preparation of teachers. The challenge is also faced in developed countries as people with specific knowledge expertise are able to teach at the post-secondary level without teaching certification. However, this situation is changing as a greater number of post-secondary institutions are placing increased emphasis on the quality of teaching and learning by adding or strengthening faculty development, teaching and learning, or professional development offices. Tony Bates, a distinguished international educator http://www.tonybates.ca/, has strongly advocated that if teaching and learning are one of the prime functions of an institution, then those who teach must receive appropriate training and support, and preferable a designation which indicates that they have not only received training in teaching but are also able to do so at an acceptable standard.

      Regarding “the not-invented-here syndrome”, educators seem to want to “re-invent the wheel”. There are many open sources for learning material (and challenges related to using them in some parts of the world, see http://www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl/article/view/1185/2161); but, it must be recognized that these resources need to be adapted for local learners by inserting local examples and perspectives. Sometimes the materials must be translated. By forming local consortium as you describe, perhaps fewer people will develop their own learning material from scratch and sharing will increase. The African Virtual University (http://www.avu.org/), supported by the African Development Bank, is one institution that has supported the development of quality, shared content designed for an African audience but used by learners throughout the world.

      Note that in my response to Professor Kabanda’s comments, I included a short list of conferences that may be of interest to educators in your region. The 31st version of the Educational Technology and Related Education Conferences list should be available in the third week of May. It will provide basic information for 1,200 events.

      Best regards, Clayton

    • Well articulate Diana, i can add there is no anatomy& physiology for a nurse, doctor, physiotherapist etc. The patient is one. The lancet report captures your thinking, it recommended inter professional teaching this has the tendency to prepare health workers to work as a team and finally they respect each other. You can imagine what been happening, we have separate lecture halls, skillslab, yet when they qualify they are suppose to work together. From experience i witnessed a lot of ‘professional tribalism’ when i worked as health worker and later as teacher in health institutions( at paramedic and Universities) to paraphrase Fenk etal 2010 in the Lancet report. Health workers who take common units tend to respect and work together as team. To use an example: i have participated in an advance life support course( for both medical doctors and other paramedics) and as they learn and get assessed a normal distribution curve is obtained and both groups tend to score in an homogeneous way-i need to belabor the point

  11. I agree with you entirely that successful implementation of Educational technology requires attention to the five critical success – power, Internet connectivity and bandwidth, quality teacher training, respect and better pay for teachers, and the sustainability of implementations. Its good that you start with infrastructural issues first that include power and internet connectivity and interconnectivity. However, you may want to consider two additional points that can be barriers to educational technology:
    1. Learning theory and pedagogical model used, and
    2. Technical support services in a given context or country.

    May you continue with the good work.

    • Clayton R Wright

      Professor Kabanda:

      Your suggestions are good ones. If I made a list of top ten challenges to educational technology adoption in certain parts of the world, I would add the two you mentioned. But your suggestions apply everywhere – teachers/instructors/faculty need assistance and support in making the best use of technologies, and with hardware and software support. Based on a study conducted by the EDUCAUSE Center for Analysis and Research (ECAR) that involved 113,035 students from 251 colleges and universities in 13 countries, students clearly indicated that faculty need to understand the benefits of technology, be trained in its use, and be supported during implementation and delivery. (To view a copy of the 2013 report, link to https://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ERS1302/ERS1302.pdf). Based on their experiences, perhaps others may have some suggestions regarding how this can be done more effectively.

      Best regards, Clayton

      P.S. Below are a few professional development opportunities which may help instructors use educational technology more effectively.

