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Technology, Education and the Developing World

Posted By Guy Pfeffermann, Wednesday, January 29, 2014
Updated: Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Guy Pfeffermann Last Summer BizEd, the AACSB magazine, ran an article I wrote about "Technology, Education and the Developing World”. To me, the biggest global challenge faced by educators is that of inclusiveness: making relevant and quality education accessible to millions of underserved persons, and first of all women. Technology is clearly key to scaling up the reach of education. It is a sobering fact that the world had to wait six hundred years between the last "quantum innovation” – the printing press – and the next – the World Wide Web.

Two major constraints inhibit scaling-up traditional education: the acute shortage of faculty and teachers; and institutional rigidities. The question for the developing world is whether they might leapfrog the gap that separates them from more affluent parts of the world. I believe that several opportunities favor today’s emerging markets. Firstly, long-established (and therefore somewhat entrenched) education institutions are fewer there than in the old industrial countries, making it easier to innovate. Secondly, "the knowledge commons” - the world’s pool of knowledge, which developing country schools and universities can tap – are growing exponentially (viz the Khan Academy on a Stick). Third, IT is spreading as connection prices are falling.

Yet in a recent FT Soapbox article, Chris Bones of Manchester Business School writes that "a quick survey of the leading [business] school sites shows that digital execution and engagement is generally poor”

>>Click here for the article

In some ways, business schools are facing the challenges that newspapers have been confronting since the rapid rise of online information. In the developing world, mobile education is one of the most promising ways to grow the talent pool. There, the vast majority of persons still lack affordable access to broadband, and therefore online solutions that depend on (relatively high-cost) computers and tablets will not work any time soon for the majority of the underserved. On the other hand, the spread of mobile phones is phenomenal and a few pilot institutions – mainly in Sub-Saharan Africa - are delivering business education via mobile phones. Much remains to be done, however, in adapting content, offering interactivity and above all ensuring relevance.

These and other IT issues will be the focus of an event co-hosted by GBSN and INSEAD in Singapore April 6, 2014: "Tapping the Potential of Technology to Transform Management Education for Emerging Markets”. I hope that many of you will participate.  Registration is available through March 14th at


Guy Pfeffermann is the Founder & CEO of the Global Business School Network.

Tags:  developing world  emerging markets  Management Education  technology 

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