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Education for All in Sri Lanka: ICT4D Hubs for Region-Wide Dissemination of Blended Learning
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Computer and Systems Sciences. (ICT4D)
2014 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

ICT4D, here defined as the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) in developing regions, can be seen as one of the most powerful and cost efficient ways to improve the standard of living in the developing world. Many regions in Asia have shown a rapid but heterogeneous development where information technology had a drastic impact on development but often with the problems related to ICT4D 1.0: lack of sustainability and lack of scalability.

This study analysed the Sri Lankan infrastructure for region-wide dissemination of blended learning in the 21st century based on the exploration of some selected ICT4D hubs and educational initiatives. The overall aim of the research was to observe, describe and analyse how the selected ICT4D initiatives and the creation of ICT4D hubs in Sri Lanka might support region-wide dissemination of blended learning and local development. A longitudinal case study has been the overall approach where a number of embedded thematic units were explored in long-term fieldwork conducted between 2006 and 2012. Data has been collected from a combination of observations, interviews, group discussions, surveys and document analysis.

Findings showed that several of the studied ICT4D hubs have contributed to the general development but the country’s internal digital divide has in fact grown, as urban growth has been so much faster than the growth in rural areas, leaving the country with geographic as well as socio-economic gaps. Some of the former war zones have definitely been left behind and there is a need for further support of the Eastern and Northern regions of the island. Sri Lanka has had an outcome that must be classified as better than average compared to other developing regions with increased opportunities for education and with some ICT4D hubs as multipurpose meeting points. Contributing factors to the successful development are the high literacy rate, the chain of ICT4D projects rolled out in the right order and a committed implementation of educational eServices. On the other hand there were other, more negative findings indicating that sustainability, knowledge sharing and inter-project cooperation and coordination have often failed.

The identified strength in the Sri Lankan model, which can be recommended for other parts of the world as well, is the way top-down management of infrastructure sometimes is combined with bottom-up grass-root activities. Other recommendations, that also are global, are to extend existing ICT4D hubs and upgrade them to more intelligent, autonomous and multi-service ICT4D routers that could also handle the future need for eServices in the fields of eHealth, eFarming and eGovernance.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Computer and Systems Sciences, Stockholm University , 2014. , 120 p.
Series
Report Series / Department of Computer & Systems Sciences, ISSN 1101-8526 ; 14-017
Keyword [en]
ICT4D, ICT4D hubs, Digital divide, Sri Lanka, Blended learning, Education for All
National Category
Information Systems
Research subject
Computer and Systems Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-109061ISBN: 978-91-7649-042-6 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-109061DiVA: diva2:762169
Public defence
2014-12-11, Lilla hörsalen, NOD-huset, Borgarfjordsgatan 12, Kista, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2014-11-19 Created: 2014-11-10 Last updated: 2014-11-13Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Important aspects in ICT4D projects: towards a model for quality assessment
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Important aspects in ICT4D projects: towards a model for quality assessment
2009 (English)In: Revista de investigaciones UNAD, ISSN 0124-793X, Vol. 8, no 1, 29-42 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Information and Communication Technology for Development (ICT4D) is an approach adopted to improve the socio-economic situation in poor countries. It includes e-learning, open and free software, e-democracy, digital media, e-government, capacity building and infrastructure development. Billions of dollars are invested in such programs financed by international aid organizations, state funded aid agencies and multinational private companies. Well known problems are poor infrastructure, crime and poor adaptations to the socio-cultural context. It is a complex multidisciplinary, multi stakeholder and multimedia field with an emerging theoretical framework. This paper identifies and examines important quality aspects of ICT4D projects and provides empirical ICT4D examples illustrating each aspect. The overall research question in this study is: What makes some ICT4D projects more successful than others? Based on the authors own experience of projects in Sri Lanka, Uganda and Vietnam as well as analysis of other projects, the following quality aspects are considered as crucial for successful implementation of ICT in development projects: 1) Authentic local needs, 2) Local ownership, 3) Realistic limitations, 4) Competence network, 5) Communication strategy, 6) Planning horizon, 7) Documentation/measurable results, 8) Resources and sustainability and 9) Fun/Motivation. The relevance of these aspects are discussed and exemplified in the article. The thematic areas identified provide a basis for an emerging model, intended to be useful in the design and planning phase as well as in monitoring and evaluation of ICT4D projects.

