Tuesday, June 25, 2013
MOOCs aren’t all about money but when it comes to their future, money does matter. Calls for the monetisation of MOOCs are reasonable, although a little at odds with the failure in the past to look for the monetisation of Higher Education as a whole. In many ways MOOCs are a response to the ever-rising costs of higher education that has led to record levels of student debt and the worry that defaults may be on the horizon.
No one should deliver a MOOC without considering income but pure ‘monetisation’ is the wrong term, as a MOOC is an activity that needs to be seen in terms of both costs and income over time. So I’ll come at this as if it was both an income and cost issue, namely its impact on your profit & loss account. Note also that an institution could position its financial goal as an investment, aim for break-even or go for profit. Monetisation is ot just about profits.
A MOOC can be seen as a strategic investment by an institution and be paid for straight from its existing budget. The rationale for this can be a number of things that we’ll come to in terms of reducing costs and other revenue streams. For the moment, one could simply fund such an initiative from your teaching, technology or marketing budget. There is also an argument for funding it as research. Interestingly, some institutions clearly see themselves as leading the charge and developing MOOC software for use by others.
Not-for-profits have been very active in this area. As a Trustee of a major education charity, I have supported a very large charity investment in a single MOOC in the UK. Well known charities in the US have also been very active. Mitra’s million pound TED prize is going towards a MOOC of sorts (school in the cloud) and the WISE $500,00 prize is another possible sources.
In many countries this is the primary course of funding and we have already seen government funding go into Futurelearn, via the Open University, in the UK, albeit in a rather opaque fashion. Tapping into government funds to increase access, I’d suggest is a good model for killing two birds with one financial stone, rather than woolly ‘access offices’.
4. Private equity
They have been active in the US, most notably with Udacity and Coursera, but also in other initiatives. These investors take calculates risks and this is one way for the system to hedge its risk.
5. Private donations
Institutions often tap into alumni for donations that go into expensive, and sometimes ill-advised, capital projects, usually buildings named after the donor. An alternative is emerging, where donors contribute towards courses. This is a fine idea, especially if the donor is an interested party, with some background and credibility in the subject.
Google, AT&T and others have been active in sponsoring MOOCs that seem relevant to their mission. There is every reason to see this as a substantial and useful source of revenue. It is common the arts and arts education, so I see no reason as to why it should not be used in education.
7. Students pay
Udemy use this model and with reasonably low costs that attract students who see value for relatively little money. Freemium models may move towards fees for popular and sought after courses or a more n-depth learning experience after a taster.
This is top of the list, as a portion of MOOCers will want certification and be prepared to pay for it, at various levels. Given the large numbers of potential participants, even at a relatively modest price point, this could be lucrative. Remember that, once the fixed, up-front costs have been paid, the on-going cost-per-student are small. Coursera’s Signature Track fees are $30-100.
9. Proctored assessment
Many MOOCs offer online and offline assessment, on a shared revenue basis, with the likes of ProctorU and Pearson VUE. This is an additional high-value proposition that can attract prices greater than that of volume certification.
Some MOOCs have already linked the course to compulsory or optional course materials such as existing textbooks but there’s also potential sales from specialised course materials, such as software and equipment.
11. Summer schools
Universities have pitifully low occupancy rates, one reason for their high costs, so offering ‘summer schools’ or other ‘holiday period’ ;earning experiences could be one way to generate income, especially from the intellectually curious, who are less interested in certification. The Open University, in the UK, has been doing this for decades.
Recruitment referral (with student’s permission) is an existing revenue stream, especially in IT and other technical MOOCs, where high-end, practical skills are sought from a Global pool. The referral comes, of course with the employers knowledge of what the MOOC delivers and demands of its students.
Any online delivery that attracts large numbers of eyeballs, can generate advertising revenue. In this case the advertisers know exactly what sort of audience they’re attracting, and as MOOCs develop, this data will become invaluable. It’s not just the number of participants, now in their millions, but the intense amount of times and time they spend on the course.
14. Future indigenous student income
MOOCs aimed at high-school students will increase your chances of getting those students into your institution or at least getting the best of those students.
15. Future overseas students income
Overseas income is a £5 billion industry in theUk and could rise to £16.9 bllion by2025. These have become an essential source of income for many institutions but as countries, especially in India, China and the Far East. develop their own, large, world-class institutions, and visa restrictions bite, revenues may fall. MOOCs have remarkably diverse audiences, with students often coming from every corner of the globe. This must be a way of attracting more students to study and pay fees at your institution.
