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8 Recommendations for ICT4E Intervention Success in African Schools

By Guest Writer on March 2, 2012

A new report by Aptivate and the Centre for Commonwealth Education (University of Cambridge) suggests that there are practices that can be utilized to make ICT use in classrooms more effective. The study, conducted in part by iSchool.zm, an online multi-media eLearning package designed to cover the whole of the Zambian school curriculum, examined underprivileged school communities in Zambia.


The project entitled Appropriate New Technologies to Support Interactive Teaching in Zambian schools (ANTSIT) was funded by the UK government’s Department for International Development (DFID), and provided a detailed report including recommendations for introducing future ICT4Ed projects in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Future ICT4Ed programs can benefit from the researchers’ recommendations detailed in the report:

  1. Purchase classroom sets, including a teacher laptop and student laptops, and don’t forget storage and transport needs
  2. Provide training to teachers on the ICT tools and how to use them creatively, incorporating them into a participatory teaching approach
  3. Use ICTs with non-ICT resources, such as mini blackboards, a cheap and invaluable teaching aid
  4. Choose cheap netbooks (e.g. the Classmate netbook) over Android-based tablets which may be promising in the future but currently make keyboard-based entry activities difficult
  5. Don’t mix multiple ICT devices within a single class if cost and maintenance problems are an issue
  6. Invest time in setting up and configuring computers well so that tech problems don’t interfere with lesson planning or class time
  7. Consider resource sharing between student computers through local wireless networks
  8. Enable ICT ownership through microfinance

During the 6-month project, a team of researchers conducted over 30 visits to two under-resourced Zambian primary schools. Through observing classes and working with local science and mathematics teachers, the team was able to analyze and compare the effectiveness and applicability of a variety of mobile technologies in the classroom.  Netbook, tablet and laptop computers, e-Book and wiki readers, digital cameras and mini-projectors along with Open Educational Resources and Open Source software were all considered when determining the most appropriate and versatile resources for creating an environment supportive of learning through active participation.

“Based on our understanding of ICT use in schools and of successful pedagogies such as interactive teaching plus collaborative, project- and enquiry-based learning, and given limited resources, what does an effective ICT-enabled Zambian school look like?”

The team worked with participating teachers not only to create lesson plans utilizing assigned ICTs, but also to ensure a participatory and interactive learning approach which research shows is key to ownership, sustainability, and replication.  The report concluded that considering the often outdated and passive pedagogies used in many Zambian schools, the ‘most appropriate’ device is largely dependent on the particular classroom circumstances and the teaching goals and methods used by the teacher.

In addition to the full report, researchers from the Centre for Commonwealth Education, Bjoern Hassler and Sara Hennessy, created a video clip summarizing their findings.

They presented it at the “Mobile Technologies for Education: The experience in the developing world”, an event sponsored by Cambridge Education Services and co-hosted by the Humanitarian Centre and the Centre for Commonwealth Education at the Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge. The event was part of a themed year on ICT4D (ICT for Development) run by the Humanitarian Centre in partnership with technology company ARM.

This post was originally published by Chrissy Kulenguski as ICTs in the Classroom: 8 Recommendations from Zambia and is re-posted here with GBI’s permission


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