Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Worlds of opportunities to improve education

Graph: High income countries can afford to experiment
with expensive computer technology to develop a pedagogy that works effectively

Paving the way for computers to become fully effective in the classroom
after having already invested billions of dollars
UK (GNI p/c US$40,560) USA (44,710) Netherlands (43,050)
Singapore (28,730) Korea (17,690) Hong Kong (29,040)

Hong Kong: 'Quantum leap' necessary for digital teaching.  On the FutureForum in Singapore May 2010, Hong Kong announced that, although more than US$1 billion has been invested in IT for education over the past decade they are not there yet: a 'quantum leap' is now needed to ensure that pedagogy changes in time with the pace of technological advance. 
A quantum leap, to finally go from trial and error to a robust pedagogy for laptops, PCs, eBooks, mobil phones and IWB use to help teachers. It might take another 10 to 20 years or more to develop a reliable pedagogy to become effective to the point that teaching in the classroom can safely be based on it: manageable by the average teacher and improving learning outcomes substantially.
This raises an important question: how can digital education as it is today ever improve teaching and learning in poor environments which lack the infrastructure, skilled workforce and appropriate financial resources?  
Tap "Sound pedagogy" in the menu bar above for more.

Middle and low income countries can now concentrate on getting well functioning computer labs on all schools and safely wait and postpone the introduction of computer technology into the classroom for the next generation. Independent research suggest that until now, the use of digital equipment in the classroom has rarely lead to improved learning outcomes - at least, not in the traditional school subjects (Tab also "20 years IT reality check" and see the reports posted on this blog) When budgets are limited, there is no need to feel that you are missing out on better learning when you don't put computers in your classrooms. Invest wisely and wait for the quantum leap in pedagogy.

Teacher capacity-building is key to future success. In fact, that digital teaching is not ready yet for in the classrooms, provides an excellent opportunity to prepare national and local partners in a step-by-step plan to install an Internet system with matured websites and a reliable infrastructure for computer labs. Meanwhile teacher training and new curriculum materials can be based around excellent student-focused visualisation and interactivity. All this will prepare you and your students for a successful introduction of appropriate computer technology, using a pedagogy that works. Future technology must become affordable and robust. Digital teaching in classrooms will only work effectively when teachers have the chance and skills to remain in charge of their teaching, without the technology taking over. Capacity-building now is the most important key to future success.
Rarely successful  Some middle-income countries are already trying to base their education system on the widespread use of computer technology, taking risks at a very early stage: Malaysia (GNI p/c US$5620), Macedonia (3070), Kosovo, Barbados - just like Kuwait (30,630) and United Arab Emirates (26,210). As posts on this blog illustrate: early adoption of new ICTs as a solution for problems of low or static achievement in education rarely prove to be successful.

Atanu Dey concluded at the recent Delhi World Bank debate
'Most Investments in Educational Technology are Wasted':
"There are better and cheaper ways to improve education"

Low and middle income countries can concentrate on the giant task of installing computer labs in their public sector schools to teach computer skills and as digital library. This is, by the way, equal to the situation on most schools in many high-income countries. These investments cannot wait because many jobs and careers that students take up after leaving school rely heavily on ICT skills. 

One better and cheaper way to improve education .....
"Achievable ICT": click for possibly the best way to modernise teaching in the classroom

For more
see: ICT-IT harmonised
see: 20 yrs IT - a reality check 
see: Sound pedagogy

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 how a cell divides? Below one of the 2500 visuals: "Put on - take off"

Step up question: "What is the subject?"  

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