infoDev’s Knowledge Maps on ICTs in education are intended to serve as quick snapshots of what the research literature reveals in a number of key areas. They are not meant to be an exhaustive catalog of everything that is known (or has been debated) about the use of ICTs in education in a particular topic; rather, taken together they are an attempt to summarize and give shape to a very large body of knowledge and to highlight certain issues in a format quickly accessible to busy policymakers. The infoDev knowledge mapping exercise is meant to identify key general assertions and gaps in the knowledge base of what is known about the use of ICTs in education, especially as such knowledge may relate to the education-related Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Locating and identifying the uses of
information and communication technologies (ICTs) to benefit
education in developing countries is a tedious, difficult,
time-consuming, and ad hoc task. No standard reference or
methodology exists for identifying such investments.
Observations and conclusions on how ICTs are actually used
in schools are drawn almost exclusively from Organization
for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) experience.
Little such data exists for least development countries
LDCs, and essentially none for countries most at risk of
meeting education-related Millennium Development Goals
(MDGs). Emerging evidence from OECD countries suggests that
even massive investments in ICTs in schools may not bring
about the desired changes in teaching and learning processes
unless such investments are supported by similar initiatives
to improve access to ICTs outside of the school environment.
This may be especially important for uses of ICTs to support
education for all (EFA) goals, as effective use in school
may require high levels of access outside school if gains in
such investments are to be maximized, especially where ICTs
are to be used for communication purposes.
At first glance, content issues related
to information and communication technologies (ICTs) use in
education might seem to some to be of minor importance.
After all, access to the internet means access to an entire
world of educational resources. Access to the internet
provides access to seemingly endless sets of educational
resources and indeed it does. However, experience shows that
there is a dearth of educational resources in a format that
makes them easily accessible and relevant to most teachers
and learners in least development countries (LDCs),
especially as they relate to a given country's current
curriculum. Experience tells us that, unless electronic
educational resources are directly related to the
curriculum, and to the assessment methods used to evaluate
educational outcomes (especially standardized testing), lack
of appropriate and relevant educational content is actually
an important barrier to ICT use in schools.