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Where Are the International Education Program Principles?

By Wayan Vota on July 17, 2015


Recently, I was preparing for an education conference session and I was struck by the lack of design principles international education projects. Now I’m not talking about outcome standards like EGRA, but the actual process of designing and implementing development programs in the education sector.

We’ve been doing international education interventions for over 50 years, and many of us know intrinsically what works and what doesn’t. In fact, back in 2010, Michael Trucano came up with the 10 Worst Practices in ICT for Education. So why not create global education for development principles that we can all follow that will advance our profession and improve our programmatic outcomes?

In contrast, while the information and communications for technology space is considerably younger, we already have Principles for Digital Development that are endorsed by a litany of donors and being adopted by a who’s who of implementing partners. Shortly, these principles will be industry standard for all.

And yet, in education, there are none. Why? And if we did get our act together, what would those principles be? Let’s start right now: add your education program principles in the comments now.

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Wayan Vota co-founded ICTworks. 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 his employer, any of its entities, or any ICTWorks sponsor.
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5 Comments to “Where Are the International Education Program Principles?”

  1. Nelie J. Charles says:

    We need to articulates learning outcomes with competencies.

  2. Isabelle Duston says:

    50 years really… what’s your secret for looking so young:)

  3. Benita Rowe says:

    The Principles for Digital Development are OK to use with education projects, e.g.:

    1) Design with the User/ 7) Reuse and improve: make use of devices people already have; http://blogs.worldbank.org/edutech/10-principles-consider-when-introducing-icts-remote-low-income-educational-environments

    2) Understand the Existing Ecosystem: much better on the budget if devices are going to be purchased to get devices for teacher tutors or teachers, not for the students themselves;
    http://www.heart-resources.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Educational-Technology-Topic-Guide.pdf (pg 27);

    4) Build for Sustainability: keep content in a standards compliant container / format e.g. EPUB – then it can be readily integrated with different systems (e.g. Learning Management Systems, websites etc.) and make sure the cost is reasonable compared to the resources the country can spend on education;

    6) Use Open Standards, Open Data, Open Source, and Open Innovation: consider using open source authoring tools (i.e. eXeLearning: supported by a wide community, works offline, can publish to muliple operating systems);

    Principles 1-9: Have a look at how @butterflyworks operate http://www.butterflyworks.org/method/

    In terms of pedagogy and policy, this is a good place to start reading about effective pedagogical practices that have a strong research base: http://amzn.to/1CMuqfG


  4. I would say that one principle needs to be to ensure that the education “delivered” actually matches what is wanted or needed in a particular context. For example, with the current outbreak of disease that’s in danger of destroying all banana crops in Africa, it would be relevant to provide farmers with education that helps them to meet this challenge since it is a present danger but one that might also appear in the future. Too often I feel people/systems educate for tests and not for solving real-world issues. Problem-based learning is a creative approach to teaching and learning that I think is under-utilized, especially in developing contexts.

  5. Isabelle Duston says:

    i am currently working on a solution for the global Learning xprize, where all the principles of Digital Development are being implemented http://www.educationappsforall.com

    However I find some of them hard to apply in the education communities in low income countries. The main issues seem to be the reluctance to build something that is designed to be adapted to others (and therefore sustainable). It’s difficult to be community driven, to think local need, local solution and at the same time expect people to design for scale…