MELISSA paper at IDIA Conference 2011, Lima, Peru.
MELISSA – Measuring E-Learning Impact in primary Schools in South African disadvantaged areas (2008-11)Partners Università della Svizzera italiana University of Cape Town Cape Peninsula University of TechnologyStakeholders Teachers, Institutions, and MELISSA Team
Objective:Promote introspection of failure(& success!)
Evaluation: self-reflection; project indicators in line with funder stipulations.
Evaluation: self-reflection; project indicators in line with funder stipulations.Project: blended approach: Quantitative & qualitative methods.
the Khanya Project• 2001 Western Cape provincial initiative• By 2012: PC labs in all schools in the province• On target: only 133 schools remain (out of 1300+)
the Khanya Project• 2001 Western Cape provincial initiative• By 2012: PC labs in all schools in the province• On target: only 133 schools remain (out of 1300+) But…
to train teachers inmastering & integrating ICTs in teaching activitiesto assess the impact of ICTs in• teachers’ perception of technologies - Social Meaning -• teachers’ perception of their teaching activity - Teacher Self-Efficacy -
6 Khanya schools (snowball sampling), 2 groups, 110 teachers, 2 training phasesSurveys & interviews: beginning, middle, and end of each phase
Organized along 3 main clusters:• primary school teachers involved in the project• institutions hosting the training (schools)• the research team, composed of 2 units (South Africa + Switzerland)
Initial enthusiasmthe opportunity for personal & professional skills developmentthe opportunity to build confidence in digital technologies
“I always maintain that technology…it’s power to me, really, because I can do such a lot with it.”
At one stage..apparent disinterest and diminished involvement (varied per school)
Additional challengeslower than expected computer literacy levelsa multitude of ‘digital immigrants’
“Because of our workloads, deadlinesand workshops we have to go to.Teachers are very reluctant to goto the afterschool training.Every workshop of the department isafter school.”
Initial enthusiasmtraining and skills development on the back of Khanya infrastructurestaff empowerment
“The school actually encourages us to go for more training. Like the principal encouraged us all to participate in the MELISSA, so we can learn new things and improve the use of the computers in the classroom”
Ever-present challengesinstitutional commitments (sports, workshops, exams)external pressures (national teacher strike, Soccer World Cup 2010)resource constraints (technical issues, maintenance, funds)
“Computers are so sensitive, so theybreak easily.Sometimes as a school we do nothave enough funds to repair andmaintain them.”
Initial enthusiasm• build on the success of BET-K12 (Brazil, 2005 - 2008)• ICT4D in emerging contexts• opportunity for North-South collaboration
Eventual challengesgain commitment and buy-in from participantsunbalanced team agendashigh staff turnoverweak internal communication
MELISSA to create and assess opportunities beyond infrastructure (action research)Project characterised by mutually dependent stakeholdersBut hampered by various constraints (pushing the project near failure)
“I was very afraid of thecomputer. It was like amonster to me, you know.“
“The technology, I think, is the future because everybody should be computer literate…not only in the classroom but in the world – global – we need to be computer literate. Everything you use – it’s technology.”
Information may be exchanged and research findings shared, but nothing would be gained in return.
An introspection of failure is critical to identify challenges to be addressed by future ICT4D endeavours.
It is an acknowledgement of the team’s misconceptions, overstated expectations, and research biases.
Imperative to re-evaluate MELISSA in terms of its overarching goals, methodological execution, and team interplay.