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ICT, multilingual primary education and classroom pedagogy in Northern Uganda Oates, Lauryn 2012

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ICT, MULTILINGUAL PRIMARY EDUCATION AND CLASSROOM PEDAGOGY IN NORTHERN UGANDA    by Lauryn Oates B.A. Honours, McGill University, 2004 M.A., Royal Roads University, 2006  A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY  in THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES (Language and Literacy Education)  THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA (Vancouver)  August 2012 © Lauryn Oates, 2012  Abstract The goal of achieving Universal Primary Education (UPE) has found resonance throughout Africa as governments embark on ambitious development agendas, and in Uganda specifically. Yet, arguably the fundamental prerequisite for attaining quality UPE, literacy, has had limited success: one in three Ugandans cannot read or write in any language. Illiteracy is especially acute in post-conflict Gulu, in the north, illustrative of how closely intertwined human security is to the ability to offer relevant, culturally appropriate and high quality education. Some argue that the poor progress on raising literacy levels is a consequence of education systems’ disconnections from the cultures of their learners (Prah 2008), including quality multilingual education. The need to integrate the mother tongue into the classroom, including into second language learning is well established (Cummins 1981, 1993; 2000; Egbokhare 2004; Garcia, 2009). Identifying the best tools to accomplish this in African contexts, particularly where conflict is a factor, however, is much less well explored. This research seeks to understand how Gulu's primary teachers can use specific information communication technology (ICT) tools to support teachers who are struggling to teach the mother tongue with limited traditional literacy resources. It forms part of a larger project led by Dr. Bonny Norton, Dr. Maureen Kendrick and Dr. Margaret Early, to address language and literacy challenges in diverse African communities. In particular, this study serves as a response to the finding (Mutonyi & Norton, 2007) that ICTs offer untapped potential to raise learning outcomes.  ii  Preface This study forms one part of a larger project led by Dr. Bonny Norton and Dr. Maureen Kendrick, of the Department of Language and Literacy Education (LLED) at UBC. The purpose of this study was to address language and literacy challenges in diverse East African communities. The research took place at three teacher training colleges and six primary and secondary schools in Uganda. I was responsible for collecting data in the Gulu region. This study has undergone an ethical review process at UBC, which was approved on December 7, 2007 by the UBC Behavioural Reasearch Ethics Board (Human Ethics Certificate # H07-01895 “Digital Literacy Project”, expiring Sept. 29, 2012).  iii  Table of Contents Abstract ................................................................................................................... ii Preface.................................................................................................................... iii Table of Contents ....................................................................................................iv List of Tables ........................................................................................................ vii List of Figures ...................................................................................................... viii List of Acronyms and Abbreviations ......................................................................ix Glossary .................................................................................................................. x Acknowledgements .............................................................................................. xiii Dedication .............................................................................................................. xv CHAPTER 1: Introduction ................................................................................... 1 1.1 Introduction to the Study ................................................................................... 1 1.2 Purpose of the Study .......................................................................................... 6 1.3 Expected Outcomes ........................................................................................... 7 1.4 Situating the Study ............................................................................................ 9 1.5 Assumptions ..................................................................................................... 16 1.6 Significance ..................................................................................................... 23 1.7 Organization of the Study ............................................................................... 24 CHAPTER 2: Literature Review ...................................................................... 26 2.1 Introduction: Literature Review ...................................................................... 26 2.2 Theory and Research: Digital Literacies ......................................................... 29 2.2.1 Gaps in the Literature: Digital Literacies ......................................... 41 2.3 Theory and Research: Mother Tongue Education and ICTs .......................... 45 2.3.1 Gaps in the Literature: Mother Tongue Education and ICTs .......... 54 2.4 Concluding Notes: Literature .......................................................................... 56 CHAPTER 3: Methodology ............................................................................... 59 3.1 Introduction ..................................................................................................... 59 3.2 Research Questions ......................................................................................... 59 3.3 Research Site ................................................................................................... 60 3.4 Participants ...................................................................................................... 64 3.5 Research Design: Qualitative Case Study ....................................................... 67 3.6 Research Methodology ................................................................................... 71 3.6.1 Data Collection ................................................................................ 71 3.6.2 Procedures ........................................................................................ 72 3.6.3 Instrumentation ................................................................................ 81 3.7 Research Partnerships ..................................................................................... 82 3.8 Data Analysis .................................................................................................. 83 3.9 Limitations of the Study and Possible Risks ................................................... 87 3.10 Ethical Considerations .................................................................................. 90 3.11 Researcher’s Background and Experience..................................................... 91 3.12 Summary ....................................................................................................... 93  iv  CHAPTER 4: Context and Participants ........................................................... 94 4.1 Introduction ..................................................................................................... 94 4.2 Research Context ............................................................................................ 94 4.2.1 From Conflict to Post-Conflict ........................................................ 94 4.2.2 Transitions in Education .................................................................. 98 4.2.3 Leadership, Education and ICT ..................................................... 104 4.3 Participant Profiles ........................................................................................ 107 4.3.1 Participants’ Exposure to ICT ........................................................ 107 4.3.2 The Three Focal Participants ......................................................... 111 Christopher ...................................................................... 111 June ................................................................................. 114 John ................................................................................. 118 4.3.3 Previous Exposure to ICT and Access ........................................... 120 4.4 Summary ....................................................................................................... 125 CHAPTER 5: Placing ICT in Gulu – The Learning, Teaching and Connectivity Environment ...................................................................................................... 126 5.1 Introduction .................................................................................................... 126 5.2 Language, Literacy and Educational Materials ............................................. 127 5.2.1 Language of Teacher Preparation .................................................. 129 5.2.2 Luo for Speaking and English for Writing .................................... 131 5.2.3 Lack of Local Language Literacy Materials .................................. 136 5.2.4 Spelling and Language Standardization.......................................... 140 5.2.5 “Computers are for English” .......................................................... 142 5.3 Conditions Impacting Local ICT Use ............................................................ 144 5.3.1 Teacher Preparation ........................................................................ 145 5.3.2 Classroom size ............................................................................... 148 5.3.3 Technology Infrastructure in Northern Uganda ............................. 150 Un-connected: The OERs Workshop Experience ........... 158 Un-connected: Projectors Without Power ...................... 161 5.3.4 Ownership and Access .................................................................... 165 5.4 Summary of Teaching and Learning Environment Findings ......................... 182 CHAPTER 6: ICT4E - Relevance, Value and Sustainability ........................ 186 6.1 Introduction: ICT for Education? .................................................................. 186 6.2 Identity and Investments ............................................................................... 187 6.2.1 Agency and Membership in the Information Society .................... 188 6.2.2 ICT for Teachers’ Knowledge Enhancement ................................ 197 6.2.3 ICT for Efficiency and Classroom Management ........................... 201 6.3 Content, Format, Mode and Utility ............................................................... 204 6.3.1 Multimodal Texts: From “Real Objects” to “Digital Objects” ...... 204 6.3.2 Seeing is Believing: Teaching With Sight and Sound ................... 208 6.3.3 Diversifying Modes: ICT-supported Resource Creation ............... 214 6.4 Navigating and Sustaining ICT Competence ................................................ 219 6.4.1 Focus on Machines Vs. Focus on People ....................................... 219  v  6.4.2 Peer Support and Collaboration ..................................................... 226 6.5 Discussion and Summary ............................................................................... 229 CHAPTER 7: Theoretical and Practical Implications .................................. 232 7.1 Introduction .................................................................................................... 232 7.2 ICT, the Information Society and Teacher Identity ...................................... 233 7.2.1 The Imagined Community of the Computer World ....................... 234 7.2.2 Identity vis-à-vis ICT as Economic Resources ............................... 244 7.2.3 Social Practice and Peer Support .................................................... 246 7.3 Machine-centric ICT Intervention ................................................................ 250 7.4 Finding Local Roots: Multimodality, Digital Literacy and Investments ...... 256 7.5 Intersecting Language, Technology, Pedagogy and Content......................... 261 7.5.1 ICT As a Medium to Teacher Content Knowledge ....................... 262 7.5.2 Possibilities for Multilingual Education: Integrative Training ...... 267 7.5.3 In the Shadow of Technological Predecessors ............................... 272 7.5.4 A Marriage of Technology, Content, Multilingualism and Pedagogy .................................................................................................................. 273 7.6 Contributions to the Literature ....................................................................... 274 7.7 Summary and Conclusion ............................................................................. 277 CHAPTER 8: Recommendations .................................................................... 280 8.1 Introduction ................................................................................................... 280 8.2 Emphasize Multilingual Content Creation .................................................... 280 8.2.1 Spurring Software Localization ..................................................... 285 8.2.2 At the Juncture of Global and Local: OERs .................................. 290 8.3 Stewardship over ICT Resources .................................................................. 293 8.4 Creating Viable Learning Environments for ICT ......................................... 295 8.5 Educators and ICT in the Social World ........................................................ 299 8.6 Suggested Directions for Future Research .................................................... 300 REFERENCES .................................................................................................. 303 APPENDICES Appendix A: ConnectED Computer Skills Learning Objectives ....................... 338 Appendix B: Interview Questionnaire #1 for Focal Participants ........................ 339 Appendix C: Instructions for Participant Journals .............................................. 340 Appendix D: Interview Questionnaire #2 – Focal Participant ............................. 341 Appendix E: Interview Questionnaire for PTC ICT Lab Manager ..................... 342 Appendix F: Focus Group Questionnaire ........................................................... 343 Appendix G: Repeating Ideas ............................................................................. 344 Appendix H: Analysis Synthesis Process ........................................................... 346 Appendix I: June’s Music Lesson Plan ............................................................... 349 Appendix J: Bilingual Math Lesson Plan ........................................................... 352  vi  List of Tables Table 3.1: Study Participants ................................................................................. 65 Table 3.2: Data Collection Methods ..................................................................... 71 Table 3.3: Themes from the Data ......................................................................... 85 Table 4.2: Participant Lab Visits ......................................................................... 122  vii  List of Figures Figure 4.1: Alphabet Cards and Other Signage Created by Teachers at the Gulu Public School (May 2008) .............................................................................................. 102 Figure 4.2: Two Teachers Display Illustrations They Created After School Hours for Classroom Use (May 2008) ................................................................................ 102 Figure 6.1: Teachers’ Drawings of a Grocery Store Showing Different Food Labels for Use as Visual Aides in the Classroom (Gulu Public School, 2008) ................... 205 Figure 6.2: Teachers’ Drawings of Community Figures (Gulu Public School, 2008) .............................................................................................................................. 205 Figure 6.3: Vitamins Presentation Slide ............................................................. 217 Figure 6.4: Long Horn Cattle Presentation Slide ............................................... 217 Figure 7.1: Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge .............................. 267  viii  List of Acronyms and Abbreviations AJOL – African Journals Online APTC – Acholiland Primary Teachers’ College (pseudonym) ASCII – American Standard Code for Information Interchange AVU – African Virtual University EFA – Dakar Education For All Commitments ER – Educational Resource ESA – Education Standards Agency FOSS – Free and Open Source Software ICC – International Criminal Court ICT – Information Communication Technologies ICT4D – Information Communication Technologies for Development ICT4E – Information Communication Technologies for Education IDP – Internally Displaced Person ISP – Internet Service Provider IT – Information Technology L1 – First Language / Mother Tongue L2 – Second Language LRA – Lord’s Resistance Army MDG – Millenium Development Goal MLEN – Uganda Multilingual Education Network NGO – Non-Governmental Organization NLS – New Literacy Studies OER – Open Educational Resources P1 – Primary Level 1 P2 – Primary Level 2 P3 – Primary Level 3 P4 – Primary Level 4 TESSA – Teacher Education for Sub-Saharan Africa TPA – Teacher Preparation and Continuing Professional Development in Africa TPACK – Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge UBC – University of British Columbia USAID – United States Agency for International Development UN – United Nations  ix  Glossary “Luo” and “Acholi” are used interchangeably to describe the most widespread language in northern Uganda. “Learner”, “student” and “pupil” are also used interchangeably to refer to the children being taught by the participating teachers. The study participants are sometimes also referred to as “the teachers” or the “teacher participants”. Participants are normally referred to by the first name only, and all names used are pseudonyms, including that of the teachers’ college and the ICT lab manager. An “ICT intervention” is generally used as a term describing any kind of project or effort to introduce ICT tools into a given setting, such as a training institution, school or organization. Often, it is used to describe a short-term project funded by an external donor, such as a foreign development agency or private foundation, as this is typically the form that such programs take in the Ugandan context. “Web 2.0” is the term used to describe the new incarnation of the Internet, one that strives to be interactive and democratically organized. Examples of Web 2.0 functions include those that facilitate two-way communication, including online discussion, instant publishing, editing by consensus, and other characteristics of the new generation of websites and digital platforms. Generally, “ICT navigation skills,” “computer literacy” and “computer skills” are used in a limited sense to describe basic, mechanical competencies needed to access and use computers and software applications. Examples include being able to turn a computer on and off, use a keyboard, open a software program, transfer data, or locate a website. These terms are usually used to denote specific singular skills and are not intended to include broader digital literacies such as information literacy, critical media skills, or  x  multimodal literacy. The term “digital literacy” is generally used to refer to the broader range of intellectual skills and core competencies demanded to thrive in the unique information environment presented by ICTs, and which may differ significantly from the literacy demands of the pre-digital era (Gilster, 1997). Digital literacy is often pluralized to “digital literacies,” in recognition of the multiple and varied competencies required to use ICT tools towards strategic ends (Snyder, 1999). As one example, it has been argued that digital media will mean more reliance on the visual over the textual (Snyder, 2002; Bezemer & Kress, 2010). The digital literacies approach derives from the view of literacy as a sociocultural practice (Gee, 1996; Street, 1984), by including the many forms of literacy that might be activated to meaningfully navigate digital media. This definition is captured by Gilster’s (1997) assertion that digital literacy is a mindset rather than a skill or set of skills, and is ultimately about “mastering ideas, not keystrokes” (p. 15). A more detailed, and often cited, definition is offered by Martin (2005), and is the working definition for the current study: Digital Literacy is the awareness, attitude and ability of individuals to appropriately use digital tools and facilities to identify, access, manage, integrate, evaluate, analyse and synthesize digital resources, construct new knowledge, create media expressions, and communicate with others, in the context of specific life situations, in order to enable constructive social action; and to reflect upon this process (p. 136).  Finally, the following additional terms are used throughout the study, and their definitions in this context are described as follows.  xi  •  L1: refers to the first language learned and spoken.  •  L2: refers to the second language learned and spoken.  •  Mother tongue: first language and in the context of this study, usually an indigenous language of the area.  •  ICT: information and communication technology, which refers to the use of technology to process information and facilitate communication.  •  Localization of technology: software or hardware applications that have been adapted to meet the needs of a particular group, such as a linguistic group.  Other terms are defined within the text where they are first introduced.  xii  Acknowledgements I would like to begin by expressing my sincere appreciation to my supervisory committee who guided me through this four-year process that has been variably stimulating, demanding, strenuous, and ultimately enlightening: Dr. Maureen Kendrick and Dr. Bonny Norton (co-supervisors), and Dr. Margaret Early. They fostered my preparation as a graduate student and as a researcher, and shared ideas, advice and resources regularly along the way that allowed me to distil my focus down to something manageable and original. They each work hard to create a genuine community among the students, faculty and visiting scholars in the Department of Language and Literacy Education at UBC, a community that makes for a rewarding and nurturing learning environment. I am also especially grateful to the insights I gained in the courses taught by Dr. John Willinsky and Dr. Jim Anderson. I am deeply grateful to the ten teachers who contributed to this study as research participants. These individuals have taught me more than I can ever account for, and I am forever indebted to them for their time, openness and good humour throughout the course of this study. Special mention is needed of the ICT Lab Manager at the teachers’ college in the district of study for his unrelenting patience, support and valuable contributions in shaping the design and output of this research. He is an extraordinary asset to the teachers’ college and to the community at large and I am confident he will continue to drive forward good planning around ICT4E in the district. My thanks are due to a vast social network of supporters. I am deeply appreciative to Bradley Lysak who tolerated my long hours buried in books, distracted mind and perpetual glow of the computer monitor on my face for four years. My thanks to my  xiii  mother, Barbara McMillan, for always being interested and engaged in what I’m learning and doing. I am grateful to my employer, Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan, and in particular to Janice Eisenhauer, for allowing so much flexibility in my work schedule and patience at long periods of absence so that I could complete this thesis. As promised, thanks to Jim and Anne Hill of Mayne Island for the hot meal after a solid week of pasta as I wrote Chapter Seven, giving me the sustenance to get on to Chapter Eight! And to their daughter, Jamie Podmorow and her wonderful family, for giving me the use of their empty house in the Okanagan where I poured over my mounds of data in the summer of 2010. Thanks to other friends and family who cheered me on consistently throughout. I gratefully acknowledge the financial support provided by UBC, through the Graduate Entrance Award, the University Graduate Fellowship, UBC Summer Scholarship Award, Graduate Research Travel Award, and Social Policy Research Travel Award; and the support provided by the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada (2010-2011; Ref# CAS-SRQ-163902).  xiv  Dedication  This thesis is dedicated to all of the teachers of northern Uganda who served their country by making education available to the young during perilous and hostile circumstances, at great risk to themselves, and in particular, to those educators who perished during the civil war;  and,  to the north’s current teachers charged with the learning of the post-war generation, and indeed, with some of the responsibility of making the present peace last.  xv  CHAPTER 1: Introduction  1.1 Introduction to the Study Just shy of fifty years since independence, Uganda finds itself struggling to reconstitute its linguistic self, reconciling the pervasiveness and economic legacy of English with as many as 40 or more indigenous living languages. For over a decade, the rhetoric of the government towards local languages is one that is progressive and ambitious, and which purports to recognize and revitalize Ugandan native languages. Yet, tensions abound around the value and roles of widely spoken languages such as English, Luganda, and Swahili; and the possibilities and challenges presented by using local languages for purposes of education, entertainment, cultural vitalization, government, media and commerce. Reflecting on the emergence of this situation, more than two decades ago Abidi (1989) commented on the growing separation between language and culture, and its implications for Ugandans coming of age in a globally interlinked society where it was unclear whose needs the education system was addressing: In Uganda, we are passing through a stage where we read what others want us to read. The publishing industry is in ruins, printing facilities negligible, book trade in gloomy shape, yet writing talent in abundance—what a paradox. School children learn more about foreign countries than their own. They have no books in local languages. There is no institution working for the development of Uganda’s local language publications. Schools have no priorities to teach local tradition and culture. In this situation, we are preparing our children to think in a foreign language (p. 47).  