Keyword
ICT4D, development projects, success aspects, quality assessment
National Category
Information Systems
Research subject
Computer and Systems Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-33452 (URN)
Note

Spanish title: Aspectos importantes de los proyectos ICT4D, hacia un modelo para la evaluación de calidad.

Available from: 2009-12-23 Created: 2009-12-23 Last updated: 2014-11-13Bibliographically approved
2. Towards e-learning for all in Sri Lanka - progress and problems in some selected Sri Lankan 21st century initiatives
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Towards e-learning for all in Sri Lanka - progress and problems in some selected Sri Lankan 21st century initiatives
2011 (English)In: Proceedings of Cambridge International Conference on Open, Distance and e-Learning, 2011Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

In the 21st century Sri Lanka and many other regions in Asia have shown a rapid but heterogeneous development in the field of Information and Communications Technology (ICT).The difference in impact on urban regions and rural areas has sometimes been described as the internal digital divide. At the same time as the gap has diminished between cities in developing countries and the developed world the internal development gap has increased in many Asian countries. How can this gap be bridged? In this paper some Sri Lankan initiatives for islandwide dissemination are analyzed and discussed. The study is built on observations, recorded interviews and a literature study. In formal tertiary education we have chosen a nationwide online learning programme for a Bachelor of Information Technology (eBIT) and how the content and curriculum was developed and revised by the National e-Learning Centre (NeLC), at the University of Colombo (UCSC). Regarding primary school and informal learning we have selected the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) initiative and the Nenasala Telecentre network. We find that these initiatives together have improved life for people in rural areas but that there still exists an internal digital and social gap that needs further bridging.

Keyword
ICT4D, Education for all, eLearning, Distance education, Telecentres, One-to-one computing, Sri Lanka
National Category
Information Science
Research subject
Computer and Systems Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-63495 (URN)
Conference
Cambridge International Conference on Open, Distance and e-Learning 2011, 25-28 September 2011, Cambridge, UK
Available from: 2011-10-20 Created: 2011-10-20 Last updated: 2014-11-13Bibliographically approved
3. Conveyor Belt Production of Course Material – a Case Study in Sri Lanka
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Conveyor Belt Production of Course Material – a Case Study in Sri Lanka
2009 (English)In: Proceedings of the European Conference on e-Learning / [ed] Dan Remenyi, Reading, UK: Academic Conferences Limited, 2009, 406-412 p.Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

In this paper we study the content development process for an external bachelor degree in information technology (eBIT) at University of Colombo School of Computing (UCSC) in Sri Lanka. The eBIT degree program was started in the year 2000 and has since 2004 been funded from both the European Union (EU) and from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida). Since the start of the project one of the main focuses has been on content development. Content development at UCSC is instrumental and hierarchal where different actors are responsible for different parts of the content development process. The different roles are Subject Matter Experts (SME) who decide what material that the course should be based on and what knowledge that should be transferred to the students; Instructional Designers (ID) are responsible for organizing the course and material, they decide the pedagogy to be used and how the instructions should be structured; Content Developers (CD) are the ones that create the actual content based on the instructions and material provided by the SMEs and IDs. This study is mainly based on observations that have been done since 2005 but also on interviews, both formal and informal, with UCSC staff. Since 2005 12 field trips have been done by the two authors - each lasting between two and three weeks - so an extensive understanding of the development process has been achieved over the years. The study is mainly descriptive as we explain the development process at UCSC which can be seen as a conveyor belt production of course material, but we also analyze the benefits and disadvantages this approach results in. Findings show that benefits of this approach are a high production of material and the model has also proved to be both time and cost effective. To further speed up the production the development process is highly dependent on templates, e.g. flash templates for learning activities and SCORM templates to design course and lesson structures. The use of templates to speed up the productions does, however, pose a disadvantage as there is a low degree of variety in activities in the produced material. Because of this the content does not fully support the pedagogy strived for in the eBIT program.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Reading, UK: Academic Conferences Limited, 2009
Keyword
e-learning, content development, learning objects, templates, Sri Lanka
National Category
Information Systems
Research subject
Computer and Systems Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-33396 (URN)978-1-906638-52-8 (ISBN)
Conference
8th European Conference on e-Learning (ECEL), 29-30 October, Bari, Italy
Available from: 2009-12-23 Created: 2009-12-23 Last updated: 2014-11-13Bibliographically approved
4. eNOSHA, a Free, Open and Flexible Learning Object Repository: An Iterative Development Process for Global User-friendliness
Open this publication in new window or tab >>eNOSHA, a Free, Open and Flexible Learning Object Repository: An Iterative Development Process for Global User-friendliness
2012 (English)In: European Journal of Open and Distance Learning, ISSN 1027-5207, E-ISSN 1027-5207, no article 466Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [sv]

