What is “Sustainability” in ICT for Education?
When planning ICT deployments in schools, there is much talk around making the effort sustainable. But what does “sustainability” really mean in this context? If we tweak and paraphrase the Wikipedia definition of “sustainability”, we could say that:
Sustainability is the ability of an educational ecosystem to maintain scholastic processes, functions, diversity and productivity into the future.
Yet that’s a pretty broad and vague statement. Bringing it down to a practical level, how might we introduce information and communication technologies into existing educational ecosystems where they can absorb it and own the change?
Starting with cost, where most do, is “sustainability” covering local costs through local fees or taxes? Should national governments be the funder? Or is sustainability actually greater than merely its monetary price, but actually creating community ownership to the point of local customization in implementation, and self-propagating growth and expansion?
Regardless of how we define it, how can schools or Ministries of Education achieve this “sustainability”? What resources do they need or need to re-purpose to achieve it?
For October, the Educational Technology Debate will have two distinguished discussants who will take a holistic approach, considering the many stakeholders in education, and hopefully go well beyond funding, without loosing sight of this always-rare resource:
- James BonTempo
James BonTempo is the Learning Technology Advisor for Jhpiego, an international non-profit health organization affiliated with Johns Hopkins University. He is responsible for strategic planning for the integration of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) into pre-service education and in-service training programs. He also leads efforts to design, develop, implement and evaluate ICT initiatives in both arenas.
- Atanu Dey
Atanu Dey works as the chief economist at NetCore, a technology firm in Mumbai. His area of interest are the use of technology in education, economic growth of India, and the development of rural populations. He worked in product marketing for several years at Hewlett Packard in California, before receiving his PhD in economics from UC Berkeley. He developed a model called “RISC — Rural Infrastructure & Services Commons” while a Reuters Digital Vision Fellow at Stanford.
Please join us for what we all expect to be a lively and informative conversation exploring “sustainability” for ICT projects in education. Your input can start right now in the comments below, and James and Atanu will post their opening remarks beginning Monday, October 5.