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An update on the use of e-readers in Africa | A World Bank Blog on ICT use in Education - 0 views

  • One result is that they deliberately decided to complement the delivery of the devices with extensive engagement with local stakeholder groups, did a lot of capacity building with teachers and trainers, and tried to help align what they were doing with what was happening in the formal education system.
  • hat said, there are very real concerns in some quarters that e-book initiatives from the 'West', however well-intentioned, are potentially an important tool contributing to a subtle form of, for lack of a better term, cultural imperialism. Worldreader is apparently working on a platform for African authors and publishers to be able to distribute their works electronically, so that it will be easier for students to read books from local authors, consistent with the learning goals of local school systems.  While not downplaying the difficulties of getting large educational publishers to make their content available digitally for use by students in Africa, this desire to help promote digital marketplaces for African reading materials is perhaps the most ambitious aspect to the Worldreader initiative.
  • When they went back and asked, "what if content was digitized and made available at $1/book?", many people suddenly got very interested. 
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  • A number of research efforts of various sorts are underway trying to help provide some tentative answers to this important question, based on Worldreader pilots.  Most notable has been the iRead pilot in Ghana (here's an executive summary of the first independent evaluation commissioned by USAID [pdf]), which used a set of pre- and post- literacy tests to three groups
  • Worldreader is encouraged by the results it is seeing so far -- the biggest effects are being seen around grades 4-5, a result that many of the literacy experts attending the Worldreader presentation did not find surprising, for a variety of reasons -- but they are not yet seeing the types of 'blockbuster results' it is hoping.
  • Worldreader does appear serious and diligent in its approach, however, and so I look forward to receiving updates on the research output that I expect will emerge over time, which it plans to make available on part of its web site dedicated to "learnings". (Parenthetical note: Preliminary results from the World Bank's e-book pilot in Nigeria are expected later this year; background here, here, and here.)
  • The first challenge in this regard is (as always) money. Here Worldreader is now starting to confront a phenomenon known to many who have worked in the ICT4D area for awhile.  Finding funding support for small pilot projects, while not always easy, can be done. Large national educational technology projects are being funded in various countries around the world.  But what about the in-between level, where you do things at a much larger scale so that you can learn about how best to scale when you do things at a really big, national level?  Few funders seem able to provide support at this level.  As a result, one approach being explored is a franchising model, combining both donor and local partner funding, and a prototype 'Worldreader-in-a-Box' solution for local implementing groups is being rolled out and tested.
  • The first stage of Worldreader activities in introducing e-books and e-readers into a few small communities in Africa has convinced the organization and its backers that what it is doing is worth doing.  We no longer need to convince ourselves "if" we should be doing this, they say.  Now the question is, "how?" 
Teachers Without Borders

E-Readers Help Spread Literacy, No Apps Needed | MindShift - 1 views

Teachers Without Borders

School's in for finances - 0 views

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    Children can no longer afford to be ignorant of how complex financial products work.

    The world of finance and money is becoming rapidly more complex and requires an integration of education and safe financial products to ensure children grow up knowing how to manage money and debt.

    From this year, financial literacy will be included in the national school curriculum and will be rolled out across a range of subjects during the next three years.
Teachers Without Borders

Literacy Bridge - 0 views

  • The Talking Book is a low cost audio computer that shares knowledge and improves literacy. 

    It is helping impoverished rural families learn to prevent disease and improve their crops.

    In overcrowded classrooms, children use it to learn from interactive literacy lessons.

Teachers Without Borders

A Talking Book for Africa | A World Bank Blog on ICT use in Education - 1 views

  • The 'Talking Book' is a low-cost audio device device with recording capabilities -- imagine a rubbery MP3 player about the size of a grapefuit -- rather ingeniously engineered (and re-engineered) to meet specific needs and usage scenarios in very poor communities in Africa.  It is designed for use in local languages, using locally produced content, as tool to promote literacy among primary school children (to cite just one goal and target group). One way to think of the device, Cliff said, is as a  'small portable computer without a display'.  While the project is still in its pilot stages, it is notable for its express interest in investigating solutions that are low cost and scalable from the beginning, and in rigorously monitoring and evaluating the impact of its interventions.
  • Literacy Bridge began, he said, with the idea that the most effective approach towards ending global poverty requires empowering people with better access to knowledge, and that those in greatest need are impeded by illiteracy, disability, and inadequate infrastructure. (Here's video from a talk Cliff gave at Google about the project's goals and approach to development.) The project is operationally very lean, supported financially by hundreds of individual donations and by thousands of volunteer hours. 
  • I have never heard a presentation from a project proponent about the development of an ICT device (of whatever sort) meant to be used by poor people that contained so many comments like what I heard from Cliff: "our users told us"; "we learned from our users that ..."; "what we found out when speaking with and observing our users caused us to radically change how we were thinking, and so we re-designed ..." etc.  The iterative, user-centric design process the Literacy Bridge has been engaged in to develop the Talking Book stands in stark contrast to that demonstrated by most (almost all?) of the 'ICT for development' initiatives in the education sector that come through our offices here at the World Bank. 
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