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RE: [xmca] Thoughts on Digital Technologies and Poverty

Thanks Andy this is digressing slightly from the poverty ipod discussion
initiated by Mike.

Interesting space and computer quota solution enabled teachers with computer
literacy and perhaps children with computer literacy in a system that was
perhaps conducive pedagogically ... Many countries in Southern Africa (at
least public schools) cannot brag of these developments. But one thing that
is visible are creative kids that find ways of interacting with ICT's
outside of the school arena, the down side is that this intimidates teachers
that don't have the know how... calls for a mini ICT revolution of an entire
educational system and not a stick on band aid:)

-----Original Message-----
From: xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu [mailto:xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu] On
Behalf Of Andy Blunden
Sent: samedi 1 janvier 2011 14:00
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: Re: [xmca] Thoughts on Digital Technologies and Poverty

Reading Yrjo's paper reminds me: many years ago when I was "Teaching 
Space Consultant" and Melbourne University (a job title the 
administration hope would quietly keep me out of the way) and I was at 
last making progress in convincing teaching staff that I could succeed 
in convincing the management to allow us to start redesigning the 
teaching rooms etc around how the teaching staff actually wanted to 
teach, instead of how architects remembered University in the 1960s or 
whatever. Then the University was given money by a charity to build a 
"Collaborative Learning Centre" in the Library where students could 
access it for long hours. (A game-changing opportunity, but it was a 
fait acompli by the time I heard about it).

So what was their conception of "collaborative learning"? - they bought 
about 100 computers, most of them were put in little carrels so designed 
that it was impossible even for a student to look over another student's 
shoulder, and the other half they put in 2 "laboratories" where the each 
student was hidden behind a screen and the teacher stood at a high bench 
at the front of the room and shouted into space. But it was 
"collaborative" because they were using software.

Once the place had been opened, with the aid of the full-time staff put 
there to offer technical support to students (Christ! If we'd had 
technical assistance in every seminar room!), we got some round tables 
made up for about 5 students per table, and placed one computer per 
table so groups of students could share it and talk about the work etc etc.

But on the other hand, a couple of weeks ago I attended a "local ISCAR" 
conference in Melbourne where people presented papers, and one of the 
papers was about how to train teachers to use a room like one I designed 
in collaboration with a teacher back in 1999. Apparently they are to be 
found all over the state nowadays. So it was nice to know that I hadn't 
been wasting my time. And teh round tables are still in use to this day.