1  This study takes place against the backdrop of the tensions described above and how they vie with broader issues of identity, membership in a global community, and ownership over development and modernization processes. Evolving developments in language policy in education in Uganda make this a particularly opportune time to identify tangible tools and strategies that teachers can rely upon to prepare capable multilingual students (Aguti, 2002; Musamali, 2006; Mutonyi & Norton, 2007). The Government of Uganda has, over the last 20 years, embarked upon an ambitious approach towards recognizing and revitalizing many of its native languages (Government of Uganda, 1992), while also changing the language of instruction during the P1 to P3 years at the primary education level in rural areas from English to the local language spoken in a region. Further, the Government has adopted a Universal Primary Education policy, which has had a significant impact on the education system in that it raised enrollment levels without a corresponding increase in classrooms, teachers and school infrastructure. The Government also introduced universal secondary enrollment in 2007, which has led to rising enrollment at that level as well. Finally, the Government has demonstrated enthusiasm for harnessing the power of information communication technologies (ICTs) for education (Brock-Utne, 2002) in its policy discourse, if not in its actual service provision. These various policies intersect in multiple ways at the sites of learning, far removed from the boardrooms and offices where they are designed. The Ugandan Government’s announcement of free, universal primary education (UPE) brought unprecedented numbers of new pupils, drawn by the promise of free education, into classrooms that were already overburdened and under-funded. The education system,  2  contending with over-crowding and under-resourcing, remains severely strained years after the introduction of UPE. It is into this environment that the local language (L1) as medium of instruction policy has been implemented into primary schools, in 2007, though the policy was initially introduced in 1992. Like UPE, this new policy was also introduced in the absence of additional resources to facilitate its full realization, such as L1 textbooks, dictionaries, visual aides or teacher guides and thus makes the impact of the approach dubious at present (Aguti, 2002; Muslimi, 1999). This study considers innovative ways to address these challenges, drawing from the potential presented by information communication technologies (ICTs), which have emerged amidst a shifting approach to language of instruction in the Ugandan classroom. Despite the challenges, UPE and the move to L1 instruction at the primary level also offer distinctive opportunities to make education in Uganda more relevant and more accessible to a greater number of learners. The policies are contributing to the development of curriculum that privileges bilingual education and which also takes advantage of local cultural resources. Uganda has also experimented with innovative literacy programs that emphasize use of the mother tongue and bilingual education, such as Break Through to Literacy (Letshabo, 2002), and hosts several national and foreign programs promoting the role of technology in education1. Some important efforts are therefore in place. What remains is to infuse the application of these policies with the necessary political and economic resources, and with the requisite social capital to ensure successful learning outcomes for students who currently attend school within a system  1  For instance, see BOSCO (Battery Operated Systems for Community Outreach), an NGO operating in Gulu, or SchoolNet Uganda was an NGO founded in 1999 that worked to connect schools with hardware and software in order to help students develop computer proficiency and learn to communicate on the Internet.  3  that many Ugandans consider to be of marginal quality (TPA, 2010). A daunting challenge is the lack of local language teaching materials and reading material for students (Kisambira, 2007), as well as the tools that could facilitate the creation, spread and meaningful use of such materials, such as ICT-based tools. Muthwii and Kioko (2004) describe the consequences in such situations, throughout Africa: The dominant use of English in all school-books produces a people who say they cannot conceive of education in any other medium. In most cases, therefore, the children do not see the language of education at lower school operating in any other sector of life except in the home. Even in cases where efforts exist to implement the stated language policy, teachers in most communities find themselves unable to do so because they are hampered by a serious lack of instructional materials written in the mother tongue. As a result, the complementary relationship that should exist between the language of education and that of the pupils’ wider socioeconomic context is lacking (p. 99).  Central to any endeavor to stimulate production and use of local language materials is the role of teachers therein and their capacity, motivation and power to negotiate what digital tools offer their professional practice, if, and when they are compatible with teaching in a local language. This reasoning informed the design of this study, which is the outcome of a collaboration with a group of teachers from northern Uganda drawn from three diverse schools in one district, who entered into a digital literacy experience and interacted with digital resources for the express purpose of generating educational content and lessons for use in primary classrooms where the  4  language of instruction from levels P1 to P3 is officially the locally predominant L12. The participants, most of whom had little to no interaction with computers prior to the study, were trained in basic computer literacy skills, followed by training in applications targeted more specifically towards educators, such as online open educational resource (OER) collections. Thus they were introduced to computer hardware and software, and to documents they could generate using these tools. Throughout and following the training workshops, which took place over a period of three years, the teacher participants had ongoing access to computers to further develop their digital literacy and to the opportunity to create educational materials and pedagogical tools, as well as to expand their own repertoires of knowledge through access to new, interactive forms of information. The methodology is described in detail in Chapter Three. Several types of data were collected before, during and after the training workshops to elicit an understanding of the experience of the teachers in using ICT and in creating educational resources from ICT applications. Attention was paid to the modes in which teachers worked in a digital context (the creation of textual, oral, visual and mixed content), to the use of bilingualism in their materials, to peer collaboration strategies, and to dynamics between local and global identities as facilitated through the medium of ICT. The findings served to respond to the question of how primary teachers in Gulu, or similar multilingual African contexts, can use specific ICT tools to effectively teach the mother tongue in learning environments with limited traditional print literacy resources.  2  In practice, the classrooms observed in this study more commonly relied often on English, used in conjunction with the L1. The reasons for this are described in Chapter Five.  5  1.2 Purpose of the Study This research sought to better understand the possibilities presented by ICT tools in multilingual education in a region where unique challenges exist to raising literacy levels and making education relevant to both the local and global aspirations of learners. One of the challenges facing language education and literacy goals in Gulu, as in other parts of Uganda, is the lack of printed educational resources that can support teachers to prepare learners for success in a bilingual community. With dozens of languages spoken by relatively small communities of speakers, and insignificant resourcing support from the Government, Uganda’s primary teachers struggle to teach indigenous languages with few formal print teaching materials, whether basic textbooks to maps, posters and visual material, readers, exercise books or other resources useful to the language classroom. Further, primary teachers who were trained to instruct in English have now been told to teach in another language, without being well supported to understand how to teach well in that language and what pedagogical tools might serve them in this new approach. Such challenges, and the discovery of means to overcome them in locally relevant ways, need to be explored for meaningful change to occur in the education sector. It is likely that lasting solutions will be those that can successfully honour the desire to have a sense of belonging in both local and global communities, and that will prepare educators and learners with the skills and competencies requisite to participate in both kinds of communities. In particular, for ICT tools to serve language and literacy education in meaningful ways, relevance to the local and global identities of teachers and learners will need to be integrated into technology-based pedagogy. It is thus increasingly necessary to discover what strategies (and what kinds of literacy) might support such an integration.  6  To that end, this study’s research question asks: How can ICTs be used by teachers to teach the mother tongue in post-conflict Gulu (northern Uganda), and ultimately to strengthen the pedagogical practice of local language medium teachers in this region? This study examines ICT as a vehicle for content production in a bilingual learning context at the early primary level because of the persistent dearth of print literacy materials available to primary school teachers in the site of study. It recognizes the shift to digital literacies and their expanding, if uneven, role in learning throughout the world. In particular, this study responds to the finding of Mutonyi and Norton (2007) that ICTs offer untapped potential to raise learning outcomes in Uganda, and draws from a variety of literature identifying important, but often unexplored, roles for digital literacy in promoting multilingualism (Cummins, Brown & Sayers, 2007).  1.3 Expected Outcomes This study has sought to identify findings from Uganda as the site of research that will contribute to emerging global theory and practice around developing teachers’ digital literacies in multilingual societies. Theoretically, this study seeks to focus on what might be learned from supporting teachers to create, use and share original materials in the mother tongue, with an emphasis on the role of teachers’ motivations and practices in the process of digital content creation. A study drawing on data from Uganda can add findings drawn from an African context to the scholarship on digital literacies and multilingualism. This can assist in diversifying the representation, in international theoretical understandings  7  shaping these fields of study, by for example, documenting how issues of identity, language, and learning manifest in this particular setting. The findings, as part of a larger research project on digital literacies and teachers in Uganda undertaken by faculty and students in the Department of Language and Literacy Education at the University of British Columbia (UBC)3, can also be used in setting future research priorities for this ongoing initiative, building on the findings from the Gulu component of the study. Therefore, this study seeks to link to the results of regionally and internationally focused networks of research, complementing other findings and expanding shared understandings. In terms of practice, the study contributes to identifying effective ways of integrating technology into pedagogy, teacher content knowledge, and teachers’ content creation. Through the partnership with the teachers’ college that participated in the study, experience drawn from the research process contributed to the College at a time when the College was determining how and whether to further invest in the ICT training program for pre-service teachers that had been established as part of a project funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Specifically, the training workshops around which the study was structured were designed and carried out in collaboration with the College’s ICT Lab Manager, so that he would be able to use resultant findings and tools (such as the training curriculum and handouts developed) in his ongoing training activities at the college. The involvement of the teachers’ college was intended to support local innovation in using ICT to address bilingual learning objectives in Gulu, amidst the new education and language policies for the primary 3  Global learning networks (a project led by Dr. Maureen Kendrick, Dr. Bonny Norton, and Dr. Margaret Early); and Digital literacy in teacher education (a project led by Dr Bonny Norton and Dr Maureen Kendrick).  8  education sector. The pedagogical tools that emerged from this study and the physical hardware procured remained in the community at the completion of the study. Participants gained new skills and ideas that will hopefully continue to contribute to their professional development and to their teaching practice beyond the scope of the study. Finally, it is anticipated that this study has added to the repertoire of lessons learned in ICT for education (ICT4E) in developing countries, and ideally, contributed recommendations specific to language and literacy learning within ICT4E (see Chapter Eight).  1.4 Situating the Study English has now been a part of the language landscape in Uganda for over a century and a half. Associated with prestige, education, and access to political power, it is part of the social identity of many Ugandans who consider themselves part of the national elite. English also contributes to an imagined community of Ugandans striving to be “educated persons and citizens of the world” (Bernsten, 1998, p.104) and is associated with a Uganda seeking to open itself up to the world, taking part in global networks of commerce, culture and power. This situation is echoed in much of the African continent, with its roots lying in the colonial experience, where, as Muthwii and Kioko (2003) describe it, usually, the kind of education offered to Africans was one to prepare them for bluecollar jobs, and thus the local indigenous languages were used as media of instruction. This created a yearning for the language of the master, the language that gave access to white-collar jobs, European thought and other privileges” (p.  9  98). The Ugandan Government has also opted to settle with English as a necessarily unifying force for a country made up of a plethora of languages, after having considered alternative national languages such as Luganda4. What, then, is the value of policies that insist on mother tongue literacy in the first three years of primary school in rural regions of the country, at the same time that Ugandans seek to entrench the status of English in the country? Many studies have convincingly demonstrated that students will learn better in a second language and in other subjects when they are also proficient in their mother tongue, including through school-based instruction (Cummins 1981; Klaus, 2003; Mehrotra, 1998; Obondo, 2007; and Williams, 1996), and this evidence from the research is reflected in the language of instruction policies of a growing number of African states which are introducing bilingual instruction and seeking an increased emphasis on the mother tongue (Albaugh, 2007). Further, the arguments around linguistic competencies and language performance are also linked to larger issues of identity and autonomy within an increasingly interconnected world. This is also a world where sharp economic differences divide nations, and also sometimes run along linguistic borderlines. In such an environment, communication and language are about the ability to access the global conversation that shifts and shapes those borders. The metaphor of the global conversation is taken up in this study to refer to communicative interactions through information technology (primarily on the web) where listening and speaking takes place in a process which ultimately yields the kind of atmosphere, content and discourses which characterize the  4  Swahili was re-added as a second official national language in 2005 at the behest of the Ugandan parliament.  10  information age. It is a site where speakers have the opportunity to influence the thinking of others, gain recognition, establish identity and participate in dialogue, as well as a site where listeners have access to a limitless bank of the source material for knowledge, that is, information. Thus access to this conversation, or lack thereof, is of great consequence. Africa is largely missing from the linguistic constitution of the information highway. In one estimate, only 3% of content on the Internet originates from the African continent (Adegbola & Dada, 2003). It is perhaps then no surprise that one prediction claims that in the next 50 to 100 years, 90% of African languages will become extinct (Egbokhare, 2004). Should events transpire this way, there will undoubtedly be consequences from the resultant losses in linguistic heterogeneity. This is not to say that the continued growth of English speakers globally is a uniquely destructive force or that Africans cannot participate in the global conversation through the medium of English (and many of them do), but rather, that there is value-added in the contributions to that conversation that come in the form of African languages and worldviews. The coexistence of African languages with those languages that are more dominant online today can diversify the representation of digital information just as it can provide for more meaningful and relevant means of participation from Africans in the great global conversation impacting our collective social, political and economic futures. Globalization ushered in, alongside the enthusiasm for the erosion of many kinds of barriers, eerie warnings of the divide that would result from the exclusion of some of the world’s cultures from the information revolution, an exclusion that is facilitated by language barriers. Some point to the tensions, and presumably the consequent dangers which might arise from increasing divides and cultural clashes stemming from the West’s  11  digital dominance (Keniston, 2001). At this maturing stage in the proliferation of digital information, it is increasingly critical to determine where there might still be opportunity to realize the original grand vision of a global, free, democratic forum where the presence of a diversity of languages and of cultural perspectives pave the way for what Ess, Sudweeks and Herring (1999) have called creative interferences. How can we move from alienation to integration and engagement, and from there, towards the meaningful participation of linguistic minorities in the information society? More specifically, how can indigenous African languages, and the worldviews and knowledge systems they carry within them, be vehicles for leaving the unique imprint of African voices and ideas in the digital world, as well as allowing Africans the right to hear what others are saying through the medium of ICT? These problems are inherently linked to the new literacies, and to the role of education systems in either facilitating or undermining African access to these conversations. Researchers focused on multilingualism in education in Africa have embraced indigenous languages as sites of power and possibility, which can counteract some of the subjugation imposed by language loss, when strategically addressed (for instance, see Finlayson & Slabbert, 2004; or Kishe, 2004). This emerging approach has started to unpack some of the linkages between local language proficiency, the right to communicate in one’s local language, to access media in the vernacular, and to participate in the production of texts in one’s own language, a process and contribution to the ‘global conversation’ inherently tied to notions of agency and identity. The New Literacy Studies posits that literacies are laden with ideology as well as rooted in culture (Barton, 2007; Gee, 1991; Heath, 1982; Kramsch, 1995; and, 1993;  12  Street, 2003). Context matters enormously, as does the learner’s access to sites and structures of power. So while English does not necessarily threaten the survival of the local language (Bisong, 1995; Wallace, 2002), a detrimental dichotomization can nonetheless occur between worlds of ‘primary socialization’ (mother tongue spoken at home, with family, in the community) and worlds of ‘secondary socialization’ (such as school), when the local language is relegated to the household and/or community and English is the language for school, discreetly discrediting the indigenous language and favouring English or another dominant language as the serious, “real” language wherein education, scientific discovery and technological development takes place (Gee, 2001; Heath, 1986). This discrediting is often implicit, but erects fault lines that prevent African ownership over development processes, and limits the possibilities for how African languages can be used to achieve learning objectives in locally meaningful ways. As classrooms now taught in the L1 still face hurdles in reconciling the uses of a colonial language and an indigenous language, it would be timely to examine those practices that best support the learning needs of primary school pupils, and which allow them to embrace the identity they seek to build for themselves and for their communities. This may require approaches to teaching that put indigenous languages on equal footing with English in terms of their compatibility with formal classroom learning. ICTs could play a role in addressing this, if ICTs can find better compatibility with local languages. Further, there are important arguments to consider with regards to the consequences of language loss and the responsibilities of states and communities to prevent language loss. Others have made powerful arguments in support of the need to prioritize the maintenance of language diversity (Abley, 2003; Batibo, 2005; Dalby,  13  2003; and Omoniyi, 2003). Access to resources and learning in one’s language does not merely allow people to learn for purposes of functionality. English influences and shapes indigenous languages (Wallace, 2002), but indigenous languages also influence and shape English (Crystal, 2003). There is thus enrichment to be gained from enabling the active and versatile use of two or more languages in different spheres. The classroom, as one sphere in particular, is a critical starting point in countering language loss, serving as a pivotal site in terms of its potential capacity to legitimate and expand use of the local language beyond the world of primary socialization. As part of any such process, it will be important to assess the values and attitudes associated with local language instruction and how these interact with the values associated with learning English. Can desires to be part of a global community (and to access the economic and political resources associated therewith) be reconciled with the desire to remain firmly rooted within a community’s culture and traditions? A fuller study assessing the values, opinions and wishes of Ugandans in determining the applications of their indigenous languages could, in the future, be undertaken using Allard and Landry’s (1992) model for measuring ethnolinguistic vitality. As stakeholders in the futures of their languages, teachers, learners, parents, community leaders and Ministries of Education, among others, should be consulted in the development of any new or revised language policy for primary schools and in the development of appropriate learning resources in local languages. As Bernsten explains, in this model, The effects of social, socio-psychological and psychological variables are considered in determining individuals’ beliefs about languages in their speech community. The analysis includes measuring the demographic, political,  14  economic and cultural capital of each ethnolinguistic group. This model should prove useful in analyzing attitudes and strengths of languages in very complex speech communities such as Uganda’s (1998, p.105).  The broader region has much to offer Uganda in terms of precedents to draw upon. South Africa, which has 11 official languages, has its national curricula available in each official language, though continues to face the challenge of a system still dominated by English and Afrikaans, within a multilayered linguistic school environment. In Tanzania, the Kiswahili Linux Localization Project (klnX) is an open source software project started by the Department of Computer Science (DoCS) of the Tanzanian government in collaboration with staff from the Institute of Kiswahili Research (IKR) and College of Engineering and Technology (COET). The creation of open source, free software in Kiswahili makes it possible for anyone to create their own work, templates, websites and other digital resources in Kiswahili, as well as to search easily for any existing Kiswahili resources on-line, thus making ICTs compatible with an indigenous African language. Localization initiatives like this are a starting point in the creation of tools and on-line communities of practice within which educators and curriculum designers can develop local language resources. Perhaps Uganda’s richest potential resource is the interest of many Ugandan communities in the revitalization and preservation of their indigenous languages. The Ministry of Education might benefit from working more closely with the various speech communities to develop optimal learning environments for mother tongue instruction.  