      May 27-28, 2014 The Digital Education Show Asia, 3rd, Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. http://www.terrapinn.com/exhibition/digital-education-show-asia/index.stm

      May 28-30, 2014 eLearning Africa: International Conference on ICT for Development, Education and Training, 9th, Speke Resort, Kampala, Uganda. http://www.elearning-africa.com/

      June 6-9, 2014 African Council for Distance Education (ACDE), 4th, organized by the Zimbabwe Open University, Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. http://www.deasa.org.za/

      June 7-8, 2014 International Conference on Computer Technology and Science (ICCTS), 3rd, Sarawak, Malaysia. http://www.iccts.org/

      June 24-27, 2014 Regional Symposium on Open Educational Resources: Beyond Advocacy, Research and Policy, Wawasan Open University, 2nd, Penang, Malaysia. http://www.oerasia.org/oersymposium2014

      July 9-11, 2014 African Education Week Convention and Learning Expo, 8th, annual, Sandton Convention Centre, Johannesburg, South Africa. http://www.educationweek.co.za/en/index.php

      July 21-23, 2014 Elearning Update: Learning Design for Learning 3.0, 7th, Johannesburg, South Africa. https://sites.google.com/site/elearningatbase/home

      September 8-10, 2014 Design, Development and Research Conference: Design for Participation – Connecting Disciplines, People and Ideas, 4th. Cape Town, South Africa. http://design-development-research.co.za/

      September 15-17, 2014 World Congress on Education (WCE), organized by the Infonomics Society and the University of South Africa, Nelspruit, Mpumalanga near Kruger National Park, Pretoria, South Africa. http://www.worldconedu.org/

      September 17-18, 2014 Malaysia Open Source Conference (MOSC), Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. http://portal.mosc.my/ or http://www.mosc.my/

      September 19-21, 2014 Distance Education Association of Southern Africa (DEASA) Conference and Annual General Meeting: Open and Distance Learning (ODL): Towards Sustainable Development in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Region, 49th, Mauritius. http://www.deasa.org.za/

      October 1-4, 2014 International Conference on ICT for Africa: Harnessing ICT in Education for Global Competiveness, 6th annual. Yaounde, Cameroon. http://www.ictforafrica.org/

      October 6-9, 2014 Brazilian Association for Distance Education (ABED) International Conference on Distance Education, 20th. Parana, Brazil. http://www.abed.org.br/hotsite/20-ciaed/pt/apresentacao/

      October 30-31, 2014 The Internet Show Africa: Internet Business Innovation for All Enterprises, Sandton Convention Centre, Johannesburg, South Africa. http://www.terrapinn.com/exhibition/internet-show-africa/

      November 9-11, 2014 African Education and Development Conference, Nairobi, Kenya. http://www.aedconference.org/

      November 19-20, 2014 East Africa ICT Summit, Oshwal Centre. Organized by African Information Technology Exhibitions and Conferences, Nairobi, Kenya. http://www.events-africa.com/aitec-east-africa-ict-summit-2014-events-africa.html or http://www.events-africa.com/aitec-events-calendar-events-africa.html

      October 14-16, 2015 International Council for Distance Education (ICDE) World Conference on Open and Distance Learning: Growing Capacities for Sustainable & Distance e-Learning Provision, 26th, hosted by the University of South Africa (UNISA), Tshwane – Pretoria, South Africa. http://www.icde.org or http://www.unisa.ac.za/default.asp?Cmd=ViewContent&ContentID=15367

    • Clayton R Wright

      Professor Kabanda:

      Your suggestions are good ones. If I made a list of top ten challenges to educational technology adoption in certain parts of the world, I would add the two you mentioned. But your suggestions apply everywhere – teachers/instructors/faculty need assistance and support in making the best use of technologies, and with hardware and software support. Based on a study conducted by the EDUCAUSE Center for Analysis and Research (ECAR) that involved 113,035 students from 251 colleges and universities in 13 countries, students clearly indicated that faculty need to understand the benefits of technology, be trained in its use, and be supported during implementation and delivery. (To view a copy of the 2013 report, link to https://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ERS1302/ERS1302.pdf). Based on their experiences, perhaps others may have some suggestions regarding how this can be done more effectively.

