What is ETD?

ETD promotes discussion on low-cost ICT initiatives for educational systems in developing countries. Read More

Join ETD

Become a part of the conversation. Contribute your ideas, strategies and expertise to our discussions. Join Now

Memories of ICTs long ago …

Tim Kelly

Thanks for the great comments, both on my post and on the general topic of priorities in educational investment.

John Daly’s post about the value of “traditional” ICTs (e.g., TV, radio etc) in capturing the attention of kids reminded me of my own experiences as a child. I don’t remember very much about elementary school, but I certainly do recall the two occasions when the whole school was assembled in front of a black and while television. The first occasion — for the investiture of Prince Charles as the Prince of Wales — was a bit of a bore, but relatively few of us had TVs at home at that stage, so the TV itself was more important than what was happening on screen. But the second occasion — Apollo 11 landing on the moon — is what I still recall, almost 40 years later. It left a big impact, and I’m certainly in agreement that traditional as well as newfangled ICTs have a continuing educational role to play.

Wayan Vota, in his post “If and when schools invest, teachers first“, makes the incontrovertible point that teachers should come first in any educational investment strategy. Rather disappointingly (as this website is supposed to encourage debate) I can’t really find anything to argue with on that point. I fully agree that teachers should be in the foreground of any discussion of priorities over the limited resources available for investment, though not at the cost of depriving students the chance to engage with computers directly. If we treat computers in schools the same way that my old elementary school treated the TV, something to be watched from afar in awe, then we won’t have progressed very far. 

Ed Gaible asks me to justify my rather trite attempt to link the success of the Republic in Korea in being the “most improved” country in the OECD’s PISA ranking of educational attainment with its #1 score in ICT performance, as rated by the ITU/UNESCO Digital Opportunity Index.  I fully agree that the link is rather tenuous, but I would argue that Korea’s ICT success, especially as a pioneer in broadband, is one of the factors that has made a difference in its educational scores. Korean families place a high emphasis on the value of education and, according to some estimates, spend on average around one-third of the family budget on educational expenses. Starting around 2000, Korean families started to get broadband at home, and online homework was one of the early “killer applications”. The quality of computers and networking in schools also improved immensely aroudn the same date. It would be hard to prove a direct link between the improved broadband access and higher educational attainment, but the timing of the two processes is surely more than a co-incidence.

Perhaps, as a future topic, we could tackle the question of how exactly the value of educational investment in ICTs can be evaluated? Any takers for this topic?

5 Responses to “Memories of ICTs long ago …”

  1. On the topic of evaluating ICT4E investments, a recent paper took a look at ODL investments in South Asia: http://tr.im/lG3c

  2. It occurred to me that a really old educational technology is print on paper, more than 500 years after Gutenberg. Unfortunately, that technology has not fully penetrated developing nations. Indeed, something like one-third of U.S. university graduates don't read one book per year.

  3. I don't see as how there's anything wrong with old technology. It's hard to beat the cost/value of paper, pencil, chalk and a blackboard with much. Overhead projectors, copiers and radio probably come next in utility?

    I was chatting with some US educators who were glowing over a complex smartboard setup, which was essentially one large touchpad (coded to "markers" instead of just touches, probably making it cheaper), some software, and a projector. It made all the worst parts about bloackboards (writing, erasing, and re-writing the same content for each new class, e.g. quizzes) go away, without (inherently) undermining the classic chalk-and-talk methodology (but giving it tons of more useful tools, which could be expanded upon). With the new (cheap, and low-power) LED projectors, this seems like as useful an "educational technology" as 1:1 computing for many cases (depending on the cost of the "smartboard" itself, and the software packages (if not Open Source). It's an interesting improvement on the existing classroom using new tech, without going overboard.

    I'm a bit of a curmudgeon when it comes to educational technology; I do think it has great promise, but I don't see why it needs to be forced on any education system, as opposed to allowing a more natural adoption of technology. I'd rather have a textbook whose pages I can dogear, postit-note, and annotate wildly than a Kindle (though the kindle is finally approaching an equitable level of utility (took long enough!)).

  4. I commend the valuable post you provide in your posts. I will bookmark your website and have my friends check up in your blog often. I


Subscribe to ETD

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner