ICT Tools for South Asia
Educators often get overlooked, with a rush to put gadgets in children’s hands. But teachers can leverage small ICT investments into big impacts. What technology tools available in South Asia can help advance their teaching skills and classroom effectiveness?
If you know of a tool that’s both appropriate for teachers in South Asia and available in India, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, or Sri Lanka please let us know. Your input will help frame the live debate: Are Most Investments in Technology for Schools Wasted?
Interactive Radio Instruction (IRI) is the use of radio to bring curriculum and teacher training to classrooms – a tremendous resource for learning and dissemination. IRI, which only requires a radio and an adult facilitator, reaches large numbers of teachers and learners who are isolated by distance and poor infrastructure. It can be used in almost any setting, from formal classrooms to community learning centers to outdoor venues.
As part of the dot-EDU India Technology Tools for Teaching and Training the Interactive Radio Instruction Program (IRI) has been found to have significant impact on improving student learning gains. Evaluation studies have indicated that IRI has an impact on the Comprehension and Speaking skills as well as the Math, EVS and Social Science knowledge. T4 has also been consistently building the capacities of teachers to engage students in effective and joyful learning.
In Bangladesh 1 in 5 teachers have no teaching qualification (UIS, 2006) and the English in Action programme aims to significantly improve the teaching of English by offering alternative forms of support including integrating ICT. We have adopted different approaches in primary and secondary education in order to evaluate the effectiveness of each and also to mediate the different levels of teacher expertise at primary and secondary level.
This project creates resources for the classroom and for teacher professional development using mobile technologies, which are then deployed by primary and secondary school teachers. Currently there is a critical shortage of English language skills, both throughout Bangladeshi society and within the teaching profession.
Today we have crossed the digital chasm – the Educational Technology Debate is now happening in real life at the World bank offices in New Delhi, India. We are bringing the classic Oxford-style Debate process to South Asia as noted experts in the field will debate the following motion:
Most investments in technology for schools are wasted: Discuss
There is a general consensus that Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) such as radio, TV, computers, the Internet, and mobile phones can increase educational experiences and improve education.
But is this opportunity being overhyped?
The debate will be moderated by Dr Tim Kelly, Lead ICT Policy Specialist, infoDev/World Bank. He will introduce the topic and our discussants, who will respond with concise arguments in an attempt to sway the audience. This will be followed by a moderated discussion and concluded with panelists giving a concluding argument.
Having gone on the record many times criticizing careless implementation of ICT4E, I have very good arguments agreeing with the FOR motion, that ICT4E investments are a waste. Yet I still invest most of my expendable time and resources supporting the chance we will figure out a way to do it right, thus clearly my action has a strong element AGAINST the motion.
At first the debate didn’t help much. Same old arguments we have rehashed over and over, with the interesting twist that a couple presenters seemed to be defending the other side… Like Wayan (AGAINST team) admitting a lot of investment is wasted, or World Bank Sam (FOR team) conceding there is much interest in ICT spending, which they support. I guess that made them sound as if they were open for the nuance in the word “most” that is part of the debate title, a reasonable “being nice to the opponent” strategy in debate.
As things were closing down and by the time those present in the audience had already recorded their change of vote, during one of the last arguments I remembered the Pascal Dilemma. If I recall it correctly, good old Blaise couldn’t prove if Heaven or Hell existed, but, faced with that uncertainty, he posits that the outcome of ending up in hell is so bad that, even in the absence of certainty, it is better to – just in case – seek salvation and do your best so you end up in heaven.
IT@School Project is the technology arm of the General Education Department of Government of Kerala, which was setup in the year 2000 for empowering the state school populace by imparting Information Communication Technology (ICT) enabled education from the grass root level.
Since its inception, the Project has achieved several milestones in implementing ICT enabled education in over 8,000 schools in the state, including enhancing the intellectual productivity of teachers and the curriculum comprehension of students. The backbone of the project is its strong network of 200 Master Trainers and 5,600 School IT Co-ordinators (SITCs) in the state, who are handpicked school teachers who are selected, based on their interest in learning and teaching ICT enabled education.