15  This study seeks to make a modest contribution towards a better understanding of what approaches may hold the potential to create such environments. Specifically, it seeks to understand how ICT, as a vehicle for mother tongue text production, can open new doors for learning and teaching in the mother tongue.  1.5 Assumptions Several broad assumptions underpinned this study, drawn from the theoretical framework applied to the research and from my practice and experience as a researcher and as a practitioner in education design in developing countries. The main assumptions underpinning the study were as follows: •  Language loss is harmful to the pursuit of knowledge and enlightenment. Language diversity is valuable to cultural health in the same way that ecological  diversity contributes to environmental sustainability. In international development discourse, there is little recognition that languages themselves, like ICTs, are vehicles to knowledge, and not simply neutral modes for communicating for development objectives. Kramsch (1993; 1995; 2009) has offered that language learning is a type of “third space” and that meaning in language learning is nurtured through contextual connections. An indigenous African language offers new opportunities for the generation of creativity, ideas, conceptualizations, cultural perspectives and local philosophies. ICTs are a means to open new channels for this knowledge-through-language for native speakers, as well as to expose other linguistic and cultural groups to diverse, valuable forms of local knowledge that may open new intellectual windows. Osborn (2006) points out that the rapidly increasing dominance and prevalence of ICTs, without a corresponding inclusion  16  of African languages, further endangers those languages and puts at risk the social identities of their speakers. Language is both a mode of expression for culture as well as an embodiment of culture, with some arguing that culture is the currency for development: “colonisation was about physical spaces such as land, natural and mineral resources while globalisation is about logical spaces such as cultural resources” (Adegbola & Dada, 2003, p. 7). Local languages, vast repositories of culture, preserve and strengthen cultural vitality that in turn may serve as a tool for viable, sustainable development relevant to the local community in question. Language scholars in Africa point out that using Africa’s cultural capital for development demands a role for African languages, including in the digitalized world: in conjunction with a true rehabilitation of local knowledge mediated through local language, local language ICT competence will be one of the main factors in setting up a catalogue of indicators of communicative sustainability. … It will provide new insights into communicative roles and their significance for transfer of innovative concepts and activation of local knowledge through local language resources (Bearth, 2003, p. 3).  The idea that languages contain knowledge in and of themselves (as opposed to only serving as a vehicle for knowledge) is the hinge connecting the use of mother tongue to the pursuit of development objectives. In Mark Abley’s survey of several endangered languages across the globe, ranging from Micmac in Canada to Maori in New Zealand and Gaelic in Ireland, he found the common reason why value was consistently found in saving small, obscure languages to be “the endurance of dozens, hundreds, thousands of  17  subtly different notions of truth” (2003, p. 277). This has been variably said in other ways: languages contain ideas, philosophies, heritage, metaphors, stories, worldviews, or histories; and that ethnolinguistic diversity has “the benefit of pan-human creativity, problem-solving and mutual cross-cultural acceptance” (Fishman, 1982, p. 1). Considering the African context, Egbokhare describes the connection between language and development as lying in “the function of language as a means of communication, a vehicle of culture and a documentary of folk wisdom” (2004, p. 4).  •  Bilingualism and multilingualism are learning assets. A growing body of literature supports that learning in a foreign language can  impose limitations on educational performance when done in isolation from the mother tongue (Cummins, 1981; Egbokhare, 2004; Klaus 2003; Mehrotra, 1998; Obondo, 2007; Williams, 1996) and sociolinguists are increasingly turning towards multilingualism as an asset in educational development (Bialystock, 2001; Cummins, 2001; Goldenberg, 2008; Hornberger, 1995; Kembo-Sure, 2002; Martin-Jones & Jones, 2000). Nevertheless, there is still a persistent and ultimately validated association in many African communities with European languages to economic and educational opportunity. In the Ugandan context, parents and communities are largely unconvinced that the mother tongue as the language of instruction is the best approach for their children and continue to place emphasis on English or regional languages as offering more opportunity for advancement (Tembe & Norton, 2008). Looking at the African continent at large, Heugh notes that “while communities in Africa readily add to their informal multilingual repertoires,  18  postcolonial language policies often reflect a tension between the use of indigenous languages and the language/s of colonial rule” (2008, p. 355). These perceptions and associations are not unfounded. Besides a lack of motivation attributed to the upward mobility English often represents in a globalizing world, there is also a lack of motivation on the part of information producers when it comes to small languages. Literacy rates are low in most small African languages, and therefore it is argued to be pointless to produce information that few people can read (Osborn, 2006). Yet it is this very perception that keeps indigenous African languages irrelevant. It has failed to be recognized that a lack of African content on-line and in print is both a symptom and a cause of the problem. If Africans have material to engage with that is linguistically and culturally relevant to them, there is a better chance that ICT resources can be effectively mobilized as tools for locally relevant literacy and learning.  •  Culture plays a fundamental role in learning. This assumption is premised on the argument that part of the absence of African  voices in digital media is cultural irrelevance, local inappropriateness, and lack of mother tongue content of immediate value to users. Development with or through the mother tongue is not yet part of the vision of the development machine, and is rarely reflected in ICT policy or practice; though advocates of mother tongue for development such as Prah (2001) have argued for more emphasis on language and culture in development design. Similarly, Kramsch (1995, 2010) sees the ways in which language hinges upon its cultural environment as fundamental to the empowerment role that culture plays in language appropriation.  19  Visual materials that reflect local culture are relatively un-examined, yet may yield potentially useful applications. Such approaches transferred to ICT-based applications may help build a bridge to traditional African media modes, such as the oral forms commonly used in Uganda (Mushengyezi, 2003). Peacock (1995) found that bilingual learners in early stages of learning a second language (L2) are best served by textbooks which include visuals, language supportive tasks and other techniques which make the content comprehensible, yet African textbooks are rarely designed as such (Clegg, 2007). ICT platforms seeking to promote literacy in Africa may demand looking beyond textbased and language modes, towards the diverse modes imbedded in local cultural contexts. Finding ways to interweave traditional forms of communication and information dissemination with new forms is instrumental in making successful transitions towards using ICTs for rehabilitating mother tongues. Education researchers have noted the often sharp divides between literacy practices expected in school and literacy practices out of school, which inherently influence each other (Heath, 1982; Hull & Schultz, 2002). The way in which language is used to bridge the various worlds that students occupy is a key determinant to the success of their learning. Kendrick, Jones, Mutonyi and Norton (2006) have called for new pedagogical tools and practices that integrate the multimodal practices common in Ugandan communities into the classroom, helping to utilize culturally specific multimodal tools in the service of learning and for meaningful, context-specific communication. Responding to their findings looking at science knowledge among South African students speaking English as their second language, Fakudze and Rollnick (2008) believe  20  that positive emphasis and support on all of the linguistic tools at a student’s disposal is to their advantage in successfully navigating learning in both the home and school worlds. Too often, however, the perception of English as the only path to participation in the global economy and information society means parents will let cultural attachments and mother tongues go in favour of giving their children a better chance at a prosperous future (Banda, 2003; Tembe & Norton, 2008). Giving relevance to local languages and finding ways of making ICTs compatible with the mother tongue will mean students can retain their culture and language without compromising on their globally-oriented ambitions. The expanded use of image relative to text, as well as other modes in the presentation of educational information in digital media (Bezemer & Kress, 2008) may afford new opportunities in African contexts to integrate locally meaningful content, such as by including images of locally recognizable figures or culturally relevant symbols and patterns. Banda (2003) has called for a “pedagogy of multiliteracies,” where everyday literacy practices are used towards gaining the kinds of literacies perceived to bring about formal educational success, reinforcing the call made in the work of the New London Group (1996).  •  Violent conflict impacts education and teaching.  The experience of a prolonged violent conflict leaves its residue on the education sector in a number of ways, which create a plethora of challenges, shaping the kind of learning environment children enter when they start school in the primary years. Many educated people may have fled during the conflict, leaving a dearth of human capital, including trained educators. Teachers and school administrators may have survived  21  traumatic events and live with any one of a variety of forms of resultant mental strain from anxiety disorders, chronic depression or post-traumatic stress disorder. School infrastructure may have been destroyed or damaged during the war. The location may have been inaccessible for periods, preventing the delivery of educational materials such as textbooks. The social fabric of communities is strained during conflicts with networks of support disappearing and distrust prevailing. Students may have difficulty concentrating in class if they have witnessed violence, lost a loved one, or live amidst economic insecurity at home. Donor governments and agencies may have been unwilling to invest in a vulnerable region, prioritizing programming to other regions instead, creating further inequity and disadvantage compared to other regions. These are only a few of the possible impacts of violent conflict on an education system. While documenting the impact of these conditions is not an objective of this study, it is important to acknowledge the context in which data were collected and to note that human experiences of violent conflict are long-lasting and manifested in a variety of ways, years and even decades following the cessation of hostilities. For example, the teachers’ college in this study was for many years effectively inoperable because of the conflict, and many research participants are survivors of abduction by the Lord’s Resistance Army. Such experiences characterize this particular research site, and the lives of research participants, in unique ways. Yet, just as war erodes education, education can also be used to prevent future conflict. The relationship between language and cultural expression, development, information and technology may hold particular value for changing the status quo in African communities chronically affected by violent conflict. Increasingly, research in  22  conflict and post-conflict societies is affirming the essential role of education in both preventing future conflict and in rebuilding from past conflict (Buckland, 2005). In particular, the use of ICTs to produce local language content in conflict-affected areas may hold potential for empowerment through cultural expression, strengthening of indigenous forms of education, and reinforcing the human right to access and use literacy in one’s own language, among other benefits, all of which can play positive roles in preventing the outbreak of conflicts and in building social cohesion.  1.6 Significance As ICTs emerge as potentially powerful tools to facilitate literacy and language education, how they are used will ultimately determine their success in African contexts. The degree to which local cultural content is integrated, and the formats used will have bearings on take-up, accessibility and impact. Further, who is empowered to use the tools, to what degree the various stakeholders interpret the purpose and validity of ICT tools, the circumstances in which teachers acquire digital literacy skills, and the availability of resources to meaningfully apply what ICT can generate in their classrooms are just some of the critical issues demanding deeper and context-specific analysis. It will thus be imperative to draw upon findings from the emerging studies of the new literacies (Lankshear & Knobel, 2003; Leu, Coiro, Knobel & Lankshear, 2008) and specifically on what they can tell us about the social practices of digital literacy, multiliteracies and multimodalities, in order to identify creative means of moving forward. This study has also sought to draw upon research that support the premise that multilingual education is an opportunity to improve the quality of education. Finally, this project is timely in light  23  of the need for further research assessing the application of digital tools for literacy and language education in the developing world (Snyder & Prinsloo, 2007). The study therefore seeks to contribute theoretical and practical findings for the use of ICT for mother tongue teaching and learning, of value to language education and literacy research focused on Africa.  1.7 Organization of the Study This study is organized into eight chapters. Chapter One introduces the study, formulating the purpose of the study, expected outcomes, hypothesis, significance, and assumptions. It sets the stage by providing the rationale behind this topic and articulating the central problem under examination. Chapter Two reviews the literature informing this study, focusing on contemporary research in digital literacy as well as research that considers the links between ICT and mother tongue languages. Relevant recent literature on bilingualism and multilingualism focused on African contexts is included, emphasizing the perspective of multilingualism as an asset in language education. Chapter Two also identifies gaps in the literature and considers the expected contribution of this study. Chapter Three describes the study’s methodological framework, provides a justification for use of a qualitative case study, and introduces the participants, procedures, data collection, instrumentation and approach to data analysis. Chapter Four provides ethnographic information on the three focal participants, as well as general data on all participants. It also presents the study’s context, looking at the language and education policy context, the transition to a post-conflict society, and at ICT’s integration  24  into the educational system. The main research findings are then presented and described in Chapters Five and Six, organized according to major themes that emerged from the data. Chapter Five examines the teaching and learning environment in which ICT interventions occur among primary teachers in Gulu, examining how resources entering this particular setting react with their surrounding environment. Chapter Six presents findings that speak to the relevance, value and sustainability of ICT for education initiatives for teachers in Gulu or similar environments, focusing on what the teacher participants perceived to be the values (actual and potential) of ICT for learning and teaching. Chapter Seven analyzes the results described in the previous two chapters, discussing their theoretical implications and their implications for the development of language education practices and policies in Gulu, with particular attention to the potential uses of ICT in teacher training in multilingual African contexts. Four major themes are discussed: (1) ICT, agency and teacher identity; (2) machine-centric ICT intervention; (3) multimodality, digital literacy and the notion of investment; and, (4) intersections between language, technology, pedagogy and content. Chapter Eight concludes with recommendations directed at the research community, education policymakers and those engaged in designing ICT4E curricula for multilingual African contexts. There are five areas of recommendations, including multilingual content creation; localization; the notion of local stewardship over ICT resources; the need to create viable ICT learning environments for ICT, and consideration of issues related to educators and ICT in the social world. The chapter also contains a section with suggested directions for future research.  25  CHAPTER 2: Literature Review  2.1 Introduction: Literature Review Africa is endowed with overwhelming linguistic diversity, a wealthy resource for generating knowledge in the plethora of worldviews, philosophies, histories and cultural tools imbedded in this language cornucopia. Yet governments’ use of African languages in the classroom has been a confusion of policy and practice, with only a minority of African states yielding any meaningful early results in using local languages in the service of learning. Consequently, African languages have largely been immobilized in terms of serving political, social and economic development ambitions. At the same time, the colonial legacies left in the form of the widespread use of European languages in Africa also do not appear to be significant catalysts for the growth of viable education systems. Muthwii and Kioko (2003) note that “the issue of school dropout is closely associated with that of language of instruction,” (p. 101) and conclude from the dismal data on drop-out and failure rates from public schools in Africa that “it is not far-fetched to argue that many drop-outs can neither read meaningfully in an international language nor in their mother tongue” (p. 102). The second Millenium Development Goal is to “ensure that, by 2015, children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling,” but for Africa, based on recent projections, it appears that the best case scenario will be achieving 68.3% primary school enrollment by 2015 (UN, 2005), well below the original target of 100% by that year. Further, there are significant concerns throughout Africa over the quality of education in schools that are facing rapidly  26  mounting enrollment rates without the requisite investments in enhancing teaching, school infrastructure, learning materials and curriculum. These challenges remain in sharp relief in Uganda today (Ward, Penny & Read, 2006). Yet, Africa is also at a turning point. Language and literacy research concerning the region is increasingly exploring the strengths that multilingualism brings to learning outcomes (Ajiboye, 2002; Bamgbose, 2000; and Brock-Utne, 2002), and from there, turning to the study and assessment of new strategies for better integrating African languages into modern classrooms. Non-governmental organizations, academic institutions and software companies are testing out projects, producing local language materials and using ICT as a means to facilitate new forms of communication in indigenous languages, such as the Kamusi Project, an online Swahili dictionary, or Kasahorow, a project focusing on developing technical standards for African languages. New and old institutions are giving a heightened place to African languages in their search for better language and education policies for the continent, such as the African Academy of Languages or the more recently established Language Technologies for African Languages, and the African Languages Technology Initiative. African scholars such as Kwesi Kwaa Prah are challenging long-established systems of classifying languages which they see instead as closely related dialects, and Uganda recently experimented with unifying three such dialects into a single regional language. How African languages intersect with new technologies is a largely untended field, yet one rich with possibilities in light of a growing body of efforts showing how ICT can be manipulated to serve bilingual learning outcomes, as well as how technology can be adapted for users from non-dominant language groups through software and  27  hardware localization. Access to ICT resources, however, remains the primary challenge, including access to technological infrastructure, training, and appropriate applications for different African communities and institutions. Stemming from the latter is the need to find ways of engaging with teachers and communities in ways that allow for the meaningful and relevant use of technology within both their current language policy and practice, and with their communities’ ambitions for different kinds of literacies relevant to their cultural, social, political and economic aspirations. As Braga (2007) asserts, “accepting the fact that what makes technologies good or bad is the use that social communities make of them, it is important to move beyond reproductive and deterministic positions and inquire how the power of digital technologies can be critically exploited to promote more progressive ends” (p. 183). Further, creating an enabling environment for technological innovation within Africa may do much to stimulate the integration of local languages with technology, as opposed to using ‘imported’ software and hardware created in foreign languages. Research and practice in digital literacy is a field exploding with new literature, while advances and innovations in ICTs continue to be introduced faster than the academic community can keep pace with studying their impacts on our culture, economies, political systems, and society. A rich array of literature has been generated since the advent of the Internet and the introduction of technology-mediated teaching and learning in classrooms around the world. This literature is, however, more nascent for the field in sub-Saharan Africa, and there is even less data available from conflict-affected countries in Africa due to a lack of access on account of security risks, disengagement from these areas, and other factors. Nevertheless, there is a growing community of  28  education researchers at work contributing to a better understanding of how technology can be applied in the classroom in Africa and towards Africa’s development more broadly (such as Evoh, 2007; Isaacs, 2005; Kawooya, 2004; Ngugi et al, 2007; Okidi Lating, 2006; Parkinson, 2005; Pasch, 2005; and Unwin, 2005). Experimentations in the field are also making early contributions to our understanding of the potential impact of ICT on education, through small pilot projects in some communities, such as UConnect’s work in Uganda, and national and even continental school digital literacy programs in the development or early implementation stages, such as the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) e-Schools initiative, launched in 2005. This chapter reviews recent research informing the scholarly discourse on digital literacy, and in the second section, reviews some of the theory and literature on L1 and ICT. The research drawn from these two emerging fields is not exhaustive, but is that which is of greatest relevance to this study’s research question. Each section also briefly reviews gaps in the current body of research and provides recommended areas for further study, which have influenced the direction of this study.  2.2 Theory and Research: Digital Literacies ‘Digital literacy’ is a young term, challenging the conventional use of ‘literacy’ as a process associated only with the written word in print. The introduction of the term is reflective of the increasing pervasiveness of digital media and ICT in our everyday lives and its necessity for work, school and other domains, and also implies that those lacking proficiency in using digital media are at a disadvantage, in its reverse association to a form of illiteracy. The study of digital literacy cuts across disciplines, and discussions of  29  the concept can be found in the domains of information sciences, development studies, sociology, education, communication studies and applied linguistics. A useful overview of the evolution of digital literacy is Dobson and Willinksy’s (2009), which begins with the advent of electronic word processing to the introduction of the Internet and hypertext (or hypermedia), and finally to what the authors call the “emergence of a networked information economy” (p.287). Their review is oriented around “the implications of digital technologies for human engagement with the written word” (2009, p.291), and in their chronology of the rise of digital media, they put forward the evidence for any impact on literacy processes within each new stage of the digital revolution, calling particular attention towards the democratizing and educational potential of digital media and literacy. This section will focus primarily on reviewing the notion of digital literacy as part of the paradigm of the New Literacy Studies within language and literacy studies. The New Literacy Studies (NLS) represents an approach to the study and understanding of literacy as more than a skill-set for reading and writing text, but rather as a set of broader, complex social practices, and recognizes many different kinds of ‘literacies’. NLS is a critical approach, which attempts to challenge traditional understandings of literacy (the ‘autonomous model’) and to shed light on practices normally not credited as literacies or necessarily as valued literacies. It further distinguishes between literacy events and literacy practices (Street, 1988), and views all thought as socially constructed. Social practices used in literacy shape what defines literacy in different contexts (Barton, 2007). Considering the advent of the digital age, Brown and Duguid (2000) call for a similar argument to be applied to digital media and  30  digital literacy, recognizing that it is social practices that shape and define what is done with the interpretation and use of information and digital literacy practices: The ends of information, after all, are human ends. The logic of information must ultimately be the logic of humanity. For all information’s independence and extent, it is people, in their communities, organizations, and institutions, who ultimately decide what it all means and why it matters (p. 18).  