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Low-Cost ICT Devices for Educational Systems in the Developing World

By Wayan Vota on July 26, 2010

Back at the turn of the century, education was gripped by the diffusion of amazing hand-held devices for children. These tools, at first considered an expensive and delicate novelty, soon became standard for every child in wealthy education systems and from there defused around the world to nearly every classroom.


This is actually a description of slate tablets in the early 1800′s, but it could aptly describe the technological revolution we are seeing in education today with low-cost ICT devices.

The rise of ICT devices

From single-purpose educational aids like the Teachermate to commercial netbooks that can be re-purposed for the classroom, information and communication technology is dropping in cost while increasing in functionality and robustness. Soon, these ICT devices will be like slates in the 1800′s – ubiquitous.

low-cost ICT devices
Netbooks – one type of low-cost ICT device for education

In 2008, infoDev at the World Bank complied a Quick guide to low-cost computing devices and initiatives for the developing world to try and record the most prominent or promising of these devices.

Recently, the Educational Technology Debate updated this list through two efforts:

  1. The list itself is now available as an editable Google Doc: Low-Cost ICT List Update.
  2. ETD also highlighted some of the more interesting initiatives in their low-cost ICT devices discussion

I invite your input in both. You can modify or download the low-cost ICT devices list itself and comment on the online discussion as the mood strikes you.

Do note that this list isn’t expected to be exhaustive, it’s a Quick Guide after all, and we are purposely leaving off mobile phones, as well as the plethora of devices that could be used in education, for a more targeted list of hardware devices that are used in educational systems of the developing world.


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Written by
Wayan Vota co-founded ICTworks and is the Digital Health Director at IntraHealth International. He also co-founded Technology Salon, MERL Tech, ICTforAg, ICT4Djobs, ICT4Drinks, JadedAid, Kurante, OLPC News and a few other things. Opinions expressed here are his own and do not reflect the position of IntraHealth International or other ICTWorks sponsors.
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