Denna artikel beskriver den iterativa utvecklingsprocessen av lärobjektsförrådet eNOSHA. Diskussionerna om ett lärobjektsförråd startade under 2007 vid University of Colombo, School of Computing (UCSC) av personalen i universitetets e-lärandecentrum. Under det senaste decenniet har det i e-lärandecentrumets dagliga arbete utvecklats mängder av digitalt undervisningsmaterial för det treåriga kandidatprogrammet eBIT som ges nationellt på distans över Sri Lanka. Efter en inledande analys av behoven av att lagra lärobjekt vid UCSC samt en utvärdering av tillgängliga öppna lärobjektsförråd togs ett beslut att starta utvecklingen av eNOSHA. Inget av de utvärderade existerande lärobjektsförråden klarade den uppställda kravspecifikationen samtidigt som det fanns ett skriande behov av att lagra och dela kursmaterial. Systemet är designat med huvudmålet att stödja lagring, sökning och och återanvändning av lärmaterial på ett användarvänligt sätt som kan främja den framtida vidare utvecklingen av lärmaterial vid UCSC.Vi fann det också av vikt att sträva efter en flexibel design som kan hantera olika sorters lärobjekt inom olika organisationer i olika delar av världen. Utvecklingsprocessen startades genom en fokusgrupp bestående av personal från UCSCs e-lärandecentrum och externa svenska medlemmar från ett svensk – sri lankesiskt biståndsprojekt. Utifrån den genomförda behovsanalysen togs en kravspecifikation och en preliminär utvecklingsplan fram i december 2008. Som övergripande utvecklingsmetod i projektet har kooperativ design använts och att presumtiva användare vid UCSC har varit involverade i systemutvecklingens olika faser. Testning och kodgranskning har genomförts inkrementellt och iterativt vid tre olika universitet i Sri Lanka, Finland och Sverige enligt de principer som finns fastställda inom Designvetenskap/Design Science. Vårt mål med det valda angreppssättet är att utveckla ett system som ska vara mer flexibelt och mer generellt än att enbart leva upp till de ställda kraven vid UCSC i Sri Lanka. Resultaten av de genomförda testerna visar att eNOSHA lever upp till de ställda kraven när det gäller stöd för återanvändning och sökfunktionalitetet, men att modulen för uppladdning med dess tillhörande krav på metadata uppfattas som omständlig och tidskrävande. De senaste testerna vid universiteten i Finland och Sverige har också påvisat tidigare okända säkerhetsluckor och bristande användarvänlighet i systemets installationsprocess. Integreringen med den virtuella lärplattformen Moodle i eNOSHA version 1.6 har lyckats bra för en koppling till Moodle version 1.9, men då filsystemets grundstruktur ändrats i de senaste versionerna av Moodle så krävs det en uppdatering för att kunna söka i eNOSHA från Moodle 2.x.

