Berkman Center for Internet and Society The World Bank Institute Berkman Center for Internet and Society The World Bank Institute Mexico El Salvador Costa Rica Panama Brazil The Gambia South Africa Uganda Jordan India Philippines
About The Project

Mission
Background Information
Goals
Methodology
Partner Organizations

Mission | top of page
As national and local governments in developing countries work to implement policies and programs for integrating Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) in education, a greater need has developed for assessing and evaluating how effective, efficient and transformative these technologies are in education. The Global Networked Readiness for Education project seeks:

  1. to aid school leaders and policymakers by collecting and analyzing preliminary data that assesses the initial impact of ICTs in education;
  2. to supply meaningful resources that addresses the needs and concerns of policymakers and education leaders in developing countries; and
  3. to provide an initial report on ICTs and educational practice.

Currently, there is no clear sense of how most efforts to introduce technology in schools are faring, individually or collectively, nor is there a rigorous understanding of the factors that are correlated with success or failure. The mission of this project seeks to begin to address these concerns.

Background Information | top of page
Over the past decade, the goals of preparing citizens for the global "knowledge economy," "information society" or the "21st century workforce" have become increasingly prominent on governmental agendas, particularly in terms of the incorporation of information and communication technologies (ICTs) into learning systems

In the developing world, where there has been increasing pressure to "catch up" to the more developed countries, the addition of ICTs in schools has become a central element of national and sub-national education policy and practice. Ministries of education, public, state, and municipal-level school authorities as well as private school organizations have invested substantial amounts of money, time and energy in the goal of preparing their youth to participate successfully in a technology-savvy workplace.

Yet in spite of the vast effort being made to integrate computers and the Internet with education, there is still a poor understanding of how these technologies are being used, and even less comprehension of how ICTs have impacted learning. In the more developed regions of North America, industrialized Asia, Australia and the European Union, there has been greater emphasis on evaluation of school technology programs, and a cloudy (and not uniquely positive) picture of effectiveness of approach and implementation is beginning to appear.

School leaders and policymakers alike are left with limited data about the use and impact of ICTs in their systems and face corresponding difficulties in planning and measuring their progress towards effective integration of ICTs. The Global Networked Readiness in Education project seeks to aid school leaders and policymakers by helping them move beyond reliance on certain basic inputs as "predictors" (for example, student-computer ratios or hours of training) to examining what is actually happening inside the system (user experiences and their interaction with "predictors").

Goals | top of page
Few reliable statistics exist that illustrate the status of ICT for education programs in developing countries. In an effort to address some of these shortcomings of monitoring, evaluation, and and data collection, and to provide insight for policymakers, the ICT for Education Program of the World Bank Institute and the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School, with the support of the Education Development Center, launched a pilot research project in 2003 to directly solicit user experiences of ICTs in developing world schools.

The Toolkits developed as part of this project seek to address the intermingled challenges of rapidly changing technological environment, increasing hopes and expectations for technology use in education, and deficits of data to understand the impact of this integration. The Global Networked Readiness for Education Project has three main goals:

  1. To develop toolkits that will aid policymakers in the planning process around ICTs and Education. A) An online Survey Toolkit was developed to provide a powerful resource to policymakers who wish to understand better how ICTs have impacted learning within their communities. The Survey Toolkit is an instrument that education policymakers can deploy in schools in their community to collect data about user experiences with ICTs and Education. These data can serve as essential inputs to decision making, helping them to understand what is actually happening in schools, identify areas they may wish to address differently, and develop plans that are appropriate to their unique context. Interested users can visit the Survey Toolkit area of this website for further information. The toolkit is also available in PDF format for off-line use.

    B) An online Resource Toolkit was developed to help policymakers and researchers find existing research, case studies and other resources that can facilitate the planning process. Decision makers' experience with and priorities for incorporating ICTs into an educational environment are varied, and it is often difficult for them to locate appropriate materials that can help them during planning and implementation. The Resource Toolkit helps to organize online resources according to the needs and interests of the user.
  2. To develop the first stage of an international database of ICT/Education indicators.

    As of the beginning of this project in 2003 there were no good international datasets of cross-national statistical indicators relating to ICTs and Education. The project team utilized the Survey Toolkit to create more and better data. Separate survey instruments for teachers, students, heads-of-school and computer lab administrators, were deployed in eleven countries in late 2003.

    These data should help policymakers and analysts begin to better understand the developing world experience of ICTs in schools.

    If further funding and partners can be found, it is hoped that the database will be expanded to include more countries and schools, in order to maximize the value of the data collection.
  3. To provide preliminary findings that reflect the ICT and Education experience in eleven countries in the developing world based on results of the 2003 pilot survey.