16. Parents of future students
These are the people who pay top dollar for education and often play a pivotal role in what institutions their children apply to. MOOCs targeted at this audience make perfect sense. It gives the parent a feel for the institution and even the academic(s) teaching there. These are the ‘influencers’ that marketeers love to target.
17. Future alumni contributions
MOOCs are already being targeted at alumni, as in many countries, especially the UK, the vast majority of alumni remain an untapped source of income. This is a way of staying in touch and marketing to alumni in a way that is relevant to both parties, intellectually and not just financial begging.
18. Brand capital
A University sees its staff come and go, its students come and go, its research owned and delivered by publishers and others. The core ‘value’ is in the brand, that’s what endures and has to be built, enhanced and protected. MOOCs undoubtedly enhance brands as they are a form of massive, indirect, online advertising.
19. Reduced capital costs
Universities have now realised, despite all the warnings, that they have been spending far too much money on bricks and not clicks. The race is not now who has the biggest campus packed with the most buildings but the online war for students. To continue with endless capital projects at the expense of MOOCs, and other online initiatives, is simply to load up on-going maintenance and real-estate costs. Just think what one could do if tere were a moratorium on building in Higher Education.
20. Reduced faculty costs
Many faculty don’t like teaching seems – OK I’ve said it – but it’s true. Many yearn for a reduction or freedom from teaching. MOOCs are one way to lessen the load on faculty. Take some high-volume, undergraduate courses and put them online (or partly online).
ConclusionI’m pretty sure I’ve missed a few other potential income streams and welcome additional suggestions. I’m also sure there are arguments to be made on costs and income around lower drop-out rates for students that prepare by doing a MOOC. There may even be a way of using ‘access’ funds. Whatever the future for MOOCs, it strikes me that money is not a big problem. The cost-per-student metric shows that MOOCs deliver volume therefore lower costs. This is the scaling up that technology inevitably brings leading to lower delivery costs. It has happened in almost every other area of human endeavour and its about time it happened in education..
Thursday, June 13, 2013
African MOOCs: unlocking a billion more brains
“Nothing has more potential to lift more people out of poverty — by providing them an affordable education to get a job or improve in the job they have. Nothing has more potential to unlock a billion more brains to solve the world’s biggest problems.”
Thomas Friedman NY Times
On this view MOOCs are a godsend for Africa. Free, they have the potential to reach vast audiences who stand no chance of getting anywhere near higher education as we know it in the developed world. On the other hand, as the Namibian President wisely said at E-learning Africa this month, let’s not make the mistake of following an overly academic approach at the expense of Africa’s vocational needs, what he called the 'spectacle of hallucination'. African MOOCs will have to be more relevant to Africa’s vocational needs, such as agriculture, healthcare and entrepreneurship. A third view, is that Africa needs to produce as well as consume MOOCs. Absolutely.
The bottom line is that the simple idea of making and making use of relevant courses, made free (or cheap) and accessible to millions of young Africans, is as good an example as any of Africa leapfrogging a Western Higher Education system that has proved slow, cumbersome and far too expensive. The last thing Africa needs are $20-$40,000 per year undergraduate courses.
‘Africamooc’ is alive and kicking, aggregating and hosting MOOCs. Jens Schneider, a wonderfully enthusiastic Namibian says, “If your course is free, we host for free”. This is a useful service as Jens understands the real needs and contexts in which MOOCs could be used in Africa. Aggregation and reuse is a start, a good start.
An example of a relevant vocational MOOC is Jim Vetter’s LIFE, a not-for-profit funded MOOC for entrepreneurs from all over the world, with many in Africa. He uses a MOOC to develop small businesses, especially tech businesses. Lessons learnt? Use a pedagogy for a range of literacies, make it multilingual and make content available on a range of devices. He also uses learners to help develop content, as they know a lot about troubleshooting in their own, local environments. Stories are important, as are JOLTs (just in time learning tools). What was needed were practical, skills around start-up costs, fixed costs, variable costs, profit & loss, cash flow and so on. For this he uses free, open source spread-sheets with P &Ls etc. He delivers in English and Spanish, and soon in French and Arabic. This is important as 202 countries have logged in so far and it is widely used throughout Africa. I also likes his free ‘facilitator guide’ downloadable from the site.
