If one walks into any school in the United States, it is obvious that digital technologies are pervasive. It is impossible not to see students using laptops or netbooks, tablets such as iPads, and handheld devices such as iPods or cell phones. Some schools have embraced these devices and now allow students to use them as they see fit. Other schools have even gone so far as put one device in the hands of every child.
The school leader is at the nexus of this push. The school leader is the one who builds the infrastructure, secures the funds, sets policies, gains stakeholder buy in, and ensures these devices are used to enhance instructional practices. We at the Center for the Advanced Study of Technology Leadership in Education (CASTLE) have tirelessly worked with leaders to ensure that they 'get it' and that they understand how to roll out technology initiatives of any size.
If we look to the less developed world we do not always see these scenes. But a similar scene will be there...and soon. The One Lap Top Per Child initiative is just one example of a massive push to put digital technologies into the hands of students. For as many supporters of such initiatives, you will find an equal number of naysayers. I for one, hold cautious optimism.
With that said, next week CASTLE begins working with two local NGOs in Cambodia. CASTLE's task is to support local experts as they monitor, assess, and evaluate various technology and media initiatives. We are specifically tasked with building local capacity to conduct high quality research. We are super excited to be helping out. This initiative continues our international outreach. It is a clear signal that this nation is thinking about how best to use technologies not only in educational applications, but across society. We will keep you posted!