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Preview: ICT for development

ICT for development

One of the Eldis RSS newsfeeds on major development issues

Copyright: Copyright ©2013 Eldis, Sussex

A digital inclusion advocacy toolkit: bridging the digital divide by winning community benefits in municipal broadband projects

14 Feb 2008 04:35:45 GMT

This toolkit aims to be a resource for community members who want to advance digital inclusion in their area where their local government is exploring a broadband/ high-speed Internet initiative.

The authors argue that whether via a wireless signal broadcast into the air, or a high-speed cable or fibre line running through a local neighbourhood, a connection to the Internet is an essential element of digital inclusion. Looking at lessons learnt in the United States, the authors state that many municipal broadband projects have stopped of ensuring residents get access, leaving them to fend for themselves when it comes to navigating the many remaining obstacles in order to make meaningful use of this new access.

A number of action steps are highlighted including: 

  • determine community needs and what Internet technology solution will best meet them 
  • learn if additional equipment is needed for robust Internet connectivity 
  • ensure that the discussion does not end with Internet connectivity 
  • secure a guarantee that the broadband system will be non-discriminatory and provide open access to multiple Internet service providers (ISPs).

SDC ICT4D strategy: where we are, where we want to be, how we get there

08 Jan 2008 02:41:10 GMT

The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation's strategic orientation in ICT4D is shaped by the overall goal of scaling-up poverty reduction and MDGs advancement through the effective and efficient use of the full range of ICTs. Current SDC activities concentrate on three key dimensions of ICT4D, which are:
  • access – Using ICT to facilitate access to relevant information and knowledge
  • voice – Using ICTs to strengthen the voice of poor, excluded and disadvantaged
    people in decision-making and self expression of their culture
  • networking – using ICT for networking and [human] communication
SDC has identified a number of lessons learnt on policy and programme approaches to ICT4D. These include the following:
  • a participatory and demand-driven approach is increasing the impact of ICT4D activities.Technology should follow community needs and functional use of ICT
  • local ownership and capacity development: sustainable ICT projects must be owned locally and accompanied by human and organisational capacity development
  • mix of technology: an adequate choice of technology codetermines potential pro-poor effects
  • multi-stakeholder Partnerships (MSPs) are a promising and appropriate response to the complexity of the task, to the increasing need for resources and to the fact that development is a shared responsibility of all sectors of society with multi-level linkages
  • pro-poor effects are more likely if ICT4D activities are aligned with a larger demand-driven
    development effort of the partner’s agendas and institutions, in particular poverty reduction strategies (PRS)
  • institutional ownership and leadership at the local level
  • competitive enabling environment: an enabling ICT policy environment includes freedom of expression, diversity and the free flow of information, competition in ICT infrastructure provision, also in the last mile, investment in service development including local content, and the adoption of open source solutions
  • financial and social sustainability
  • risk considerations: possible and unforeseeable negative impacts need to be taken into account and monitored carefully

Everyone’s guide to bypassing censorship for citizens worldwide

10 Dec 2007 05:07:20 GMT

More than 25 countries currently engage in internet censorship practices such as blocking access to human rights organisations, news, blogs and web services that are seen to challenge the status quo or are deemed to be threatening or undesirable. Most states do not reveal what information is being blocked and it is rare to find review or grievance mechanisms for affected citizens and publishers. This is often done using commercial filtering software which can be prone to over-blocking as a result of faulty categorisation.

This manual is aimed at non-technical users and gives guidance on what internet circumvention technologies are available and deciding what is best suited to their needs.

Key advice includes: 

  • Personal security should be a crucial consideration when accessing blocked sites 
  • Private solutions stand the best chance of not being discovered and blocked 
  • An out of country contact can be used to increase stable and secure circumvention. This contact must be known and trusted. 
  • Both users and providers should fully understand and know how to operate their chosen circumvention technologies which violate state laws on internet censorship in order to minimise risk and fully ensure both security and anonymity

[Adapted from the authors]

The power of TV: cable television and women's status in India

07 Dec 2007 10:45:34 GMT

This paper explores the effect of the introduction of cable television on gender attitudes in rural India. It finds that  the introduction of cable television is associated with improvements in women's status. It argues that cable television, with programming that features lifestyles in both urban areas and in other countries, is an effective form of persuasion because people emulate what they perceive to be desirable behaviors and attitudes, without the need for an explicit appeal to do so.

It finds significant increases in reported autonomy, decreases in the reported acceptability of beating and decreases in reported son preference. Increases in female school enrollment and decreases in fertility (primarily via increased birth spacing) also occur.

The effects are large, equivalent in some cases to about five years of education in the cross section, and move gender attitudes of individuals in rural areas much closer to those in urban areas. In a sample in which the average education level was 3.5 years, introducing cable appeared to have the same effects on attitudes towards female autonomy as 5.5 years of education. Cable also increased the likelihood that a girl aged 6-10 would be enrolled in school, although it had no effect for boys, and cut the yearly increase in the number of children or pregnancies among women of childbearing age.

The authors argue that the results are not driven by pre-existing differential trends.

 [Please note: this article is accessible online, free of charge to residents of nearly any developing country or transition economy, whose internet-access address can be automatically recognised by the NBER website. If you are in a developing country/transition and still have access problems, email for support]

Click here for change: your guide to the e-advocacy revolution

05 Dec 2007 04:15:42 GMT

For more than a decade the Internet has helped to gradually reshape the American political environment. This manual offers a guide to using technology techniques to engage in advocacy and promote the quality of life and access to opportunity for everyone. It provides case studies, resources, tips, and best practices to help readers plan and implement campaigns that use various combinations of online and offline tools to effectively engage their constituencies. The guide is organised as follows: 

  • from concept to practice: defining e-advocacy 
  • e-advocacy campaigns: audiences and tactics 
  • technology tools: what they are, what they do, where to get them 
  • integrating technology tools into the organisation

The new aid environment

26 Nov 2007 10:51:17 GMT

This paper argues that the processes that shape the aid environment - the approaches to development - are inherently problematic. It claims that the existing incentive structure does not encourage good performance or efficiency. The author suggests that the system is in a desperate need of an overhauling transformation because of the contradicting incentives and objectives that are doomed to result in a coordination problem, making the effort to improve aid effectiveness more difficult.

On top of these inherent problems, it argues, the autocatalytic progression of globalisation is pressing for unification and universal values; while the progress of technology is making us more capable of doing so. It suggests that the enabling technology will empower the transformation of aid and, given a purposeful design, establish more constructive incentives for efficiency.

The paper discusses particular sectors and problems pertaining to aid in light of three themes:

  • the intrinsic difficulty of collective responsibility
  • the inherently flawed incentive structure shaping the current system
  • how information technology is enabling us to transform to a new, more efficient, aid environment.

