Deep Impact: An investigation of the use of information and communication technologies for teacher education in the global south
This is a summary of relevant findings from the report available here. The research was funded by the UK Dept. for International Development and carried out by researchers from several universities, led by Jenny Leach from the Open University.
The project focuses on introducing ICT in schools through teachers, and crucially includes teacher training in activities and pedagogy to accompany the technology: "integrating subject matter development in tandem with new pedagogic knowledge through classroom-based activity" (p.61). It includes specific steps (detailed on p.16) for introducing computers into schools. Students were aged 8 to 13, in schools in Egypt and South Africa; the technology included laptops and handheld PC (with built-in cameras).
Computers in the classroom were most frequently used to facilitate collaborative work, even moreso in South Africa than Egypt. (p.64) This would seem to contrast strongly with the developed world where they are used primarily for presenting material to students, or for independent work; however, the authors note that no projection displays were available in the South African schools. On the other hand, about half of the schools reported using handhelds in the classroom, and the researchers did not anticipate the "extensive possibilities of the devices to support curriculum learning." (p.86) The least language-dependent tools on the handheld were the most used: games, calculator, camera.
Use of digital photography came to be important. Envisioned mainly for documenting the project, captured images soon became pervasive. "Once teachers were assigned their own cameras, media production was observed to be ceaseless in school communities, especially those that had never before had the opportunity to frame, capture and critically observe themselves, their neighbours, friends, community." (p.56) "Such activity was seen to create new forms of knowledge," giving status and importance to activities, events, resources, individual and group identity. (p.57)
Literacy activities encouraged investigations into the local culture and environment, and the technology helps to preserve cultural heritage in what is primarily an oral tradition. See related projects StoryBank, Neighborhood Narratives and StoryCorps.
Student activities included studying local herbs by collecting them, scanning and making a book (p.48). See related project learning trails.
Use of the technology mobilised entire communities as computers were shared among families, friends, colleagues, community organisations. These included an ICT literacy class for parents and the use of a laptop by a hospital, in exchange for charging the battery. These findings mirror our own understanding of such communities; see Cecilia Oyugi and Lynne Dunckley interviews.
"A key lesson learned is that ICT innovations should be looked at holistically: not just in relation to teachers and their classrooms, but also to the needs of institutions and communities more broadly." (p.91)
The report states "In project settings home use is virtually unkown." (p.79) However, we can point to the Homework project.
"The fact that equipment survival was no worse than and, after factoring in levels of usage, may even be better than, that for schools in more developed contexts challenges the view that ICT is an inapprpriate technology for rural contexts." (p.89)