    It is hoped that these findings will add value to the participants' understanding of the state of Networked Readiness in Education in their nation and their schools.
Methodology | top of page

The project owes a great deal of gratitude to local in-country coordinators who were asked to select participating schools, to deploy surveys, to collect and sometimes enter data into a web-based survey, and to perform additional administrative and data tracking tasks. These coordinators were volunteers from various non-profit organizations, operating with the consent of participating schools, as well as the Ministry of Education in some cases. Data collection occurred from September – November, 2003.

Participants

COUNTRIES: Eleven developing countries including Brazil, Costa Rica, El Salvador, the Gambia, India (state of Karnataka), Jordan, Mexico, Panama, the Philippines, South Africa, and Uganda participated in the study. They were selected based on a combination of characteristics including geography (three African, one Middle Eastern, two Asian and four Latin American nations), income, language, population, ICT-education activity at the secondary education level, and presence of on-the-ground contacts.

SCHOOLS: Country coordinators developed a list of potential participant schools according to project guidelines, and determined the final participants in collaboration with US-based coordinators. Schools were required to have computers and preferably Internet connectivity (or at least had it in the recent past – access often fluctuates due to funding, technology and electricity issues), and offer secondary education. The sample was selected such that schools had varied incomes, sizes and geographic locations; included government and some private institutions; and had different levels of ICT experience, programmatic approaches and priorities. The schools surveyed had between 100 and more than 2000 students, less than a year to over 18 years of computer experience, and anywhere from one to more than 40 computers.

RESPONDENTS: Respondents groups included students, teachers, lab supervisors and heads of school. In selecting participants from the student and teacher populations, coordinators were asked:

  1. to seek gender balance (except in single-sex schools), and include people who had some exposure or access to ICT without exerting a preference for supporters or detractors, experts or novices; and
  2. to select respondents as randomly as possible, but subject to the aforementioned constraints. Students were usually chosen by classes or grades, which used (or was permitted to access) computers at least occasionally, thus the student group is more varied than the teachers.
Respondent Groups Number of Participants
Heads of School 126
Computer Lab Supervisors 121
Teachers 1088
Students 3768
TOTAL number of participants 5103

Procedure

DEVELOPMENT OF SURVEY TOOL QUESTIONS: Given the diversity of the sample population, there were many challenges in designing questions that were understood across cultures and languages. The questions were written to maximize the use of common terms with precise meanings. They were originally developed in English with close collaboration between the teams at Harvard and the World Bank Institute. They were then pilot-tested in the field, and were also reviewed by ICT-education experts from a variety of nations and professional disciplines. Based on the feedback received, we made significant changes to the survey’s composition, wording, question order, response options, and physical layout. Once the surveys were finalized they were then translated into Spanish, Portuguese and Kannada (native language of the state of Karnataka, India). and PDF files were made available online.

DEPLOYMENT OF SURVEYS: The country coordinators distributed surveys as a hard copy to each respondent. The respondents were asked to fill in the hard copies, and then enter the results using the survey’s Web interface. The HTML and PDF versions were identical in layout and are available in English, Portuguese and Spanish, while the Kannada version for India was only available in hard copy. On-site bilingual assistance was given in Karnataka, India (Kannada/English), Jordan (Arabic/English) and The Philippines (Tagalog/Cebuana/English) when the surveys were filled out. This assistance proved to be very helpful and valuable especially for students, who occasionally had difficulties understanding and/or contextualizing some questions. Where it was deemed inadvisable for whatever reason for respondents to enter them directly (usually due to poor connectivity or insufficient computers), the hard copies were collected and entered by the coordinator or someone appointed by him or her. The paper copies were subsequently returned to the research team.

DATA COLLECTION: Each new survey entered on the web was given a unique code that allowed an interrupted survey to be re-initiated without data loss, and supported security, testing and tracking. The electronically entered data was collected into a common database for further analysis.

Partner Organizations | top of page
The following partners have been instrumental in the success of this pilot project:

Brazil
Enlaces-Brasil

Costa Rica
Ministry of Public Education
Fundación Omar Dengo

El Salvador
Ministry of Education

Gambia
World Links - The Gambia

India
World Links - India

Jordan
Ministry of Education

Philippines
Pilipinas Schoolnet

Panama
Private Sector Council for Educational Assistance (CoSPAE)

South Africa
Schoolnet South Africa

Uganda
Schoolnet Uganda

In addition, we would like to thank the numerous individuals and organizations that provided valuable input, advice and logistical support to the development of this toolkit, including the SEED (Schlumberger Excellence in Educational Development) program, iEARN, World Computer Exchange, WIDE World at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and many others.