The innovative use of mobile applications in the Philippines: lessons for Africa

26 Nov 2007 10:34:02 GMT

The Philippines are a leader in the use of mobile telephones for access to a range of services from m-Banking to m-Education and m-Governance. The Phillipines experience shows that it is possible to increase access to mobile phones, not only for the wealthiest in society but also for the poorer segments of the society.  This publication looks at this experience and attempts to identify best practices and lessons learned for application in the similar market conditions which exist in Africa

The report finds that the Philippines’ success was due to:

  • regulatory policies that allowed competition in the telecommunication industry, coupled with market
    innovations that made the technologies, such as mobile phones, more affordable and the process of getting a line, less restrictive
  • existing consumer habits among the poor and a strongly established retail network of small village convenience shops,  through which telecommunication companies were able to distribute their prepaid cards and, later, set-up their network of credit load centers. 
  • familiarity with the SMS process, and wider acceptance among subscribers. SMS was initially provided for free, and only once a significant portion of subscribers were using it, were charges introduced
  • the prevalence of prepayment cards. Consumers learned how to use cards, call numbers and enter codes in order to purchase credits. They also learned how to check their credit loads and balances.
    This made it easier for users to understand the concept of electronic loading, once this service became offered. Since people were already literally exchanging money for loads, it made it acceptable for some to use loads as a medium of exchange
  • the establishment of a critical mass of mobile phone users on which the market can build (initially, m-commerce may be driven by uptake in urban areas with later expansion to rural areas)

The report also identifies some barriers to success:

  • the need for proper legal identification to deposit and withdraw cash.  It may be necessary for less stringent financial regulatory regimes for small value/low volume users in order to help unleash the potential of m-Commerce in both the Philippines and Africa. A similar concern faces e-governance applications and fraud control
  • competition between rival m-commerce suppliers. Sustainable m-Banking may be dependent on the number of institutions, merchants and services that are willing to support/ accept the currency. The integration of existing m-currencies into one acceptable form would help here.


Mobility for development: facts and trends

12 Nov 2007 12:02:30 GMT

Sustainable mobility as the ability to meet the needs of a society to move freely, gain access, communicate, trade and establish relationships without sacrificing other essential human or ecological value today or in the future. This ‘Facts and Trends’ briefing provides an overview of key issues and data related to the challenge of developing sustainable mobility solutions to enable economic and human development. The paper highlights trends while providing specific statistics on mobility in developing countries.

The paper makes the following observations:

  • lack of access to transportation and information are both symptoms of poverty and key factors in keeping families, communities and nations poor
  • access to transportation and communication is unequally divided between countries and between regions
  • access to mobility services is improving in the developing world, but vehicle ownership is growing too fast for infrastructure investment to keep up and not fast enough to close the mobility divide
  • recent developments in Information and Communications Technology (ICT) have greatly increased the opportunities for people to “connect” virtually without the need for a face to face visit or transaction
  • lack of access, cost and unreliability of mobility services are barriers to trade and economic development
  • transportation infrastructure in developing countries is struggling to keep up with the growing urbanisation
  • improving rural mobility enables people to migrate from subsistence to commercial
    agriculture and to gain access to essential services such as health and education
  • improving mobility will require energy and financial resources and will come with an environmental cost.

Giving knowledge for free: the emergence of open educational resources

25 Sep 2007 03:54:59 GMT

Open educational resource (OER) initiatives encourage transparency and can stimulate more quality control and competition. Universities and colleges are encouraged to join the OER movement due to the risk involved in doing nothing when developments are so rapid. The existing copyright regime however is a serious barrier to the growth of the OER movement. Increased awareness and clear policies on copyright should be a priority on the agenda of every higher education institution. There is also a need to increase access to and the usefulness of existing resources.

Policy recommendations outlined in the study include:

  • International level - Interoperability issues, including harmonisation of copyright legislation need to be solved at an international level. This requires financial and other support and funding bodies on all levels are recommended to support this work. Another issue that needs an international view is the development of a sound knowledge base on the production and use of OER.
  • National level - Many users of OER are self-learners. From a national policy perspective, this is an opportunity to further promote lifelong learning. Using existing resources or content, which needs smaller adjustments rather than creating resources from scratch may prove to be a cost-effective way to meet some of the need for increased lifelong learning. From the national point of view, the most natural perspective might not have a particular policy regarding OER, but take a holistic approach to all kinds of digital learning resources and to all parts of the education system. Countries are encouraged to consider the idea developed by the open access movement: that academic and research output as well as the national cultural heritage made available in digital format with the use of public funds should also be available for free for education.
  • Intermediate level - Issues at this level include setting policies and developing guidelines regarding copyright and co-ordinating work on open standards.
  • Institutional level - Institutions prepared to embrace the opportunities offered by OER have to ask themselves what can be done to provide incentives for faculty to participate in an OER initiative. One proposed action is to make teaching portfolios or similar requirements part of the tenure process and to make the conversion of at least one course into an OER format part of the requirement to document excellence in teaching. Training should be offered to teachers and researchers on the use and production of digital learning resources and on copyright law.

Emergency capacity building project: ITR assessment report: global response September 2005 – March 2006

24 Sep 2007 03:30:15 GMT

This report presents the assessment findings of the Interagency Working Group (IWG) collaborative capacity-building effort. The assessment includes the field perspectives of IWG emergency operations in Pakistan and Sudan.

Key findings include the following:

  • one gap identified through the review was the need for rapid, reliable, flexible, multi-media communications- there remains much to do to ensure that ICT is contributing to rapid, effective humanitarian action
  • Internet Communication Technology (ICT) problems had in some cases significantly hampered agency response
  • certain partnerships with the private sector, academic institutions or other NGOs demonstrated a very open approach to solving problems, and are a very positive sign.

The report concludes that Information alone will not sustain an emergency response, but it should be considered the starting point for nearly all activities and IWG need to begin treating it as the critical resource that it is.

Guide to managing ICT in the voluntary and community sector

19 Sep 2007 12:36:03 GMT

This guide is aimed at staff and volunteers from voluntary and community organisations (VCOs) who want to manage their information communication technology (ICT) better. It is intended particularly for staff and volunteers from small and medium-sized organisations and especially for those people who don’t have
access to ‘paid for’ technical advice and support.

The main sections reflect some of the key issues that VCOs face in managing ICT, from policies and
procedures to keep things running; from how to produce an ICT strategy to putting realistic costs in to  funding bids. Case studies help to illustrate how others have taken up the challenge of ICT and there is plenty of signposting to other information, especially to useful websites.

Nepal wireless networking project: case study and evaluation report

12 Sep 2007 10:11:55 GMT

This paper presents a case study evaluation of Nepal Wireless Networking Project. With the aim of overcoming the digital divide, the project aims to increase communication facilities in the mountainous areas, thereby increasing educational opportunities in the community, helping villagers to buy and sell products and creating jobs.

