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What are Affordable Technologies for Supporting Learning and Collaboration in Africa?

By Wayan Vota on July 27, 2011

There is ongoing innovation in terms of technology and its cost. This has included, for instance, the introduction of lower cost computers (e.g. netbooks and OLPC), the explosion in access to mobile phones and the emergence of devices such as iPads and e-readers. There are also a growing number of projects which seek to use some of these mobile devices to support learning and collaboration. However, many of the existing projects are pilots and implemented on a small scale which raises issues in terms of scalability and sustainability.

In this context, there is a lively Educational Technology Debate on Affordable Technologies for Supporting Learning and Collaboration in Africa that is exploring the following questions:

  1. Where and how are mobile devices or other affordable technologies being used for access to learning materials and collaboration? What lessons can we learn from these experiences?
  2. What are the key challenges for the use of these technologies in education in Africa? What are the critical success factors for their effective use?
  3. What recommendations should be made to policy makers, regulators, donors and other stakeholders if technology is to be used to support learning and collaboration in an equitable, sustainable and scalable manner?

Join the conversation and expand the discussion to include both successes and failures with mobile phones, laptops, and other low-cost ICT devices for educational systems of the developing world.

This EduTechDebate is part of the eTranform Africa initiative.


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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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One Comment to “What are Affordable Technologies for Supporting Learning and Collaboration in Africa?”

  1. Mwadime says:

    You might start by asking some basic questions. Is technology the latest gadget or is it a combination of hardware and software. Is it a closed or an open solution. Can the creative user adapt it to the needs of a community of users. Is it a proprietary solution that requires compliance with its owners terms.

    What kind of a collaborative environment supports the technology. Is it directed at solving implementation and deployment problems. Is it an engagement with users or a race by the developers of features. Who does the colaboration belong to.

    Affordable to who. Rural schools in poorly endowed communities. Urban schools with special constituency support. Affordable because of corporate equipment makers have offered temporary subsidies. Affordable because of purchase volumes that only large volume purchasers can attain.

    Does the technology come with unavoidable downstream costs. Does it have operating systems that will need updating and new licenses in the near term. Does it require virus protection and continuing protection costs.

    Do these technologies encourage local innovation in the development of sortware and educational tools.

    Asking the technology question isnt enough.