      Best regards, Clayton

  12. Miriam Maroba

    Indeed there are barriers to adoption of educational technology in the developing world more especially in Africa. With regards, electrical power, while Botswana has made strides in laying down the infrastructure to make electricity available to reach across the country (through its village electrification project, among others); its dependency on South Africa is a great impediment. For instance, government has rolled out computerization and internet provision to all public schools but in most cases, particularly in remote areas these become white elephants. Even with its huge deposits of coal, which could make it easier to power the country, there are still challenges. On internet connectivity, despite being landlocked, the country has been able to negotiate with neighbouring countries such as Namibia and so has managed to access the marine cable – this has dramatically reduced internet costs by up to 50%. the cost of connectivity to homes though is still high but in urban areas accessibility has been greatly enhanced. On training and Professional development, I agree that the training of teachers is critical to improve uptake to technology and its utilization in teaching and learning. In Botswana for instance in most schools children are barred from taking cellphones to schools, which results in a lost opportunity to maximize their use for purposes of learning and teaching. Botswana has recently launched Notesmaster – a platform through which educational content based on the national curriculum is developed and shared in all participating countries. The level of participation by schools is very discouraging and so such initiatives end up not being utilized as teachers are not adequately trained. I believe educational technology has to be a critical component during the training of teachers (at pre-service) and at inservice, deliberate efforts need to be made to empower teachers accordingly. Botswana has an over supply of teachers in some cases but the quality of teaching and learning is impacted by the levels of training and technological awareness of teachers. With regards the value of teachers,I don’t think the issue is that teachers are not valued. in our context I think the militancy that has come about as a result of unionization has in some instances eroded the ethical conduct and moral duty of the teaching profession. The teachers, at least in Botswana, seem more interested in their rights and have very little regard for the rights of children and young people to education. It has become rare to find teachers who are passionate about what they do and genuinely want to make a difference. as a result, the secondary school results have continued to decrease at an alarming rate creating a national crisis – thus the low respect for the teaching profession at least in Botswana.

    • Clayton R Wright

      Miriam:

      Thank you for expressing so vividly the situation in Botswana from your viewpoint.

      Botswana as well as other countries, such as Kenya, should be commended for attempting to electrify villages and bring internet connectivity to them. But as you point out, there are still a number of challenges to be overcome. One has to ask, which comes first – electricity or economic growth? The presence of electricity will lead to greater business opportunities and thus increased economic growth; and, economic growth will lead to the possibility of increased distribution and reliability of the power supply. All should lead to greater resources being available for schools.

      Mobile phones are banded in other countries as well. Some times because instructors find them distracting rather than a potential aid to learning as the devices can be used to reach out beyond the classroom to obtain resources or contact local experts. Other times, the use of mobile phones is restricted as not everyone has one; thus, avoiding the potential unfair advantage to those students who have one. Yet, young students are more likely to share their devices than adults and a one-to-one ratio of technology to student may not promote discussion and teamwork effectively.

      One must also be cognizant of the fact that the costs of obtaining and using technological devices such as mobile phones have decreased substantial in Africa and Southeast Asia, but are still relatively expensive for the local populace. According to Ngwenya (2012), in Zimbabwe, the average cost of mobile phone usage was US$0.27 per minute in 2009, but just US$0.09 per minute in 2012. “The minimum cost of a cell phone dropped from US$250 to US$15, while a SIM card cost US$200 in 2009, as opposed to US$2 in 2012” (Ngwenya, 2012). As you noted Miriam, if one can gain access to the new marine cables, the cost of internet access is also decreasing.

      The Notemaster platform sounds like an effective means of distributing education content, yet you mentioned that it is under utilized. This must be exceedingly disappointing to the creators. You are probably correct that teacher training at the pre-service and in-service level needs to include teaching about educational technology, but I wonder if there might be other factors at play – such as the lack of resources at the teacher training centres and the schools, the unwillingness to drop other parts of the teacher training program in order to accommodate educational technology training, the perception that face-to-face training is more important, the lack of connection between technology use in the classroom and in business and industry, the lack of incentives or rewards for using technology, and so forth. I am only guessing about the latter possibilities, but the Notemaster initiative seems so promising, it would be sad to see it disappear without further investigation as to why it is not being used as extensively as originally intended.

      Perhaps others can provide their insights as to why educational technology adoption is moving slowly in their part of the world. But more importantly, they could suggest how these challenges could be addressed. Perhaps they have some success stories to share.

