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RE: [xmca] Thoughts on Digital Technologies and Poverty

Hey then Luisa perhaps the cell phone is a germ cell in the Davydovian sense
to new horizons. I can empathize with your situation and would love to learn
more as it sounds similar to what we are experiencing...


-----Original Message-----
From: xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu [mailto:xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu] On
Behalf Of Luisa Aires
Sent: samedi 1 janvier 2011 18:22
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: Re: [xmca] Thoughts on Digital Technologies and Poverty

Dear Mike, Yrjo, Andy, Denise and ALL

This is a very promising topic to open the New Year discussion.

Mike your friend´s comment (?*Can?t afford an iphone? Really*??) reminds me
those who have no doubt that e-learning is the most important way to promote
higher education in a country with economical (educational, health,
environmental,..) poverty and high levels of digital illiteracy, reinforcing
(with this ideology) educational offers to those social groups who already
have it-  urban, social middle class, higher education and so forth, and
forgetting those who need it: rural, minority groups, basis class, digital
illiterate groups.

Yrjo´s article tells us that we need to start from the ground (?The problem
with technologies is that we would like them to be universal? This tends to
blind the technology-driven researcher to the historical and cultural
specificity of the particular activity systems in which the technology is
supposed to be used). Denise also reminds us the fortunes spent by companies
with computers without having estimating potential uses. In Portugal we have
the same experience. Now we are trying to see what is happening with
computers offered to the families and we can see that social exclusion
processes, low educational levels, strong asymmetries coexist in the
narratives of digital illiteracy people.
The cells phenomenon is similar: everybody has it, even if they don´t know
how to write.

Andy, your question about the postmodern governance incompetence is
provoking. I would like to believe that this is just a question of
incompetence and not an ethic and moral problem ;-)

All the best

Luísa A.

On 1 January 2011 15:20, Denise Newnham <dsnewnham@bluewin.ch> wrote:

> 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
> 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:)
> Denise
> -----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
> 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.
> Andy
> 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
> worst.
> > 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
> well-to-do
> > companies spend fortunes on installing computer rooms without having
> > estimated the use potential. I must admit I share your feelings in the
> lack
> > 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
> this
> > out on a bus journey at three in the morning between Maun and Gaborone.
> > woman clothed in rags climbed on board at some remote spot and put her
> very
> > wet baby on my lap while she retrieved her cell phone from her ample
> breasts
> > and proceeded to chat away happily until a second cell phone rang and
> > retrieved this from the same locus and spoke on both phones alternately.
> She
> > did no however appear to have money for diapers or school fees. Perhaps
> this
> > 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
> in
> > 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
> my
> > 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
> reasons,
> > 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
> now
> > 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
> > 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
> of
> > the requisite technologies. My friend dismissed my concerns about
> reliance
> > on educational practices that excluded a large part of the population on
> the
> > 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
> at
> > the housing project to provide additional resources for the families who
> > live there. Christmas is a special time for charities. All is good
> > The kids get to "shop with a cop" and the parents get some help as well.
> My
> > colleague and a few co-workers organize "Secret Santas" from our
> university,
> > 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:
> food,
> > clothing, bedding, toys for the kids, Avon kits for the mom's. Something
> for
> > everyone. At the apartment where I was a Secret Santa (having
> > 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
> two
> > 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,
> except
> > two sofas, taken out of the dumpster by other tenants who had been
> to
> > leave the project because they could no longer afford to pay the
> subsidized
> > rent.
> >
> >
> >
> > The dad was home, and so was his almost-grown son. They are both looking
> for
> > work. They are attending classes at a local job-training center. So far,
> no
> > luck.  They could still pay the rent on the apartment. And the kids
> > 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
> people
> > 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
> this?
> > 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
> > "You don't know even where to begin."
> >
> >
> >
> > I started to think about the impact of new severe cuts in family
> > that California is facing and the disastrous level of unemployment which
> is
> > unlikely to come down any time soon for these people. Then the
> conversation
> > with my high tech professorial friend came to mind. No, you don't know
> where
> > to beign, I replied, But wherever you start, I don't think it should be
> with
> > the educational potential of i-phones.
> > __________________________________________
> > _____
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> >
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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
> MIA: http://www.marxists.org
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Luísa Aires
Universidade Aberta/Cetac.Media
R.Ameal, nº 752
4200-055 Porto
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