ed-tech

Why the Human Factor Matters for Technology and Development

 

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In April, I was invited to speak on a panel for the Digital Technologies and Development event at Columbia SIPA. Below is an edited version of my remarks. 

Since this panel is on “making digital technologies work for people and businesses,” I want to briefly discuss why we need to keep the human factor in mind when we think about making digital technologies work for everyone. To do this, I’ll share three examples focused on human-centered design in technology and civic innovation. (more…)

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What education for all looks like

I was blown away when I visited the 3.2.1 school in Mumbai last year.

I encourage you watch this video, but here’s an important quote about what makes the school so wonderful:

“How would we build a school if we were building it for our own children? And we realized that if we build it for their children, we build it very differently from how you build it for your own children.”

This seems basic, but it’s actually incredible. It’s also one of the main problems with a famous name in education in the developing world: Sugata Mitra.

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How the Internet can Impact Education in sub-Saharan Africa

English: Internet Penetration (% Population). ...

Internet Penetration (% Population). Red indicates no statistics available. (As of Jan 2012) Photo credit: Wikipedia

Dalberg, the global strategic advisory firm focused on raising living standards in developing countries and addressing global challenges, has released the report Impact of the Internet in Africa.

The comprehensive, beautifully designed report and accompanying website highlights the Internet’s role in socioeconomic development in sub-Saharan Africa in the agriculture, health, education, government, finance, small business, and energy sectors.

Given my work in education technology, I found the education section of particular interest, as many of the issues affecting Internet use in education in sub-Saharan Africa are also relevant in India and other developing countries. In addition, access to quality education is a major problem in this region, with UNICEF reporting that more than 100 million school-age children in developing countries do not have access to education, with nearly half of them living in sub-Saharan Africa. The Internet has a huge role to play in bridging the education gap.

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Wanted: Great Teachers

Little Nirmala

There needs to be a sustainable, quality, affordable training strategy for teachers in India’s low-income schools. It’s one of the holy grails of education, and yet it still couldn’t be more true. 

Affordable private school (APS) teachers are largely untrained and uneducated past intermediate. They rely on rote learning in their classrooms and teach straight from the textbook. Their classes are typically unengaged and monotone. The response to misbehaving students is corporeal punishment by the teacher–hitting with rulers or whatever else is available, sitting on knees, and calling students names. While teacher training service providers do exist, APS often cannot afford the fees. APS owners also fear that their teachers will leave for better jobs if they receive training or improve their English, especially because teacher retention is already a huge problem.Working with APS in Hyderabad these past seven months, my colleagues and I have seen first-hand the poor quality of teachers in our classrooms.

Several months ago, I had the opportunity to visit two schools in Mumbai that reminded me what great education is all about and why India needs a better teacher training solution.

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