The term ‘New Literacy Studies’ came to be coined by Gee (1991) and Street (1996). The work of Street in particular (2005, 2003) has been foundational to conceiving of literacy as a social practice, whereby literacy incidents, events and development are driven by where a learner is situated culturally, socially, economically and linguistically. The work of the New London Group (NLG) has taken this foundational notion to further develop a theory of multiliteracies, which they argue is needed in part for learners to effectively negotiate the multiple languages and cultural environments they will interact with in learning literacy/ies (1996). Studies into new forms of literacy, including digital literacy, are finding their roots in this social view of literacy as practice and process, as opposed to a skill or set of skills. Cope and Kalantzis (2000) began early on to lead the approach into an examination of digital literacy, suggesting that literacy practices must be broadened beyond the printed page, if learners are to successfully participate and contribute to the economic, social, political and cultural world around them. They also contend that the playing field must be widened to include a multiplicity of languages and cultures, to the benefit of all. Part of the NLG manifesto focuses on the need to better understand the potential interplay between the visual and written word in multimedia  31  formats to facilitate new ways of learning adapted to the needs of working in an illunderstood and ever-evolving technology-dependent era (2000). This and work that followed, such as the seminal International Multiliteracies Project (New London Group, 1996), called for a diversification of the global repertory of knowledge in terms of cultural (and linguistic) variety, and by a better understanding of new, multiple and mixed modes of expression—also known as multimodalities (e.g., see Kress, 2000). As an introduction to some of the new digital-based literacies and how one goes about researching them and integrating them into the classroom, Leu, Coiro, Knobel and Lankshear (2008) provide a useful overview in several articles, exploring new forms of communication ranging from the trend of blogging, to manga art, to chat rooms in the seminal Handbook of Research on New Literacies. Other introductory works include those of Gilster (1997) and the work of Lankshear and Knobel (2003). Many watching the ways in which new technologies are unfolding within the educational landscape are concerned with the relationship between language, social practice and power. The NLS propose closer examination of how literacy and digital literacies interact within the broader social worlds of learners, seeing literacy practices as not individual skill sets or competencies but rather as imbedded in other processes and in the environment in which they are practiced, as argued by Warschauer (2006). Critical literacy has meant approaching literacy, including digital literacies, as a practice of production, rather than only of the consumption of information (Knobel & Lankshear, 2002) and the approach calls for reading and writing to be examined as a meaningful practice bound up in ways of being in the world. Much of the recent research has emphasized the role of literacy in meaning-making for learners and in linking the local to  32  the global (Koutsogiannis, 2007). As Snyder (2007) points out, digital practices happen in “differentiated, situated and enculturated ways” (p. 173) with the implication that literacy goes beyond the mere acquisition of a script, with learners needing to learn how to apply the learning in specific purposes and for specific uses (Scribner & Cole, 1981) relevant to the lives they lead. Related to context are issues of identity and their relationship to the conditions that either help or hinder an individual’s learning and their connection to the social world (Norton, 2000). Identity shapes the experience of language learning, and identity is constantly being negotiated and constructed, and sometimes resisted. Norton’s (2000; 2001) notion of imagined identities, drawn from her research in diverse language learning contexts, is one where learners can project a future vision of themselves and of their country in relation to others, beyond their present circumstances. Their engagement is an investment in a desired future scenario, at the heart of which lies a sense of identity that will be formed according to membership in the imagined community, and which has bearing on the ways in which learners engage with language and literacy in given cultural contexts. These ideas transfer similarly to literacy learning and engagement via digital media. At its extremity, critical literacy theory has called upon the work of Foucault (1970), Freire (1970) and Bourdieu (1977), among others, to challenge the very structure of the educational environments in which digital literacy learning takes place. For instance, Janks (2000) questions whether “providing students with access to dominant forms is a way of maintaining the dominance of these forms” but also acknowledges the problem that “denying access to such dominant language uses is also a way of  33  perpetuating the marginalization of some students” (p. 185). Janks has influenced other research in considering how design may facilitate the realization of critical literacy education based on a sociocultural theory of language (2000). Branching off from critical literacy, the NLS, led by Street (1984, 2005), Barton (1994) and Gee (1996, 2003), among others, has also steered much research towards an emphasis on interaction and social practice as the foci of study, in place of the individual; or, in other words, away from viewing the individual as the site of the ‘problem’ to be studied. NLS has built upon and incorporated earlier movements including conversational analysis, interactional sociolinguistics, sociohistorical psychology, situated cognition, cultural models theory, and cognitive linguistics, among others. The NLS also emphasizes context, situatedness and the identity of the learner as key determinants of learning success. Several recent case studies have helped demonstrate the validity of approaching digital literacies from the NLS perspective. Facing the tensions inherent in the ‘digital divide’, researchers like Snyder (2007) are asking how we might engage young people who are not at the core of the dynamics of the globalized world, with new media in educational settings (p. 172). Others, like Braga (2007) looking at Brazil, Walton (2007) in South Africa, Koutsogiannis and Mitskikopoulou (2007) in Greece, Bulfin and North (2007) in Australia, and Mutonyi and Norton (2007) in Uganda, have taken up the question by looking at the various applications of technology in marginalized communities throughout the developing and developed worlds. These are important inroads in taking some of the theory into specific pedagogical practice and observing how technologies are negotiated, learned, resisted or adapted. Some dominant themes from  34  these case studies include a focus on spaces (bridging the home/school divide), localglobal divides and partnerships, access issues, teachers’ capacity and motivations for using ICT as learning tools, social awareness, the localization of ICT content and processes, and motivations and discourses in students’ uses of technology. The theme of multimodality emerges regularly within NLS studies. In information technology studies and in the field of information theory, multimodality refers to the integration of multiple forms of output of data such as audio, graphics, text and the accompanying ways of interacting with various forms of data such as by touching a screen, inputting speech, or inputting text. It is an approach increasingly applied within scientific fields, especially in the medical sciences (such as for three-dimensional image registration, to complement other data). Within literacy and language studies, multimodality has been studied through a communications lens for what it can unearth about the varied ways of making meaning from varied modes of presenting information. It might be argued that ICTs are inherently multimodal, in their use of mechanisms like hypertext, scanning, audio and multimedia formats used in websites and digital documents, among others. Kress (2003) brought multimodality into pronounced use in the study of digital literacy, and following in this vein, Barton (2007) has emphasized how “print literacy is intertwined with other modes, especially the visual mode, and how reading changes as society shifts from a reliance on the page to reading the screen” (p. 24). Kress (1997) also posited that children are naturally equipped to understand and engage with their world multimodally before they are essentially “reprogrammed” to depend primarily on literacy in the printed word. The relevance of multimodality is linked to the finding that cultural  35  elements must play integral roles in digital literacy: “ICTs need to be conveyors of locally relevant messages and information that provide opportunities for local people to interact and communicate with each other, expressing their own ideas, knowledge and cultures in their own languages” (Adegbola & Dada, 2003, pp. 6-7). In many parts of Africa, alternative forms of communication from print literacy hold relevance, such as Ugandans’ popular use of more traditional, oral forms of media (Mushengyezi, 2003), and ICT may offer a useful platform for integrating multiple modes, including image, sound and text in a way that corresponds to ‘offline’ popular communication forms and modes. Considering the case of Uganda in particular, Kendrick, Jones, Mutonyi and Norton (2006) have called for new pedagogical tools and practice that integrate the multimodal practices common in Ugandan communities into the classroom, helping to utilize culturally specific multimodal tools in the service of learning and meaningful, locally relevant communication. To this end, the New London Group’s outline of a ‘pedagogy of multiliteracies’ is useful, where everyday literacy practices are used towards gaining the kinds of literacies perceived to bring about formal educational success (1996). Within the realm of digital media and multimodality, Snyder’s (1996) work on hypertext has examined in detail that new form of information representation prevalent in digital media. Her analysis concludes that digital literacy yields far-reaching potential for innovation and weaving together multiple modes, which appeal to different learning styles. Hypertext embodies plurality and therefore exposes learners to alternative interpretations, allowing a reader to challenge dominant interpretations and to construct their own understandings. It elicits engagement with the text as a reader navigates away  36  from one page and onto another, clicking words or icons of interest that lead to a fuller description, a contradictory point by another author, a new perspective on old material, and ever more sources of information. Snyder has described hypertext functioning as an endless labyrinth of information, where readers choose where they are taken, what they learn and perhaps most importantly, how they learn (1996), features which ultimately facilitate agency on the part of the information navigator. The NLS have also garnered criticism. Stephens (2000) has suggested that scholars like Street may be too extreme in dismissing any view of literacy that is decontextualized, noting that this makes it difficult to draw out observations about reading and writing skills that may be applicable across differing contexts. She further notes that “looking at language independently of social context can have value at particular stages in the development of a literacy programme” (p. 12). Her conclusions are drawn in part from a review of Scribner and Cole’s seminal study of the Vai in Liberia (1981), frequently cited as the first set of data and analysis that spurred the NLS. Stephens (2000) found that analysis of the process behind the study and careful reading of the Vai study’s conclusions suggest that the dismissal of the connection between literacy and cognitive development was premature. Brandt and Clinton (2002) have suggested that the NLS often exaggerate the power of local contexts, and romanticize local literacy practices while ignoring the technology of literacy and that literacy does demand imported skills to some extent. The NLS perspective has thus resulted in a theoretical blindspot. Brandt and Clinton point out that “literacy practices are not typically invented by their practitioners. Nor are they independently chosen or sustained by them” (2002, p.338). Literacy has both local and  37  foreign inputs, and the NLS have too often separated these phenomena in its overemphasis on context. Stephens also critiques the extreme relativism of scholars such as Gee, arguing that there is utility in having ‘correct’ forms of language elevated above other forms in the language classroom, and promotes as an alternative, the literacy for education view (2000). Relativism in the NLS is also taken up in an earlier critique by McCabe (1998) of Street’s work, work which McCabe suggests promotes “a relativist theory of culture which is philosophically incoherent and pedagogically disastrous” (p. 26) and which ultimately renders the role of the teacher futile. McCabe (1998) nevertheless still finds value in the NLS, noting, we need a comprehensive new settlement in the teaching of literacy which would include the development of methods that include the new media and a clear understanding of how to teach a standard which is no longer validated by notions of correctness. This is, for me, the lesson of the new literacy studies (p. 28).  Street (1998) responded to McCabe by differentiating between positive and negative relativism, claiming “relativism, of the intellectual and analytic kind, is too important to be left to the researchers” (p. 18) and argued in favour of the recognition of ‘indigenous education,’ referring to out-of-school literacy practices that learners bring into the formal classroom. Another area of relevant research to consider within mother tongue and digital literacy or ICT is a small but growing body of work beginning to examine specific localization issues for technology in African contexts. Research and recommendations  38  have been generated that consider a range of technical issues from tone-marking (Ajiboye, 2002), the need for modernization and standardization of African languages as they are digitalized (King’ei, 2002), machine translation issues (De Pauw, Wagacha, & de Schryver, 2008), spell checker and morphological analyzer (Ondari & Ng’ang’a, 2008), natural language statements computing for database querying (Muchemi, 2008), among a range of other localization developments. Localization might evolve to draw more intense interest on the part of language and literacy education researchers focused on multilingualism given the many possibilities localization presents for supporting digital literacies in local languages. Finally, access to digital literacy opportunities depends to a great extent on the state of telecommunications infrastructure in a given environment. A study that relied on a large data set from African countries over a period of 21 years, identified infrastructure as one of the three main factors leading to ICT adoption, the others being education and training, and economic development (Bagchi & Udo, 2007). Similarly, a study assessing telecentres in developing countries, including in Africa, named infrastructure restrictions such as low bandwidth as one of the key challenges preventing greater impact from telecentres (Latchem & Walker, 2001). For the Ugandan context, ICT infrastructure is found predominantly in urban areas due to better infrastructure than is found in rural areas (Ssewanyana, 2007). The Ugandan Communications Commission (2008) reports an increase from two Internet service providers in 1996 to 17 providers by 2007. Kahiigi, Ekenberg, Hanson, Danielson and Tusubira (2008) note that the trend in Ugandan education to date has been to use ICT facilities mainly for administrative computing and computer skills learning, rather than  39  for e-learning, attributed to “limited infrastructure and resources, students to computer ratio, lack of online pedagogical skills among others” (p. 197). They have further found that there has been some progress in ICT infrastructure acquisition in Uganda and that affordable bandwidth will be essential for further development of ICT for education. Mobile communications technology, however, is widespread in Uganda in urban and rural areas alike. Ssewanyana (2007) notes that the Ugandan Government’s liberalization of the communications industry nurtured a proliferation of private sector services, greatly increasing mobile phone coverage across the country, including among rural women such as through MTN’s Village Phone Project. His research from Uganda has also found that the combination of women’s access to mobile phones and to radio, besides leading to greater economic opportunities, has led to women’s participation in debates and discussions related to politics, health agriculture, education, environment and gender, for example, when women phone into radio programs. Openjuru (2009) reports from a study conducted in a rural district of Uganda of how the widespread use of mobile phones has reduced the need for letter writing, except for important news or invitations. A 2009 World Bank study (Mayer et al) synthesized the findings of several reports on public expenditure, spending needs, and sector performance in communication technologies, and found that the high end-user costs of broadband connections in areas that lack existing copper plants and which do therefore not effectively support cable modem connections is a major inhibitor to universal broadband coverage in Africa. The study calculated the gaps in investment in broadband coverage as follows: Creating the broadband infrastructure needed to provide universal coverage for the 52 countries [of Africa] would require an investment equivalent to 0.13  40  percent of GDP through 2015—translating to $13.0 billion, or an average of $1.6 billion per year from 2008 through 2015. The level of investment needed to cover the efficient market (only the commercially viable areas) in the 52 countries is just over half this amount —$7.2 billion, or $904.1 million annually. These estimates do not include the cost of computers, which could be significant, or the operating expense of Internet cafés unrelated to connectivity (p. x). 2.2.1 Gaps in the Literature: Digital Literacies While much research has been produced that focuses on the low rates of Internet access in Africa (Oyelaran-Oyeyinka & Nyaki Adeya, 2003; Oyelaran-Oyeyinka & Lal, 2005; and Roycroft & Siriwan, 2003) and the subsequent lack of Africa-produced content, there is less literature that practically addresses ways to meet the challenges of access, whether through better resourcing, fostering political will and government action, supportive policies, or innovative new approaches. Part of the solution may be to foster more inter-disciplinary collaborations that bring together different threads of evidence and theory. Osborn (2006), for instance, posits that in Africa, there is little collaboration between linguists and ICT technicians. Such collaborations might address, for example, the potential impact of localized software and hardware, as mentioned above, for local language literacy. Other collaborations could help bridge study of new innovations with viable recommendations on how those innovations might be sustainably resourced, an ever-present challenge confronting those developing and testing ICT4E projects in Africa. Chitamu, van Olst and Vannucci (2003), Gebremichael and Jackson (2006), and Jensen and Richardson (1998), for instance, provide full arguments in support of the numerous possibilities for better resourcing ICT for Africa.  41  Research observing not just the digital literacy practices and outcomes (such as digitally produced lesson plans) among learners or teachers, but the process of acquiring those skills is sparse. Further, there is little research on digital literacy competencies focused on strategies supporting educators to produce educational content for local use. In particular, an inquiry into the enabling conditions that would support speakers to generate and share L1 literary material for use in L1 or bilingual classrooms would be valuable, as well as an impact assessment of such materials on learning outcomes. Case studies of hybrid forms of learning would be useful in identifying how old and new forms of literacy can be effectively merged, reinforcing those literacy practices that serve learners, whether they are ‘offline’ or ‘online’. Questions guiding such research might ask, what tools would help bridge the jump for learners to new technologies through ‘traditional’ methods? How can teachers become comfortable oscillating between digital learning practices and traditional literacy practices and texts? How can digital learning facilitate book learning and vice versa? Study of the possibilities presented in peer African mentorship in ICT for mother tongue is largely unexplored. African-led initiatives, such as the work being undertaken by the African Language Technologies Initiative, demonstrate potential for adaptation by sharing strategies across African contexts. Similarly, the impact of events such as the annual e-Learning for Africa conference, wherein non-governmental organizations, research institutions, companies and others engaged in the development and application of ICT resources for education convene somewhere on the continent for several days of workshops, exhibitions and lectures, could yield interesting findings in terms of the role and potential of peer learning and regional exposure to new innovations in ICT4E. For  42  instance, showcasing successful initiatives, sharing tools and mentoring other institutions in the steps towards realizing similar projects in shared language contexts are promising forms of regional networking and knowledge-sharing that can be facilitated through conferences, exhibitions, exposure missions or by making software and instructional resources open source. Learning from the exchanges between African institutions and experts could highlight novel strategies that promote viability in African contexts, as opposed to strategies imported from outside of the continent, which may be less responsive to local conditions. Hybridity between the local and global is emerging in the New Literacy Studies (Cope & Kalantzis, 2000; Street, 2003; Wallace, 2002). Yet, further research is needed into the efforts of minority language groups to establish local language content and how such efforts are received online by both insiders and outsiders, and how minority language content-writers negotiate virtual spaces for themselves. Are those spaces isolated or are they integrated into the mainstream forums of the Internet? How do speakers of languages that are poorly represented on the Internet represent themselves online? Who are their audiences and what are their investments in having an online presence? How do they find each other and build communicative communities? Researching such questions could shed light on the interplay between issues of identity, participation and cross-cultural interactions online. The relationship between language and cultural expression, information and technology (and specifically, ICT4E) may hold particular value for changing the status quo in African communities chronically affected by violent conflict. The use of ICTs to produce local language content in conflict-affected areas may hold potential for  43  empowerment through cultural expression, for the strengthening of indigenous education, and for reinforcing the human right to access and use literacy in one’s own language, among other benefits, all of which could be mobilized towards improving the quality of education in conflict and post-conflict environments. Further research from African contexts that shares evidence of the positive impacts from ICT-facilitated mother tongue content production and education on peacebuilding efforts could provide further exploration of this link. A final suggestion for further research is the generation of student and teachercreated digital content in Africa and their classroom application. Students’ use of literacy skills to create their own media for publication on the Internet is a practice that holds potential for the empowerment of disadvantaged groups of young people, as suggested by Braga’s (2000) research among youth in Brazil. There is much focus on students’ use of literacy materials, but little study of the ways in which students translate new skills gained through the use of new technologies to have a voice in the world. This is a rich area for study that could illuminate how learners use ICT resources to construct meanings and represent themselves and/or their communities to an outside audience. Some new work may start to fill this gap, such as Thomas’s (2007) research examining how children construct their identities in multimodal digital worlds, but there remains a need for additional scholars to take up further research on this topic from diverse contexts. There is sparse material exploring the potential of working with teachers as partners in producing localized digital media for classroom use, though some nascent projects are working with teachers as advisors in creating or revising local language materials, such as the TESSA initiative (Teacher Education for Sub-Saharan Africa) which tries to connect  44  teachers and teacher educators by making open education resources available to African educators in nine countries (; or various initiatives in Africa undertaken by the Commonwealth of Learning (  2.3 Theory and Research: Mother Tongue Education and ICT The role of African languages, their promotion at the level of community, and their use in schools will have great bearing on the notion of an African renaissance, the agenda for a renewed era of prosperity and peace, first put forth following the end of the apartheid era in South Africa, in a speech by then Deputy President Thabo Mbeki. African language scholars increasingly view the revival of African languages as central to the continent’s development ambitions (Moto, 2002; Prah, 2000; 2002b; 2002c; and Simala 2002), pointing out that being empowered to meet development objectives necessitates taking creative control, central to which is the use of one’s own language to navigate and stimulate the desired societal change (Simala, 2002). The following section considers recent research focused on the potential of multilingualism in African contexts5, with emphasis on the work of African scholars. It includes literature that brings forth evidence of the benefits of instruction and multilingual proficiency, as well as background to some of the common perceptions of African languages today. This section also identifies some persistent challenges to the role of African languages in education. Obondo’s (2007) overview of bilingual education identifies several themes found throughout Africa. One is the ongoing impact of colonial language education policies on  5  As a general resource on languages and multilingualism, the Ethnologue (Gordon, 2005) is a key source of reference for detailed information on African languages, including Acholi, the language spoken in this study’s research site. The Ethnologue provides up-to-date information such as the number of speakers of a language, language classification, dialects and orthography.  