Giving the discounted a voice

Author: Iqbal Pittalwala
October 3, 2018

A book that Ian A. Lubin of the UCR School of Medicine edited – “ICT-Supported Innovations in Small Countries and Developing Regions” (Springer, 2018) – has won the “2018 Outstanding Publication Award for a Book” from the Division of Culture, Learning and Technology, or CLT, of the Association for Educational Communications and Technology, or AECT, an “international organization that values diversity of thought, culture and people whose activities are directed toward improving learning.”

“We received a strong set of submissions in response to our call this year,” wrote Tutaleni I. Asino, president of the CLT Division, in a congratulatory letter to Lubin. “Each submission was reviewed by our awards committee members and they found your book most interesting and relevant to CLT, with high quality of content, high anticipated impact to the field, and a high quality of writing style.”

Lubin, who also contributed a chapter to the book, joined UCR this year as a learning design and technology consultant after serving as an education faculty member at multiple national and international universities and a consultant for international development organizations. In the School of Medicine, he helps create optimal learning experiences for medical students, residents, faculty and staff, and the wider community the medical school serves.

The book, which took 18 months to compile and contains eight chapters written by well-respected leaders in the field of information communications and technology, or ICT, is intended for anyone using ICT for educational and development purposes, including administrators, teachers, instructional designers, and technology evaluators. It would also benefit educational technology policymakers, researchers, and officials with influence over resource allocation and implementation of technology innovations.

Topics cover relevant research methodologies, policies, leadership and management, and multi-stakeholder partnerships that are involved in adopting and implementing technologies in developing countries. The book includes many real cases from around the world, including South America and the Caribbean, Indonesia, the Federated States of Micronesia, and the Arab world.

“Somewhere in the course of my development as a researcher and scholar, I discovered that the work from which I derive the most satisfaction is in the interest of the poorest and most marginalized people,” Lubin said. “I believe in the innovative power of education to transform communities and societies. I also believe that in order for that to happen we have to be globally engaged, in the sense that we must be mindful of how our intellectual and academic efforts impact policy and practice on a broader scale.”

In compiling the book, Lubin explored his interest in how the global push to use technologies to improve education in poor and developing countries impacted the lives of the individuals who lived in these contexts. According to him, such books often do not get written for at least two reasons.

“First the individuals and contexts represented in such books are typically overlooked,” he said. “They are small, they are poor, and it’s just not perceived as sensational to write about them and their lives. Second, an endeavor such as this one forces us to reflect on our practices, which is not always the easiest thing to do.”

For education and economic development in small, poor countries, Lubin offers the following implications for our current use of ICT:

  • We hold a particular attitude toward knowledge diffusion that is often uncritical and culturally misaligned.
  • There is a high rate of failure, with many innovations never reaching implementation.
  • There is no guarantee that greater access to education through technology improves education quality.
  • There is still great potential to improve the lives of the worlds’ poorest.

“The world is becoming increasingly globalized,” Lubin said. “Local languages, cultures, and ways of living are being homogenized out of existence. The chapters in the book discuss the role of the “local”: the social conditions, governance, politics, histories, and ecologies that influence and challenge the implementation and adoption of the global technology in education agenda.”

He added that the book is receiving international attention, and the award belongs to the diverse group of chapter contributors.

“They do incredible work in the field and chose to give a voice to underrepresented ‘others,’” he said. “I also wish to acknowledge all of the reviewers, advisors, and others who made this book possible. I thank Springer and AECT for publishing and honoring our efforts.”