Numeracy and Literacy: Using Technology for Basic Education
August 19, 2009 – 3:30 p.m.
Presenters: Lucy Kithome, USAID Kenya
Charlotte Cole, Joan Ganz Cooney Center - Sesame Workshop
Don Knezek, International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE)
This session discussed the challenges of educating a generation of learners and promoting their “digital fluency” through the use of multimedia platforms. Presenters focused on the need for a shared and precise definition of learning objectives and targets; the necessity of using available tools and assessing local needs; and the importance of Ministry of Education (MoE) buy-in. Cultural relevance was cited as an important factor in making multimedia efforts effective.
Charlotte Cole of the Joan Ganz Cooney Center discussed how Sesame Street implements multimedia learning projects around the world, utilizing local methods, cultures, and references. The Sesame Street model stresses working with local partners to develop programs for basic skills, literacy and reading readiness, math, girls’ education, problem solving, critical thinking and HIV/AIDS education. Sesame often uses the television platform, but other vehicles used include internet, radio, and methods such as mobile rickshaws that bring television monitors to groups of students in multiple sites. When the groups of children and community members view the programs together, interactions can promote literacy and numeracy through reading and counting together.
Lucy Kithome (USAID Kenya) described the Takafari Project, which provides teacher training and resources related to ICT. A major education challenge in developing countries is how to prepare for, and capitalize on, the technological revolution and integrate ICTs into the curriculum. Kenya is making significant strides toward utilizing ICTs in education. When math and science students performed poorly and needed support; USAID responded by collaborating with the MoE to integrate ICTs into math and science curricula. The project began in 2007 and with Mindset Network as the implementer. Kithome noted that the content developers and trainers had very limited knowledge of ICTs themselves, so Mindset experts had to start with the basics. It required fitting capacity building efforts into normal working hours, requiring negotiation and creative planning. Top-level buy-in was essential to drive and prioritize the project, as MoE ownership of the project was crucial to success and sustainability.
Don Knezek of ISTE described an activity that involved developing internationally appropriate, technology-based programming that would bring together related international organizations and stakeholders. He noted the need for a crisp definition of learning objectives and targets to ensure that there is a shared vision in the activity; citing specifically literacy and numeracy objectives and expectations as an important set of goals to establish, along with goals for ICT specifically and digital-age learning skills. The importance of using available tools, accessing virtual networks, and interacting with other professionals in the field was also emphasized.
Key take away points on ICT programming include recognizing that learning gains are heightened when the subjects are familiar and engaging for children. MoE buy-in was also emphasized as critical to successful projects. Furthermore, the current challenge is to prepare a digital generation of learners through targeted, well-planned collaborations in which stakeholders have a shared vision.
To view the presentations, please click on link below:
Sesame Workshop, Cole :
USAID Kenya, Kithome :