45  today’s education systems in Africa, what Bamgbose (1991) referred to as the inheritance situation. This has meant that language policies in schools are largely based on historical precedent, on the practices of the previous British, French, German or Belgian governments, rather than on evidence for learning outcomes. In addition, the economic motivations associated with English in particular are powerful forces throughout Africa (Osborn, 2006). Kembo-Sure (2002) comments on this state of affairs: “a veneer of blackmail hangs over those who do not gain proficiency in a language as important as English” (p. 21). Nevertheless, a debate over the value and under-utilized role of the mother tongue in education has been alive and well in Africa since at least the 1950s (Moto, 2002). Yet, discussion of the use of African languages in education tends to be limited to a focus on the early primary years only in these debates. Recent research suggests that L1 education which abruptly ends after the primary levels, and does not include L1 instruction in “cognitively demanding subjects” is unlikely to raise school achievement levels overall (Clegg, 2007, p. 5), an argument supported by Cummins’ (2000) work concerning cognitive academic language proficiency. Silue (2000) faults the undue over-reliance on colonial languages as the culprit behind Africa’s low literacy rates, noting that both conditions “have the same origin: the actual implementation of literacy-empowered education generally carried out through foreign languages” (p. 149). Harlech-Jones (2001) and Williams and Cooke (2002) also linked many of the poor indicators in education such as low literacy rates and high dropout rates to instruction only in the L2. An example of how instruction in L2 exclusively can inhibit learning is found in Cleghorn’s (1989) work, where science learning in the primary years in some Kenyan classrooms was hampered by English  46  instruction in classrooms where English was a second language for both teacher and learners. Students struggled to make conceptual connections from science learning to their own worlds, without the assistance of local terms from the teacher. When the local language was used, in areas with limited enforcement of the English language medium policy, there was more uptake from students of the new ideas being communicated in the classroom (Merritt, Cleghorn, Abagi & Bunyi 1992). There also appears to be a lack of government will in contexts across Africa to seriously examine the role of language of instruction in the achievement of learning outcomes, which serves as a detriment to the evolution of good language policy for education. Simala argues that to date governmental efforts in Africa concerned with revitalizing languages through school systems have been largely symbolic (2002), despite evidence that bilingual education systems play a crucial role in increasing the status of African languages (Wolff, 2006). Brock-Utne and Alidou (2006), in their study of language learning in Africa, found that students overall tend to have low L2 ability and undertake minimal literacy activities in L2. They also found there is an absence of the use of challenging cognitive activities, and memorization and rote learning are used more so than active learning approaches. Together, these practices have led to low educational achievement. Clegg summarizes this impasse, noting that “learners are often engaging in activities of doubtful pedagogical benefit in a language which they do not know well enough” (2007, p. 2), but acknowledges that successful school learning in L2 can take place under certain conditions such as when learners come from an educated family or have a sufficient foundation in the L1, findings that are also supported by the work of Heugh (2006) and Cummins (2000).  47  The status quo, however, is gradually changing: “In fact, the major innovation that has taken place in the post-independence period has been a move to extend the use of indigenous languages as media of instruction beyond the third or fourth year of primary school” (Obondo, 2007, p. 153), though this has yet to be the case in Uganda. KemboSure (2002) argues that language planning models are increasingly accommodating minority languages, reflecting a growing understanding of multilingualism as an asset rather than as a deficit. Yet problems persist in the inconsistent ways in which African governments have included the L1 in education, where, for instance, a single African language in a multilingual country is used as the language of instruction (such as in Tanzania) or when students experience abrupt transitions from L1 to L2 from one grade to another. A move away from heavy emphasis on the colonial language to a more robust consideration of the potential benefits of using African indigenous languages is surfacing, with energetic discourses evolving around multilingualism and bilingualism as assets (Merritt, Cleghorn, Abagi & Bunyi, 1992; Obondo, 2008; and Obanya, 2002), and around the promotion of the use of African languages in pursuit of development objectives (Prah, 2000, 2001, 2002a, 2002b, 2002c, 1995; Rubanza, 2002; and Silue, 2000) both from within Africa and within the field of literacy studies more broadly. There is a growing body of evidence that school learning in the mother tongue facilitates proficiency in learning a second language (Egbokhare, 2004; Mehrotra, 1998; Cummins, 1981; Klaus 2003; Obondo, 2007; Williams, 1996) and helps bridge and reinforce home-based with school-based learning, what Rubanza (2002) has argued can ensure concept formation in the place of interrupted learning wherein there is little connection between learning that  48  takes place in home, in primary school and then in secondary school. A closer integration of the kinds of learning occurring across these different sites can nurture important connections in learners’ abilities to draw meaning from what they learn. Bringing research-based evidence that attests to the value of using the mother tongue in education necessitates attitudinal shifts towards indigenous languages vis-à-vis colonial languages. Tembe and Norton’s work in Uganda demonstrates one example of the powerful association of English with economic mobility (2008). In their study, parents felt strongly that their children needed English to succeed in the modern world and to become successful adults, and did not necessarily associate the mother tongue as a conduit to success that included better outcomes in English language learning. Silue (2000) reports that Ivorians’ attitudes towards their national languages are highly negative on account of the French ideology and policy of assimilation applied in their colonies. Ajiboye (2002) collected data in Nigeria which revealed that “most adults with high socio-professional profiles do not have the required competence to source information from texts written in their mother tongues” with 70% being partial to European languages over their mother tongues, and while there is much interest in advancing literacy, there is little interest among the research community there to inquire after the language in which literacy practices are taking place (p. 125). In South Africa, Probyn (2006) found that teachers strongly preferred English as the language of instruction in place of mother tongues such as Xhosa, despite the fact that little exposure to English outside of school and other factors caused most learners to be unable to reach the required threshold levels for proficiency in L2. Cummins (1981, 1996) has also  49  discussed the prevalence of the belief that including L1 in education will be to the detriment of L2 learning. Webb’s (1998) work has explored those ingredients needed for such an attitudinal shift, including building the perception that multilingualism is a resource; and the role of acceptance, respect and building more positive attitudes towards multilingual speakers. These are issues that require macro-level change for countries and communities to create an environment that can foster motivation for advancing multilingualism, and effectively communicate the tangible benefits of multilingualism. In the classroom, other strategies are needed to help integrate learning in L1 and L2 and to bridge home and school literacy environments. Hornberger’s conception of a continua of biliteracy considers these different environments, potential strategies (such as on the part of the teacher) and the roles of agency and power in successful policy and practice for promoting bilingual literacy (1995). Others have offered up practical ways of moving forward, positing recommendations drawn from their research. Ajiboye (2002) has called for the creation of opportunities to use the mother tongue in speech and writing and to promote literary works in fiction and non-fiction in local languages. Prah (1995), Egbokhare (2004) and others have argued for the unification of related dialect clusters to reduce the overall number of officially recognized African languages, making for a more manageable number of languages to standardize and/or rehabilitate. A lack of local language teaching materials and textbooks is a factor in low educational achievements in Africa, and better resourcing can lead to better proficiency in L1 and L2 (Clegg, 2007), findings reinforced by research on the impact of instructional materials more generally which show that  50  curricula cannot be properly implemented when instructional materials are poorly resourced (Da Cruz et al., 2000; Lockheed & Verspoor, 1991), particularly so in poor countries with under-resourced education systems (Lewin & Stuart, 2003). Recent projects in Africa, described in Obondo’s overview (2007), have demonstrated that the production of multiple indigenous language literacy materials is not prohibitively expensive. Heugh (2003) provides an example from a community in South Africa where local language materials were developed, L1 was introduced as a language of instruction and a linguist developed an orthography for the local language, all at minimal cost. Cleghorn and Rollnick (2002) have called for more investigation of the potential values of code-switching in the classroom towards facilitating learners’ access to making meaning from knowledge. Some of the literature derived from African research sites addresses the intersections between language and culture. For instance, Kramsch (1995) sees the ways in which language hinges upon its cultural environment as fundamental to the empowerment role that culture plays in language appropriation, suggesting literacy interventions wherein cultural elements are meaningfully included hold the greatest potential. Similarly, Prah (1995) also contends that “education must reach the urban and rural millions in ways which culturally speak to them” (p. ii), as literacy is an instrument of culture and therefore a force of cultural transmission, as also argued by Egbokhare (2004). These views are consistent with a broader view of multilingualism drawn from the NLS whereby literacy practices are perceived as referencing culturally-rooted ways of thinking and approaching literacy (Martin-Jones & Jones, 2000). Street views the next step forward in understanding the cultural inputs to literacy learning as determining “how  51  we can characterize the shift from observing literacy events to conceptualizing literacy practices” in methodology and empiricism (2003, p. 79). Bearth (2003) takes many of the arguments described above and applies them to the study of ICT, and suggests that local language ICT competence will be fundamental to communicative sustainability in Africa. Adegbola and Dada (2003), two researchers in Nigeria who have been developing localized technologies for African languages at the African Languages Technology Initiative see culture as a new kind of currency for development: “colonisation was about physical spaces such as land, natural and mineral resources while globalisation is about logical spaces such as cultural resources” (p. 7). Indeed, Warschauer (2003) expects that the Internet’s language make-up will become increasingly diversified, with people using the Internet “in their local language for local or regional communication,” (p. 98) while using English for global communication. In some cases already, English is proving to be a unifying language in multilingual societies like India, while software localization efforts are initiating more content in local languages. Warschauer’s research (2003) emphasizes the role of language in cultural capital in relation to new technologies: Language is one of the most complex and significant issues related to content and to broader issues of ICT and social inclusion. Language intersects with many other forms of social division related to nationality, economics, culture, education, and literacy. Language questions dramatically affect how diverse groups can access and publish information on the Web as well as the extent to which the Internet serves as a medium for expression of their cultural identities (p. 92).  52  Many Africa-focused scholars address the policy environment’s impact on indigenous language survival and educational use, and seek to identify root causes for weak language policy. Many place blame on governments, while others note the neglected roles of community support and attitudes towards local languages. Obondo (2007) notes that in African countries with poorly conceived language of instruction and language education policies, the teachers are those left “trying to sort out the mess created by the legislatures” (p.158). There is little involvement from the grassroots in the formulation of language policy, despite the potential contributions from the community to indigenous language literacy (Kaplan, 2001; Tembe & Norton, 2008). Mufwene (2006) has argued that while globalization is often tagged as the culprit behind the disappearance of languages, language survival ultimately rests with the individual, and with communities of speakers and how they use their language in their daily interactions. Ajiboye (2002) has called for early exposure to the mother tongue, to lay the foundation in inculcating pride in the local language, which would rely on the community and on families before learners enter the formal school system. In a pilot project in Uganda managed by SchoolNet Uganda where ICT was used for the creation of local content, including by teachers in one of the case studies, the first challenge identified was responding to the perceptions of local communities (Kisambira, 2007). People were protective over local information and traditions, and were unsure about whether to share it. Some also asked to be paid for contributing content, until they witnessed the benefit to the community. Teachers in particular were skeptical of the benefits of ICT and were uninterested, lacking awareness of the ways in which ICT could be used in their teaching practice. Schools were afraid of losing teachers who had  53  acquired new skills and might move on to better paying positions in other schools or communities. These are specific examples of reasons why community engagement is pivotal to the potential value that ICT interventions can bring to communities seeking to vitalize their indigenous languages, and to use them in the service of education. Many of the scholars noted above point to the instrumental role of the community in nurturing the kind of sustainable mother tongue policies and practices needed for indigenous languages to flourish through education and conversely, for education to flourish from the value-added by integrating the mother tongue into learning processes. There is now a body of research evidence attesting to multilingualism as an asset in school learning. The literature suggests that for those seeking to mobilize the L1 towards better learning outcomes in African communities, the next step is in using such research findings towards instigating attitudinal shifts at the community level towards African mother tongues, as Webb (1998) argues is needed, for instance. Enabling environments and good policy are needed from governments, as well as adequate resourcing of learning materials, and engagement with the cultural context of learners.  2.3.1 Gaps in the Literature: Mother Tongue Education and ICT An area of inquiry that has so far seen little in-depth exploration is the more macrolevel consequences of African participation—through language and culture—in the ‘global conversation’. This term is used in this study to refer to communication interactions through information technology (on the web) where listening and speaking takes place in a process which ultimately yields the kind of atmosphere, content and discourses that characterize the information era. The global conversation hinges upon the  54  relationship between information and power, and refers to those stakeholders who get to participate in and influence the dialogues that impact decision-making in multiple sites, from the most local to the most global. NLG (2000), making specific reference to new technologies, literacy and multimodality, have asserted that the primary place where discourses of identity and recognition are manifested is in struggles for access to wealth, power and symbols of recognition. They argue that diversity must be viewed as an asset for culture, business, civic participation and participation in public life. Language is the vehicle through which participation occurs and because of the dominance of a small number of economically powerful languages on-line, monumental barriers deny access to this conversation to masses of people from the developing world. This is to the great detriment of the global conversation, which remains more static and homogeneous and lacks the potential diverse contributions from the full assortment of the human population. It is simultaneously to the detriment of African societies where inequities are reinforced by unequal access to the advantages of language learning: “children who speak L2 better can get an education; those who speak it less well are held back” (Clegg, 2007, p. 4). Multilingualism is a tool by which interactions can increase, and thus access increases to those sites of power (Ryanga, 2002, p. 56). Abley’s metaphor of “subtly different notions of truth” (2003) or Barton’s description that “we use language to imagine what the world is like and what it might be like” (2007, p. 17) are glimpses into what the potential contributions of more languages might be to the global conversation, and ultimately to the generation of new knowledge to the global repertoire. Kembo-Sure (2002) emphasizes that the languages must be recognized as invaluable heritage, “not only for Africa’s posterity but also for the future  55  of linguistic science and the benefit of humanity in general” (p. 28). African linguistic scholars are recognizing language and culture as the path into meaningful participation (and importantly, leadership) to the global conversation, but the true work of realizing such processes has barely begun. Silue (2000) describes it as such: “a community’s intrinsic capacities to set up development include cultural and intellectual resources to make sense of current events and to anticipate incoming ones” (p. 147). Fully exploiting cultural and linguistic resources will demand a shift in focus to the notion of agency among communities of speakers and what ingredients are needed to facilitate reaching that point. In other words, African indigenous language communities will need to be empowered with the mindset, resources and practical tools that will allow them to participate in the enabling of their languages as strategies for a kind of development that is locally owned and relevant to their needs and aspirations, whether those aspirations are locally-oriented or globally focused, or both. Barton reminds us that at the centre of literacy uses and objectives are “people with intentions, meanings and values” (2007, p. 47). How these principles can find germane soil in social practices in L1 literacy and multilingualism is not well understood. Much more investment is needed in designing possibilities and solutions.  2.4 Concluding Notes: Literature Drawing from the literature cited above, key challenges preventing the successful intersection of mother tongue expression and educational development can be summarized as follows:  56  •  National and regional language policies that have failed to harness Africa’s mother tongues in the service of improving educational outcomes;  •  The need to alter public and government attitudes towards indigenous African languages, instilling pride, tolerance and respect for multilingualism and recognition for its role in leading to higher literacy and learning outcomes;  •  A lack of access to ICT tools that would facilitate multilingualism in education and a lack of imagination and investment in identifying and developing technology-based tools for local language education (such as the slow progress of technology localization efforts);  •  Cultural and linguistic irrelevance of ICT-based communication processes and content that fails to enable local ownership, agency and empowerment among users.  By 2012, the literature on digital literacies was a mix of both optimism and caution. While ICT tools offer unprecedented opportunities for increasing access to education and open learning, there are fears that the patterns in access to technology will simply reflect existing inequities, with access denied to the poor in an ongoing cycle of both information poverty and economic poverty, with the two closely related. Access and equity stand out as concerns for inquiries into the emerging potential of digital literacies. The less celebratory side of the information revolution is an information desert for the majority of the planet’s citizens, commonly referred to as the digital divide, which Norris called “a new virtual Berlin Wall splitting rich and poor worlds” (2001). In April 1995, delegates at a conference in Addis Ababa declared that “if the gap between information  57  ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’ widens further ‘cultural, religious and ethnic ghettos’ will be created, leading to ‘religious and inter-regional conflicts” (Article 19, 1999, p. 23). Thus, issues of access must accompany any inquiries into how and why individuals engage with information technology in contexts of marginalization. Yet, work in literacy studies that has reconceptualized the way that literacy is thought about—seeing it as situated in one’s cultural and contextual surroundings—has created possibilities for the manipulation of the intersections between multilingual literacies and digital literacy. Where new technological tools can be culturally appropriated and shaped by users to meet local needs in local contexts, this facilitates the agency required to seize agendas around language, nationhood and equitable development. Much of the literature draws on case studies and data where deficits are highlighted, such as home/school or school/community divides in literacy practices or language policies which are failing to raise learning outcomes. There is much need for literature that will illuminate possibilities and provide evidence for the value of specific models and approaches. As Brown and Druguid (2000) have asserted, “too often, we conclude, the light at the end of an information tunnel is merely the gleam in a visionary’s eye. The way forward is paradoxically to look not ahead, but to look around” (p. 6).  58  CHAPTER 3: Methodology 3.1 Introduction This chapter introduces the research question and design, describing the research methodology and its justification for application to this study. It describes the procedures, data collection methods, and instrumentation used in the study. It also provides descriptive information about the research site, participants, context and partnerships involved in realizing the study, as well as a commentary on limitations of the study. The analysis method is described, and some discussion of ethical considerations is included.  