If you only read one thing this week…

There are no technology shortcuts to education by Nick
January 6, 2011, 11:37 am
Filed under: Articles, Development theory, If you only have 15 mins, Technology

Kentaro Toyama posted an interesting article on Educational Technology Debate in which he argues that technology is literally the last thing schools who have limited resources or are under-performing need. That is to say, it’s not bad, but it should be the last investment they make, not the first.

He makes four primary arguments:
1. The history of electronic technologies in schools is fraught with failures.

2. Computers are no exception, and rigorous studies show that it is incredibly difficult to have positive educational impact with computers. Technology at best only amplifies the pedagogical capacity of educational systems; it can make good schools better, but it makes bad schools worse.

3. Technology has a huge opportunity cost in the form of more effective non-technology interventions.

4. Many good school systems excel without much technology.

But you should read it yourself here.


Connecting NGOs to the World by Rob Neal
March 12, 2009, 8:42 am
Filed under: Articles, Technology

NetHope is a consortium of twenty-five NGOs that “facilitates conversations and joint projects amongst its members that focus on ways to best apply technology for connectivity in developing parts of the world.” Members include Mercy Corps, Save the Children, Oxfam, CARE and others.¬† Combined, the NetHope members work in “180 countries, employ more than 300,000 people, and spend more than $30 billion each year.”

In an interview in the Stanford Social Innovation Review, NetHope’s CEO William Brindley talks about how member organizations can work together to maximize their impact even with with small IT budgets:

“… A lot of what NetHope does is putting people together. Who do you know? How do you find the expert to help with the problem? There’s also the hard side of cooperation where members pool their resources and aggregate their needs. If you’re at Save the Children and you have an IT help desk, maybe you can join forces with your colleagues at Oxfam, Catholic Relief Services, and Mercy Corps who also need a help desk. And by joining forces you can all get a help desk operating 24/7, 365 days a year, in five languages, for less money than you could separately. That’s pretty powerful.”

Mr. Brindley  touches on some other topics in the interview like the evolution of the Network Relief Kit used by emergency responders,  and the process NetHope uses to develop solutions for staff in the field.