Saturday 11 October 2008

A future for new media in education programs in developing countries?

Stephanie Zwier recently joined the Euforic team to work on ComPart knowledge sharing and learning activities. We asked her to reflect on her previous work with Plan Netherlands and to introduce herself:


As part of the Euforic team, I will support learning in the ICCO Alliance. My name is Stephanie Zwier, I am a young consultant working on policy and research in development organisations. I write this posting because a number of people at ICCO asked me to reflect on my learning experience at Plan Netherlands. Last year I worked at Plan where I helped to stimulate learning. I will reflect on learning within Plan's livelihood learning group and on some research I conducted on learning from their pilot School improvement program.

Plan is an international Development organisation that aims for a world in which children can develop their full potential. One theme Plan works on is livelihoods. The livelihoods learning group was facing some start up difficulties, it had no leader for a while and was lagging behind. As soon as a leader was appointed we, as a group, cooperated to develop a learning action plan. With outside support the group developed first a vision, then a mission and, after a while, an entire learning plan that was put into action. Central in this plan was the thought of generating best practices and stimulating learning. The plan involved a decentralisation process, whereby our group set up four learning sites in 'the south'. At these learning sites a different culture was stimulated to share knowledge and generating best practices. This required some behavioural change, but was soon appreciated and ownership grew.

To stimulate learning on the education program I furthermore conducted a research and wrote the report 'learning for innovation in quality education: A meta-evaluation of Plan's school improvement program'. This program was a holistic pilot program on quality education, implemented in from 2003 until 2006 in Africa, Asia and Latin-America. The pilot SIP was thoroughly evaluated in 2006 and 2007. The evaluation reports were not yet compared or analysed. The learning potential offered by these reports was the reason why I decided to analyse them in a meta-evaluation. This research emphasises the importance of involving children in the learning process. 
My first day at ICCO, I discovered how new media, such as wiki's, blogs and video's is used to stimulate learning. Its use follows a 'bottom- up' approach. It seems to challenge more common hierarchical structures, by involving ICCO staff in all layers of its organisation. New media enables knowledge sharing through social networks. Especially in the area of education I could imagine the vast possibilities for such new media to distribute knowledge in the south and increase children's participation. I therefore would like to trigger some debate by stating that ´the use of new media in education programs is a way forward to increase possibilities for children in developing countries´. What do you think of this statement?

By Stephanie Zwier

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