3.2 Research Question This study engaged the following research question: How can ICTs be used by teachers to teach the mother tongue in post-conflict Gulu (northern Uganda), and ultimately to strengthen the pedagogical practice of local language medium teachers in this region? In seeking findings related to this question, the unit of analysis was teachers’ practices within the scope of their experiences in an ICT training focused on language and literacy practices in relation to ICT. In examining teachers’ experiences, as they were observed in the study and reported by participants, social practices were inferred that were drawn from literacy events The environment in which these events and practices were played out had much bearing on the research question, in that the conditions of teachers’ digital literacy and language experience were shapers of their teaching practice.  59  3.3 The Research Site This study took place amidst three defining characteristics of the research environment at the time of the study: its transition from a site of violent conflict to a period of rebuilding and recovery, the transition towards several new policies introduced in the education sector and impacting primary schooling, and the introduction of ICT into the education sector by the Ugandan government. These characteristics of the research context are taken up in Chapter Four. This section includes a description of the research site. The study took place in Uganda’s northern district of Gulu, the capital of which is the municipality of Gulu and which serves as the main administrative and economic city of the northern region. Gulu is part of the Acholi-speaking region (a dialect of the Luo language family), which includes the sub-region of Gulu, Kitgum, Pader and Amuru; as well as some districts in southern Sudan along the border with Uganda. The Luo family of languages includes Acholi, Langi, Dophadhola, Kuman, Leb Thur, Palwo, and Alur, languages that are generally mutually intelligible and that belong to the Western Nilotic branch of the Nilo-Saharan group of Africa languages. This region is sometimes referred to as ‘Acholiland.’ Luganda and Swahili are also spoken to a lesser extent, and English is often spoken as a second language among the educated population. Gulu municipality has experienced major changes in population size throughout the period of conflict on account of migration caused by the war. However, many internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees have returned since hostilities diminished significantly in 2005 and had largely ceased by 2007. The capital had an estimated population in 2011 of approximately 154,000 people, with 479,496 in the  60  district according to Uganda’s 2002 census. Gulu is located approximately 330 kilometers from Uganda’s capital, Kampala, from which it is accessible by road and air. Several private coach buses leave daily between the capital and Gulu, and there are also weekly flights on a commercial air carrier. The road from Kampala is unpaved and takes approximately six hours by bus, and accidents are common due to speed and poor road conditions. Commercial activity and trade has increased since the violence subsided in 2007. As an example, the first computer shop and Internet cafes opened in the last five years. Several hotels, restaurants and nightclubs have opened or re-opened and many NGOs have arrived in Gulu, providing foreign-funded development and humanitarian services ranging from HIV/AIDS prevention, malaria treatment and prevention, trauma counseling and rehabilitation support to war victims. Many IDP camps have been closing since 2008 as people return to their homes. However, the legacy of conflict remains ever present throughout the region. More so than any other northern district, Gulu was the epicentre of a war spanning over two decades, between the rebel armed opposition group known as the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), and the forces of the Government of Uganda, as well as the Sudan People’s Liberation Army, among other regional players at various times. The conflict has been characterized by the systematic human rights violations inflicted against civilians, the often brutal nature of the violence perpetrated against civilians such as the sexual enslavement of women and girls as ‘bush wives’ and children forced to serve as soldiers, and forced to take part in hostilities. The conflict is also distinguished by its length, one of the longest running in Africa, which has caused deep fissures in the region’s social, economic and political fabric. The insurgency in northern Uganda also  61  stands out for its isolation, and for the long period in which it was largely ignored by the outside world. Until 2003, the conflict was rarely covered in international media and there was little international humanitarian presence in the region, until a visit to the region by the United Nations Under Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs, Jan Egeland, who declared it to be the world’s worst forgotten conflict and called for international humanitarian intervention (BBC, 2003). Many northerners also felt that the conflict was ignored by Ugandans living outside of the region and by the government in Kampala. When I visited the region in 2005, as the conflict was just starting to recede from Gulu, I spoke with university students at Makerere University in Kampala who told me that they did not follow events in Gulu closely and that the war felt far away to people in the capital, who were disengaged from events there. The lack of attention to the conflict from the outside world, and the failure to intervene with any sense of urgency, left the people of Gulu to ‘go it alone’, fuelling a sense of abandonment, and a somewhat justified perception of the apathy of outsiders. This history has implications for the role of a foreign researcher seeking to gain access in the region, making trust building with participants more challenging. There is some burden to acknowledge to local people recognition of the failures of the international community to intervene, to avoid suggestions (intentional or otherwise) of promises that cannot be kept, and a need to contribute something of value and of immediate relevance to a society that has suffered greatly. The education sector in Uganda continues to face many challenges; however, in Gulu, public education is particularly under-resourced. Schooling was interrupted for many students due to war and resultant forced migration, and school infrastructure was  62  damaged. Some schools were closed during different periods of the war, when the risk of student abduction by the LRA (to serve as child soldiers) was high. Some schools in the district have only recently reopened, in the last six or seven years. There are very few instructional materials such as bilingual dictionaries, visual aides for classrooms or local language textbooks despite the Ministry of Education’s local language medium of instruction policy. As a way of responding to a policy that has been announced but not meaningfully resourced, teachers typically innovate and improvise by creating their own local language literacy resources from discarded material such as bean sacks, newspaper or used paper. They also translate passages from English language textbooks for classroom use, in the absence of local language textbooks. In general, teachers in Gulu have had little interaction with ICTs. Schools do not have computers on site and there are no resource centres or other sites where teachers can go to get online. While there is a growing number of privately-run Internet cafes in the town of Gulu, some of which also offer computer literacy courses for a fee, the hourly rates are unaffordable for most teachers. In the main primary teachers’ college in the district, there is an ICT Lab on campus, which during the period of study had only seven working desktop computers for 500 students, and no Internet connectivity. None of the three schools included in the study had school libraries or any science laboratory materials. There is a recently opened Teachers’ Resource Centre in the centre of town that is used by some in-service teachers for holding meetings; however, reportedly few teachers go there to borrow materials. At the primary education level, the policy in effect is that students learn in Luo (Acholi) and take English as a subject throughout levels P1-  63  P3. As of P4, the language of instruction is to be English. It is not known to what extent local language instruction at the P1-P3 actually takes place in all schools in the region.  3.4 Participants At the inception of data collection, 11 research participants joined the study, drawn from three public schools in the district of Gulu: The Main Public School (four participants) and the Army Primary School (four participants), both located close to the town centre of Gulu, and the Orphan Boarding School (three participants), located slightly outside of the town centre. The participants included nine men and two women6, who varied in age from their early 20s to late 40s, in addition to the college’s ICT lab manager (male). All participants come from the northern region, though not all are from the district of Gulu. Of the teacher participants, three were selected as focal participants. A common limitation of case study research is the risk of attrition (Duff, 2008), and indeed, over the course of the program, one participant stopped attending early on; and a second was transferred to another district just before the completion of the study. Another teacher joined in mid-way (and thus, less data was collected from this teacher), bringing the total to 10 participants by the final phase of the study. The teachers are selfselected in that they indicated interest when asked to participate in the study, with the support of their school principals.  6  In Uganda, women represent approximately 39% of primary school teachers, according to the Global Gender Gap Report (Hausmann, Tyson & Zahidi, 2006).  64  Table 3.1: Study Participants #  Name (Pseudonym)7  Sex  School  Position  Yrs of Experience  1 2 3  Christopher* June* Daniel  M F M  Main Public School Main Public School Main Public School  5 10 20  4 5  Simon Frank  M M  Main Public School Main Public School Acholiland PTC  M F M M  School for Orphans School for Orphans School for Orphans School for Orphans  Teacher Teacher Teacher, Head of Infant Dept. Teacher Teacher Coordinating Centre Tutor Teacher (Head of Dept) Teacher Teacher Teacher  M M M M  Army Primary School Army Primary School Army Primary School Acholiland PTC (APTC)  Teacher Teacher Deputy Head Teacher ICT Lab manager  5 5 20 N/a  (up to)  (dropped out of study)  6 7 8 9  John* Joy Willie Bernard  5 20 10 15 10 15  (transferred to another district before end of study)  10 11 12 13  Davis Albert Kenney Nick  * denotes focal participant Four of the male participants (Davis, Albert, Simon and Christopher) were recent graduates of teaching college, and two of those four participants (Simon and Christopher) were in the process of taking further examinations, by the final year of the study, to become eligible for university entrance. The other participants had between five and 20 years of teaching experience, and had all attended a primary teachers college, typically for a period of two years. Some, such as June, had further upgraded their training through diploma courses or by attending workshops organized by non-governmental organizations operating in the region. The teachers were teaching different grade levels at different points in the study, and some transitioned to teaching one subject for all grades, such as June, who was teaching P4 in 2009, but in 2010 was the music teacher for all 7  All participant names are pseudonyms to protect the privacy of participants. The name of the teacher’s college featured in the study is also a pseudonym.  65  primary grades. Teachers instructing P1-P3 were expected to teach all classes in Acholi, while teachers from P4 onwards taught Acholi as a subject. In practice, all the teachers in the study were using a mix of Acholi and English in the classroom, with varying levels of comfort, an issue that will be taken up in Chapter Five. Two of the participants had previously used a computer prior to the study’s training. One of those participants, Christopher, had attended the local teachers’ college when the ConnectED project was active and had sometimes used the computer lab at that time. Another participant, Frank, was a centre coordinating tutor8, in addition to being a teacher, and he had some exposure to computers in the course of his role as a tutor as he had access to the college administration offices, where there were some desktop computers for staff use. More detailed data on the participants’ previous exposure to ICT and the results of their selfevaluations in computer skills is included in Chapter Four. From the 11 original teacher participants, I selected three as focal participants: Christopher and June from the Main Public School, and John from the Orphans Boarding School. Originally, I selected the three individuals because I felt they each represented different levels of comfort using computers, loosely categorized as (1) advanced; (2) medium; and (3) struggling. However, by the second round of workshops it was apparent that the participant I had deemed as “medium” (June) was also “advanced.” Nevertheless, each participant presented unique illuminations to the findings, at the same time that common patterns emerged across the experiences of all three focal participants. The data collected from focal participants also assisted in giving more depth to data collected from the larger group. I undertook open-ended interviews with the three focal participants at 8  In Uganda, centre coordinating tutors are based in core teacher training colleges and are responsible for outreach to a cluster of primary schools in a district and serve as a representative of the college, tasked with supporting learning improvement of pupils and with professional development for in-service teachers.  66  different stages of the training, with data collected from all 10-11 participants used to complement and better inform the data from the focal participants. Data collected from all participants included transcripts of focus groups, journal entries, classroom observation field notes, training field notes, participant assignments, correspondence, lab attendance records, and self-assessment pre-tests and post-tests. In addition to the teacher participants, the APTC’s ICT Lab Manager was also a research participant; however, he participated as the co-instructor of the training workshops rather than as a learner. Thus, a different interview questionnaire was used with this participant, and his experience and perspective of the training is unique given his particular role in the study. This participant also participated in the three focus groups. His insider perspective was essential to the research process and in many ways he was a collaborator in the research design and data collection, in addition to being a participant.  3.5 Research Design: Qualitative Case Study This study falls broadly within the tradition of qualitative research, and specifically, uses a case study approach. Johnson (1995) has advocated for the use of qualitative research methodologies among those studying technology education and has urged educators to “engage in research that probes for deeper understanding rather than examining surface features” (p. 4). Qualitative research “uses a naturalistic approach that seeks to understand phenomena in context-specific settings” (Hoepfl, 1997, p. 47), thus taking advantage of the richer layers of details that can be gained by study of the broader environment of the phenomena, and this case study aims “to describe an intervention and the real-life context in which it occurred” (Yin, 2003, p.15). It aims to describe, theorize  67  and understand witnessed events and perceptions and understandings as communicated by the research participants. As the researcher, I intervened and influenced the research process by initiating a training and learning experience for the participants, which then became the site of my data collection. This method drew on theories of situated learning which emphasize that meaningful and effective learning takes place when the process of learning is connected to the learner’s community of practice, cultural environment and context (Lave & Wenger, 1991). In Uganda, this necessitates working in a meaningful way with the community where the research is taking place, drawing on cultural elements in content creation, creating vehicles for participation and making space for the voices of research participants, and attempting to reflect multimodal forms of communication and learning in traditional African media, into the realm of ICT-based communication and learning. The study’s methodological framework is based in the analysis of a case study of a bounded process: an ICT training program for primary teachers, with a social action objective. The social action objective is to support local language medium primary teachers to gain digital literacy to the extent that it will support and strengthen local language teaching practice. Case study involves the thorough analysis of a singular case, such as the case of a person, group, episode, process, community, society or other unit of social life, and often involves intensive analysis of a range of data drawn from the case (Theordorson & Theordorson, 1969). Case studies seek to understand the case in as much detail as possible, in the defined context of the case. The approach can provide “access to rich data about others’ experience that can facilitate understandings of one’s own as well as others’ contexts and lives, through both similarities and differences across settings”  68  (Duff, 2008, p. 52). Yin (2009) has described case study as inquiry that uses multiple sources of evidence to investigate a contemporary phenomenon in its real life context when the boundaries between phenomenon and context are not clearly evident. The case study methodology presented a relevant design for this research setting. Case study is increasingly used in applied linguistics research, generating productive and influential studies (Duff, 2008), and demonstrates equal potential in rural African settings for the study of local language use in digital literacy. Part of the case study approach is to meaningfully condense, present and interpret large amounts of different types of data (Miles & Huberman, 1994), providing the opportunity for an in-depth analysis of teachers’ language and literacy practices in relation to ICT. In this case study, I have thus sought to describe, analyze and interpret the multiple data sources gathered from the bounded process of the ICT training program I delivered for the participants in Gulu. This study engaged established qualitative data collection methods, with their origins in anthropology and sociology, and which are widely used in the social sciences, such as interviews, focus groups, participant journals and classroom observation. The ethnographic method of selecting focal participants from among a larger group of research participants proved relevant to the present study in light of the socio-cultural nature of my inquiry. The training experience as a site of study was an enterprise shared by a group of people who learned together over a period of three years. Further, that group was drawn from a larger social group sharing a common professional identity: primary school teachers in a district of northern Uganda, and each teacher shared a work place with at least two other teachers, as 11 participants were drawn from three schools. Thus, peer interactions were of great interest to me, in how they influenced the learning  69  experience and the participants’ interactions with ICT resources, as documented through classroom and training observation and as reported by participants in interviews and in their journals. Street (2003) has pointed out, “The ways in which teachers or facilitators and their students interact is already a social practice that affects the nature of the literacy being learned” (p. 78). Further, it is helpful to observe the participants through the lens of a community of practice, as defined by Lave and Wenger (1991) and Wenger (1998), particularly in light of the study’s social change objective of yielding findings relevant to the design of learning environments for ICT4E that can effectively support multilingual education in Uganda. Wenger argues that design can facilitate learning by being attentive to the twin concepts of social practice and identity (1998). Ethnographic research traditions have been utilized by others in the field of literacy studies, notably Barton and Hamilton (1998) and Heath (1983), and are a useful method for the purpose of studying the shared behaviour and actions of cultural groups in naturally occurring settings given the inherently social nature of cultural groups (Wolcott, 1992). Further, ethnographic methods are valuable in their emphasis on context, allowing for a linking of the data to broader social, political and economic processes occurring in the lives and histories of participants. Close interaction and collaboration with participants and extended stays in the research site also facilitated analysis of the data from multiple angles (Miles & Huberman, 1994). The data collection methods relied on the perspective of participants, a quality of ethnographic methods that privileges the insiders’ perspective as a means of conceptualizing and decoding the knowledge and behaviour of the group under study (Watson-Gegeo, 1988).  70  3.6 Research Methodology This section reviews the research procedures, and describes the chronology of the methodology, data collection methods, and instrumentation.  3.6.1 Data Collection Table 3.2 describes each type of data collection method and the purpose of the method for the study. Qualitative data, and some participant self-assessment data, were collected throughout the four field visits (which took place May 1-30, 2008; August 7-22, 2009; November 3-27, 2009; and May 31-June 17, 2010), over a three-year period (2008/2009/2010), through the following 10 methods. Table 3.2: Data Collection Methods Data Collection Method  Purpose  Participants  1.  Semi-structured transcribed interviews  To acquire biographical data and information on the three focal teachers’ work lives and working conditions; to acquire detailed information on the focal participants’ experience in the training and on the application of their digital literacy in their teaching practice.  3 Focal Participants; ICT Lab Manager from APTC  2.  Training observation field notes  Field notes sought to understand how the teachers interact with the ICT resources and to understand their experience as digital literacy learners.  All participants  3.  Focus group  All participants  4.  Artifact/document analysis  To draw out new data from the interactions between participants rather than merely between the researcher and a participant (Kitzinger, 2008), and to gather more detail on observations through less structured questions. A useful definition of focus groups is that offered by Krueger (1994): The focus group interview taps into human tendencies, attitudes and perceptions relating to concepts, products, services or programs as developed in part by interaction with other people. We are a product of our environment and are influenced by people around us (pp.1011). To analyze the end product of teachers’ interactions with technology in an unobtrusive way, which will demonstrate the decisions and choices they made as  All participants  71  Data Collection Method  5.  Classroom observation  7.  Participant journals  8.  Analysis of correspondence documents (emails, letters, meeting minutes)  9.  Self-assessments  10.  Recording participant Lab Visits  Purpose they created content, and what learning from their training is reflected in the materials, as well as their own innovations. Artifacts were located, identified, analyzed and evaluated (Goetz and LeCompte, 1984), and this method recognizes the relevance of materials to cultural interpretation and behaviour (Hodder, 1994). To draw out data from the observation of human interaction (Boyer & Simon, 1969), and specifically, to understand how the materials are applied in the classroom and to witness the pedagogical and social practices of the teachers. To collect unbiased data through participants’ descriptions and reflections upon their experiences, in their own words (Giraud, 1999). Document analysis yields data such as “excerpts, quotations, or entire passages from records, correspondence, official reports and open-ended surveys,” (Labuschagne, 2003, p. 101), which in the case of this study provides a record of participant experience and how it changed over the course of time, as well as the way in which the participants expressed themselves through the medium of ICT and what message they chose to prioritize in their correspondence. The collection of self-assessment data demonstrated how participants perceived their computer skills prior to and after the training, providing a comparative illustration of the change resulting from the training experience from the perspective of the participants. Recording attendance in the ICT lab documented the number of practice hours participants undertook, revealing patterns that point to issues of access, motivation, and infrastructure conditions.  