This project is described as one of few tangible examples of success in fulfilling the promise of ICT in the field of international development. The report calls for Government of Nepal to bring liberal ICT policies and to use wireless technology to make the information technology within the reach of rural population of Nepal.
Key lessons highlighted include: 

  • networking projects help to reduce poverty 
  • networking projects create job opportunities
  • Wi-fi devices are useful for delivering services other than just connecting to the internet
  • little training is required for setting up a Wi-fi network
  • management and technical training should be provided to local people

E-participation and e-government: understanding the present and creating the future

17 Aug 2007 04:19:54 GMT

This document presents an edited paper containing the work of twelve experts on e-government and e-participation. It aims to address the issues and challenges facing countries developing ICT for development and e-government programmes.

The editors point out that the information revolution has ushered in an era where the capabilities for participating in all aspects of the economy and society are changing with the diffusion of modern information and communication technologies (ICTs). In the industrialised world, countries are finding the initial use of ICTs to provide relevant public services has led to a renewed interest by citizens in the uptake of government services. 

  •  lessons of experiences in e-participation and e-governance, from the perspective of citizens in the Central and Eastern European (CEE) Region, show that adoption of technology for the benefit of the citizen was slower in that region
  •  with new technology providing opportunities for the increased citizen involvement as a first step to promote participation rests on the availability of information 
  •  the challenge for e-government and e-participation is to develop an effective partnership among the various stakeholders to manage change in public sector management, which is critical to introducing e-government applications and services 
  •  innovations in ICT should give priority to supporting e-government and e-participation.

Corporate social responsibility in China’s information and communications technology (ICT) sector

10 Aug 2007 01:15:38 GMT

The report focuses on the development of strategy for improving labour and environmental conditions in China’s information and communications technology (ICT) sector with a particular focus on Shenzhen’s ICT sector. The report argues that companies within ICT sector are increasingly requiring that their suppliers, many of whom are located in China, improve social and environmental standards and the Chinese ICT sector must therefore improve working conditions and environmental standards in order meet CSR expectations and maintain overall competitiveness.

This report includes recommendations for each group of stakeholders that plays an essential role in improving the overall social and environmental conditions in Shenzhen’s ICT sector.

Key findings and recommendations from the report include:

  • some suppliers realise that they can reap tangible benefits from good social and environmental practices, but many are not yet convinced of the business case for CSR
  • suppliers should explore opportunities to improve workers’ awareness of their rights and responsibilities so that efforts to improve working conditions can be effectively implemented
  • customers play an important role in supporting suppliers’ abilities to improve CSR practices
  • governments, including the Shenzhen government, are increasingly supporting private sector CSR practices, which often results in enhanced private sector compliance with national labour and environmental laws. However, achieving sustainable labour and environmental practices in global supply chains requires an enabling environment that is supported by the government
  • local NGOs play an essential on-the-ground watchdog role and are also in a unique position to provide credible worker education for migrant workers. NGOs should increase their influence by identifying opportunities to collaborate with the private sector and ensuring that reports are accurate and balanced
  • the Shenzhen Electronic Industries Association plays an important conduit role with its membership of small- and medium-sized enterprises in the ICT sector. The Association can help its membership meet customers’ CSR expectations and increase export opportunities by educating its membership on international CSR expectations and practices

The Least Developed Countries Report, 2007: knowledge, technological learning and innovation for development

07 Aug 2007 12:35:17 GMT

UNCTAD’s Least Developed Countries Report 2007 focuses on knowledge accumulation, technological learning and the ability to innovate as vital processes toward genuine productive capacity development for LDCs. The report argues that knowledge is becoming increasingly important in the global sphere of competition and production, and that LDCs will be increasingly marginalised if they do not enhance the knowledge content of their economies and achieve economic diversification through learning and innovation.

The Report shows that the current pattern of technology flows to LDCs through international trade, foreign direct investment and intellectual property licensing does not contribute to narrowing the knowledge divide. Sustained economic growth and poverty reduction are not likely to take place in countries where viable economic re-specialization would remain impossible in the absence of significant progress in technological learning and innovation capacity-building.

The Report suggests that national governments and development partners could meet this challenge, notably through greater attention to the following four key policy issues:

  • how science, technology and innovation policies geared toward technological catch-up can be integrated into the development and poverty reduction strategies of LDCs
  • how stringent intellectual property regimes internationally affect technological development processes in LDCs, and how appropriate policies could improve the learning environment in these countries
  • how the massive loss of skilled human resources through emigration could be prevented
  • how knowledge aid (as part of official development assistance) could be used to support learning and innovation in LDCs.

 The Report is the first comprehensive insight into how to promote technological learning and innovation capacity-building in LDCs. It is intended to increase awareness of this issue and enrich the policy dialogue toward the new "paradigm shift" on poverty reduction through productive capacity-building.

[adapted from author]

Global Information Society 2007

07 Aug 2007 04:33:30 GMT

The Global Information Society Watch 2007 report - the first in a series of annual reports- looks at state of the field of information and communication technology (ICT) policy at local and global levels and particularly how policy impacts on the lives of people living in developing countries.

Studies of the ICT policy situation in twenty-two countries from four regions are featured:

  • Africa (Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa and Uganda);
  • Asia (Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and the Philippines);
  • Latin America (Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico and Peru);
  • Eastern Europe (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia and Romania),
  • one report from a Western European country (Spain).

The report concludes that when it comes to ICTs for development, there are some conspicuous similarities between the countries. Excluding Spain, the other twenty-one countries each show obvious evidence of the “digital divide” which impacts on the majority of people negatively. According to Brazilian authors RITS, the absence of a people-orientated policy framework in Brazil runs the risk of condemning the vast majority of people to “eternal disconnection.”

The report also includes provocative, analytical essays on five international institutions (including ICANN and the World Intellectual Property Organisation) questioning the extent to which they allow all stake-holders to participate in their processes.

[adapted from author]

Digital poverty: Latin American and Caribbean perspectives

30 Jul 2007 02:53:00 GMT

This book examines the problem of inadequate access to information and communication technology (ICT) and the need to develop appropriate pro-poor ICT policies within the Latin American and Caribbean context. It reveals that, while market reforms have led to infrastructure investments and service expansion, they have failed to ensure that the benefits of the Information Society spread across the many social and economic divides that characterise the region.

The authors explain and support the formulation of a new perspective on ICT access, and seek to develop an analytical framework for examining what variables are important for effective ICT adoption in developing countries. They suggest that a new set of policy reforms are needed, which build on the achievements of market liberalisation efforts, but at the same time address the realities of digital poverty – a concept that seeks to grasp the multiple dimensions of inadequate levels of access to ICT services by people and organizations, as well as the barriers to their productive use.

The book is the first publication of the Regional Dialogue on the Information Society (DIRSI), a regional network of leading researchers concerned with disseminating knowledge that supports the participation of marginalized communities using ICTs in LAC. Chapters reflect a diverse set of studies undertaken by DIRSI members and cover the following issues:

  • developing a conceptual foundation for the measurement of digital or information poverty in the Latin American and Caribbean context (Chapters 1 and 2)
  • practical governance questions faced by regulators in LAC (Chapters 3 and 4)
  • evidence about existing and replicable models to provide ICT services to rural communities and other underserved areas (Chapters 5 and 6)
  • a concluding chapter reviews these themes, addressing ICT demand and supply side issues, regulatory reforms and the private sector, consumer advocacy, new ownership models for network service provision and emerging network technology solutions.

