Educational technology, Technological literacy, Education -- Effect of technological innovations on, Internet in education
It is not a secret to readers of EDUCAUSE Review that the challenge of curricular relevance and student engagement in higher education is a national concern. One aspect of this challenge is that students' social networking and technology proclivities are rarely met by conventional curricula and pedagogies. Educators have much to lose if we fail to transform current practice. Just how much we have to lose was profoundly illustrated to me on a recent trip I took to Malawi, Africa, where a group of educators and an affiliate non-governmental organization (NGO) have been working to expand opportunities for Washington State University students as well as for our partners in Africa. Although they have water in Malawi, the rainy season is not long. One of our projects has been to help farmers irrigate their crops. A team of students and faculty helped local farmers build and implement treadle-pump technology. The team included engineering students who did a brilliant job of adapting the foot pumps so that the pumps could be developed with materials available to Malawians. One farmer used the treadle pump and went from twenty cabbages in a season to two thousand. But when the local NGO decided to show off the project and brought in a group of dignitaries, the farmer complained: "Before, I had twenty cabbages. I could eat them and share them with my village. What can I do with two thousand rotting cabbages? This treadle pump is very bad technology!" The story provides several lessons that illuminate implications for technology, education, and beyond.
Brown, Gary, "Out of the cabbage patch," EDUCAUSE Review, vol. 42, no. 3 (May/June 2007): 80–81.