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The Twain Shall Meet: Technology & International Development

Researchers in the field of school technology leadership are focused on how technology changes education (for better or worse) and how leaders can ameliorate those changes. With the exception of the field of information and communication technology for development (ICT4D) that is focused specifically on the intersection of technologies in less developed nations, researchers in the broader field of international development rarely have a focus on technology or technology leadership.

International development projects are being conducted around the world and most lack any focus on technology or even an acknowledgement that technology is drastically changing the possibilities of educational systems. I argue there are ample opportunities for international development research and international development projects to have some focus on technology. Here are a few suggestions for how funding agencies and researchers in the field of international development might be able to take a technology leadership (or just technology) slant to their efforts.

  • Projects continue to be funded that provide technology hardware and training (e.g., laptop initiatives), but these often fail to include training for the leaders on how to sustain, scale up, and support such initiatives. Scholars can focus on the role of the leader in such projects.
  • Gender scholars in the field of international development can look at how technology is being /can be used to prepare girls for careers that are traditionally reserved for boys.
  • Higher education scholars can focus on the role of online learning in expanding and improving access to tertiary education.
  • International development policy scholars can analyze how education plans / policies include or exclude technology.
  • International development finance scholars can research funding mechanisms for technology and technology training for teachers and leaders.
  • Curriculum scholars can analyze curriculum initiatives for the inclusion of technology. They can also research leaders’ efforts and abilities to infuse technology across the curriculum.
  • Teacher training scholars can investigate how technology is being linked to pedagogy and the role of the leader to ensure that professional development is focused on such a connection.

The list goes on and on (please feel free to add more in the comment section below). Nevertheless, the field of international development is ripe; there is a dire need to link international development research with technology generally and technology leadership specifically. If you are working on a project that is successfully combining these two worlds, please let us know!

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