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Summary: ICT’s Can be a Good Educational Investment

Wayan Vota

At the beginning of this month, we initiated a discussion around ICTs in education with the open question:

Are ICTs the best investment for scarce educational funding, or should investments be made first in the familiar tools and methodologies that are already being used?

In the lively debate that followed, we’ve had a number of key points put forward, as much by Tim Kelly and Wayan Vota, the designated discussants, as the varied commenters replying to each post and each other. From this conversation, I’ve distilled four key points that I feel can be at least a partial answer to the original question.

ICT is One Good Educational Investment

While too many people sound like they believe that ICT is a magical solution – a silver bullet that will solve all the major problems in education – I found Clayton R Wright’s comment to best express the feeling of all the participants in this discussion:

ICT is one of several key investments. It should not be ignored, nor should it receive the bulk of educational funding. It is unlikely that there will be enough funding to hire and train all the teachers that are needed, to provide every child with healthy meals on a daily basis, to provide clean drinking water, to construct latrines, to build schools, and to provide adequate telecommunication and electrical infrastructure. Yet, some funding should be set aside for technology for a variety of reasons.

Fund ICT Tools for Teachers First

There was general agreement that if and when schools invest in ICT, invest in teachers first – teachers are the leaders in the educational experience, along with parents, and should have a command of any tool the child uses to learn with. In addition, Anthony Makumbi noted that teachers are also protectors of children:

I think its only right for the teacher to know about the technology and what it can do before the student . The reasons for this go beyond just using the technology but to also understanding the risks associated with the technology.

Children Must be a Focus

Yet Kozuch pointed out that the heartwarming vision of a child with a computer has a greater ability to draw support and generate excitement:

I think you mostly hit a nail on its head with the “teachers first” approach. However, the very opposite approach, especially when it gets overhyped (e.g. XO-1) appears to be able to generate a lot of positive press, which might be a foundation for some serious “teachers first” action or campaign. If there was no OLPC, would this site exist?

In fact, Kozuch is partially right. ETD does owe an aspect of its existence to the hype and excitement created by One Laptop Per Child. But Tim Kelly’s technology retrospective, demonstrates that technology doesn’t need to be one a one-to-one basis with students.

ICT is More Than Just Computers

Technology doesn’t need to be constrained to computers or the Internet either. Tim Kelly remembered TV, and John Daly quickly and often pointed out that ICT encompasses many types of information and communication technology:

I bet that the first ICT investment that most school principals would make would be a telephone, and that that telephone would go in the school office for common use. If the school system provided good educational broadcasting, I would think a radio would be a great investment, to be used by students during classroom hours and teachers before and after school.

Our Measurement Tools Are Lacking

Regardless of these points, I feel we still have a major barrier to fully answering our original question: Are ICTs the best educational investment?

When Tim Kelly suggested that Korea is an example of where ICT in education has a proven track record of success, Ed Gable challenged him on that conclusion:

Without slightly rigorous test showing causality, we’re really not sure whether the improvement of students in Korea is the result of increased use of ICT, enhanced teacher development or some other factor.

This gets back to a basic issue: how can we measure the value of educational investment in ICTs? There are so many variables, so much qualitative, vs. quantitative results, and educational systems themselves are still wrestling with measurements and evaluations of their work – even when ICTs are not present.

4 Responses to “Summary: ICT’s Can be a Good Educational Investment”

  1. stconsultant

    "Le mieux est l'ennemi du bien." Voltaire

    Lets get on with doing a lot of good things together and not worry about which is best. We are just not that smart.

    "How Technology Can Support Education in Africa" Foreign Policy Digest: http://bit.ly/gzqRR

    • what does"Le mieux est I'ennemi du bien."Voltaire mean???????? :S 😐 =/ o.0

  2. Very superior post. I simply stopped by by your web site and wanted to state that I have actually loved browsing your posts. Any means, I’ll be subscribing to your RSS feed and likewise I hope you submit once more soon!

  3. what does"Le mieux est I'ennemi du bien."Voltaire mean???????? =/ o.0 :S


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