Thursday, 17 June 2010

How to save US$120,000,000 on ICT

ICT policies in high-income countries are diverse. Finland has the best educational system in the world which, interestingly enough, is not due to the use of ICT: according to an OECD study on ICT implementation (December 2008), the use of computers in classrooms systematically declined after 1999. France sticks to traditional teaching methods and holds back from installing expensive computer technology - waiting until it becomes affordable and is shown to make significant improvements in learning. As in Finland, computers are installed in labs to develop computer literacy; teachers mainly use computers for lesson preparation and students for certain homework tasks. The UK however, committed to computer assisted teaching from the start, has spent an estimated equivalent of 80 billion dollars over the last twenty years. So far, according to Pisa reports and independent research, this investment has not raised the level of learning outcomes. Recently, Becta advised the UK government to increase ICT budgets by 30% to ensure that previous investments become more effective. A kill or cure effort anticipating worse to come?

From: eSchoolNews June 10 by Meris Stansbury
ICT institute BECTA shut down - too costly
(photos © eSchoolNews)

As a cost-cutting measure, the new Tory Minister Nick Gibs (photo) announced on June 9 that Becta will be shut down in November 2010. He explained that "the savings in subsequent years will be £65m (US$120m)". Becta was set up in 1988 to promote the effective use of ICT in education. Through Becta’s work, UK schools have received expert advice on ICT purchases and classroom applications. According to its website, £1.5bn has been spent on computer technology for UK schools through Becta’s procurement agreements since 2002, saving the nation’s educational system £223m. Becta also says it has achieved cost savings of £55m for educational institutions and providers in the past year alone.
According to The Guardian newspaper, few were prepared for the 12-year agency’s closure, the loss of 240 jobs and the loss of what Becta chairman Graham Badman said about valuable ICT services provided for schools and their students. The UK government says Becta's closure will mean that individual schools will be able to decide for themselves how to use technology.
Read the full article here

Governments in middle and low income countries facing the enormous task of integrating computer technology into their educational system might want to take a close look at the role of Becta in the UK in order to imitate parts of it. If such an agency is set up to implement technology, it might be best to prevent it becoming self-reinforcing - a lobby for evermore, everywhere. "Becta “research” was subjective and far closer to marketing than anything I would describe as serious, academic research"*. Our advice is to select from the UK experience what has proved to work according to independent research and to adjust this to what is appropriate for your circumstances and calculate future costs of ownership by schools in relation to available budgets. See point 3 in 'Bridging the digital divide systematically', click: IT-ICT policy harmonised

* Qouted from John Donne: Becta Bites the Dust.

In the mean time:

Teachers in developing economies need in their classrooms robust and reliable tools.
The Nationwide Visualisation Project introduces on highschools simple to use teaching aids.
How to discuss remains of the earliest modern human found (Ethiopia -160,000 years)?
Below one of the 2500 visuals: "Put on - take off".

Just ask: "Who can explain what we see here?"

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Too costly - Kenya shuts down computer labs

Kenya is probably the richest nation in East Africa with an annual Gross National Income GNI per capita of $550 (Ethiopia $170, Uganda $300, Rwanda $220, Tanzania $350, compare also: Ghana $510, Guyana $1150, Serbia $4010, Hong Kong $29,404, UK $40,500). Kenya has to plan her ICT investments in education carefully so that they are sustainable. Yearly costs of ownership tend to be overlooked.

from: The Nation News by JACOB NGETICH June 2010
Why MPs shot down computer labs

In his 2009-2010 Budget speech in Parliament, Deputy Prime Minister and minister for Finance Uhuru Kenyatta allocated Sh1.3 billion (US $16 million) for the Mobile Computer Laboratories Project for use by high schools students.
However, months later, a member of the Finance Committee and MP Shakeel Shabbir rubbished it, terming it a deliberate attempt to make money and cheat the taxpayer with an unsustainable project. ... Mr Shabbir claimed then that sub-standard buses had already been bought from India for the project. The Ministry of Information would provide broadband or satellite connection, while the Ministry of Education was to scout for teachers and meet the operational cost. ...
The amount allocated for the project by the Treasury was only meant for capital expenditure, with operational expenditure derived from CDF. “Under the initiative, the CDF was to buy and fuel the bus that would go round and also cater for the two teachers,” explains Bitange Ndemo, Permanent Secretary ICT - photo.

Read the full story here

To close the digital divide systematically,
see: ICT-IT harmonised
see: Nationwide Visualisation Project 

In the mean time:

Teachers in developing economies need in their classrooms robust and reliable tools.
The Nationwide Visualisation Project introduces on highschools simple to use teaching aids.
How to explain 'radar'? Below, the use of radar, one off the 2500 visuals: "Put on - take off".

Step up: "In which three ways radar is used in this visual?"

Monday, 7 June 2010

Evidence Please!

We tend to take positive results and the real progress of computer-assisted teaching for granted. However, there are very good reasons to exercise care in this area. To date, independent large-scale research carried out in rich countries reports hardly any positive effects on learning standards - at least not in the long-established school subjects - see our posts. Where is the evidence for the claim by the IT community that computers really promote rapid improvements in teaching or learning in middle and low income countries? Here Allen, a regular contributor to the debate, raises a valid question:

Allen's question in the Debate led by Mark Warschauer:
"You've investigated successful programs?"

"You've investigated successful programs? Even highly successful programs? Could you, perhaps, identify one or two of these programs?

Without your resources I haven't found any successful programs, at least by the metric of improving educational outcomes, so I'm interested in successful - highly successful - programs. In fact all the programs I've had access to have been dismal failures both financially and educationally so you can understand that highly successful programs, and how they achieved their success, would be of interest to me".
Find the Debate here 
EduTech Debate by InfoDev World Bank

for Research Reports see this blog and
see: 20 yrs IT - a reality check 
see: Sound pedagogy
see: ICT-IT harmonised
In the mean time:

Teachers in developing economies need in their classrooms robust and reliable tools.
The Nationwide Visualisation Project introduces on highschools simple to use teaching aids.
How to explain static electricity? Below one off the 2500 visuals: "Put on - take off".

Step up question: "Why is her hair standing strait up?"

To modernise teaching today, see:  Nationwide Visualisation Project

Friday, 4 June 2010

Welcome to our no-nonsense blog

Welcome! After months of preparation we now happily invite you to have a look around on our new blog.

Good ideas are worth spreading. Tab on the subjects in the menu bar above: you will find here all information about the 'Nationwide Visualisation Project' and its rationale.

Why we started this blog? See the sidebar - to contribute to effective investments in ICT.

Wisdom on ICT comes at a high price already paid for. Implementation of ICT to make pupils computer-literate has to be a priority, but is a risky business. Even more so if computer technology gets introduced as attempt to modernise teaching in the classroom, especially in middle and low income countries where resources are limited. How to be most effective? We select news-reports that will make you think and re-think. This might help you to consider investment schemes which will really make a difference for the future of your schools.

The reports in our archives are varied. These weeks we highlight the InfoDev/World Bank debate now held in Delhi: "Most Investments in Educational Technology are Wasted". Hopefully you appreciate our summaries which you find among related subjects below.