      Best regards, Clayton

      —–
      Ngwenya, M. (2012, October). Women’s entrepreneurship and ICTs: ICTs improve women entrepreneurs’ marketing skills in Zimbabwe. ICT Update. Wageningen, The Netherlands: Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation. Available from http://ictupdate.cta.int/Feature-Articles/Women-s-entrepreneurship-and-ICTs/(68)/1348054748

  13. Nice article and very recognizable for us (Butterfly Works), we face these challenges in most of the solutions we co-create.
    One of the projects in which we tackle these barriers is Great Idea, a mobile- and distance-learning program in Afghanistan. We wanted to share this project with you to further enrich the discussion.

    Great Idea aims to increase the quality of and access to secondary school students, even in remote areas. Lessons on the content of the curriculum of Math, Physics, Biology, Chemistry and English for grade 7 – 12 are filmed and pre-recorded in a TV studio in Kabul and are saved on micro SD cards.
    These SD cards are distributed to schools where the videos can be displayed by a mobile phone connected to a micro projector. The lessons help teachers in the classroom with good content, knowledge and inspiring and interactive lesson methodology. At the same time they provide quality lessons for the students.

    Next to that, an out-of-school solution has been co-created. The same SD cards as provided for in school use can also be inserted into mobile phones (feature phones such as the Nokia C101). In this way, students can take home these SD cards for self-study. And by using mobile phones, these videos have an even bigger reach as they can be spread amongst community members and out-of-school children.

    The 5 barriers translated into this project:
    1. Electrical Power – we use solar power and equipment with low usage of electricity. It is selected especially for rural areas with no electricity.
    2. Internet Connectivity – is not needed – since we use micro SD cards as information carriers and a mobile helpline
    3. Training and Professional Development & 4. Value Teachers- is the centre of the project, we train trainers by using the knowledge of master trainers. Half of these master trainers are female, this sets a great role model for the girls in school.
    5. Sustainability – by using our co-creation method and by involving the telecommunication sector.

    Great Idea is co-created with the target group: students and teachers. More about the process and learnings can be read on the website of Great Idea: http://afghanlearning.wordpress.com/ contact us or more information or to continue the discussion at info@butterflyworks.

    • Clayton R Wright

      How wonderful it is Sanne to hear that a project took into account five key factors that affect educational adoption in the developing world. Valuing teachers and sustainability are often neglected.

      I notice that the foundation of your Great Idea Project is the featured mobile phone. Microsoft now owns Nokia, thus I am hoping that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation may influence the company to produce feature or smart phones that are affordable for those in the developing world. In North America, prices of digital devices have held steady – manufacturers add more features as the technology gets cheaper. But in Africa and elsewhere, one needs the price of phones to go down rather than expanded capacity and an increase in the number of features. Basic phones are affordable to many; but, the cost of smart phones and associated connection charges need to be much more affordable. Pricing online time for every 10 seconds of use may make using a phone seem so much more affordable in Sierra Leone, but the price per minute is still relatively high. The cost per minute for data and e-mail transmission in Africa is also high as much of the traffic is routed through Britain and the USA as the direct telecommunication links between countries are limited. Competition is also a factor. There needs to be at least three players in the telecommunication field in order to keep prices competitive. However, if the government is the primary provider, users may not be able to access telecommunication services at a competitive price.

      Especially in places like Afghanistan, ensuring that half you master trainers are female is quite an accomplishment. Female teachers will definitely provide effective models for young girls.

      You stated that your “co-creation method” promotes sustainability. Perhaps you could explain what this method is and how it leads to a sustainable initiative.

      Thanks for sharing your successful strategies. Clayton

      • We definitely agree on the prices and features of mobile phones, but it does seem that these developments are going rapidly, both for cheaper phones as well as airtime and affordable prepaid services.

        As for our co-creation method, we have described it with some example cases here: http://www.butterflyworks.org/content/25669/co-creation_method_
        As per Great Idea the final concept was designed during a series of co-creations over two years.

