413 research outputs found

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

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    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). 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. 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

    In the palm of your hand: supporting rural teacher professional development and practice through the use of mobile phones and other handheld digital devices

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    Given the huge growth of mobile phone access in Sub Saharan Africa (Minges, 2004) some of the most innovative uses of mobile devices are now to be found in the development context (Economist, 2005). Reviews of the use of mobile technologies point to a range of current and potential development for learning in classrooms, homes and the community (e.g. Naismith et al). This paper draws on the experience of two projects: a large scale project for SMS mediated school administration in Kenya and a small scale research project using eBooks and other digital tools for teacher professional development and practice, carried out in predominantly rural schools in the Eastern Cape, South Africa. This research is set in the wider context of the emerging theory, practice and evaluation of the use of mobile technologies for improving teaching and learning (Leach 2006, Power & Thomas 2006, Traxler & Kukulska-Hulme 2006). The paper considers the potential of currently common mobile phones to aid communication and break down isolation amongst rural teachers and the design, use and evaluation of e-book learning resources on handheld mobile devices, such as current ‘smart-phones’, which the authors anticipate will soon be the ‘normal’ ubiquitous mobile phone. Whilst there is only a small body of evidence on the application of mobile technologies to teacher learning, impacts on teacher development remain a matter for debate. Findings suggest that given the right conditions, uses of mobile technology can significantly enhance teacher professional learning and practice

    mLearning: the classroom in your pocket?

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    This paper reports the findings of a 1 year project which focussed solely on the potential of handheld computers for teacher professional development. The paper considers the fit between theory and practice, viewing the developing literature on mLearning as it might apply to teacher professional development, in the light of research evidence from project teachers using handheld computers. The teachers themselves used the analytical framework for teacher professional knowledge developed by Banks, Leach and Moon to consider their own experiences with the handheld computers. The study finds that handheld digital tools hold a number of pedagogic and pragmatic advantages over laptop or desktop computers for teachers, especially in rural communities; however, further technical development is required to fully orient the devices to classroom rather than office practices