Options for terrestrial connectivity in Sub-Saharan Africa

05 Jun 2007 06:14:00 GMT

Mobile GSM operators in Sub-Saharan Africa are rapidly covering most populated areas with telephone services. This report makes an inventory of existing transmission backbones in 18 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, and discusses issues related to solutions for improved utilization of such networks.To reach new areas, the operators keep expanding their transmission links, and the result is the emergence of new telecommunication backbone networks. 23 percent of the Sub-Saharan countries have more or less countrywide coverage, but 40 percent still have major gaps in transmission links. The mobile operators now own and control the bulk of transmission backbone capacity. However, regulation and competition between operators have largely prevented shared use of these emerging backbones.A number of issues are raised in the report: The lack of open access: Open Access implies that backbone facilities should be provided to all interested parties on equal, transparent terms and that access charges should be cost based. Optical fibre cables are often assumed to be transmission media, and the general opinion is that the costs of fibre would be very low. In business terms, Open Access essentially means that all operators agree to compete only on the service layer and not on the infrastructure layer. While this might be possible in the EU countries, the report questions the applicability of these solutions to the African environment. None of the preconditions in Europe apply to Sub-Saharan Africa. A key issue is whether fixed and mobile operators are willing to give up their dominant position on backbone transmission in favour of joint national backbones operating on Open Access principles. the dominating position of the GSM operators and the pricing of transmission services: since the mobile operators would be the largest single customer group for any national backbone network, their own costs can be used as guidance in establishing the market prices for transmission capacity. The current prices charged for transmission are often many times higher than the opportunity cost of building their own capacity. It will be a major challenge to get the fixed incumbents to agree to drastic price reductions (they have already lost substantial market shares both for voice and transmission services). fibre or microwave transmission: ICT services are not likely to take off in Sub-Saharan Africa unless there is ample supply of bandwidth at low costs. Most governments in Sub-Saharan Africa that have developed ambitious national ICT policies and plans hold this view. Some governments even have aspirations of constructing national fibre backbone networks, often forgetting that telecommunications are in the hands of private companies. The report concludes that fibre cables will be very slow to appear unless the mobile operators get involved. The latter generate the bulk of demand, without which the fibre cables would be uneconomical. Market prices must be dramatically reduced to interest the mobile operators and to increase demand. regulation: a liberalization of the telecommunications market is rapidly taking place in Sub- Saharan Africa. The regulatory restrictions imposed on mobile operators regarding resale of transmission capacity have mostly been removed. Regulation no longer seems to hamper the efficient use of mobile backbone networks. A much bigger regulatory issue needs urgent attention, namely the lack of appropriate legislation and regulation for addressing the mobile operators’ dominant position. This applies both to the domestic and to the regional marke[...]

Gender and ICT

22 May 2007 10:54:55 GMT

Why is it important to view women as information and communications technology (ICT) producers, developers and decision makers and not only as consumers? This publication, with a foreword by Executive Director of UNIFEM, Noeleen Heyzer, looks at ICT for development through a gender lens and discusses ICT within a gender equality framework.

This extensive paper examines why it is necessary to view women as ICT producers, developers and decision makers, in order to ensure further equal participation of women in the Information Society. Recognising the importance of integrating a gender perspective as a cross- cutting area in ICT and development, the paper provides a gender perspective on issues of ICT policies, access and control, education, training and skill development, and content development. Furthermore, the authors introduce a framework to integrate gender in ICT for development and women's empowerment.

The authors highlight that, if governments are indeed committed to integrating a gender perspective into their national ICT policies, they would need to: 

  • acknowledge, protect and defend women’s rights in the Information Society 
  • fully recognise that gender equality, non-discrimination and women’s empowerment are essential prerequisites for equitable and people-centred development in the Information Society 
  • ensure that ICT governance and policy frameworks enable full and equal participation 
  • ensure that all education and training programmes promote gender awareness 
  • ensure that women and girls enjoy the right to equal access to educational opportunities in the fields of science and technology 
  • make women an integral part of the consultative process
  • ensure the preservation and promotion of women’s knowledge within the public domain of global knowledge 
  • ensure that every woman and girl has the right to communicate and exchange information freely in safe and secure online spaces.


Getting started in electronic publishing

29 Apr 2007 11:00:00 GMT

Electronic publishing has six key advantages over print - its international reach, speed of publications, additional capabilities, lower cost, new publishing opportunities and sustainability. This primer discusses the efforts, expenses and challenges involved in online publication.

Topics addressed include licensing considerations, hosting and archiving issues, as well as appropriate editorial, production, marketing and sales procedures. The report concludes that the decision to publish a journal online depends on an organization's main objectives, what information it wants to disseminate and to whom.

Gender assessment of selected e-business and strategies in Asia: the case studies of Malaysia, the Philippines, the Republic of Korea and Thailand

17 Apr 2007 11:00:00 GMT

How can we ensure that women have equitable access to the benefits and opportunities made possible by Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) and how can ICTs be leveraged for women’s empowerment and the promotion of gender equality? This paper presents a study on gender and e-business in Malaysia, the Philippines, the Republic of Korea and Thailand. It offers a comparative gender analysis of each country's level of infrastructure development and ICT penetration, their level of recognition of gender issues in general and in relation to ICT in particular, and their level of readiness and capacity for e-business development. The study finds that gender-sensitive ICT policies must be applied to e-business given the rapid integration of ICTs into the business environment.

The study concludes with recommendations for developing a gender-responsive e-business environment. These policy recommendations are based on the experiences of the four countries, and from three broad perspectives premised on the nature of the digital divide. These are:

  • the Information Technology Access Gap – this is the gap that represents the divide between those who have physical access to the computer (at home, school, the work place or cyber cafes)
  • the Information Technology Application Gap – this divide separates those who know how to apply existing information technology to create wealth and those who do not
  • the Information Technology Creation Gap – this divide has three levels, and it represents the divide between those who conduct fundamental research and development in information technology; those who use and create IT products and services with existing technology; and those who are only consumers of the IT products and services

Policy-related lessons are also garnered from Malaysia’s wealth of experience in implementing preferential policies for poverty reduction that are based on ethnicity, since gender issues are not unlike racial issues as both are prevalent in social, political and economic institutions, and interact with each other as well as other forms of power of class, age, region and nation. These recommendations include:

  • accelerate the de-monopolisation of the telecommunications industry, encourage wireless technology and non-technology specific e-commerce legislations
  • promote and support the use of open source and free software
  • develop a more comprehensive and extensive system of gender sensitive data collection
  • ensure the establishment of inclusive e-commerce policies and support programmes

Ten emerging e-government challenges today: the future may be sober and not hype

12 Feb 2007 12:00:00 GMT

The paper gives an overview of the e- government scenario and identifies ten emerging e-government challenges. The ten challenges facing e-government are:
  • achieving the objective of efficient public service delivery
  • anticipating the emergence of new technologies and having government respond to them quickly
  • the contribution of global and national league tables to e-government policy formulation and implementation
  • setting up dependable management information systems (MISs)
  • anticipating and meeting information and/or transaction needs of the citizens quickly and in user-friendly manner
  • setting up appropriate search capabilities on e-government websites
  • making use of semantic web in e-government websites to improve the quality of the required government information making use of wiki technology in e-government if public sector is constrained by resources
  • monitoring investments in e-government
  • putting in place proper customer relationship management (CRM) and/or electronic customer relationship management (eCRM) programmes.