Participants  All participants  All participants All participants  All participants  All participants  3.6.2 Procedures As a study concerned in part with assessing the sustainability of a digital literacy intervention, the four visits extended over three years allowed me to observe how participants interacted with the ICT resources at different stages after they were introduced, and how the ICT resources fared in the site after their initial introduction. The first visit occurred from May 1 to 30, 2008 in order to undertake basic background preparation. Preparation included identifying the three participating schools and the research participants, as well as initiating the partnership with a local primary 72  teachers’ college. Preliminary interviews were held with teachers in two different districts in the region (Opit and Gulu) in order to identify key issues perceived by teachers and to gather contextual information on the education sector in order to refine the research question. I also identified a training site and assessed the technological capacity at the teachers’ college. During this time, I learned about previous ICT interventions in educational institutions in the region and held informal discussions with a variety of informants to learn about the experience of prior ICT4E efforts. I also developed my understanding of the policy environment for primary education, observed language use in schools, observed common multimodal pedagogical practices in classrooms, and observed the conditions of public schools in the district. This visit complemented experience I had gained in a previous visit to the region in 2005 carried out for my Master’s coursework. My earlier visit provided valuable background by which to measure changes over the years in the area, as my first visit had been during a period of ongoing though reduced hostilities between the Ugandan forces and the armed opposition group, the Lord’s Resistance Army; while my 2008 visit took place in what was by then starting to be considered the post-conflict period of the region’s 25-year civil war. When I returned to Canada after the first field visit I started planning the training curriculum and additional data collection methods. For the curriculum, I used a combination of an existing basic computer literacy training designed for educators in Uganda with new lesson plans that I developed focused on open educational resources and other applications that would facilitate multilingual content development. The basic computer literacy training was the curriculum developed by ConnectED (Connectivity for Education Development), funded by the US Agency for International Development  73  (USAID) and implemented by the Academy for Educational Development/LearnLink. This curriculum was appropriate for the study’s purposes as it was designed specifically for educators in Uganda, and had also been previously implemented in the district, among pre-service teachers. The ConnectED project’s objective was to increase “computer literacy among teachers,” to equip nine educational centers, one of which was the same teachers’ college included in this study, and to partner with the Institute for Teacher Education (ITEK) “in preparing a multimedia, online teacher training curriculum based on a student-centered learning approach and the Ugandan core curriculum.” The project sought to enable “teachers and student teachers to integrate information and communication technologies (ICTs) into the classroom,” to promote the implementation of the UPE policy, and to “increase rural students' literacy, reduce inequities among children, and advance school administration and the professional development of primary level educators” (Wougnet website, 2011). The ICT Lab Manager at the primary teachers’ college had been trained as an instructor in this program and had been working at the college when ConnectED was active. He was familiar with the curriculum and recommended it as the most appropriate for the purposes of the study. The ConnectED training included 30 hours of instruction and focuses on a set of specific skills (see Appendix A: ConnectED Computer Skills Learning Objectives). ConnectED’s suggested training timeline consists of three modules: 10 hours in five sessions of Introduction to Computers and the Internet; 20-24 hours in Computer Applications (Direct Instruction & Practice) which include Word; Web Mail/Chat; The Internet; PowerPoint; Curriculum/Digital Resource Library; and Excel, and up to 10 hours in additional (optional) Advanced Workshops which include: Inspiration;  74  Collaboration Tools; Project Based Learning; and three courses that were marked “TBD” in the curriculum: Creating your own Webpage; Web Quests; and Distance Learning (ConnectED, 2002, p. ii). In the study, the participants completed self-assessments in which they evaluated their competencies on a scale of one to five for each of the skills noted in Appendix A, the evaluation method also used by ConnectED. They were each provided with an instructional handbook to borrow during lab time, but which belonged to the college. There was also an instructors’ handbook, which was used by the college’s ICT Lab Manager, and myself as we together served as co-trainers. In using the ConnectED curriculum, I sought to provide the participants with a basic foundation of computer skills, and to observe the training experience in the context of the kind of curriculum typically used in foreign donor-funded ICT4E projects. I returned to Gulu in August 2009 and we delivered the 30 hours of training to the participants in the college’s ICT lab. Schools were closed for the summer, so this was an opportune time for the teachers to dedicate the time needed for the training. In addition to the training workshops, participants also had free time in the Lab to work on the computers for practice or to produce assignments. We also arranged several field trips to an Internet café, since the college’s ICT lab did not have Internet connectivity. During this field visit I recorded observations in the training and lab sessions, collected email correspondence produced by the participants as data, and collected the pre-tests completed by the participants prior to the first workshop session. Prior to the training, I also conducted an orientation session with the participants that served to ensure a common understanding of the study’s objectives and of the training activities, and was  75  also an opportunity for the teachers to ask questions and to influence the research9. During the orientation session, participants were also asked to share their expectations for the training. These were recorded, and each expectation shared by the group was addressed by the co-traners in order to clarify whether it would or would not be covered by the training. When feasible, new objectives were added to the training plan to accommodate participant expectations. Following the training, arrangements were made with the participants and the college to equip the ICT Lab at the college with 12 new laptop computers, a printer, scanner, and projector, all of which were purchased in Uganda, with the support of a private Canadian donor whom I contacted to support this component of the study. I also purchased and provided CDs and flash disks to each participant, as well as other supplies for the training such as notebooks and pens. The primary purpose of the laptops was for the training of the study participants, and when study participants were not using the laptops, for computer literacy training of education students at the PTC, as a contribution to the college’s efforts to integrate ICT into their teacher training. Thus, the laptops were placed in the ICT lab at the PTC. In addition to the 30-hours of instruction in the ConnectED curriculum, I also designed additional workshops that the participants took during the following visit, in November 2009. These four workshops were included at the suggestion of the participants (such as using Wikipedia to prepare a lesson), the PTC Lab Manager (Power Point Presentations), or myself (An Introduction to Open Education Resources; and 9  The orientation session covered the following topics: Purpose of the research project; Background information and how the project was initiated; The schedule of activities for the year, plus discussion; The training format and outline; How data will be collected, plus discussion; Ethical issues, privacy, and permission procedures; Logistics: distribution of laptops, maintenance, etc; Questions and further discussion.  76  Digital Photography). Used cameras had been collected from donors in Canada, to facilitate the digital photography workshop. Participants signed out cameras from the lab for periods of up to 48 hours for independent use. There were eight cameras; however, two participants often borrowed a camera together for use at the same school. The participants also had additional workshop sessions for brushing up on Internet use and research, which consisted mainly of mentored practice time in the Internet café, in which myself, the college’s ICT Lab Manager, and two volunteers assisted the participants to identify resources and information they wanted to use to design lessons or visual aides. During this field visit, I collected additional field observations from the training sessions and selected three of the participants to serve as focal participants, who participated in indepth, semi-structured interviews with me. The first interview consisted of 15 questions divided into four sections: personal information and professional background; computer experience; classroom context; and, biographical information (see Appendix B). The first interview aimed to capture biographical information about the participant’s life, career and any previous experience they had using ICT resources. It provided important context about the research site, as participants shared personal experiences of the conflict, and also described their family life and early education. I also distributed journals to all 11 participants and held an orientation session on participant journals (see Appendix C). I also arranged for ongoing, independent open practice sessions at the ICT Lab for the participants. It had emerged that the participants were not visiting the Lab often after the first training because of the distance of the Lab from the town centre. None of the participants had access to a vehicle and the condition of the road made it challenging and time-consuming to travel by bicycle, the most common method of transportation used by  77  participants. Other means of transportation to the Lab were to hire a local taxi, which is prohibitively expensive, or to hire a ‘boda boda’ (a motorcycle taxi), which was still beyond the means of the participants. Thus, while I was outside of Uganda between August and November 2009, I wrote a grant application to raise funds to be able to provide each participant with transportation stipends so that they could more easily reach the Lab to use the laptops. Funds were successfully raised and by December 2009, we had instituted a system whereby each participant would receive the equivalent amount of US$4 in local currency per lab visit, which would cover the maximum charge of $2 for a boda boda ride for one person each way to and from the college. The budgeted funds allowed each participant a maximum number of 40 visits to the lab. When a participant arrived at the college, they signed a voucher and were given the stipend amount. This system also served to ensure that all visits to the lab were recorded, including the length of time spent there by each participant, the hours of the day when participants visited, when participants travelled to the lab together, etc. These data were included in the analysis. For the following six months, participants visited the lab and worked there independently; however, under the supervision of the lab manager, who was available to assist them when needed. During this period, the participants were asked to use their lab time to produce, at a minimum, the following three assignments: •  A lesson plan produced with word processing software  •  A photo essay  •  A lesson made with Microsoft Power Point Presentation software  78  Most participants produced more than one of each type of assignment. After this six-month period, all the completed assignments were collected as data, in June 2010. Participants also practiced delivering their (Power Point) slide show lessons in front of each other and the instructors during additional workshop sessions. The participants then delivered lessons using the slide show software and a projector to their classes, and I recorded these lessons, producing digital video files of each lesson. The participants took one more workshop at this time as well, in using e-Granary, an offline repository of educational resources that can be connected to a network of up to seven computers, described as the “Internet in a box” (, 2011). An e-Granary was provided to the ICT Lab by UBC for the teachers’ ongoing access. I also collected the participant journals at this time and provided feedback and further specific questions to each participant that would guide them in writing additional entries that would provide information I sought about their experience in training and using the ICT-produced resources in their schools. The participants then completed additional entries, before turning their journals over to me for a final time. I photocopied the content of each journal and returned the journals to the participants to keep for their personal use. During this period, I also designed and delivered another workshop for the participants, Publishing OERs, whereby the participants learned how to upload content that they created to public, web-based OER repositories. I undertook another round of indepth, semi-structured interviews with the focal participants (see Appendix D), as well as with the college’s ICT lab manager (see Appendix E). I also conducted three focus groups with the larger group of participants throughout June 2010 (see Appendix F). I held a meeting with the participants and the teachers’ college in order to finalize an  79  agreement about access and use of the donated laptops. Minutes of this meeting are included in the data set. The meetings, interviews and focus groups were conducted in English. Also, at this stage a new arrangement for the participants’ computer access was initiated. It had become apparent that several challenges had arisen with the previous arrangement of keeping the laptops in the college’s ICT Lab. Firstly, the teachers continued to find accessing the laptops at the lab difficult because of the long distance to the College from town and the irregular lab hours (teachers sometimes found the lab closed when they arrived). Secondly, when I first arrived back at the lab in June 2010, I found that half of the laptops purchased for the study, as well as the printer, were missing from the lab. I learned that the laptops had been borrowed by the College’s staff and faculty and were in use in their various offices around the campus. This was clearly not the intended purpose of the laptops, and this was communicated to the college management. Upon raising the issue with the ICT Lab Manager, the laptops were quickly restored to the lab. After discussions with the participants and the ICT Lab Manager, an alternative mutually agreed upon arrangement was formulated, whereby half of the laptops would remain at the college lab, while the other half (two per school) would be placed in the participants’ schools where the participants (three to four per school) would jointly manage the shared use of the laptops as a committee at each school. Following the final field visit, over the next six-month period, I continued to collect correspondence as data. This included emails from the participants to me or to the ICT Lab Manager where I was copied and correspondence with the teachers’ college. I stopped collecting data in January 2011.  80  3.6.3 Instrumentation The following instruments were used in the collection of data during the study: •  Word processing software: The seven in-depth interviews were transcribed directly from the participants’ speech into Microsoft Word documents via a laptop computer used in the field, and then backed up.  •  Digital audio-visual recording software: Focus groups and classroom observation sessions were video recorded using Apple’s Photo Booth recording software and a webcam connected to a laptop. The video files were then backed up; however some of the videos’ sound recording was corrupted in both the original and the back-up files due to a malfunction common to the software application. The corrupted files were not recoverable; however, the video files still provided visual data of the classroom observation sessions.  •  Participant journals: Lined notebooks were distributed to the participants wherein they recorded handwritten entries that I then photocopied for my records, while the notebooks remained with the participants.  •  Digital camera: I photographed classroom observation sessions, training workshops with the participants, and examples of multimodal content in classrooms in Gulu. Digital photo files were then transferred to a laptop and backed-up. Used, donated cameras were also collected and distributed to participants, as well as camera batteries. The participants took photographs that were used in the educational resources they created within the scope of the study. The donated cameras became the property of the teachers’ college with the intent  81  that they would be made available for sign-out from the ICT Lab by students and teachers. •  ICT Hardware: Laptops were provided for each participant teacher and housed in the teachers’ college’s ICT lab, and later some of the laptops were moved to the participants’ three schools. Other hardware items used in the study for training purposes with participants included one E-Granary system and accompanying small laptop, printer, scanner, LCD projector, recordable CDs, USB sticks, and cables. The laptops, printer and scanner were purchased in Gulu, the LCD projector was purchased in Kampala, and the other peripherals were purchased in Dubai or Canada and transported to Gulu. These items were used by the participants to generate data I used for analysis, such as lesson plans and slide shows.  3.7 Research Partnerships This study relied heavily on its partnership with the participating primary teachers’ college. I consulted with the principal of the college at the outset of the study about the focus of the research and in the process of designing the methodology. A tutor from the college assisted me in establishing relationships with the three participating schools, securing permission from their principals to undertake the study, and in identifying the participants. In the selection and enhancement of the training curriculum, I worked closely from the beginning with the college’s ICT Lab Manager, Nick, whose contributions were invaluable at all stages of the study. The local collaboration of the college, and their ICT Laboratory in particular proved to be instrumental for meeting  82  cross-cultural interpretation needs between myself and the research participants, for gaining insiders’ perspectives on language and education issues, and for providing background to the education context in the region. The college also served as the site for much of the training, providing me with the use of their ICT Lab, which I equipped with additional computers for the use of the study participants, and the college students when not being used by the participants. I also lived on site at the college during one of my field visits. I provided oral briefings and one written report to the college’s principal on the progress of the study, and shared my methodology and preliminary analyses through frequent correspondence with the ICT Lab Manager of the college.  3.8 Data Analysis For this study, the unit of analysis within the bounded case was teachers’ practices within the scope of their experiences in an ICT training focused on language and literacy practices in relation to ICT. The language and literacy practices as performed by the participants in the workshops, practice time in the ICT laboratory, in their classrooms and in the preparation of their lessons and learning materials speak to the view of language as a social practice (Barton, 2007; Street, 2003), in which activities or events are seen as having an inherently social and cultural underpinning. These practices together formed the teachers’ experiences that were studied within the bounded process of their ICT learning experience, followed by using what they could of that learning in their pedagogical practice. The focus on learning and teaching practice is also helpful given the use of the community of practice (Lave & Wenger, 1991) theory applied within the  83  methodological framework. The emphasis on the social aspect of language and literacy practices called for data to be studied as imbedded within the social context of participants, an approach well served by ethnographic methods. In turn, data drawn from within the bounds of this case led to findings relevant to the research question of how ICTs can be used by teachers to teach the L1 and to strengthen participants’ pedagogical practice in the bilingual classroom. This study employed an array of data types, facilitating a triangulation process, the practice of using multiple data sources to determine whether there is agreement across different data types in order to support the validity of findings. Triangulation can also unearth different perspectives on the same findings, giving different ‘images of understanding’ (Smith & Kleine, 1986). Triangulation is useful for verifying whether findings can be consistently linked across data sources, though perfect agreement is not necessarily required or even very common. As data were being collected, I made notes in a research journal that served as a preliminary analysis and helped guide the refinement of my data collection procedures. These notes consisted of inferences drawn from observations and from the emergence of patterns across the data. Since my data were collected over a three-year period and in four stages, this preliminary analysis aided in designing each forthcoming data collection phase, and such analytic notes are considered processes inherent in qualitative research (Hammersley & Atkinson, 1995). A fuller, more formalized data analysis process was then undertaken following the completion of data collection. In this stage, I carefully reviewed each piece of data collected in each data type, searching for repeating patterns, which I highlighted as repeating ideas (see Appendix G). I recorded all excerpts with the  84  repeating ideas into a flow chart (Table 3.3). Organizing and displaying data in diagrammatic form facilitates the process of identifying interrelationships and connections across the data (Ritchie & Louis, 2003). As Hoepfl (1997) points out, the challenge in working with qualitative analysis “is to place the raw data into logical, meaningful categories; to examine them in a holistic fashion; and to find a way to communicate this interpretation to others” (p. 55). In the next stage of my analysis, I grouped the repeating ideas into broad themes, a process known as open coding (Strauss & Corbin, 1990), in which conceptual categories are identified and labeled, providing the preliminary framework for analysis. In drawing out themes, I drew on the perspectives of the participants, taking guidance from the issues they emphasized. Below follows the five main themes that emerged from this process, with the main repeating ideas associated with each theme (Table 3.3). Table 3.3: Themes from the Data Theme 1: Language, Literacy and Educational Materials Scarcity of educational material Use of English in ERs despite L1 policy, Language of teacher preparation Computers and Internet created for English speakers Value for effort to promote L1 Theme 2: Environment into Which ICT is Placed Interrupted process of accessing information Resourcefulness, access requires motivation of time and resources Practical uses of internet limited to what is efficient in this connectivity context Incompetence, lack of will, lack of funds, or poor implementation from government Theme 3: Identity and Investments Concern with knowledge about Uganda, representation of Uganda to the world Having a voice in the world Expressions of inclusion / exclusion in a global interconnected community Explicit recognition of significance and/or power of information society  85  Association of ICT to wealth, development, upward mobility, recognition Theme 4: Content, Format, Mode and Utility Errors and weaknesses transfer from print to screen Use of internet or computers for teachers’ knowledge enhancement Teachers’ use of diverse modes (audio, visual, text, motion) Teachers’ value of ICT’s ability to facilitate diverse modes ICT and classroom management Theme 5: Navigating and Sustaining ICT Competence Impact of early exposure to ICT on ability or comfort level Linking old and new technologies Protection and maintenance of ICT resources Trend of machine-focused investments in ICT training/interventions Social nature of ICT learning  I then synthesized the themes into theoretical constructs, which served as the foundational blocks for fuller theorizing. In this stage of the analysis, the data and the themes identified are re-examined to draw out links between the themes, what Strauss and Corbin (1990) have called axial coding, wherein a conceptual model begins to emerge. Once the theoretical constructs were identified I engaged my theoretical framework, drawing on relevant work by others to interpret and link the theoretical constructs in order to formulate a more complete picture of the phenomena observed. As Duff notes, “much case study research is embedded within relevant theoretical literature and is motivated by the researcher’s interest in the case and how it addresses existing knowledge or contributes new knowledge” (p. 57). From there, I was able to use the analysis process to present a coherent theoretical position based on what emerged from across the data (see Appendix H: Analysis Synthesis Process).  86  Finally, to provide a more detailed view of key findings, two examples were selected from among the assignments that participants were tasked with, and described in-depth (see Chapters Five and Six) to better illustrate the analysis. 