I recently addressed a conference on global education, and was asked to look in my keynote at the special situation of “resource-poor” areas. I don’t think my approach went down very well (one senior figure in the room, a former UN official, described it sweetly as “crap”), but I still think I’m right!
What I said was that the digital revolution, combining the digitization of books and the spread of mobile in Africa, was re-weighting educational resources; and would soon allow the delivery of high-level educational programs with almost none of the traditional resource pre-requisites in place.
Here’s a case in point: Nice report on the use of e-books in exactly that situation. At the other end of the opportunity scale we have the new programs being launched by Stanford, MIT, and Harvard. But we have just made a very small beginning. In general, education has been very slow to be disrupted, and my sense is it will change very rapidly over the next 10 years – on the same scale as publishing at the moment. This will not all be good, but it will be enormously good for distance delivery at very low cost of what have been expensive western educational perquisites.