ICTs without the Internet

It is often assumed that all ICT initiatives must have Internet components. However, in resource challenged environments such as the D.R. Congo (DRC) and Macedonia, experience has shown that much can be done with interactive technologies to support education without access to the Internet.

Congolese School Children Congolese teacher develops model of a river
In Vanga for example, a small geographically isolated town in the province of Bandundu, DRC, USAID funds helped establish a Community Resource and Education Center in July 2003. Establishing and running a telecenter with 15 computers when there are no roads to speak of and few sources of power in the midst of an agrarian community was no easy task. Moreover, during the first several months of the project, the Internet connection was down more often than not due to pending technical and human capacity issues. Team members on the ground turned this seemingly insurmountable obstacle into an opportunity for innovation.

In fact, observers found in areas where the Internet was up and running teachers spent much of their time on personal e-mail. However, in areas without Internet access, teachers chose to use existing off-line resources to improve their practices. In Vanga, teachers utilized a CD-ROM- based encyclopedia (Encarta) to expand learning. One teacher utilized Encarta as a primary source to create a unit on waterways. He developed an outstanding geography lesson where children learned about rivers, streams, and isthmuses in a hands-on real-world setting.

Macedonian teachers develop ICT projects without the Internet
Another example of interactive learning without the Internet can be found in Macedonia. USAID funding provided training to over 5,000 primary and secondary educators in the use of computers (2,000 donated by the Government of the People's Republic of China). Internet access was not available when the project began but this did not deter secondary teachers from developing several innovative and engaging ICT integrated projects. A midterm impact assessment showed that 51% of surveyed secondary teachers assigned students artwork, photography, or video products, 66% assigned graphs or charts, 57% assigned spreadsheet, and 65% assigned slideshow presentations – all non-Internet-based technologies.

Moreover, the secondary impact assessment showed that students were significantly more motivated to learn when using technology applications without Internet integration.

Experiences from Congo and Macedonia show that Internet-free ICT interventions can be very rich experiences for both teachers and students.

For More Information, Contact:
Roy Zimmermann
Project Director, Education Development Center

Related Resource Partners
Related DOT-COM Activity
DR Congo - Improving Basic Education, Especially for Girls in Targeted Areas (aka SIEEQ)

DRC - Complementary Instructional Strategies and Community Learning and Resource Center in DRC

Macedonia for EWoRLD (Education and Workforce Learning Development Program)
Related DOT-COMments Newsletter Articles
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