The paper concludes that there is enormous potential for the future of e-government in improving both internal processes of government as well as providing seamless public service delivery. However the author concludes that this potential remains largely unrealised and e-government may land up as yet another channel of public service delivery and not as an instrument of transformation within government.

Emergency information and communications technology (EICT) in disaster response

09 Feb 2007 12:00:00 GMT

This document considers the state of emergency information and communications technology (EICT) in international disaster response, focusing on five regions of interest.

The document aims to provide a better understanding of the issues that currently impact the effectiveness of EICT in disaster response through the results of an online survey and telephone interviews. The survey was developed and distributed to a range of organisational representatives. This document outlines how the survey findings suggest that Latin and Central America are achieving greater states of readiness, while Africa remains poorly equipped to manage large scale emergencies without significant international assistance.

Taken together, the survey and interviews highlighted six key factors that currently impact the effectiveness of EICT disaster response:

  • equipment and technology requirements
  • inter- and intra-agency coordination
  • personnel
  • standards and governance
  • interoperability
  • advanced preparedness

Call for papers, sessions and conference: DSA Conference 2007 - "Connecting Science, Society and Development" IDS, Brighton, UK 18 -20 September 2007.

02 Feb 2007 12:00:00 GMT

Call for papers and sessions for DSA Conference 2007. The theme is "Connecting Science, Society and Development" and will be held at IDS, University of Sussex, UK on 18-20 September 2007.

Emerging patterns of scientific and technological change offer a new lens through which to consider major themes such as global inequality, power relations and governance, and the place of gender, social difference and culture. The conference will explore these issues by addressing topics such as agricultural biotechnologies, health technologies, climate change and citizen knowledge, and explore broader cross-cutting themes such as the relationship between learning and social change and relationships between science, knowledge and policy.

See link to full text for more details. Closing date for proposals for papers: 14 February 2007. Closing date for proposals for sessions: 4 April 2007.

Making information and communication technologies work for food security in Africa

13 Dec 2006 12:00:00 GMT

This report explores how the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) – such as fixed-line and mobile phones and Internet services – can make a significant contribution to reducing poverty in Africa. The report:
  • assesses the current availability of ICTs in Africa
  • discusses opportunities for ICTs in promoting food security
  • recommendations on how to better promote ICT development.

The report recommends measures to promote ICT related capacity building through government, private and civil society collaboration. Mechanisms to promote such cooperation include:

  • a sound, market-oriented regulatory framework
  • universal access regulations and mechanisms that motivate operators to serve regions where it is economically infeasible but socially desirable
  • incentives such as a sound business and taxation environment to encourage investor and donor involvement in ICT infrastructure development in Africa
  • the preconditions for inter-African collaboration through, for example, the introduction of common standards, cross-border trade liberalisation, ICT-based monitoring, forecast programmes, etc.
  • leadership in combining existing media channels, such as rural radio stations, with ICTs to match local demand with global content and distribute information widely in the relevant languages.

The report also makes recommendations related to the private sector’s role, which include:

  • being aware of the socioeconomic dimension of activities related to the ICT sector
  • taking advantage of the lessons learned from franchise systems that have been successful in developing countries including Senegal, Gambia, and Bangladesh
  • aiming toward the stepwise extension of phone shops to more sophisticated telecenters using knowledge transfer, capital availability, and possibly ICT infrastructure support schemes
  • developing low-cost access technologies that work off-grid and require a minimum of maintenance, thus making them more profitable.

UNCTAD Information Economy Report 2006: the development perspective

12 Dec 2006 12:00:00 GMT

This report looks at ICT policy options in a developing-country context and proposes a framework for national ICT policy reviews and for the design and assessment of pro-poor e-strategies.

The report analyses trends in core ICT indicators such as the use of Internet and mobile phone, as well as the role of broadband in promoting the information economy. It argues that:

  • the diffusion of ICT in developing countries still needs government intervention in areas where private providers might be discouraged to go because of costs associated to geographic hurdles or the absence of a critical mass of customers
  • broadband is key to developing an information economy
  • industrial and trade policies in ICT-producing developing countries should support the creation of business opportunities in ICT-related industries
  • research on the impact of ICTs on GDP in developing countries reveals a positive contribution even in poorer countries. But countries that already have a certain level of ICT uptake seem to benefit most from the new technologies.

The report also presents a model ICT policy review framework developed by UNCTAD which is illustrated with best practice examples from developing countries.

Foresight 2020: economic, industry and corporate trends

27 Nov 2006 12:00:00 GMT

This report assesses the likely changes to the global economy, to eight major industries and to corporate structures over the next 15 years.

The paper argues that the next 15 years will bring further massive changes to the shape of the world economy, to the landscape of major industries and to the workings of the company. The industries discussed include:

  • automotive
  • consumer goods and retailing
  • energy
  • financial services
  • healthcare and pharmaceuticals
  • manufacturing
  • public sector
  • telecommunications

The principal research finding of the report suggests:

  • a redistribution of economic power, particularly to China and India. Non-OECD markets will account for a higher share of revenue growth between now and 2020 than OECD economies
  • population shifts will have a significant impact on economies, companies and customers. The favourable demographic profile of the US will help to spur growth whereas ageing populations in Europe will inhibit it
  • network technologies and globalisation will enable firms to better use the world as their supply base for talent and materials
  • customers in developed and developing markets will place more emphasis on personalisation
  • the focus of management attention will be on the areas of the business, from innovation to customer service, where personal chemistry or creative insight matter more than rules and processes

Where there is no internet: delivering health information via the Blue Trunk Libraries

03 Nov 2006 12:00:00 GMT

This brief article, published in PLoS Medicine, describes the World Health Organization’s Blue Trunk Library (BTL) project, which aims to deliver printed information to health workers in developing countries. It notes that whilst there are a number of initiatives to deliver health information over the internet and on CD-ROMs, there are still many areas in the developing world that have neither computers nor a reliable electricity supply. The BTL is a collection of about 150 appropriate books and manuals, to suit the different education needs of health district workers at various professional levels. Each library costs around US$2000.

