Greetings to all,
 
As my friend and colleague, Scott Robinson, suggests, our consideration
of the technical means of professional development begs several
questions. Who benefits from professional development? Or, perhaps of
greater importance, in poor and agrarian economies, Who are the
professionals?

In India, as in Latin America per Scott's example, income polarization
leads to rising economic tides that submerge, rather than lift up, the
poor. The same of course can be said of the United States, and many
other countries. A cursory search for evidence yields many results,
including:

Juan Forero, "Latin America is growing impatient with democracy"
<http://www.nytimes.com/2004/06/24/international/americas/24PERU.html>
(Graphs income disparity in 8 LAC countries)

Amy Waldman, "Low tech or high tech, jobs are scarce in India's boom"
NY Times, May 6, 2004
(Describes job-scarcity for engineers in high-tech Andhra Pradesh)

If we accept this situation, we might best explore the use of accessible
tools to provide professional development for those 'professionals' most
in need. Areas of exploration would (and currently do) focus on locally
available, low-cost, and in many cases mobile devices rather than on
high-bandwidth solutions.

- Jiva Institute's Teledoc project uses mobile telephones running Java
applications and connected to the Internet  to provide electronic
job-aids to rural health workers. <www.jiva.org>

- Voxiva Corporation has developed a cross-platform HIV/AIDS Information
Management System that provides tools for health workers to report new
HIV infections, and track drug, equipment and other supply levels;
monitor ARV resistance and the health of people living with HIV/AIDS,
and access lab results.

- The World Bank Institute's ICT for Education division recently
completed a proof-of-concept project using iPAQ handheld computers
(PDAs) for the collection of Education for All data from primary schools
in the Gambia. The project demonstrated the potential of handheld
devices to reduce costs and increase the accuracy of the data-collection
process.

By expanding our models of professional development to include
just-in-time job aids and decision support, we open ourselves to a
welter of higher-impact, lower-cost solutions: Handheld support for
classroom teachers to guide them through new pedagogies OR to guide them
past lacunae in their own skills and knowledge; Telecenter-based
decision-support for clients of micro-banks or MFIs, helping farmers
determine amortization of loans for irrigation equipment; GPS / GIS
support for local- and micro- water-management and irrigation
projects...

And of course, in countries where populations are disproportionately
young, it is critical to support the development of the professionals of
tomorrow. Education systems that stifle high-value, real-world skills,
such as communication, problem-solving, and creativity, and that focus
exclusively on building basic numeracy and literacy, do their students
and their countries a gross disservice. An unnecessary disservice. This
situation must be changed, and it can be changed -- in part  because
schools often provide the greatest access to computer and Internet
access in a given community.

Regards to all,

Ed Gaible

Edmond Gaible, Ph.D.
The Natoma Group | 610 16th Street, ste 506 | Oakland CA 94612
+1.510.444.3800 phone and fax | www.natomagroup.com
  


On 6/23/04, "Scott Robinson" <[EMAIL PROTECTED]> wrote:

> Colegas,
> 
> Responding to Gary Garriott's post re "why isn't anyone responding at
> the local level?":
> 
> 1) the increasing polarization dividing rich and poor in Latin America,
> often the result of a fundamentalist "the market will solve the problem"
> ideology, has obliged the best and the brightest in villages, small
> towns and periurban slums to migrate to some country in the North.
> Their remittances now provide a social safety net at home, while
> regulatory environments protecting legacy players inhibits applying
> emerging digital tools to lower remittance transfer and transnational
> family communication costs.




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