Tanzanian IT MOOCsEven more relevant to African needs is the World Bank funded Coursera initiative to provide market-relevant IT skills in Tanzania, where jobs are going unfilled due to lack of relevant IT skills. Tanzania’s problem is not unusual in Africa where talented students go abroad to study, leaving the country bereft of high-end skills. They hope to match IT MOOCs to local employment needs by involving stakeholders such as local IT lecturers, businesses and entrepreneurs. This is promising as it pays attention to local culture and context.
African perspective on MOOCs
What’s now needed are a few home grown MOOCs from African institutions. They need not be universities. Gertjan van Stam has spent a long time in deep, rural Africa, in Zimbabwe and Zambia, and has some revealing insights into MOOCs in Africa. The African perspective on MOOCs, he feels, should be different. Take the rural or traditional African perspective on the subject and you see things through different eyes. 71% in his village use the internet for education in deep rural villages. In his village role models emerged, such as the woman who went online to get a Degree in Divinity and became an important member of the clergy. His children use Khan and BBC Bitesize for maths, His wife, a doctor, is doing a MOOC on mobile health. Most education not accessible to the poor, so MOOCs are a real educational opportunity.
However, he says that Africa must transmit and not just consume MOOCs. There’s a real need for MOOCs in indigenous languages, sensitive to Africa’s oral tradition. Content in just western languages is hampering progress. Even worse, it may strengthen colonial thought. He wants MOOCs ‘contextualised for Africa’ and sees them as an opportunity to ‘send an African knowledge to the world’. What does this mean? Ubunto – ‘my humanity is linked to your humanity’, Orality - used extensively in Africa, where instant discourse influences everything. He’d like to see MOOCs provide more long-term educational content that ‘withstands rampant individualism’, especially in the Africa where the short-term is unpredictable. This is fascinating and opens up the possibility for MOOCs that are far more oral, immediate and useful than using or repackaged western courses.
When these people presented their visions for African MOOCs, it was disappointing to hear predictable responses about drop-outs, certification and quibbles about the history of MOOCs. This is to apply old narrow narratives to something entirely new and disruptive. This was in stark contrast to the visionaries, who were actually doing real work, on real MOOCs, with large numbers of real learners. We needn’t worry. The digital genie has escaped from the Ivory Tower and caught the imagination of people who really care about access. Thinking of MOOCs in Africa makes you see the potentials for escape from the dominant and oppressive western model of Higher Education; remote, inaccessible, expensive, elitist and overly-academic. I wish them well.
Wednesday, June 12, 2013
E-learning Africa – 7 new narratives
Amazing event - 1500 people from all over Africa, to discuss, debate, dance, sing and celebrate. I’ve never been to a conference like it, and believe me I’ve been to a few. I was there to give a keynote, workshop and take part in the final event of the conference – the Big Debate but to be honest I gained much more than I gave. To give you some idea of the humour on hand, during a meal at which I was eating crocodile, zebra, kudu and springbok, a lad from Uganda asked of Channa (who’s vegetarian), “If you like animals so much, why are you eating all their food”.
1. New African narrative
Africa (whatever that is) wants to do things its own way. The people at this event wanted to change the old pessimistic narrative of poverty, starvation, AIDS, malaria and dependency, to a new narrative of optimism and self-sufficiency. I met nothing but friendly, enthusiastic, committed people, who want to do things the African way.
So what is this African ‘way’? What I think lay at the heart of the sentiment was the idea that Africa had been subjected to foreign influences for too long. I constantly heard calls for approaches and contents to be more relevant, contextualised and in local languages. I gave my own view in The Big Debate, a wonderfully, raucous event held at the end of the conference, where I presented evidence that Mitra’s Hole-in-the-Wall projects ad Negroponte’s Ethiopian adventure were dangerous, unsustainable and at times downright lies. "Don't let educational colonialism sneak in... with bucket loads of hardware and content that is inappropriate for your children." My formidable opponent Adele said something similar when she urged approaches “By the Africans for the Africans - and we will share best practice with you when it's done." This debate, on ‘sustainability v innovation’ was a hoot. Massive audience participation, loads of laughs and although we clearly won, there was a messy recount and the decision was reversed. When I asked why, the reply was telling, “Remember Donald, this is Africa!”