        The sustainability is promoted in several ways. Firstly by including all stakeholders from the beginning – in the identification of the social issue to solve as well as in the design of the solution. This ensures a strong ownership for a programme. Secondly we try to involve corporates in most of our projects. All together we would say ensuring a sustainable impact through the project is a continuous concern in the design of the concept.

        • Clayton R Wright

          Thank you Sanne Vaissier for responding to my query regarding details of the Co-creation Method that guides development and implementation at Butterfly Works. The Butterfly Works’ document you referred to is 3.7 MB in size and covers 22 pages. For those with limited Internet access, below are the key steps in the process.

          Step 1: Social need – defining the problem and problem owners
          Step 2: Research into user needs, the available technologies, and the potential partners
          Step 3: Ideation and prototyping – generating and visualizing possible solutions
          Step 4: Co-creation workshop nurtures a shared understanding of the process, encourages ownership, and enables participants to examine the selected strategy from different perspectives
          Step 5: Collaborative making – working with a variety of partners especially local partners in the community in which the strategy, product, or service will be used
          Step 6: Pilot testing (both short and long-term) and product finalization
          Step 7: Scaling-up

          From my perspective, there are two key features of the process that are important to note as they are often neglected in the haste to complete a developmental project. First is the involvement of local partners as this takes time. However, the trade-off is the development of local ownership and investment as well as the transfer of skills. The second feature is short and long-term pilot testing. Pilot testing is included in most projects, but when resources are limited, especially funding and time, pilot testing is often shorten or eliminated.

          Perhaps others have an approach to developmental projects that they would like to share. Clayton

          • Dear Clayton,

            Thanks for your response.

            First we would like to thank you for pointing out the amount of MB’s of the white paper. We are currently working on a new website, where we will showcase a shorter version of our method.

            Secondly, yes, we also experience that when there is time pressure the importance of involvement of the target group can be shifted backwards. However, in the end the project will be more (cost) effective when working in co-creation with the target group (and other actors) at all stages of the process.
            For testing we would also add that, when aware of it, this can serve as M&E, having a good overview of the successes and (early) failures throughout the implementation process. Also this adds to the sustainability of the project at hand. Once again, thanks for reading through the paper and providing it with feedback!
            Have a lovely day,
            Sanne – Butterfly Works

            • Clayton R Wright

              Sanne: I whole heartedly support you working collaboratively with a target group. There are many benefits, but it takes time. In order to collaborate successfully, one needs to:
              • Form a common vision or direction
              • Recognize individual and common needs
              • Ensure accountability and establish timelines
              • Develop trust and deal with personal issues
              • Resolve intellectual property issues
              • Outline a plan of action
              • Transfer skills
              • Address unforeseen issues/problems
              • Allow sufficient time for collaboration
              • Provide effective leadership
              • Implement a dissemination or marketing plan

              The above steps take time. Often, funders/supporters of international development projects do not provide adequate time to complete the steps above. But, if time and resources are available, the products or processes produced as a result of the collaboration are likely to foster co-ownership and be more sustainable. And, as you pointed out, one can learn from the successes AND failures of any collaborative effort…. Clayton

  14. Clayton R Wright

    From: Investigating Perceived Barriers to the Use of Open Educational Resources in Higher Education in Tanzania by Mtebe and Raisamo, IRRODL, Volume 15, No. 2, April, 2014, pp. 54, 61- 62. http://www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl/article/view/1803/2882

    The findings were based on a “random sample of 92 instructors as well as a review of important
    documents” at 11 higher education institutions in Tanzania.

    From p. 54:
    One of the drawbacks is reliable Internet connection and
    easy accessibility
    … unreliable power and slow Internet connection
    … but also unstable Internet connection problem
    contributes in preventing lecturers from using OER.
    …may be due to poor Internet connection speed, and
    regular cut of electricity that interfere much their
    timetables

    From the Conclusion, pp 61-62:
    The adoption and use of ICT to improve the quality of education and to increase students’ enrolments through blended distance learning in Tanzania is becoming common. Many HEIs are spending thousands of dollars to procure and maintain various ICT in their premises. With these efforts in place, the use of OER to complement these initiatives cannot be ignored. However, in order to benefit from these resources institutions have to find ways to overcome challenges revealed in this study. Moreover, institutions have to
    • improve the reliability and speed of the Internet within their institutions;
    • equip instructors with necessary skills to be able to create and/or use OER;
    • update relevant policies to enable smooth implementation of OER.

