Do We Really Need to Assess ICT4E Initiatives? And If So, How?
Back when One Laptop Per Child started, they made an interesting point around evaluations of computer usage in schools. Their core belief was that all evaluations were flawed because we don’t have the right tools to assess the impact of ICT in education, and therefore talking about testing the efficacy of 1:1 computing was wasted effort.
I’ve heard this refrain repeated often since then, and not just by those promoting technology in schools. Its a equal thought from those that feel geek lust is clouding our judgment and we should focus on teachers, not technology. Its also promoted by those that point out changes to educational methodologies have often happened by force of will, not empirical results.
Now, Nicholas Negroponte is putting forth the idea that one computer per child is like electricity – such an accepted benefit for society that we’ve moved on from discussing its impact to just looking for the right models to fund it.
While we may have differencing opinions on OLPC or its benefits, the basic questioning of ICT4E evaluations is compelling. Starting with the simple question of “Do we need assessments?” we can branch into related questions that examine the basic assumptions we hold dear, like:
- Are ICT4E assessments effective in measuring outcomes?
- Do we even have the tools to tell if they are effective?
- What tools are those?
- Are we really using these assessment tools correctly?
- And regardless of the outcomes, should we really wait for long-term results, or should we implement ICT4E deployments now, as the case is compelling enough already?
For November, the Educational Technology Debate will focus on assessments of ICT initiatives in education – how we can both validate them and use them correctly to improve ICT4E overall. For discussants we’ll be joined by the following experts:
- Mary Hooker
Mary Hooker is an education specialist with over 30 years experience working in the educational sector in Ireland and Africa. Since 2007 Mary has been working with the Global eSchools and Communities Initiative. Mary is currently engaged in studies for a Doctorate in Education with Queen’s University Belfast, Northern Ireland.
- Rob van Son
Rob van Son was a subject in early Computer Supported Education experiment in the 1980′s, and since worked on everything from small 8088 PCs and the first Mac to modern multi-core file and web servers. Rob is a linguistics expert with a focus on integrating information in spoken communication for Universiteit van Amsterdam. Rob has a PhD in linguistics.
Please join us for what we all expect to be a lively and informative conversation exploring assessment validity and tools for ICT4E. Your input can start right now in the comments below, and Mary and Rob will post their opening remarks beginning Monday, November 9.