The article explains that the project has been funded by a variety of United Nations organisations, national development agencies, embassies, and nongovernmental organisations such as Save the Children. About 1500 BTLs have been distributed worldwide, including 850 in sub-Saharan African countries. Reaching Portuguese-speaking countries in Africa has been difficult because of the lack of training materials available in Portuguese, but collaboration with institutions in Brazil is likely to be a good strategy to address this. The article concludes by noting that although there has not yet been a formal evaluation of BTL, health workers have said that it has helped them to improve the quality of health care in rural areas.

Wikis, webs, and networks: creating connections for conflict-prone settings

02 Nov 2006 12:00:00 GMT

This report recommends ways to improve connectivity between the various actors working in conflict prone settings. The ultimate goal of enhanced connectivity is to enable local populations to prevent and mitigate conflict and help rebuild their country. This report is intended for civilians as well as the military, the public and private sectors, and Americans as well as international and national actors.

Four principles, proven true in a variety of settings and industries, form the basis of this report. If embraced the authors argue they have the potential to improve operations in conflict prone settings:

  • connectivity increases effectiveness. Connectivity is the capacity for individuals and organizations to interface. connectivity allows for, but does not guarantee, frequent and meaningful interactions, which can help diverse actors develop a common operating language, plan and conduct joint exercises, and integrate operations during crises
  • free revealing. Openly sharing new ideas, innovations, and information is better suited to fast-paced, chaotic environments than is the traditional practice of closely managing information flows through established hierarchies
  • community generates content. Relying on the community to generate, share, and interpret content makes the best use of resources and minimizes constraints in conflict settings. These settings demand flexibility and adaptability on many levels. User-driven content, in which all individuals contribute information, share concepts, and evaluate resources, is the practical choice for environments with conflicting and unreliable data
  • lead users drive the market. By identifying and promoting the practices of lead users (those at the top end of the bell curve), the effectiveness of the entire international community can be enhanced

This report is organized into four sections. The first defines the nature of the problem and examines the constraints associated with operating in conflict-prone settings. The second describes how recent trends in information sharing can improve results. The third section outlines four principles and provides strategic guidelines for enhancing connectivity. The fourth section prioritizes steps for implementation and provides an extensive list of links to further information.

Ten lessons for ICT and education in the developing world

01 Nov 2006 12:00:00 GMT

In 1997, the World Bank initiated the World Links programme ( links) in response to developing countries’ demand for strategies to prepare their youth to compete in a world increasingly driven by information, technology, and knowledge. Its principal capacity-building objective is to provide developing country schools and ministries of education with sustainable solutions for mobilising the necessary technologies, skills, and educational resources to prepare students and teachers to enter the Networked World.

Over the past four years, World Links has worked with twenty-one countries to bring underprivileged schools into a global school network. The network links thousands of students and teachers around the world for collaborative learning and helps ministries of education pilot and learn from this implementation of Networked Learning in schools. World Links is bridging the gap in skills, knowledge, and educational opportunities between students in industrialised and developing nations, as well as between rich and poor students within developing countries.

In developing its programme, World Links drew lessons from the successes and failures of technology education programmes throughout the world and designed customised pilots for each participating country. One of the key failures of many past programmes was that schools were provided with expensive equipment but with little or no support for teachers’ professional development, national ICT-in-education policies, or community involvement. Since World Links launched its first programme in Uganda almost five years ago, a number of lessons regarding the constraints, as well as the potential of integrating technology into education in the developing world, have been learned. While getting schools wired to the Internet is the first step, a whole host of other factors need to be considered, ranging from teacher training to assessment to sustainability. The following are ten lessons that World Links has learned in its efforts to help developing countries span the knowledge divide.

Curriculum-based interventions for increasing K-12 math achievement - middle school

01 Nov 2006 12:00:00 GMT

This report reviews research studies on maths e-Learning software/content products available in the USA, that are aimed at improving the achievement of middle school students (6th to 10th grades).

Deepalaya - Delhi, India: full case study report

01 Nov 2006 12:00:00 GMT

The present study focuses on the use and impact of ICTs by slum children in Delhi. More specifically: how do their computer skills contribute to their future opportunities, security and empowerment. For this study OneWorld partner Deepalaya was selected as they provide computer classes to their students starting the age of 10 (6th grade) and also include computer training in their vocational programme.

ICT and school improvement: executive summary for Ireland

01 Nov 2006 12:00:00 GMT

The six case study schools, three post-primary and three primary, were identified by the Department of Education and Science (DES) and the names were notified to the research team. Field work was undertaken during the period November 2000 to February 2001.

This overview report deals with:

  • the Irish context, from the perspectives of school improvement and ICT
  • a brief description of the case study schools, with particular reference to school improvement and ICT
  • the outcomes from the Irish case studies based on the hypotheses
  • other relevant findings from the case studies
  • future projections
  • main conclusions

A case study of ICT and school improvement at Santa Maria Tlahuitoltepec School, Oaxaca, Mexico

01 Nov 2006 12:00:00 GMT

This work is part of the ICT and the Learning Quality program of the Education for the Future project which the Centre for Educational Research and Innovation (CERI) of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), is developing in order to obtain empirical evidence that may offer orientation as to the options concerning educational policy for the 21st Century.

The case study of the Santa María Tlahitoltepec High School is one of the four case studies selected to represent Mexico, was elaborated according to the lineaments designed by CERI experts which, at an international level, seek to identify the conditions in which the ICT have been a catalyst for the innovation and improvement of schools.

Capturing the promise of a global eSchools and communities initiative

01 Nov 2006 12:00:00 GMT

This paper argues that the smart use of information and communications technologies (ICTs) in support of education can help solve the global problem of providing basic educational opportunities for all children. Deploying ICTs in schools can also have significant benefits for the communities in which the schools are located. Successful "eSchools" efforts in developing countries will, however, require hard work and cooperation from many players: in order to have real impact, it is essential to move beyond the pilot programs that are typical of most activity today and create coordinated initiatives which address all aspects of deploying and using ICTs successfully in schools.

The authors recommend a Global eSchools and Communities Initiative, with the critical mandate to catalyse national and regional initiatives in which all appropriate parties (including both local and global actors) step up to the challenge of using ICT to enhance education and empower local communities in developing countries.

This recommendation is based on a 4-month study conducted on behalf of the UN ICT Task Force. A team of 15 McKinsey consultants conducted interviews with over 300 people, including educators, ICT experts, executives in private sector companies, government officials, donors and foundation leaders. Educational needs and related ICT potential were determined in five representative developing countries: Bolivia, Ghana, India, Namibia and South Africa. [adapted]

Interactive radio instruction: impact, sustainability, and future directions

01 Nov 2006 12:00:00 GMT

This study of Interactive Radio Instruction, or IRI, helps us appreciate the accessibility effectiveness of radio as a tool for active learning inside and outside of the classroom. It synthesizes the knowledge and experience accumulated over the past twenty-five years in the use of radio for instruction in more than twenty developing countries.