  15. Sebastian Chikuta

    My country has in recent years experienced a very high increase in demand for distance learning especially at tertiary levels. People who are in employment prefer this mode of education to full time as they are able to maintain their jobs. The result is that there is also a corresponding increase in institutions offering distance courses. This started with institutions offering hard copy reading materials. Now the move is towards more online courses and electronic learning materials.

    However, the biggest challenge is access to internet connectivity in terms of cost. Most people have mobile phones while a few have laptops and desk computers which provide access to internet but the cost of internet is extremely high. The cost of internet is a very big negative factor to e-learning.

    If governments are strongly embracing e-learning, there is need for them to look at the cost of internet access. They could probably make a deliberate policy to subsidize the price of internet for students. They could also engage with internet service providers to offer reduced charges for students. Another way could to increase the number of internet service providers with a view to have them reduce the price (Law of supply & demand).

    Certainly, guided e-learning is the way to go!!!!!

    • Clayton R Wright

      Sebastian thank you for your comment. You noted in an e-mail that “If you are a student in Zambia and you are on an e-learning course, about US$15 per week could help you access internet for about 1 hour per day for 5 days.” Fifteen dollars per week does not seem like much until you become aware of the average salaries in Zambia and consider that those who are working are most likely to be able to afford access to the Internet where as young students who are not working experience significant difficulty accessing the Internet.

      According to UNICEF, the average gross national income for Zambia was US$1,350 per capita in 2012 (http://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/zambia_statistics.html). But, you must also consider that “Almost two thirds of the Zambian population of 13 million people live on a dollar or less a day, and only around 500,000 people are employed by the formal sector, according to the country’s Central Statistical Office. … In Zambia, most people are self-employed or work as independent farmers, and less than 20% of workers are salaried. In the same report, ILO Global Wage Report 2010/11, the PPP$ minimum wage for Zambia was given as $77 per month or $924 per annum, which is not the same as the average, but nonetheless it gives a good idea of the starting threshold. In 2011, Zambia was surprisingly awarded middle income status by the World Bank, with an annual Gross National Income per capita of $1160, even though the average national wage remains under $100 per month”(http://idaandkeith.blogspot.ca/2012/08/average-minimum-and-living-wages.html, August 27, 2012)

      So, whenever you hear statements such as massive open online courses (MOOCs) will revolutionize the offering of education by providing educational opportunities worldwide, these statements only hold if the reality on the ground enables individuals to access and pay for Internet access as well as the necessary equipment and software.

      Sebastian, your suggestions for addressing the cost of the internet are good ones. Perhaps others can address how the cost issue is dealt with in their country. Clayton

  16. Clayton R Wright

    Each year, Mary Meeker produces a report entitled “Internet Trends” (http://www.slideshare.net/kleinerperkins/kpcb-internet-trends-2013) that is eagerly anticipated and every six-months I compile a list of over 1,000 educational technology professional development opportunities (http://www.downes.ca/post/62208). Both of these documents seem far away from my current project – ascertaining the impact of school desks and chairs on students and teachers.

    When you have been sitting on the ground or a concrete floor for 6 or 7 hours each day, five days per week, when desks arrive and you finally can sit on a chair or bench, it is an exciting event. Just as exciting as getting a new phone, or tablet, or laptop. You might not believe me about this high-level of excitement, but all you have to do is look at the faces of students who are able to use a desk for the first time (after sitting on the floor for years). Their clothes no longer get dirty (as quickly), they are bitten less often by insects such as ants, they have a clean surface to work on, their backs don’t ache, they have better handwriting, they can see the board more clearly, they have better eye-contact with their teachers, they can have a space of their own, girls are not embarrassed when they stand up to speak as they no longer experience unwanted viewing from below, and so forth. But the real issue is, does having a desk improve learning outcomes? (If you have a response to this question, based on empirical evidence, let me know.)

