Friday, 23 April 2010

random thoughts on 'development' and e-learning

• African universities, professionals, researchers, educators (and maybe ICTD in general) etc are not exposed to the most exciting, most innovative work in European e-learning (ideas, concepts, communities and people, not just gadgets, systems and technologies) including mobile learning (and vice versa)
• The m4d (mobile-for-development) community seems preoccupied with ‘service delivery’ / with infrastructural & organisational solutions - education is not just another service
• there is a plethora of not-for-profits/community activists in this space esp. South Africa
• Methodologies (and ethics, epistemology) do not travel well; they are genuine meaningful challenges
• Confusion and overlap of research, development, consultancy, philanthropy, capacity building etc
• Big awareness of funding/financial possibilities (corporates conscious of the 'next billion subscribers' / consultants & researchers mining donor and development funds) esp. in South Africa
• There are considerable discrepancies between informal/community expectations about technology, education and those formal expectations within institutions, funders/donors
• Mobiles don't merely replicate existing 'digital divides' eg North/South, gender, age
• In Africa, the relationships between projects, evidence, sustainability, private sector, equity, policy, governance are variable and weak
• African universities, professionals, researchers, educators etc are however exposed to big business selling products that are usually wholly inappropriate (technically, infrastructurally, culturally, financially and pedagogically)
• Moreover these products and their sales pitch resonate with uncritical ideas of ‘leap-frogging’ within Africa itself amongst some officials in ministries and universities; e-learning in Africa is too often conceptualised as a deficit to be redressed
• The rhetoric of ‘catching-up’ is drowning out any discussion of ‘appropriate’.

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