While IRI is the main focus of the study, as John Mayo points out in his introduction, it is by no means the only method for using radio successfully in education. However, IRI has been among the most widely used methods in the developing world, due in good measure to advocacy and funding by USAID. Indeed, virtually all the IRI projects listed in this study have benefited from some form of USAID support, with other agencies playing comparatively minor roles.

Computers and student learning: bivariate and multivariate evidence on the availability and use of computers at home and at school

01 Nov 2006 12:00:00 GMT

The paper estimates the relationship between students’ educational achievement and the availability and use of computers at home and at school in the international student-level PISA database. Bivariate analyses show a positive correlation between student achievement and the availability of computers both at home and at schools. However, once we control extensively for family background and school characteristics, the relationship gets negative for home computers and insignificant for school computers.

Thus, the mere availability of computers at home seems to distract students from effective learning. But measures of computer use for education and communication at home show a positive conditional relationship with student achievement. The conditional relationship between student achievement and computer and internet use at school has an inverted U-shape, which may reflect either ability bias combined with negative effects of computerized instruction or a low optimal level of computerized instruction.

A review of the research literature relating to ICT and attainment

01 Nov 2006 12:00:00 GMT

This research project was commissioned by the British Educational Communications and Technology Agency (Becta), on behalf of the Department for Education and Skills (DfES), to investigate the effects of ICT on attainment, based on evidence from the published research literature.

The evidence from the literature shows a positive effect of specific uses of ICT on pupils’ attainment in almost all the National Curriculum subjects, the most substantial positive effects being in mathematics, science and English at all key stages. Evidence in other subjects has not yet been substantiated by enough independent studies. There is a strong relationship between the ways in which ICT has been used and the resulting attainment outcomes. This suggests that the crucial component in the use of ICT within education is the teacher and their pedagogical approaches.

There are many more uses being made of different ICT resources in mathematics, science, ICT and English than there are in other subjects. This means that there are a greater number of ICT resources available to these subject teachers, and there is a greater body of knowledge about educational practices for ICT in these subjects, and a greater body of evidence of the effects of ICT on these subjects.

The positive impact on attainment is greatest for those ICT resources which have been embedded in some teachers’ practices for a long time. There is an emerging body of knowledge about the effects of specific types of ICT, such as email or the World Wide Web, but the evidence of the effects of these on pupils’ attainment is not yet consistent and extensive.

There is substantial evidence from smaller focused studies of the contribution of specific uses of ICT to pupils’ learning. These include the use of simulations and modelling in science, ICT and mathematics, and the use of word processing in English. Many small studies have shown consistently positive results over the last 20 years, but this does not yet extend to all types of ICT use, nor does it exclude the input of the teacher.

Measures for assessing the impact of ICT use on attainment

01 Nov 2006 12:00:00 GMT

ImpaCT2 was one of a number of projects commissioned by the Department for Education and Skills (DfES) to evaluate the gains associated with the introduction of the National Grid for Learning (NGfL), and identify the factors that contribute to raising attainment with ICT. A conclusion that can be drawn from ImpaCT2 is the difficulty of establishing an exact causal relationship between use of ICT and attainment. Ideally a direct link could be made between the use of a given system or software application, an aspect of the curriculum and learning, and an assessment of the particular form of attainment that the ICT is designed to have an impact upon. Even then a range of other environmental, pedagogical, institutional and resource factors may impact on the process.

Building on ImpaCT2, this study aims to design a measure or measures capable of tracking 'snapshot' data, such that it will be possible to monitor the development of ICT use to support attainment in institutions over time. This includes differences in management and classroom practices and their effects on ICT and attainment. Based on a study of a representative sample of schools, which are both high and low users of ICT, this study intends to ascertain those aspects of resourcing, content, practice and other factors that play a part in governing the likely impact that ICT may have on attainment.

Computer-assisted learning: evidence from a randomized experiment

01 Nov 2006 12:00:00 GMT

This note presents the results obtained after the first year of a two-year randomized evaluation of a computer assisted learning (CAL) programme in Vadodara, India.

The CAL programme, implemented by a NGO, took advantage of the donation of four computers to each municipal primary school in Vadodara by the state government. The programme provided each child in the fourth standard with two hours of shared computer time in which students played educational games that reinforced mathematics competencies ranging from the standard 1 to the standard 3 level.

The authors find the programme to be quite effective. On average, it increased mathematics scores by 0.37 standard deviations. The programme effect is slightly higher at the bottom of the distribution but persists throughout the distribution. The programme had no apparent spillover on language competencies.

Public computing, computer literacy and educational outcome: children and computers in rural India

01 Nov 2006 12:00:00 GMT

This paper reports the research findings from a national research program conducted in rural India. In this research, children were provided unconditional access to public, outdoor computer. Evaluation was conducted on the children’s ability to learn to operate the computer and the effect of such playground computing on educational outcome.

The results suggest that playground computers might have an important role to play in improving the outcomes of elementary education and in imparting critical life skills.

An investigation of the research evidence relating to ICT pedagogy

01 Nov 2006 12:00:00 GMT

The aims of the study were to conduct:
  • a review of the existing literature on ICT pedagogy to identify aspects of the way in which ICT is used and the actions of teachers that can help to ensure that ICT will have some chance of having an impact on attainment
  • a small-scale study of schools known to be using ICT effectively to support attainment, to gather additional data and to illuminate the findings emerging from the study of the literature.

ICT in education

01 Nov 2006 12:00:00 GMT

This primer is intended to help policymakers in developing countries define a framework for the appropriate and effective use of ICTs in their educational systems by:
  • providing a brief overview of the potential benefits of ICT use in education and the ways by which different ICTs have been used in education thus far
  • addressing the four broad issues in the use of ICTs in education—effectiveness, cost, equity, and sustainability.

The primer concludes with a discussion of five key challenges that policymakers in developing countries must reckon with when making decisions about the integration of ICTs in education,namely, educational policy and planning, infrastructure, capacity building, language and content, and financing.

Tutoring bilingual students with an automated reading tutor that listens: results of a two-month pilot study

01 Nov 2006 12:00:00 GMT

A two-month pilot study comprised of 34 second through fourth grade Hispanic students from four bilingual education classrooms was conducted to compare the efficacy of the 2004 version of the Project LISTEN Reading Tutor against the standard practice of sustained silent reading (SSR). The Reading Tutor uses automated speech recognition to “listen” to children read aloud. It provides both spoken and graphical feedback in order to assist the children with the oral reading task. Prior research with this software has demonstrated its efficacy within populations of native English speakers. This study was undertaken to obtain some initial indication as to whether the tutor would also be effective within a population of English language learners.

The study employed a crossover design where each participant spent one month in each of the treatment conditions. The experimental treatment consisted of 25 minutes per day using the Reading Tutor within a small pullout lab setting. Control treatment consisted of the students who remained in the classroom where they participated in established reading instruction activities. Dependent variables consisted of the school districts curriculum based measures for fluency, sight word recognition and comprehension.

