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Showing posts with the label innovation

My East Asia book tour

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The last two weeks have been thrilling! With my book being translated into Chinese, I got on the road to speak about the "The Next Billion Users"  with academics, development and tech practitioners, activists, and the lay public in Singapore, Macau, Hong Kong and Taipei. The news of the typhoons in China and Taiwan and the ongoing protests in Hong Kong did make me wonder how this would play out, adding a streak of adventure to this whole journey. But not only did everything run smoothly, but people across board were so extraordinarily kind, hospitable and generous with their time and attention that I am determined this is just my beginning with this region.

The book talks started at the launch of the Innovation lab in Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore. The workshop aptly called "Interrogating Innovation"  brought together speakers from across disciplines and countries and shed light on the obsession with innovation, the implicit normative meanings…

Talking to Tech: Keynote at EMERCE Next in Amsterdam

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Wonderful experience speaking as one of the few academics in a room full of young tech entrepreneurs at the EMERCE Next event in Amsterdam. I gave a talk based on my new book 'The Next Billion Users' published by Harvard Press earlier this year. I spoke about the myths that aid agencies and tech industries perpetuate about these new user groups based on their biased understandings of them and rooted in little empirical evidence. Worse yet, even in the face of vast evidence that contradicts these worldviews, this thinking still persists so I hope I was able to disrupt a little bit these conventional approaches. I got questions on Article 13 on copyright policies under the new GDPR which indeed is so far from the world of media piracy in developing countries. I emphasized how we need to look also at why these policies are barely enforced based on historical and unfair media business models in the global south. Other questions grappled with the ways the "West" and the …

Speaker on Prizes for innovation at the Digital Economies workshop in South Africa

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South Africa, here I come! Am excited to finally head to the African continent for the first time. Will be speaking on how prizes are being used to spur innovation and strengthen the digital economies in emerging markets. My talk draws from the commissioned report for the UN on innovation in education in developing countries.

Am being hosted by the timely initiative and network established by Richard Heeks and team called the DIODE network (Development Implications of Digital Economies), funded by the UK's Economic and Social Research Council.

Besides this, I will be exploring new sites for my research on privacy in the global South in Cape town. Also, I am looking into how I can further the mission of Catalyst Lab, the organization I founded in 2015 that stimulates new forms of engaging communication between academia and the lay public using social media. I will be exploring a partnership with CREST (Centre for Research on Evaluation, Science and Technology) at Stellenbosch Univ…

Opinion piece: A case for the ‘boring’ classroom

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A case for the ‘boring’ classroom There is a growing disdain for the traditional classroom, but for a teacher, the blank walls can be a canvas to play with, thinks Payal Arora.

New Release: My UN Commissioned Report on Innovation in the ICT's in Education sector

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In February of 2016, I was approached by UNESCO to come up with a report to advise the UN Education Commission on the role of prizes in shaping innovation in the education sector. After months of research, and evaluation, I was thrilled to learn that the report made its way into the policy pathway. This paper was prepared for the International Commission on Financing Global Education.

Basically, here is the executive summary for the report. If interested, click here to get access to the final report.

The use of prizes to stimulate innovation in education has dramatically increased in recent years, but, to date, no organization has attempted to critically examine the impact these prizes have had on education. This report attempts to fill this gap by conducting a landscape review of education prizes with a focus on technology innovation in developing countries. This report critically analyses the diversity of education prizes to gauge the extent to which these new funding mechanisms le…

Project leader for an UNESCO Report on prize-based incentives for innovations in ICT's in Education

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In the next few months, I will be working on a UNESCO commissioned report on prize-based incentives to foster innovation in the area of ICT's in education. This is indeed timely as there is much hype on mobile-based learning and educating through gamification, particularly in developing countries. New technology again promises to come to the rescue by circulating hope in the midst of chronic failures in schooling in these contexts. With a majority of people in the global South gaining access to mobile phones, there is much proclamation that learning is now literally at their fingertips.


Since we cannot afford to have another 'lost generation' as the state fails the youth, funders are taking on the neoliberal approach to education, using financial incentives to capitalize on new ICT's to provide engaging and relevant e-content for these emerging platforms of learning. But are these incentives working to attract the best innovations in this field? What constitutes as su…