June 22, 2008
June 22, 2008
June 25, 2008
13.39.1 - 13.39.15
A framework for building sustainable IT infrastructure to support undergraduate education in a developing nation We present a process model for building sustainable information technology infrastructure to support undergraduate education in developing nations. We began applying the model in 2004 in Kabul, Afghanistan at the nation’s brand new National Military Academy. Assessments of progress and problems that have occurred there have helped to refine it. The aim of this paper is to describe the model that has been successful thus far as a guide to others engaged in similar work.
In our personal experience, leaders of developing nations are eager to follow the examples of India, Pakistan, China, and others to achieve economic and political successes rooted in information technology (IT)-related industry. They rightly believe this must begin with excellent technical education of their populations. “Pulling one’s nation up by its bootstraps” in this area is, however, a difficult undertaking. Creating good IT educational environments demands the same know-how and background that the environments are intended to develop. Physical infrastructure, technical staff, teachers, policy-makers, and administrators—which we collectively call educational infrastructure—must be developed in parallel and in a synchronized fashion, usually from very modest beginnings.
The old saw says that it’s “what you don’t know that you don’t know that will kill you.” Certainly that applies here. The developing nation setting tends to be rich in excellent enthusiasm and audacious goals, yet to be unknowing of the long path to competitiveness in IT in a globalizing economy that is advancing at breakneck speed in this area. It is a primary job of those in the role of consultant, assistant, or (our preferred relationship) mentor to erase the first level of “don’t know.” That is, she must educate all concerned as to the full scope of work needed to build IT educational infrastructure so that enthusiasm finds productive outlets. In order to do this, the mentor must in turn know what she does not know. Technology education “best practices” of highly developed economies are little help; rather, they are frequently counter-productive. The purpose of this paper is toward filling this blind spot with a model—a framework for thought and action related to educational infrastructure development.
The model can be applied in two ways. First, it can serve as a kind of manual or methodology for the mentor to discover a strategy that will both get development started and sustain it—the key people, relationships, and logistical considerations. Second, it can serve as a common language between the mentor and the people who must finally own and operate whatever is built for the long term.
Overview of the model
Our model begins with an assessment of the environment, accounting for the stark challenges that a university Chief Information Officer or Technology Services Director in a first
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