2. Mobiles as lifelines
My keynote talk was on mobile learning, small beer elsewhere but BIG in Africa. The Nokia 3310 has legendary status in Africa, but Samsung’s the new kid on the block. Africa loves mobile tech. Calls, text, health, finance – they’ve found a myriad of ways to use mobiles to enhance their lives. Tariffs are still high but youngsters would go without food for more airtime. As was explained to me in the Katatura Township, a mobile for someone in real poverty is far more important than for someone in a developed country. If you rely on piece-work, you need to be available to take a call at any time. It’s a way of managing and transferring what little money you have and receiving remittances from that relative abroad. It’s a way of switching on your electricity and getting medical help. It’s a lifeline.
My keynote was all about mobile learning. The very first piece of technology was invented here in Africa – the stone axe. And for 1.7 million years this was the dominant technology – the first handheld device. But there’s something odd about stone axes, as many are found in pristine condition, unused, or as large axes, far too big to be practical. As pieces of useful technology, they had ‘status’ value. In that sense we have to be careful about m-learning as they may be seen by youngsters as ‘too cool for school’. My second piece of advice was to forget ‘courses’. Mobiles are the GPS for learning, rather than delivering learning itself. Think search, performance support, informal learning – not courses. Think of contextual learning, vocational elearning out in the field, reinforcement through spaced practice. Think different. Also, be careful with video, as few watch video on mobiles, think audio and text. Media rich is not necessarily mind rich. What I saw in Africa was the clever use of mobile technology to enhance literacy and practical learning.
3. Mobiles as motivators for literacy
In my workshop on ‘Mobiles and literacy’ I was pushing the idea that mobiles had produced a ‘renaissance of reading and writing’ among the young. It will, I think, be the single most important factor in increasing literacy on the planet. Why? Every child is massively motivated to learn to text, post and message on mobiles. The evidence shows that they become obsessive readers and writers through mobile devices.
I saw ample evidence of learning how to read and write through mobiles in what can only be described as ‘challenging’ conditions. Cornelia Koku Muganda showed us real evidence for positive results with girls and women in Tanzania, who not only had to learn to read and write (txt) but who couldn’t afford to make expensive mistakes such as wrong numbers, wrong codes for electricity switch-on and so on. Mignon Hardie had a wonderful scheme for young people in the Townships of South Africa, gaining not only literacy skills but valuable insights into their own lives through specially written narratives. Ian Mutarami and Mikko Pitkanen showed how games technology could deliver mobile phonics apps in local languages.
My own session focussed on the fact that Africa showed the fastest growth & massive use of txting. Txting is a significant form of literacy, introduced by youngsters, on their own, spontaneously, rapidly & without tuition. Oddly, some complain about poor literacy, but when a technology arrives that provides opportunities to read and write (constantly) some complain about that! So why the moral panic? Is it a linguistic disaster? No. Almost all popular beliefs about TXTING are wrong. It’s not new, not for young only, helps rather than hinders literacy and adds a new dimension to language use. Language is about being understood and txting has adapted to this need. Good txters understand that ‘Cnsnnts crry mr infrmtn thn vwls’ and play with language. Interestingly, women more enthusiastic txters, write longer txts, more complex txts, use more emoticons, more His & BYEs and more emotional content (Richard Ling The Sociolinguistics of SMS)
More importantly, txting benefits literacy as it is a motivating factor in writing (Katz & Aakhus), requires phonetic knowledge, has links with success in attainment (Wood & Bell), helps one be concise (Fox) and helps develop social skills (Fox).
A huge debate erupted over what devices should be used in learning in Africa. For my money, the good projects used mobile or notebooks/laptops. Tablets were being hyped but when I spoke to people they were wary of their lack of flexibility, low level learning potential, maintenance problems and costs. While they may be appropriate in some contexts, such as Merryl Ford’s work in rural S Africa and in early years or primary school, I have serious doubts about their efficacy in most other contexts. They are impossible to repair, difficult to network and can severely limit skills development in writing, coding and the use of more sophisticated software tools.
I was much more impressed with the laptop projects. Nkubito Manzi Bakuramutsa was an impressive project manager from Rwanda. He stressed the need for proper infrastructure- it’s all about wifi, electricity, cabling and sockets. But where he was smart was in his capacity building of teachers. This is, “fundamental – they are your front line troops”. It starts with 5 days training for heads of schools, each with one champion teacher, to familiarise themselves with tech, then teaching with the laptop. Education must come before technology. Then the bombshell – he pleaded for a proper academic study on their effectiveness.