Abstract [en]

This paper describes the iterative development process of a Learning Object Repository (LOR), named eNOSHA. Discussions on a project for a LOR started at the e-Learning Centre (eLC) at The University of Colombo, School of Computing (UCSC) in 2007. The eLC has during the last decade been developing learning content for a nationwide e-learning bachelor of information technology degree (eBIT) and a preparatory programme for the eBIT program (The Foundation in Information Technology, FIT). After analysing the specific needs at UCSC a decision was taken to develop a new repository since none of the analysed existing LOR systems could fulfil the UCSC requirements. There was an urgent need for a system that makes it easier for the eLC staff to sore and share course material. The system was designed with the main objectives to enhance the reusability of content and to support the content development process in a user-friendly way to assure user acceptance. We also identified the importance of a flexible LOR design to handle different type of content as well as various user contexts. The development process started with focus groups consisting of staff from UCSC and external project members from Sweden. A requirement analysis was carried out in December 2008, and based on the analysis a plan was drafted for the development and implementation of the system. As an overall system development method we used participatory design, where users have been involved in the design, evaluation and implementation of the system. Iterative testing and code revision for amendments and redesign and have been conducted at universities in Sri Lanka, Finland and Sweden according to the principles of Design science. Our aim with the chosen approach has been to develop a system that will meet the needs and requirements of the users at other universities countries than just only UCSC in Sri Lanka. Based on the testing of the system we had a positive response regarding the searchability and reuse of content but complaints on the uploading of content. Testing conducted in Finland and Sweden has revealed earlier unknown security issues as well lack of user-friendliness in the installation process. The integration of eNOSHA 1.6 with the Moodle virtual learning environment has been successful for the Moodle version 1.9 but with needs for redesign to work properly with the later Moodle 2.x versions.

Keyword
Learning object repository, content management, Software development, System integration, eNOSHA, Open source, Learning Objects, E-learning, Lärobjektsförråd, systemutveckling, systemintegration, eNOSHA, lärobjekt, öppen källkod, e-lärande
National Category
Information Systems
Research subject
Computer and Systems Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-75021 (URN)
Available from: 2012-04-03 Created: 2012-04-03 Last updated: 2017-12-07Bibliographically approved
5. A Sri Lankan one-to-one computing initiative and its impact on formal learning in primary School
Open this publication in new window or tab >>A Sri Lankan one-to-one computing initiative and its impact on formal learning in primary School
2012 (English)In: Herald Journal of Education and General Studies, ISSN 2350-2177, Vol. 1, no 1, 016-021 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

One-to-one computing has lately become a frequently used buzzword in the discussions on e-learning in primary education. The main idea in one-to-one computing is to provide every student with a personal computer. This has often been combined with Internet access and the idea to share content but not to share the computers This study has been focused on the Sri Lankan OLPC initiative and data has been gathered from three selected primary schools in the project. In the Sri Lankan OLPC model there is no focus on Internet connectivity and the emphasis is on content development in local languages. Schools chosen in this first one year pilot project are to be classified as to be “the poorest of the poor” and located in rural areas. The research question in this paper is, if and why the introduction of one-to-one computing has had an impact on the formal learning outcomes. All the visited schools have had technical as well as pedagogical problems during the first year, but findings show that there has been an impact on formal learning in subjects like Mathematics and English. We believe that the Sri Lankan emphasis on content development is part of the explanation but also that the strong commitment amongst teachers and parents has contributed. Our recommendation is that this pilot project should be extended but that the focus should be kept on poor schools in non urban areas. We also give some suggestions on how to improve the content development and how to extend the support.

Keyword
One-to-one computing, One Laptop Per Child, OLPC, E-learning, ICT4D, Technology enhanced learning, Sri Lanka
National Category
Information Systems
Research subject
Computer and Systems Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-82205 (URN)
Available from: 2012-11-12 Created: 2012-11-12 Last updated: 2014-11-13Bibliographically approved
6. Differently-Abled Persons with ICT Ability - Inclusion and Empowerment in Sri Lankan Rural Areas via Telecentres
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Differently-Abled Persons with ICT Ability - Inclusion and Empowerment in Sri Lankan Rural Areas via Telecentres
2011 (English)In: Proceedings of Cambridge International Conference on Open, Distance and e-Learning, 2011, 2011Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

