by Lynda Okoko
“Education is a progressive discovery of our ignorance” Will Durant.
The introduction of technology into education shortened as ‘Ed-Tech’, to enhance learning spans back to the 15th century with the creation of the Hornbook, a wooden paddle with hand written lessons.
At the time, this was considered a good method to present information to students but evolved to the creation of the PLATO in the 20th century, which was the first system for computer-based learning, developed and used at the University of Illinois with the ratio to students at the time as 1:92.
The concept of using digital tools to advance human learning has grown globally, but particularly in the more developed countries because this method is focused on the student whereas in developing countries the children learn less in school due to the quality of the curriculum. A major benefit of using digital tools is that outcomes can be measured, thus providing evidence on which practices are the most effective. In recent years, the necessity of research in implementing these programs has gained increased acknowledgment especially in regards to training teachers on how best to integrate these devices as working aids and never to assume them as substitutes.
East African countries have taken interest in this form of learning realising it as a long-term solution to key problems such as alleviating poverty. Kenya, regarded as the second most active ICT country in Africa in 2013 with internationally recognized technology achievements, is whole-heartedly embracing the ICT era. It was the first country in this cluster to propose an ICT policy back in 1980 through the ‘Ministry of Research’. This however was only adopted much later in 2006 and is currently in the process of being implemented as e-learning which aims to develop ICT in the teaching and learning curriculum. Tanzania then followed, setting up their policy in 2003 with the hope to have a well-educated society by improving the quality of learning. Uganda’s policy although initiated in 1998 by a group of international organizations was only approved in 2003 with the aim to make young people more employable. Rwanda began their policy development in 1998 but released the plan in 2001 a delay from the 1994 conflicts, with the mission of using e-learning to build a ‘modern and prosperous nation, strong and united, worthy and proud of fundamental principles’ Romain Murenzi. Burundi developed their policy in 2004 which was embraced by the government in 2007 but is still yet to gain full interest as they still recover from the 1993 crisis, forcing them to focus first on the basic issues in providing good education.
Changing the students’ mind-set at a younger age through this 21st century exposure to technology is beneficial in that rather than spoon-feeding knowledge, they are encouraged to incorporate critical thinking, problem solving and innovation; following from Sir Peter Blake “New technology is common, new thinking is rare” . With regards to Ed-Tech in Kenya, innovative individuals within the country have created education platforms on different devices, containing content approved by the Kenya Institute of Education (KIE), which holds the responsibility of developing and distributing the ICT curriculum. iHub Research in the spirit of keeping up with technological innovations is participating in a couple of projects pertaining to this agreeing with John Dewey that “If we teach our children today as we taught yesterday, we rob our children of tomorrow”.
In our next blog, we shall share on ed-tech innovations in the Kenyan space as well as those iHub Research is participating in!