Providing computing education to the developing world: How do we avoid educational imperialism?

September 7, 2015 at 7:50 am 2 comments

I got an email from CodersTrust, asking me to help promote this idea of developing grants to help students in the developing world learn to code. But the education materials they’re offering is the same CodeAcademy, Coursera MOOCs, and similar developed-world materials. Should they be? Should we just be sending the educational materials developed for US and Europe to the developing world? I thought that that was one of the complaints about existing MOOCs, that they’re a form of educational imperialism.

CodersTrust is the brainchild of Ferdinand Kjærulff. As a Captain of the Danish army he served as recovery officer in Iraq after the fall of Saddam. He pioneered a recovery project with the allied forces, bringing internet and e-learning to the citizens of the region in which he was stationed. The project was a massive success and inspired him to eventually create CodersTrust – supported by Danida – with a vision to democratize access to education via the internet on a global scale.

via CodersTrust | About.

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. dennisfrailey  |  September 7, 2015 at 2:37 pm

    I don’t know about educational imperialism but I do know about educational effectiveness. I was involved in developing some training courses for the IEEE Computer Society and, later, making them available in various countries. We found that by far the most effective approach was to make the materials available to education experts in the respective countries and giving them permission to modify the materials to suit the local situation. The changes often seemed odd from my US-centric perspective, but they worked.

  • 2. techkim  |  September 18, 2015 at 4:37 pm

    Catching up with your latest posts – you’re on fire! What drives me crazy about many MOOCs is that they seem so disconnected from community or actually solving real-world problems. Learn some javascript or python with Codecademy and you get to learn some syntax, commands and CS concepts, but not the libraries and infrastructure you actually need to setup and run programs outside their sandbox, let alone making connections with others. I’ve participated in a few cMOOCs (connected) MOOCs and felt this was a much more relevant approach to the learning. As Marshall McLuhan wrote, “education must shift from instruction, from imposing of stencils, to discovery – to probing and exploration and to the recognition of the language of forms.”

    We’re still not there yet with MOOCs, let alone traditional education. No need to export that anywhere else.


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