5. Vocational v academic
The Namibian Prime Minister spoke on the first day of the conference. He was witty but also wily. I liked him, as he warned us against the ‘spectacle of hallucination’ where technology was used to create illusory progress. Shiny objects that dazzle but don’t deliver long-term solutions. He urged us to focus on vocational, not academic, context and content. Health, farming, tourism, entrepreneurship – employability was the watchword for Africa.
Big problems need big and innovative solutions. Time and time again I heard requests for approaches and content that are more sensitive to context and culture. Too many projects parachuted technology and English content that had little relevance for learners. The western idea of ’academic’ schooling was being pushed but was unsustainable. Schooling in itself is not the answer in itself, as almost everyone in Africa leaves school – then what? Millennium goals around schooling will not deliver unless that schooling is relevant.
6. Health, agriculture, public sector, entrepreneurship
I saw a myriad of useful projects around agriculture (look out for the www.ict4ag.org conference in Kigali, Rwanda, later this year. Giacomo Rambaldi is passionate about the use of technology in farming, especially around the use of m-banking (Robert Okine in Ghana), messaging on livestock (Darlington Kahilu in Zambia), iCow in Kenya, optimising the use of pesticides (John Gushit in Nigeria), vetinary projects – the list goes on and on. Then the healthcare projects, nurse licence renewal, HIV counselling (Fabrice Laurentine in Namibia), drug prescription (Lesek Wojnowski in S Africa). I saw innovative thinking around capacity building in the public sector. Then there’s the innovation hubs and entrepreneurship projects. Bloggers, like Mac-Jordan Degadjor, show that the new narrative must be created from within.
My contribution to The Big Debate focused on ‘sustainability’. You can keep on ‘taking the expensive tablets’, buy into the myth that is Sugata Mitra’s ‘holes in walls’ or believe Negroponte’s Ethiopian hype’ OR you can start with real problems and real, sustainable solutions. Tech-led projects can work but only if the risks are understood and assessed from the start. Innovation without sustainability is not innovation at all. If you want to avoid massive failure, then watch out for tech that lies at Gartner’s ‘Peak of inflated expectations’ as it will more than likely end up in the ‘Trough of disillusionment’.
Africa has had a swarm of mosquito projects, what it needs are more steady, long-lived tortoise projects. Sustainability comes in several forms; sustainable in technical infrastructure, stakeholders, teacher training, learner take-up, maintenance, context, relevance, languages and culture. Above all, Africa needs sustainability in terms of costs. 20% of the poor exist on $1 a day 20% 40% on $2 a day. Now if the global average of ICT spend 3% of income, they can only afford $10-$20, and it would have to be relevant. In fact they tend to spend this on cheap mobiles. Think, then, on this. Tablets $200-$300but total costs - solar power, maintenance & support add much, much more. These expensive tablets have serious side-effects.
Monica Weber-Fahr gave a potent presentation with a focus on social mobility. The key point is urbanisation. This is what lifts people out of poverty. But she had a stark warning. Social mobility is not guaranteed and by no means certain. Africa has huge resources, huge challenges but also a huge reservoir of hope. I came away with a different mindset about Africa. Throwing hardware at the problems is not the solution. True solutions must be home-grown. African projects, run by Africans for Africans, using African content relevant to African contents and languages.
Even at the airport I was engaged in conversation with people from Nigeria and Ghana, all eager to talk and get on with things. On the plane I sat next to a young girl from Uganda who had been at the conference. She was from Uganda and was brimming with hope for the future and I look forward to seeing her next year in Kampala, where the next brilliant e-learning Africa will take place.
Well done to Rebecca and her ICWE team for organising the conference. They were magnificent. From the warm welcome at the airport to the final sundown party at River Crossing, the whole experience was a joy.
Wednesday, June 05, 2013
Negroponte hacks off Africa
“Some idiot in our organization or in the Media Lab had disabled the camera, and they figured out the camera, and had hacked Android.” Well, no, the only idiot in this story is Negroponte, as the hacking story is a lie. They actually pressed the reset button on the side of the tablet. On this definition the local baboon could have ‘hacked android’. So why would an MIT academic tell deliberate lies? All in his team knew the hacking tale was wrong, yet no one came out and said it.