The Reading Tutor group out-gained the control group in every measure during both halves of the crossover experiment. Within subject results from a paired T-Test indicate these gains were significant for one sight word measure (p = .056) and both fluency measures (p < .001). Effect sizes were 0.55 for timed sight words, a robust 1.16 for total fluency and an even larger 1.27 for fluency controlled for word accuracy. These dramatic results observed during a one-month treatment indicate this technology may have much to offer English language learners.

Computers, teachers, peers: science learning partners

01 Nov 2006 12:00:00 GMT

For fifteen years the Computer as Learning (CLP) partnership has studied how students learn science and how to make scientific knowledge accessible -- and relevant -- to them, not only for the time spent in the middle school or high school classroom but also for the rest of their lives.

This book relates CLP’s findings and provides an instructional framework that new partnerships can use to get a head start on curriculum design. The book advocates forming partnerships because the problems of science education require expertise from many disciplines and because large-scale efforts are needed in schools, districts, and states in order to have a serious impact.

Inexorable and inevitable: the continuing story of technology and assessment

01 Nov 2006 12:00:00 GMT

This paper argues that the inexorable advance of technology will force fundamental changes in the format and content of assessment. Technology is infusing the workplace, leading to widespread requirements for workers skilled in the use of computers. Technology is also finding a key place in education. This is occurring not only because technology skill has become a workplace requirement. It is also happening because technology provides information resources central to the pursuit of knowledge and because the medium allows for the delivery of instruction to individuals who couldn’t otherwise obtain it.

As technology becomes more central to schooling, assessing students in a medium different from the one in which they typically learn will become increasingly untenable. Education leaders in several states and numerous school districts are acting on that implication, implementing technology-based tests for low- and high-stakes decisions in elementary and secondary schools and across all key content areas.

While some of these examinations are already being administered statewide, others will take several years to bring to fully operational status. These groundbreaking efforts will undoubtedly encounter significant difficulties that may include cost, measurement, technological-dependability, and security issues. But most importantly, state efforts will need to go beyond the initial achievement of computerizing traditional multiple-choice tests to create assessments that facilitate learning and instruction in ways that paper measures cannot.

The effect of computers on student writing: a metaanalysis of studies from 1992 to 2002

01 Nov 2006 12:00:00 GMT

Meta-analyses were performed including 26 studies conducted between 1992–2002 focused on the comparison between k–12 students writing with computers vs. paper-and-pencil. Significant mean effect sizes in favour of computers were found for quantity of writing and quality of writing.

Studies focused on revision behaviours between these two writing conditions revealed mixed results. Other studies collected for the meta-analysis which did not meet the statistical criteria were also reviewed briefly. These articles indicate that the writing process is more collaborative, iterative, and social in computer classrooms as compared with paper-and-pencil environments.

For educational leaders questioning whether computers should be used to help students develop writing skills, the results of the meta-analyses suggest that, on average, students who use computers when learning to write are not only more engaged and motivated in their writing, but they produce written work that is of greater length and higher quality.

Computer-assisted instruction in support of beginning reading instruction: a review

01 Nov 2006 12:00:00 GMT

This article analyses recently published quantitative studies in English and Dutch that dealt with the effectiveness of using computers to teach beginning reading to children aged 5 to 12.

Blok et al.’s meta-analysis found a small positive effect of computer-assisted beginning reading instruction compared to instruction without CAI. The effect was much larger for English language than for Dutch. The effect was also larger in studies where the CAI group began with an initial advantage over the control. No other study characteristics had a significant effect on student performance. The overall effect size (corrected for language and prior differences) was .19. That is, overall, CAI students scored about one-fifth of a standard deviation higher than non-CAI students. For the English-only studies, the effect size was .5. This range is similar to that reported in meta-analyses conducted on previous generations of CAI.

Major implications for educators/decision makers:

  • CAI can offer an advantage to early readers
  • the effect size to expect from computer-assisted early reading instruction is low to moderate (about .2 to .5 of a standard deviation advantage on any given achievement measure)
  • the benefits of CAI appear to be greater for learners of English than for learners of Dutch (possibly, according to Blok et al., because CAI helps students address the difficulties of English spelling and letter-sound relationships)
  • the benefits of CAI appear to be greater for students who are relatively better readers before beginning the intervention. (Note that this is contrary to other meta-analyses of CAI that have found larger effects for relatively slower students.)

The effectiveness of interactive distance education technologies in K-12 learning: a meta-analysis

01 Nov 2006 12:00:00 GMT

This article summarises a quantitative synthesis of studies of the effectiveness of interactive distance education using videoconferencing and telecommunications for K-12 academic achievement [in the USA].

Effect sizes for 19 experimental and quasi-experimental studies including 929 student participants were analysed across sample characteristics, study methods, learning environment, learner attributes, and technological characteristics. The overall mean effect size was 0.147, a small positive effect in favour of distance education. Effect sizes were more positive for interactive distance education programmes that combine an individualised approach with traditional classroom instruction. Programmes including instruction delivered through telecommunications, enhancement of classroom learning, short duration, and small groups yielded larger effect sizes than programs using videoconferencing, primary instruction through distance, long duration, and large groups. Studies of distance education for all academic content areas except foreign language resulted in positive effect sizes.

This synthesis supports the use of interactive distance education to complement, enhance, and expand education options because distance education can be expected to result in achievement at least comparable to traditional instruction in most academic circumstances. [author’s abstract]

Beyond Nintendo: design and assessment of educational video games for first and second grade students

01 Nov 2006 12:00:00 GMT

The main objective of this study was to evaluate the effects of the introduction of educational videogames into the classroom, on learning, motivation, and classroom dynamics. These effects were studied using a sample of 1274 students from economically disadvantaged schools in Chile.

The videogames were specifically designed to address the educational goals of the first and second years of school, for basic mathematics and reading comprehension. The sample was divided into experimental groups (EG), internal control groups (IC - students in the same school as the EG, but who did not play video games) and external control groups (EC - in schools which had no contact with the experiment). Students in the EG groups, used the experimental video games during an average of 30 hours over a 3-month period. They were evaluated on their acquisition of reading comprehension, spelling, and mathematical skills, and on their motivation to use video games.

Teachers' expectations of change due to the use of video games, their technological transfer, and handling of classroom dynamics, were assessed through ad hoc tests and classroom observations. The results show significant differences between the EG and IC groups in relation to the EC group in Math, Reading Comprehension and Spelling, but no significant differences in these aspects were found between the EG and the IC groups. Teacher reports and classroom observations confirm an improvement in motivation to learn, and a positive technological transfer of the experimental tool. Although further studies regarding the effects of learning through videogame use are imperative, positive effects on motivation and classroom dynamics, indicate that the introduction of educational video games can be a useful tool in promoting learning within the classroom.