More and more enchanting technologies are always cropping up as IT giants like Apple and Samsung take their competition to the next level. These new innovations are leaving our tongues wagging over what will be next. So, as the giants battle it out the consumers look forward to squeezing more and more from the technological spiral, but at what cost?
The question that most advocates of modernised education leave out is the cost and training implications in the acquisition and use of the hypnotizing IT innovations.
I recently wrote an article in this column about the bewildering interactive smart boards and their astounding features with a slant in favour of quick acquisition and use in the classrooms, oblivious to the cost and training element.
A reader of this column, while appreciating the need to embrace the new teaching technologies, reminded me that cost remains a big deterrent in the realisation of this grand dream, which is nothing more than castles in the air for many developing economies worldwide.
One smart board costs around $2000 in the US. Getting it to a classroom in Kigali is another thing altogether. Can you demolish a chalk black wall for $2000 smart board? Yes or no depending on your financial muscle.
Governments struggling to increase the standards of education may find it a hard nut to crack if they are to choose between funding basic educational infrastructure and modernising classroom delivery and learning. The paradox is that development is mainly weighed on the scale of a country’s technological innovation
While many schools in Africa are struggling to put in place modern computer labs and libraries with up to date text books as they struggle to clean up the shelves of all the 1972 Encyclopedia Britannica or even more older literature, in some schools in the US each student has an iPad with a wide range of most current books on the planet just a single touch away. The Kindle reader from Amazon is a library at your fingertips. Computer labs and their network woes are slowly being phased out in the developed world while these very things are being introduced in Africa.
Training of teaching staff to be able to use technology is another element that has high cost implications.
What is the way forward?
We need the technology but at a cost. Are we going to rescind and retract into hopelessness and fate? Can we compete globally without being technologically up to date? Are the technology receptive and addictive youth likely to find class motivating, challenging and engaging enough if the class is not modernised?
No wonder inequalities and the gap between the rich and the poor will remain as permanent as the direction of the sun. It can be done albeit slowly.