When I wrote a critique of the project, I had my suspicions, now those suspicions have been confirmed. At E-learning Africa this week, I spoke to someone on the ground, who was furious about the publicity the project had received. He is doing sterling work with laptops elsewhere in Ethiopia and resents the TED hype that surround Mitra and Negroponte, as it distract from the necessity of training teachers and being sensitive to the context and culture into which technology is placed.
A perfect example of this type of cultural insensitivity, is the ‘Alphabet Game’ where they had to ‘recite’: A for Apple, C for Cat… O for Octopus – OCTOPUS! Did anyone tell Nick that Ethiopia doesn’t have a coast? You’d need a passport to see an octopus.
Wenchi Crater was a spot where dozens of tourists a day visit, ride horses and go for boat trips on the lake. He thought the idea that these kids had never seen any written word on packaging, road signs or print, preposterous.
Mosquito and the tortoise
This is one of those annoying ‘mosquito’ projects. In Africa, there’s ‘mosquito’ projects and ‘tortoise’ projects. Mosquito projects are noisy, short-lived, suck you dry and often have nasty side-effects. Tortoise projects, take their time, have a protective shell of sustainable self-sufficiency. They are quiet, often unobtrusive but long-lived.
A tortoise will have sustainable technology, sustainable stakeholders, sustainable teaching, sustainable learners, sustainable change-management, sustainable electricity, sustainable plugs & cables, sustainable resources. They will also be sustainable in their language, culture and context. Above all they need to be sustainable on COST. Sustainable innovation is what Africa needs not just innovation in itself, Without sustainability there is no real innovation, only 'bad' innovation in projects that fly for a short time and die.
Negroponte, like Mitra, is doing more harm than good with these short-lived mosquito projects. It’s nothing more than self-aggrandisement that detracts from more worthy and long-lasting efforts. Even worse, speaking to someone senior in the European Commission, Negroponte was shameless in getting his brother, John Negroponte, former US Deputy Secretary of State, to pull strings for meetings with EU decision makers (and others elsewhere in the world). This is the sort of stunt that amounts to little more than educational colonialism. I should add that I have no problem with the OLPC project in Rwanda,where an enthusiastic guy is trying hard to make it work.
Sunday, June 02, 2013
More holes in Sugata Mitra’s ‘Hole-in-Wall’ project
“I wouldn’t take it if you offered it to me for free” said the head of the school I visited in the huge Katutura Township on the outskirts of Windhoek in Africa. In 2008 some guys turned up started to drill four holes in the wall, installed dial-up computers, and left explaining almost nothing. Within three months the project was dead. Internet access was intermittent and larger boys dominated the computers, playing games. At best a distraction, at worst, yet another failed and misguided idea imposed upon a community that was neither asked nor consulted. Today the four ugly, padlocked shutters are all that remain, just as we saw in my last report on the ‘hole-in-the-wall’ report in India.
Of all the learning technology projects I’ve witnessed over the thirty years I’ve been in this field, this is the one that most closely matches the Gartner hype cycle. Since 2007 Sugata Mitra has been doing the rounds giving exactly the same talk, same pauses, same anecdotes and same jokes. I have just seem him give exactly the same speech I saw him give six years ago. This is the only thing that has been sustainable in the project; the hype-fuelled marketing. It has, I hope, reached its ‘Peak of inflated expectation’ and is now plunging headlong into the 'Trough of disillusionment'. When I asked a government official what happened she said “it didn’t work….we must do some research to see why it failed”.
For Arora, who visited the sites in India, there was “little real independent evidence, other than that provided by HiWEL“. It did “not compare the amount of time spent on hole-in-wall material with same time in school….the comparison was meaningless” and in the end the project was “self-defeating… ‘hole-in-the-wall’ has become the ‘computer-in-the-school’”.
Project not effective
Mark Warschauer, Professor of Education at the University of California, who also visited the now abandoned sites, found that “parents thought that the paucity of relevant content rendered it irrelevant “ and “criticised the kiosks as distracting the children from their homework“. Overall there it was “low level learning and not challenging… with no Hindi content (only language they knew)”. In fact, “most of the time they were playing games”. On top of this, just as in Africa, “the internet rarely functioned”. To sum up, “overall the project was not very effective”.
At the E-learning Africa Conference, where I gave a keynote, workshop and debate contribution, I met practitioner after practitioner who welcomed by more sober view of the project. They too were skeptical as all the evidence they had suggested that teacher involvement was vital. Person after person shook my hand saying how glad they were that someone was standing up to the hype.