The SIG-III Blog

Notes from the ASIS&T special interest group in international information

Archive for July 2008

Best practices for digital education: A case study of ICT in India

Smart classroom

Image by Idiolector, used under the Creative Commons license.

Last month Leigh Linden published Complement or Substitute?, a useful study that goes beyond the question of whether information and communication technologies (ICT) can make a positive difference in education and asks instead how they may be best implemented to make such a positive difference. Writing about Linden’s research on the World Bank’s PSD Blog, Ryan Hahn offers the following summary:

Employing a pair of randomized evaluations of computer use in classrooms in Gujarat, India, Linden found that computers improve learning outcomes when they are used as a complement to the normal curriculum, rather than as a replacement for the standard offering. He also found that the weakest students benefitted most, as the computers allowed for further practice of material already covered in the classroom. Finally, Linden also found that the computers were about as cost-effective an intervention as girls scholarship programs, cash incentives for teachers, and textbooks.

Classroom in India

Image by World Bank Photo Collection,
used under the Creative Commons license.

What would be interesting to see now is the extent to which cultural attitudes towards education in Gujarat inform the effective use of these ICT in the classroom. Would the results be different in another city or another country that possesses different attitudes towards education? How so? I would love to see this research project repeated in one or more locations in different parts of the world. I would love to see how the results change or don’t change in different global settings. If you know of any similar experiments, please point to them in the comments — I would love to hear about them and have a dialog about the strengths of different digital education programs in different parts of the world.

Contributed by Aaron Bowen

Written by sigiii

July 17, 2008 at 6:27 pm

A very cool use of Second Life

Image by kedguest, used under the Creative Commons license.

Today I ran across these two articles, one by Tom Peter in the Christian Science Monitor, and the other by Holly Jackson at CNet news. These articles note the use of Second Life as a venue for intercultural exchange, particularly at the virtual campuses different universities have set up in Second Life. (See for example the image of San Jose State’s virtual campus in the screenshot above). Peter says that

Around the world, universities, and even the US Department of State, are turning to online virtual worlds to create cultural exchanges. In these immersive, 3-D environments, users from around the globe can collaborate in ways that were previously impossible.

He also notes a group of university students in the United Arab Emerates who used Second Life to visit a virtual rendition of Darfur, make a pilgrimage to (virtual) Mecca, and interact with a group of Korean students to promote a cross-cultural exchange.

I find this a very worthwhile and exciting use of Second Life (or a second life clone such as IMVU, Gaia, or There). I believe such interaction will offer positive benefits as the world continues to grow interconnected and international projects such as Mainland Brasil (the Brazilian version of Second Life) continue to expand.

Contributed by Aaron Bowen

Written by sigiii

July 10, 2008 at 6:04 pm