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Innovation and ICT in schools
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As I've mentioned elsewhere, focus on innovation at the macro-economic level, even in countries with underperforming economies, is almost exclusively on the confluence of university-focused knowledge networks and private-sector companies. However, as Arnoldo Ventura, senior science & technology advisor to the PM of Jamaica puts it: 

We need to adjust science, technology and engineering courses, making them more interdisciplinary, hands-on and inclusive of collective learning.  

Mr Ventura is of course describing changes that fit many Caribbean countries' goals as expressed in education policy--for primary and secondary schools--perfectly. But these goals are rarely if ever addressed by education programs, per se, and then with limited success. Instead, schools are test-driven, learning is rote-based. The best and the brightest, at least as identified by Caribbean education systems, have never been rewarded for creativity or for collaboration. 

There is a strong need, especially in economies in the Caribbean and other regions where countries are poised to catch up with the OECD, to integrate the building blocks of innovation into education. 

Tim Kelly at infoDev argues that technology has a critical role to play in the introduction of innovation practices in schools: 
 
"In order to instil these talents in students, the teachers must first capture their attention and their imagination. It is much easier to do that with technology than with textbooks or with chalk and talk."

In general, I'm in agreement, for the following reasons: The motivational impact of ICT in schools turns out to be, a) among the first impacts ever demonstrated; b) _still_ cropping up in studies today, despite the increased presence of computers outside of school; c) one of the few impacts that is as strong, or stronger, in developing-country schools.  It IS easier to engage the imagination with computers, precisely because IMHO students _imagine_ the use of computers to do impossible things--write to a kid across the world, find out about China or the USA, make a web page that tells about your own life. No one in the real world does those things with chalk and slate.

For students in those poor countries, ICT is both an icon of and an engine of innovation. It motivates and it enables.

 


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