Apologies for dumping on everyone. I should get over it!
Denise Newnham wrote:
> Dear Mike and Yrjo and all xmca
> First of all I wish you a very successful and happy 2011.
> Mike the dilemma is one that to my mind hits the poverty sections the
> As we saw in our CRADLE project in Botswana (Africa) and ICT's in schools,
> it is taken for granted that ICT's will be the answer to weak school
> results. How to get heads of educational departments to understand that
> ICT's are not a quick fix is really difficult. On the other hand
> companies spend fortunes on installing computer rooms without having
> estimated the use potential. I must admit I share your feelings in the
> of expansive potential in this type of thinking and when I look around and
> see the poverty level and all that carelessly wasted money I feel a degree
> of despair. Many children in Botswana do not even enter the school yard
> which signifies intellectual poverty. 
>  It is true that part of this dilemma in Africa is where to begin. Many
> rural people do have cell phones although they are not iphones. I found
> out on a bus journey at three in the morning between Maun and Gaborone. A
> woman clothed in rags climbed on board at some remote spot and put her
> wet baby on my lap while she retrieved her cell phone from her ample
> and proceeded to chat away happily until a second cell phone rang and she
> retrieved this from the same locus and spoke on both phones alternately.
> did no however appear to have money for diapers or school fees. Perhaps
> is a sign of the south meeting the west in the 21century but I don't think
> that this is going to bridge the poverty gap. 
> Obviously we have another type of looming poverty in the 21c which comes
> the form of displaced peoples. As European countries tighten up on their
> immigration laws poorer countries will be the destination for growing
> numbers of refugees and asylum seekers (cf. statistics for South Africa in
> 2010). What forms of education will these people then obtain? It seems to
> mind that the educational gap is going to widen on this planet and I don't
> see how computers are going to step in unless in a truly expansive fashion
> as indicated by Yrjo's article. Just as a matter of interest have you read
> the article by Bhabha (1996) entitled 'culture's in-between'? (this was to
> Mike)
> Well... happy 2011
> Denise
> -----Original Message-----
> From: xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu [mailto:xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu] On
> Behalf Of mike cole
> Sent: samedi 1 janvier 2011 05:55
> To: eXtended Mind, Culture,Activity
> Cc: Laboratory of Comparative Human Cognition Internal List
> Subject: [xmca] Thoughts on Digital Technologies and Poverty
> A quiet evening in a warm dry home sure is a nice place from which to look
> forward, backward, and around on a New Year's eve. For a variety of
> I wrote down the following thoughts. Bail at any time!  :-)
> mike
> ---------------
> Thoughts About Digital Technology and Poverty
> The other day I spoke with a friend, the son of a former college, who is
> a professor in a technologically sophisticated field at a major American
> university. We were talking about an iphone application related to
> education. He thought that the iphone could revolutionize education,
> "pushing knowledge out to everyone." I commented that the young people in
> the housing project where I work did not generally own i-phones. Sure some
> of them texted and all coveted mp3 players, but on the cheapest versions
> the requisite technologies. My friend dismissed my concerns about reliance
> on educational practices that excluded a large part of the population on
> basis of class, and hence, ethnicity. It was a new idea for him. Can't
> afford an iphone? Really?
> The following morning I met a colleague who volunteers to work with staff
> the housing project to provide additional resources for the families who
> live there. Christmas is a special time for charities. All is good cheer.
> The kids get to "shop with a cop" and the parents get some help as well.
> colleague and a few co-workers organize "Secret Santas" from our
> arranging for those of us with money to provide Christmas presents for
> "needy families." Kind of like the NY Times holiday fund raising drive.
> A few days before Christmas, the Santa's helpers delivered the goods:
> clothing, bedding, toys for the kids, Avon kits for the mom's. Something
> everyone. At the apartment where I was a Secret Santa (having comfortably
> donated my money and presents in place of my time and presence) things did
> not go as planned. Santa's helpers knew that the family wanted a bed for
> of the children. So they planned to deliver a bunkbed. But when they
> arrived, they found that there was no furniture in the house at all,
> two sofas, taken out of the dumpster by other tenants who had been forced
> leave the project because they could no longer afford to pay the
> rent.
> The dad was home, and so was his almost-grown son. They are both looking
> work. They are attending classes at a local job-training center. So far,
> luck.  They could still pay the rent on the apartment. And the kids could
> get by on the meals they could provide. But when the unemployment checks
> stop coming, as they soon will, it seems like they may be the next tenants
> to move out. Out to where? God only knows.
> "You know," my colleague mused after she and her coworkers had recruited
> more Santas Helpers to round up the needed furniture and food, "those
> really have it hard. They are looking for work, but there is no work
> anywhere in that neighborhood, not for miles around. And they don't have
> cars. Even if they find a job, how will they get there in a town like
> They are very discouraged. I would be too. I sure feel lucky to have a
> steady job here."
> When I arrived home with this story, my wife, shook her head and replied,
> "You don't know even where to begin."
> I started to think about the impact of new severe cuts in family services
> that California is facing and the disastrous level of unemployment which
> unlikely to come down any time soon for these people. Then the
> with my high tech professorial friend came to mind. No, you don't know
> to beign, I replied, But wherever you start, I don't think it should be
> the educational potential of i-phones.
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*Andy Blunden*
Joint Editor MCA: http://lchc.ucsd.edu/MCA/Journal/
Home Page: http://home.mira.net/~andy/
Videos: http://vimeo.com/user3478333/videos
Book: http://www.brill.nl/default.aspx?partid=227&pid=34857
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