Wayan Vota has asked, on the Educational Technology Debate site, How Can Digital Learning Resources Expand Education in Africa?
- What are appropriate models to procuring or developing suitable digital content?
- Can openly licensed content play a meaningful role in supporting education in Africa?
- What are the major challenges to finding, adapting, and using digital content effectively?
To which I commented,
Sugar Labs, which provides the Sugar software for One Laptop Per Child XOs, has started a project called Replacing Textbooks to create OER materials for all subjects at all levels for all countries in all languages needed. This includes all levels of teacher training as well. There is also a Blog.
There are many other projects working on various part of the overall requirement.
What are appropriate models to procuring or developing suitable digital content?
- Subject matter experts can create OER materials in their areas of expertise and put them under Creative Commons licenses on their own initiative, just as a few do now. See, for example, the Librarian Chick catalog.
- NGOs and governments can contract with groups of subject matter experts, instructional designers, and others to produce materials to meet their curriculum standards.
- Governments can put out a call for existing OER materials, as the California Free Digital Textbook Initiative has done.
- Research groups can explore how children can learn topics more deeply or at an earlier stage of development with computer assistance, as some have done since the 1960s. Now we can afford to deploy what they have found to work.
- Courses can be designed around specific software packages for math, science, art, music, writing, programming, and other subjects. Among others, Sugar education activities.
Can openly licensed content play a meaningful role in supporting education in Africa?
It already does, and much, much more is coming. See, as one example in South Africa, the Shuttleworth Foundation Free High School Science Texts.
What are the major challenges to finding, adapting, and using digital content effectively?
Convincing governments that computers with Free Software and OER cost less than printed textbooks, so they should fully fund development of educational software and OER for all subjects at all levels of child development for all countries in all languages needed, and for teacher training. Since the investment required is negative, the Return on Investment is infinite.