Mixed Technologies in a Diverse Society

I recollect the talk about how the mobile technology leap-frogged in Africa. Surprisingly, it grew on and today, semi-literate and even very low-literate casual workers in the bus station (for instance) have at least one cellular phone or perhaps one with dual SIM. In the same manner, I see the possibility of one school using offline, online, group, self-paced and-so-on methods to achieve the same result. How can we shape this notion to the benefit of junior and senior high school learning? This will equally influence the role the teacher will play.

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Welcome Joshua
and thank you for posting this topic - you raise some valid points around increasing access for high school students through mobile phones - this should tie in well with the thesis of Andrew Chimpololo (from Malawi) that he mentioned he is studying at Rhodes University - and as you mention - its impact on the role of the teacher and how far learning can become self-directed. I hope others have ideas around this.
kind regards

Hi Janet
thank you and good to hear from you. I am glad to note the issue is equally on great minds across boarders. Let us see how others view this and what contributions they can provide. I trust that a beautiful frame will come out at PCF9!

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yes Joshua - let us hope for that - are you going to be attending / presenting / following PCF9?

Three questions all in one, right? The answer is yes / yes / yes

:rofl: excellent - so looking forward to meeting you Joshua

Sure Janet. Best regards

Most of our systems have established and are nurturing learning to be that of teachers spoon-feeding learners as babies who certainly cannot feed themselves. Teachers are sages on the stage and cannot be anything else. When learners are of childhood and teen ages (as found in elementary and high schools), teachers who try to take them along the path of independent study and inquiry are seen as lazy and passing their pedagogical responsibilities to studentsInfusion of technology into education is to help learners become independent and collaborative learners (as Mike Britland rightly remarked in The Guardian Teacher’s blog some years ago). It turns the teacher into a facilitator who creates learning objectives and activities, selects technologies that are in constructive alignment with these, clearly tells students what to do, and stays on the side monitoring and guiding students in the activities. Mobile phones can be very useful in this direction. One question is "Are high school students not barred from owing and using mobile phones by many parents/guardians?"

Brilliant thoughts from Udochukwu Nkojo. My experiences from francophone and anglophone countries across the world, particularly while I was previously serving in the circle of the <<Fédération Internationale des Professeurs de Français (FIPF)>> and later at COL, I learned with admiration the capacity in children, neo-learners and young adults to think, create, recreate and innovate. Yes, though teachers have largely been seen as ‘sages’ in the lower level classes for a long time, the time to arouse them is now. I view Fred Swaniker’s video on ‘Reimaging University’ and I get the awesome truth about the power in reinvention and the potential in the young learner. I am hoping that Andrew Chimpololo (Malawi) will bring to the fore his research. It should create in us a picture of the tomorrow I dream of.

Thanks again Chris - instead of transferring pedagogical responsibilities to students one could argue that being a guide on the side is far more pedagogically demanding than being the sage on the stage.
@jcmallet Joshua drew our attention to

this was a great video - and Fred Swaniker is certainly an innovative entrepreneur who has been a trail blazer in higher education in Africa. I liked his anecdote about the students who learnt more in a class that did NOT have a teacher - just makes us think how effective we are as educators. I am sure that Andrew will share some further insights into his study of mobile assisted teacher education in Malawi.

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Sure @janet. The majority of our education institutions’ administrators don’t know that,which is why they hold that impression. That makes technology in education advocacy more urgent. Developed countries may not be facing all this to the degree developing countries do.
In what ways can we advocates in Africa, for example, work together to improve the situation?
In what ways can COL and other organizations support the goals and strategies of ICT in education advocacy volunteers like us, from discussions to actions toward getting stakeholders on board?
Joshua @jcmallet are you with me?


The discussion has become very lively to me. In Ghana, Government has partnered the private sector to create a potent solution. ‘Potent’ because it has been on trial in 139 Senior High Schools for over two years. It is a hardware which has been installed in those schools. It is called “iBox”. It contains curricular-based content as well as open source lessons. It has lesson notes, self-marked quizzes, interactive exercises, virtual laboratories, teacher presentation video and panel discussions. The unique thing about the iBox is that it covers a range of 100 metre-radius on Wi-Fi. There is no internet and the range is extendable through access points. I find this to be one cost effective and convenient solution to the Middle Class society. This supports individual, group, teacher-led and self-paced learning. It is accessed on desktop and hand-held devices. My observation here is the openness and flexibility of the system to favour all types of learners. There will hopefully be a demo at PCF9.

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Superb! @jcmallet. The iBox. It’s like a standalone server of a local area network. I hope there’s a mechanism to monitor and evaluate its impact in defined periods? With convincing outcomes, advocacy will be easier with iBox and many education systems either will desire to replicate it or will become enthusiastic to attempt new things. I wish I were to witness the demo. Ghanaian Government is really exemplary in what we’re talking about. it’ll be nice to learn the buy-in strategy of people who made this happen.

Looking at home schooling that’s popular in the US, is it feasible for interested groups or even families that can afford it to keep iBox for their wards to study without enrolling in schools, and at a time the children believe they are ready, they can register and sit for examination (such as high school certificate exam?.

another great question Chris - and I am sure there are those with strong views on home schooling

Hello everyone, @ Joshua Mallet, I am encouraged to hear what is happening in Ghana. It is wonderful that the Government and Private sector there have been able to come together with what sounds like it can be a feasible solution. Do you also have any information related to user feedback of the iBox? My other question is if it is supposed to promote self-paced learning then how are learners able to continue use outside of regular school hours? I am thinking in regards to learners who may want to use the content for studying and preparing at home.

I like your questions Kelly - I hope @Joshua will be able to let us know if he has further information about the ibox from Ghana.

I am not sure if it is the same ibox but there were 2 research studies carried out in my country - here are links to the two abstracts: http://wiredspace.wits.ac.za/handle/10539/20692 and

Great questions. The Ministry of Education’s Agency responsible for pre-tertiaty education has set up a monitoring team which collects data on usage and computes it mainly to see volume increase in usage and impact on performance. This process is still young but I expect that during PCF, some slides will be projected on it. For learners who wish to keep accessing content, the system allows it uninterrupted within 100 meter radius without internet cost. That means all users on school campus or close to it are covered (provided they have access to computers or other hand-held devices). The good news now is that the partners of the technology have developed an online version. Learners who are in the public schools have been registered in with unique student IDs to ease tracking. This is all exciting as I continue analysing the iBox for for deeper details to share!


Thank you Janet for sharing the links. Thank you for the feedback Joshua. It is good that monitoring and data gathering activies to determine the actual performance of the iBox are in progress. Too often technologies are implemented but monitoring and evaluation are not always executed well due to costs and/or other systemic insufficiencies. It would be interesting to know the user views of how the online version works for them. I am looking forward to hearing more from you about this as you obtain further information.

Thanks for this Kelly - I wonder if you are going to PCF9 - because Joshua is :slight_smile: so you should be able to discuss the latest updates there.

I am sure that others have had issues with monitoring and evaluation of digital technology programmes - or the absence of it.