ICT facilities are unevenly spread in many countries and Sri Lanka definitely has its internal digital divide. The fast growth of ICT services in urban areas are not matched on the countryside. Telecentres in the Sri Lankan Nenasala network have frequently been used to support poor and isolated regions in a try to bridge the digital divide. This article is based on observations and interviews with the staff at the Koslanda Nenasala during two visits to the telecentre. The aim of this case study is to examine and discuss if a telecentre managed and operated by disabled persons could serve as a hub for inclusion and empowerment of other disabled people in a rural region. Findings shows that disabled persons can organize and run a telecentre in an innovative way with results above average. The Koslanda Nenasala has contributed to empowerment and career opportunities for disabled people in the region. The Koslanda organization and service model has also been replicated at five other telecentres in the Sri Lankan Hill Country. Other problems identified for a telecentre run and used by disabled persons are the costs for qualified staff and transportations. Telecentres in general are depending on Internet access and this dependency is even stronger for a telecentre managed and used by disabled people.

Keyword
ICT4D, Inclusion, Telecentres, Nenasala, Education for all, Sri Lanka
National Category
Information Science
Research subject
Computer and Systems Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-63490 (URN)
Conference
Cambridge International Conference on Open, Distance and e-Learning 2011, 25-28 September 2011, Cambridge, UK
Available from: 2011-10-20 Created: 2011-10-20 Last updated: 2014-11-13Bibliographically approved
7. Cross-ethnic collaboration at a Sri Lankan Telecentre – barriers for effective E-learning in rural regions
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Cross-ethnic collaboration at a Sri Lankan Telecentre – barriers for effective E-learning in rural regions
2012 (English)In: Herald Journal of Education and General Studies, ISSN 2350-2177, Vol. 1, no 1, 022-027 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Sri Lanka has a tradition of being a multi-ethnic nation and in the post war Sri Lanka there is still a big social and economical gap between different population groups. English has been suggested as the official common language for Singalese, Tamils, Muslims and other Sri Lankan citizens. But at telecentres in rural areas the challenge today is more about how to provide content in local languages. The main research question in this article is to analyse and discuss which factors are important in the management of a telecentre in a poor non urban region with a multicultural and multilingual population. This article is based on observations, group discussions and interviews with different stakeholders at the Haldemulla telecentre and some other neighbour telecentres between 2008 and 2011. Findings show that the cross-ethnical collaboration between the Sinhalese owner, the Tamil manager and the telecentre visitors works well and is not the crucial problem. At the Haldemmulla Nenasala telecentre the prime problems are more about the current lack of Internet access and how to keep the best employees when the salaries are far below the standard income for staff in the urban ICT industry. However the Nenasala telecentre in Haldemmulla has found a model that seems to be sustainable and with or without Internet access they have their regular visitors and provide appreciated services to the local community. This telecentre has since its inauguration been one of the best performing in the island-wide Sri Lankan Nenasala network. But the rate off regular visitors has decreased when we compare with the situation at our first visit in 2008. Since teachers as well as teaching sessions have improved we find the lack of Internet access to be the factor that has had an impact on the number of monthly visitors. Internet is today an important source for information in poor rural areas as well as in richer metropolitan regions. Another challenge for a multicultural telecentre is how to provide high quality digital content in the various local languages.

Keyword
ICT4D, Telecentres, Technology enhanced learning, Nenasala, Tamil, Singalese, Ethnicity, Sri Lanka
National Category
Information Systems
Research subject
Computer and Systems Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-82222 (URN)
Available from: 2012-11-12 Created: 2012-11-12 Last updated: 2014-11-13Bibliographically approved
8. Innovative Use of Digital Audio in Research
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Innovative Use of Digital Audio in Research
2009 (English)In: e-Asia Conference 2009: Book of Abstracts , 2009, 108-108 p.Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Refereed)
Keyword
Audio, Research method, Digital recording, Narrative analysis, Audio referencing system
National Category
Information Systems
Research subject
Computer and Systems Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-33460 (URN)
Conference
e-Asia, 2-4 December 2009, Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall (BMICH), Colombo, Sri Lanka
Available from: 2009-12-23 Created: 2009-12-23 Last updated: 2014-11-13Bibliographically approved

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