"Low-Tech Rich Settings"

Ann-Katrin HardenbergFreiburg (GER), November 2016 - For several years now, Ann-Katrin Hardenberg has been setting up educational institutions as customer or vocational-training centers and support enterprises in the areas of HR and educational management. She has gained experience with institutions from different sectors and in various countries, such as Australia, Myanmar, and Haiti - just to mention a few. Her passion is the teaching of digital-media competence, as well as the implementation of educational concepts, including the newest digital-media and teaching methods. At OEB 2016, she will present the learning reality in Haiti on Friday, 2 December 2016 from 14:30 to 15:45.

How would you describe a "low-tech rich setting"? How can one imagine it in concrete terms?

Ann-Katrin Hardenberg: This is a setting in which we try to involve as much technology and equipment as possible in the education environment, but we also to give them the best education available given the fact that, in fact the level of technology is low by international standards. When dealing with a low-technology setting in a country or institution, we can't allow any excuses for delivering a low level of education. Everybody has the right to high- quality education - and this is not related to the level of technology in a country. But there is an urgent need to use the level of technology that is possible in this environment because technology can facilitate the access to education and make it possible that really everybody can get education. In this case, even a low level of technology incredibly enlarges the learning community. 
As a concrete example, I would like to talk about Haiti. Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the world: the level of technology is very low and the infrastructure very poor. Many people live in the remote countryside, and further education for adults is hardly accessible. They would need to travel for hours to get to one of the few big cities to participate in a course. Additionally, it would be too expensive for them, as most Haitians live from small-scale agriculture. But most of them own or share a mobile phone. With a simple app, it is now possible for them to have access to short learning courses on their mobile phone. It is easy to use and also designed for people who have difficulties with long readings. 

What impact does it have on pedagogical concepts?

Ann-Katrin Hardenberg: Technology is a method in a pedagogical concept. Through technology, the concept can be transferred in a more interactive way and might motivate a higher number of learners. In low-tech rich settings, it is important that the quality of the pedagogical concept remains. And for any pedagogical concept, the learning objectives should still count: for example achieving creativity or critical or entrepreneurial thinking, as well as developing some type of appropriate behavior in regard to social responsibility and the willingness to find solutions. Pedagogical concepts need to motivate learners toward self-development and learning, but also to develop self-confidence. 

What do you feel are the most important factors in learning?

Ann-Katrin Hardenberg: For me, the most important factors in learning are curiosity and motivation; the students’ willingness to accumulate new knowledge and to develop themselves; and - in regard to the new knowledge - its relevance for use in everyday life.

People can be highly motivated and willing to learn something, but if there is no access at all to information, material, or any other form of education, this motivation will turn into frustration and passivity. That's why accessibility of education is for me another important factor in learning.