[ISEA2008] Paper: Ian Wojtowicz – Notes on Nation Building


Eleven years ago, in the summer of 1997, I attended a conference at the MIT Media Lab about the intersection of education, technology and economic development. I was 20 at the time and was thrilled to be at the east coast epicentre of dotcom culture. There were educators from all over the world at the conference, as well as a small handful of young digitally savvy youth, of which I was a part. I was savvy at the time.

The conference held sessions on a wide variety of topics. There were keynote speeches, and breakfast and lunchtime conversations as you might expect. Educators from Africa explained that integrating digital technology into education was difficult when so many communities lacked electricity. Most Africans at the time had never even placed a phone call. This was news to me.) Educators from Costa Rica showed pilot projects where new technologies leapfrogged existing ones while promoting new models of learning; American researchers discussed how to better support student-centred-learning both abroad and locally.

Although many at the conference seemed to be focused on looking for funding, I remember one schoolteacher in particular who was just happy to be there and to share his experience. He was from a small village in the Canadian arctic and he enthusiastically described how
an intermittent satellite data connection allowed his students to learn about other places and cultures through direct communication with children in other parts of the world. It was a complete shift in his community where kids suddenly became the bearers of great knowledge and could themselves become teach their elders.

  • Ian Wojtowicz, Emily Carr University of Art and Design, Vancouver, Canada

Full text (PDF) p.  464-466