    Interestingly, some of us are still asking the same question about educational technology. Technology facilitates learning by providing access to an infinite array of learning resources, but does the presence of technology in a classroom actually lead to higher grades? Thus, regardless of the tool or technology we introduce into an educational institution, we keep asking the same question. I wonder if we shouldn’t be asking different questions. So once we address these key issues (electrical power, Internet connectivity, professional development, valuing teachers, and sustainability) that affect the implementation of technology in developing countries, I wonder if we will then ask more enlighten questions about the implementation of technology in the classroom. Clayton

  17. Clayton R Wright

    Via private e-mail, a colleague in the Caribbean wondered why I only addressed the following issues in the article above: electrical power, Internet connectivity, training and professional development, valuing teachers, and sustainability. As we all know, there are many other issues surrounding the implementation of information technologies in countries with limited economic output. Many of these are covered in the article “Recurring Issues Encountered by Distance Educators in Developing and Emerging Nations” (http://www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl/article/view/608/1180). They include:

    • Developing a sound rationale and vision for the distance education initiative (or ICT implementation) that address access, equity (gender and digital divides), and quality
    • Recognizing that technology is only one component of the educational transformation (There is a great need for informed decision makers, effective leaders, revised curricula, continuous assessment, and so forth.)
    • Addressing the lack of infrastructure and the cost of bandwidth
    • Obtaining equipment when funds are limited (It is surprising what people will do if they can see a clear benefit and the possibility is within their grasp – innovation and sacrifice take over.)
    • Countering cultural imperialism and addressing cultural diversity (by acknowledging the prominence of international languages, but recognizing the need to present information and training in local languages. Then, having the will to adapt and/or develop materials for the local environment. One starts with the resources that are available – that resource may be one person who wants to see his or her students succeed.)
    • Dealing with limited resources (International donors are much more willing to assist countries that view education as a priority and are willing to put their own money into education. For example, Ethiopia allocates 25% of its budget to education and Vietnam 20%. Whereas, Nigeria allocates 10%. Additional discussion of this topic can be found at the World Education Blog, http://efareport.wordpress.com/2014/07/01/domestic-revenues-will-need-to-be-mobilised-to-realise-the-2014-gpe-pledges/#more-4756)
    • Placing greater emphasis on quality assurance in all aspects of educational administration, development, delivery, and support
    • Recognizing those who are likely to succeed and addressing student needs (For political reasons, distance education or ICT implementation resources may be spread so thinly, that no one really benefits as the critical resource and support levels are not met.)
    • Dealing with faculty concerns (It is normal for change to cause anxiety. Faculty/teachers need help and support during the transition from one form of instructional delivery to another or the implementation of any unfamiliar technology.)
    • Accessing up-to-date educational resources
    • Implementing mobile learning (Face-to-face instruction and printed materials are the accepted standard in many places. Yet, many have mobile devices though, at the present time, not all can connect to the Internet. However, it is likely that mobile appliances that are ubiquitous, affordable, and wireless will be “the foundation of an exponential growth” in educational opportunities as the devices can reach potential learners in urban and rural areas.)

    To the above list, I would also add:
    • Developing local and national policies and strategies that facilitate implementation and take into account cost-benefit analysis (What implementation activities will yield the highest pay-off in the short and the long term?)
    • Working collaboratively to develop and share high-quality resources
    • Providing meaningful student support
    • Conducting formative and summative evaluations that go beyond the typical “happy” sheets and record qualitative as well as quantitative data that can be acted upon

    All of the items listed above depend on the presence of reliable, accessible, and inexpensive electrical power and Internet connectivity, training and professional development of educators, valuing teachers, and sustainability. Thus, I could have written about other factors/challenges that affect the implementation of technology in various regions of the world, but I decided to focus on the five key factors noted above. You may have other factors that you would like to discuss – factors that are not subsumed by those already listed. …Clayton

InfoDev UNESCO

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