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Using suites of free refurbished computers may cost over four times more than buying and using ‘state of the art’ learning technologies

By Tom Power


The lack of adequately skilled and qualified teachers in developing nations, and the impact this has on the educational experiences of children within those nations constitutes an educational crisis comparable to the challenges global medicine faces with malaria or AIDS. The educational challenges, like many other aspects of development, are often most severe in rural areas (Mulkeen, 2005). It has been argued that such a challenge requires a new open-learning architecture for teacher professional development, situated in the context of the teachers daily practice, supported by the teachers peers, and accessing the full potential of new ICTs (Leach & Moon, 2006). \ud \ud There is substantial activity and expenditure to provide ‘computers’ for schools in the global south, but this tends to conform to a pattern identified here as ‘thinking as usual’ about ICT; a pattern often framed by assumptions about the costs of various forms of ICT. However, little is really known about what constitutes ‘appropriate’ ICT for education in poor rural communities (InfoDev 2005); even less about ICT as a vehicle for teacher professional development in such contexts. \ud \ud This paper applies a model of ‘total costs of ownership’ to a ‘freely donated’ ICT suite, and finds that the costs may well be much higher than alternative, more educationally empowering forms of ICT. Demonstrating that ‘common-sense’ assumptions about appropriate ICTs may not be correct, this paper seeks to clear the ground for establishing a framework for identifying appropriate ICTs for rural teacher and community development in the global south

Year: 2006
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Provided by: Open Research Online

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