As described in the sidebar, this website functions as a scrapbook. It is a collection of quotes from academic texts, evaluation reports, lectures, curiosa etc. – published as I go along. But it also serves the purpose of documenting the publication of policy papers that provide prescriptive guidelines for the use of ICT in education, and reports that evaluate its effects. Reports with those foci have been published in high numbers since the early ’80s, by a wide range of private and governmental actors – ministries, universities, think tanks, consultancies etc. For a sound definition of what a policy paper is, I recommend this definition by Michael Nelson.
A research gap?
As far as I know, there has been no attempt to track, monitor, record, and/or structure the presentation of these publications at a larger scale and over time. There is no comprehensive, public database that gives access to the history of institutional evaluation efforts, in the area of educational ICT. Furthermore, there is no agreed-upon metadata protocol for reports of this type. This obviously has an impact on how one finds them. Search engines like Google prioritise newer reports that comply with webstandards. On the other hand search engines often fall short when one is looking for reports that have not been formatted for the web. One must search the online-libraries of the individual institutions (UNESCO, OECD, EU, WEF etc), commission older ones directly from the institutions, or find them in print in libraries – many reports have not been digitised and are not available online. There are many variations in how the reports are published when the PDF-format is being used. Some are readable by machines, some not. Some supply rich metadata, some hardly any.
Wanted: a public database
If such a database existed, it would be of great utility to researchers in educational ICT. It would lend itself very well to document analysis, discourse analysis, bibliometric analyses, big data analyses and so forth. It would make it possible to track developments over time (in technologies mentioned, in literature that is cited, in publication intensity etc.) and thus create a sounder starting point for new evaluations, by offering insight on previous political efforts to evaluate the value and effects of educational ICT. It would be the policy paper corollary to the no significant difference database.
This website tries to repair on that state of affairs, by
- Indexing reports in the reference manager mendeley, and publishing them here with citation.
- Tagging and categorising them by year of publication, the language they were written in, the institution or company that has published them, supplying the name of the contributing authors when possible, and tagging publications with descriptive keywords.
- Quoting central passages in them, and supplying each entry with a visual (typically a screenshot of the front page)
It is of course a huge task to build a database that even remotely matches the real production, and it is one that can never end, especially when including reports from multiple language domains (in this case English, Danish and French, languages I am fluent in). Add to this, that the production has been going on since the early ’80s, and is a continuous phenomenon.
Benefits, even from a minimalist starting point
But the immediate advantage of this smaller, one-man attempt (besides consolidating “policy papers on educational ICT” as an analytical object), is that it provides multiple entries to reports as the corpus grows. One can search on year of publication, institution, language or a combination of several tags, e.g. reports in english published in 2003 (coming up). It also makes it possible to tag reports dynamically. One example: while writing this, it has occurred to me that I ought to tag the reports methodologically, by “survey”, “econometric”, “ethnography”, “systematic review” e.g. It is relatively simple to add these tags after the fact. Ideally, this will make it possible to do searches like: “french reports using surveys, published in the ’90s”.
Interpreting the content
That being said, all this would be useless, without attempts to give meaning to the indexed reports. In the near future I will point to content related to research questions that are typical for this field (see below) – and provide dynamic links (content updated regularly under the same URL + RSS-feed) where possible. I will also link to relevant theoretical texts, that might contribute analytically to each question. The answers will be tentative, and if there are reasons to contest them, I strongly invite you to do so. Please bear in mind that this is a work in progress.
Which institutions are the most active in this field?
From the reports I have found, four, major international actors emerge, developing policy guidelines for the adoption and implementation of educational ICT, since the early 80s. They are Unesco, World Economic Forum, OECD and the European union. Below I will link to what I perceive are their most influential publications, in chronological order. For theoretical literature, I recommend Stephen J. Ball’s “Global Education INC” and (in Danish) “Pædagogikkens Idehistorie” (chapter 10) for theory on the role of these global institutions on education.
Already in 1970, Unesco published “Prospects in education“. The focus of the report was to investigate how technical solutions could distribute educational materials “in accordance with new, more productive pedagogical patterns“. Although the computer was not affordable for educational institutions at the time, TV is mentioned as a possible “mass-instructional” technology. Many of the arguments put forth for technology of the ’70s, are repeated and developed when it comes to digital technology. In the years that follow, I would point to reports like “Education and computers: vision and reality” from 1987, “Technologies for Education” from 2002 and “Mobile Learning” from 2013 as representative of Unescos arguments for the use of educational ICT.
World Economic Forum:
WEF has published “The Global information and Technology Report” annually since 2001 (with one exception). These reports are known for the “Network Readiness Index” – where nations’ “readiness for the networked world” is measured and ranked on a global index. The reports take up themes related to digital technologies, and the 2001-2002 report contains two articles on the use of digital technologies in education. Many of the arguments in this report – especially related to creativity and computers providing “design leverage” – are taken up by other writers, subsequently. My working thesis is that a valid and comprehensive bibliometric analysis, would rank this particular report very highly.
- See all items tagged “world economic forum“
- RSS-feed for all items tagged with “world economic forum“
The European Union (coming up)
OECD (coming up)
Other research questions:
How much money has been spent on educational ICT? What are the costs pr. pupil? How are expenses being counted? How do expenses compare with other expenses, such as expenses for labour, maintenance of buildings, securing a good indoor climate, etc?
What is typically being evaluated or prescribed? Increased learning, “adoption”, economic benefits, satisfaction. motivation or their potential?
Which reports are the most influential?
Which evaluation methods are being used when assessing the effects of educational ICT?
What are common problems/barriers/challenges when it comes to educational ICT?
Which are the earliest evaluation reports?
Which theory of educational ICT dominates political report production?
Which technologies are we talking about?
To what extent is pedagogical theory referenced?
How intensive is the use of private consultancies when governmental agencies commission evaluation reports?
Who are the authors behind these reports? What are their names, what is their training?
What is the cost of producing a policy paper/what is the price pr. page? How are the production of papers being financed?