3.9 Limitations of the Study and Possible Risks While this study aims in part to develop an approach that holds potential for adaptability elsewhere, findings from Gulu are in many ways context-specific. The way in which multilingualism is manifested in Gulu is both unique while at the same time shares many elements from other multilingual communities in Uganda and in the continent at large, a feature often found in case studies (Duff, 2008). While communities throughout Uganda are responding to the adoption of the L1 instruction policy, the interest, participation and goals of each community with regards to the role of local languages in their future are diverse. There are likely to be some limits to the general applicability of findings. Nevertheless, given the trend in African governments’ shift towards bilingual education systems, it is anticipated that many of the findings are broadly applicable to other contexts, and will complement analyses carried out by other researchers in other locations. Further, by situating this study within the study of the new literacies and other emerging bodies of work related to understanding literacy issues in a technology-driven social world, the findings can illuminate phenomena from an understudied region, helping build a more complete picture of literacy, bilingualism, ICT and teacher education in the developing world. This study’s participants consist of a small group of teachers plus the teachers’ college ICT Lab Manager, in addition to other informants outside of the main participants. The selected participants reflect the diversity of schools in the district  87  studied, with the group representing three different schools: the main public school of the town, a boarding school located a few kilometers outside of the town for children orphaned by the war, and the army primary school, a model school originally established for the children of the local armed forces. The teacher participants include eight men and two women (plus one male participant from the PTC), represent several different age groups, and have highly varying years of teaching experience from being within their first two years of teaching at the time of the study to having been a teacher for two decades or longer. Three teacher participants were selected from among the group for more in-depth ethnographic study, to provide a greater level of detail on their personal and professional lives, teacher education experience, exposure to ICT, and their experience learning and using digital resources within the scope of the study. This additional level of information helped to fill in gaps of understanding that arose from patterns identified in the data collected from the larger group of participants and to validate findings from the larger group. From a methodological point of view, there is a risk inherent in the perceptions of researcher identity within the research environment. As a ‘western’ researcher, from a wealthy industrialized country, working with research participants in an environment characterized by poverty and conflict, there are a myriad of potential pitfalls concerning issues of objectivity, perception, and expectations from participants. What the researcher is perceived to be associated with—material wealth, opportunity, a country of peace and stability—can and did colour interactions between the participants and researcher. Like studies in any location, there is the potential for expectations of receiving something material in return for having participated in an academic study. While these perceptions  88  are not necessarily avoidable, they can be anticipated and proactively addressed. In the findings chapters, I have attempted to draw out and discuss these issues in order to distinguish how they impact the findings. As a foreign researcher, cross-cultural and sometimes language communication was also a challenge; however, the local partnership with the teachers’ college and in particular, the ICT Lab Manager, contributed a great deal to my ability to correctly interpret what was being said to me as well as to read behaviour and actions in the course of data collection. The Lab Manager also served as an interpreter to the participants, who sometimes struggled to understand my accent, local idioms, or technical explanations during ICT training sessions. As Gulu has for over two decades been the epicenter of a civil, and at times a regional war and remains an isolated, inaccessible destination even to other Ugandans, there is a dearth of recent secondary data to draw upon from this specific region. Few academic studies, either qualitative or quantitative, have been undertaken in the education sector in Gulu. Seeking out Ugandan research where any data from Gulu were included as part of larger area studies, referring to evaluation reports from donor agencies supporting initiatives in the region, and consulting the websites and reports of nongovernmental organizations working in the area of ICT4E have served as alternative information sources that I could rely upon to enhance my understanding with recent information from the region. These findings were then linked into a broader theoretical context by reference to recent studies in multilingualism, particularly from other African settings where possible.  89  3.10 Ethical Considerations This study has undergone an ethical review process at UBC which was approved on December 7, 2007 by the University’s Behavioural Research Ethics Board, within the broader ‘Digital Literacy Project’ led by Dr. Bonny Norton as Principal Investigator and Dr. Maureen Kendrick from the Department of Language and Literacy Education (LLED). This study conforms to UBC’s Policy #89: Research and Other Studies Involving Human Subjects.10 This study sought to produce both practical findings and specific learning resources of relevance for supporting desired change in the primary education sector in Gulu. It seeks to honour an obligation to contribute research to an international academic community studying language education and literacy in Africa and as importantly, to Gulu’s communities to the extent possible within the scope of the study, in an effort to respond to the call put forth by Boyer (1990) for a new scholarship, one which views scholarship as more than research, and which balances and integrates research, service and teaching more equally, an approach Boyer (1990) calls ‘outreach scholarship’. Boyer emphasized the need to build bridges between theory and practice, and for a scholarship that has four components: a scholarship of discovery; a scholarship of integration; a scholarship of application; and a scholarship of teaching. This approach helps bring the advantages of the activist citizen to research, and the rigour of research to solving social problems, in collaboration with communities. Others in line with Boyer’s thesis have dissected the need for a broader such scholarship in the discipline of education in particular, such as Cochran-Smith and Lytle (1990a, 1990b) looking at teacher education  10  I have also successfully completed the Tri-Council Policy Statement for the Ethical Conduct for Research involving Humans (TCPS) tutorial. See:  90  and teacher researchers, and Sherman and Torbert (2000) examining universities’ relationships with communities. Finally, researchers can play a meaningful role in “empowering language communities by educating them on language rights and duties, by exhorting them to mobilize their languages to their advantage, and by encouraging them to seek their reform where necessary” (Simala, 2002, p. 49). Such an approach calls for researchers to present data in such a way that it can be mobilized for change in policy and practice, and shared with communities.  3.11 Researcher’s Background and Experience As a researcher, I bring much field-based experience designing, managing and evaluating education projects in conflict and post-conflict regions in the developing world. As Projects Director for a Canadian charity supporting women’s empowerment in Afghanistan11, I oversee three field programs focused on education in that country: 1. Community Libraries and Book Development; 2. Investments in Public Education; and, 3. Literacy and Community Development. Approximately twenty projects are active in these programs, the largest of which is an in-service teacher training project called Fanoos (“Safelight”), which has so far trained and certified more than 2,500 teachers. Fanoos focuses on introducing Afghan teachers to active learning methodology and on enhancing their subject knowledge. I also designed Afghanistan’s first digital collection of open educational resources, the Darakht-e Danesh Online Library for Educators in Afghanistan, which contains more than 750 OERs in three languages across 12 subjects for K-12. I have also been involved in increasing Afghans’ access to local language print literature through the establishment of village library and literacy centres in rural districts 11  Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan (CW4WAfghan)  91  of Afghanistan, at the invitation of local communities, and have helped support several local language publishing projects. This work has allowed for much interaction with teachers and teacher educators, giving me unique access to awareness of the day-to-day challenges faced by teachers working in multilingual classrooms within severely underresourced education systems. I started my post-secondary studies by studying international development at McGill University, and wrote an Honour’s thesis examining the history of regional collaboration among women’s movements in the Maghreb region of Africa. I then went on to undertake a Master’s thesis researching access to information within civil societies in oppressed and/or unstable states in the Middle East and Central Asia, and particularly, the role of language of publication in the utility of information used by civil society organizations with rights focused mandates (Oates, 2006). My Master’s coursework involved field research in Gulu in 2005. At UBC, I joined the Faculty of Education’s Language and Literacy Education Department as a doctoral student in 2007, completing my coursework with an A+ average, and moving to candidacy in 2009. My committee brings much experience to my project. Dr. Norton and Dr. Kendrick bring years of research experience in Africa and Dr. Margaret Early’s expertise and experience from the Canadian Multiliteracy Project ( is an invaluable asset to the current study. My academic research interest in the relationships between language and agency, and my experience working on the human rights and education agendas in countries such as Afghanistan led to the belief that teachers hold the greatest potential in using language to promote empowered literacy and responsible citizenship, and hence, to the current  92  research pursuits.  3.12 Summary This study engaged teachers as research participants from three diverse primary schools in the same district of northern Uganda, in addition to one research participant representing one of the local primary teachers’ colleges in the district. The research methodology took the form of introducing training workshops in digital literacy for inservice teachers and studying this bound event as a case study, using common qualitative research methods to elicit participant experience at different stages of their training experience. The unit of analysis within the bounded case was teachers’ practices within the scope of their experiences in an ICT training focused on language and literacy practices in relation to ICT. The workshops were focused on generating both basic computer literacy skills as well as on content production skills. Over the course of three years (2008-2010), I visited the research site several times to develop and implement the intervention and to collect data at each stage. Primary data collected included participant journals, in-depth interviews with three of the participants plus the participant from the teachers’ college, recorded focus groups with all participants, field notes from training and classroom observation, and collection of the assignments created by the teachers in the course of the workshops, among other data. The multiple types of data collected generated an integrated data set, and provided a rich foundation for the analysis process, which sought to draw out repeating ideas, themes and then theoretical constructs to facilitate interpretation of the data.  93  CHAPTER 4: Context and Participants 4.1 Introduction The question guiding this study asks, how can ICTs be effectively used by teachers to teach the mother tongue in Gulu, and ultimately to strengthen the pedagogical practice of local language medium teachers in this region? This chapter introduces the study’s context, and its participants and their experience with ICT, setting the stage for the main findings presented in Chapters Five and Six. 4.2 Research Context The following section will discuss three features of the research site of significance to the study. The first is Gulu’s transition to a post-conflict scenario after more than two decades of violent conflict. The section then discusses policy transitions in the education sector particularly with regard to language, and finally, there is a discussion of the policy context of ICT in the education sector in Uganda.  4.2.1 From Conflict to Post-Conflict Over the period that I visited Uganda for this study, important events were occurring in the aftermath of the two decades-long conflict afflicting the region. These events affected the lives of the participants and are sure to impact the post-conflict environment, helping to determine what kind of society will emerge in the North now that the war appears to be over. The period of study overlapped with a transitional period of some consequence in which various peacebuilding processes were consolidating and many social transformations were occurring.  94  As recently as late 2003, a BBC headline carried the assertion that the situation in northern Uganda was “worse than Iraq”, based on a statement made by the United Nations Under Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs, Jan Egeland (BBC, Nov. 10, 2003). At the time, the then 18-year-old conflict had descended into horrific brutality, with the LRA executing its war through the use of child soldiers, mutilations of civilians (cutting off noses, ears, lips, and hands), beheadings, sexual violence, and massacres of unarmed civilians, including children and the elderly. As many as 20,000 children had been abducted, half a million displaced due to the violence, thousands killed, and hunger became widespread as agriculture, markets and employment access were disrupted by the fighting (ReliefWeb, 2002). The North was a site of chaos and extreme violence that had largely been ignored not only by the outside world, but also even by Ugandans who lived in more distant, peaceful regions of the country. Around this time, the first efforts at peace talks began, facilitated by local religious leaders. However, the challenge was that it was no longer clear what the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA)12 was fighting for, and thus, how to negotiate with them. At the same time, for the first time the LRA was being significantly weakened as a result of a military offensive by the Ugandan army when the army was finally given permission to attack the LRA from Sudanese territory and to destroy the LRA’s bases in Sudan. The number of attacks by the LRA became more sporadic.  12  The LRA is an armed opposition group founded in 1987 in the Acholi regions of northern Uganda, birthed from a (violent) spiritual resistance movement called the Holy Spirit Movement (based on apocolyptic Christianity) initiated by Alice Lakwena, and then taken over by Joseph Kony, who still leads the rebels today. The LRA has been leading an insurrection against the Government of Uganda since 1987, and has also waged war from or within Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic, however it is unclear what the group’s ultimate political or military agenda is. It is also unclear whether the LRA has any specific political ideology, besides the mystical/religious ideology espoused by Joseph Kony, who considers himself a prophet of God who is fighting for the Ten Commandments. The LRA frequently issue contradictory messaging about their aims and their willingness to negotiate.  95  When I first visited Gulu, in 2005, the region was decimated. The town of Gulu appeared totally de-populated, as hundreds of thousands of people still languished in camps for the internally displaced. There was very little street life, and more caution than optimism among locals. There was some UN mine removal activity and World Food Programme warehouses, but otherwise few development actors in the region despite the enormity of the crisis, besides a small number of NGOs and UN agencies. That year, the International Criminal Court had announced that it was issuing arrest warrants for LRA leader Joseph Kony and other militants on charges of mutilating civilians, the forced abduction of minors, and the sexual abuse of children, among other charges. This news caused intense, but mixed reactions. For the first time, it appeared as if the international community was paying attention to the crisis in northern Uganda. However, the timing was poor, as it coincided with attempts at peace negotiations and many felt that this process was put at risk by the LRA leaders’ presumed reluctance to come out of the bush and stop fighting if it meant they would face trial and prison sentencing in The Hague. Indeed, Kony has refused to sign a peace agreement unless the ICC charges against him are dropped. When I returned in 2008, dramatic changes had swept over Gulu. The town of Gulu was bustling with activity and had become crowded, with businesses reopening. There were far more NGOs now operating in the region, many focused on peacebuilding, reconciliation, reintegration, trauma counseling, and rehabilitation. The atmosphere had changed dramatically, and locals expressed optimism for the future and seemed to have high morale, united in a sense of rebuilding and rebirth. The Acholiland Primary Teachers’ College (APTC), a site of this study, had recently moved from temporary  96  lodgings in the town to land granted by the government, about five kilometers outside of the main town. Gulu University was newly opened. There was little rebuilding or infrastructure development. The focus of development, instead, seemed to be on psychological rebuilding. This pattern may prove to be significant in the sustainability of Gulu’s peace in the long run. Northerners were also beginning to explore how to document all of the atrocities that had occurred, how to honour the many victims of the conflict and how to educate new generations on the impact of the conflict. Nick, the ICT Lab Manager at APTC, was closely involved in initiating memorial activities, including the development of a proposal to build a memorial centre, organizing an annual march in Gulu called the Silent Walk, the purpose of which is to remember victims of the war, and leading a local youth peacebuilding group. In May 2010, the president of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Judge Sang Hyun Song, visited Uganda for the first time to meet with local people and respond to their questions and concerns, before going on to the Review Conference of the Rome Statute, which took place in Kampala, May 31 to June 11, 2010. Joseph Kony was still at large five years after his arrest warrant was issued. Many Ugandans were frustrated and wanted to see the LRA disarmed for good. Then, in July 2010, as I returned home from my last data collection visit, two blasts shook Kampala, killing 74 people as they watched the World Cup at a restaurant and rugby club. The Somali terrorist group, al-Shabab, claimed responsibility for the attack, blaming the participation of Ugandan forces in the United Nations peacekeeping mission to Somalia. Nick was planning to head to Kampala to meet with the Uganda  97  Communications Commission about extending Internet access to the APTC, when he heard of the attack and cancelled his trip. For him and others, the attack prompted questioning over whether this was a sign of worse to come and whether Uganda had been drawn into a raging international conflict that would usher in more violence. These events formed a backdrop to the study, and for the most part, the outcome of many of these peacebuilding processes remains to be seen, though currently, the outlook is generally optimistic despite the tragedy of July 2010. Overall, it was an intriguing time to be in Uganda, as the country found itself at a crossroads in many ways: trying to consolidate a permanent peace in the North, balancing the desire for peace with the demand for justice, and entering into a new era of terrorism and globalization with implications for Uganda’s role in the rest of the region, and in the world.  4.2.2 Transitions in Education Uganda is presently witnessing an experiment in the convergence of several intersecting policies developed in relative isolation from each other: a policy of universal primary education; an emerging policy of ICT for education; and a policy of instruction in the mother tongue during the primary years. The UPE policy, introduced in 1997, led to a more than 200% jump in student enrollment almost immediately, deeply straining the school system which lacked the resources to meet the needs of the existing student population, let alone hundreds of thousands of additional students (UNESCO, 2000). Following the introduction of the UPE policy, Uganda established its Millenium Development Goals (MDGs) in 2000 as part of the Dakar Education For All (EFA) Commitments; and in 2001, the Education Standards Agency (ESA) was established and  98  began its work. In 2007, a draft communications policy was drafted aiming to bring online connectivity to all schools and public libraries in Uganda by 2010. Of these many changes, the language of instruction and UPE policies were the most visible in this study. Every classroom that I visited in the North had a minimum of 100 pupils. The teachers participating in the study stated they generally did not know the names of their students except for those who performed exceptionally well or exceptionally poorly, and classroom management was consistently challenging. While there were usually at least some textbooks at the schools, the textbooks were usually reserved for the use of teachers, who use them to draw up notes to deliver lessons. Any additional copies were shared or had to be signed out of the library, if a student wanted to use a textbook outside of class time. For example, one of the focal participants, John, a teacher at the Army Primary School13, had a single textbook that he used as a reference in preparing his lesson plans, but the children had no access to the textbooks at all (Interview, November 21, 2009). Another focal participant, music teacher June, describes the situation at her school, the Main Public School: Sometimes they share the textbooks because the population is many. You can have 100, or 120 for a single teacher. You may have only 90 textbooks or so. Sometimes we put them in groups when there are few books. The textbooks stay in the school. Because of the insurgency here, the pupils may leave and not return the books. We fear them being lost and damaged, so we keep them here. (Interview, November 18, 2009).  13  The names of the three participating primary schools are pseudonyms.  99  The three schools in the study each had one computer on their premises (excluding the laptops later provided in the course of the study), which were reserved strictly for the use of secretaries or administrators; and were not used by the teachers. June explains, “Teachers here are not exposed to computers. They don’t even know how to open it. You can interview one and ask them [pointing to some of the teachers sitting in the staff room]! That’s why they have trouble using it in Luo. We just don’t have access to computers. There is only one in the office” (Interview, June 7, 2010). There were no school computer labs or libraries. The schools were doing their best under the circumstances, but it was clear that in general, the schools were poorly resourced. Classroom observation in the region during the study, beginning in May 2008, revealed an overall absence of literacy materials provided by the Ministry of Education or the schools’ administrations. Almost all visible literacy materials in classrooms, such as diagrams, sets of alphabet cards, or maps on the walls and other visual aides, were created by the teachers themselves. The number of literacy materials on a classroom’s walls was determined by each individual teacher’s initiative to take the time to create such materials, outside of their teaching hours. Some teachers indicated they also translated English materials into Luo since the introduction of the language of instruction policy, so that they would have local language reading materials to provide to students. None had yet been provided by the government. A teacher at Main Public School, Christopher, explains: “the classroom is not well resourced. If you need other materials, you must buy yourself. Capital is limited. The government doesn’t give enough for materials, so we try to improvise on our own” (Interview, November 16, 2009). Earlier  100  that year, he had provided the following example to me of his effort to show a video to his class: At times when you want to get that information, someone will deny you access. And even when you try, they refuse and you end up getting frustrated and you may lose hope. But you may also succeed. Like I tried to get one of these films, “12 Knights” … I tried to get it from my friend but he refused and he said it’s expensive, it’s important; it’s from a video library. I asked him, can you take me there? But he said he didn’t have time. So fortunately, I got it through one of the schools. But the other teacher said he would give me - first you have to get permission from the school to get a copy. At times maybe in the process of getting the resources, you find that you may have limited resources to get that one, like if you need a book to buy the money you have may be little. In the process of looking for the fixed price for the book you find someone has it but it’s out of stock and you have to wait in vain, and you may not get it. And if you send an order you go and get it but at times they may say, “you don’t need to pay, pay when it comes” but when you come back they have sold it to someone else. (Interview, June 9, 2009).  101  Figure 4.1 Alphabet cards and other signage created by teachers at the Main Public School, (May 2008).  Figure 4.2 Two teachers display illustrations they created after school hours for classroom use (May 2008).  During the period of the study, the language of instruction policy had been in use since 2007, a relatively short period of time. It was clear that the transition was not easy for the teachers who were more accustomed to teaching in English. Despite Luo being their mother tongue, the teachers participating in the study did not feel proficient in using Luo in an educational setting. The reasons for this are discussed in detail in Chapter Five. However, a bit of background information on the policy is useful to understand how technology and language intersect for Gulu’s teachers presently.  102  The local language instruction policy dictates that for the first three years of school, lessons should be delivered in the mother tongue with English taught as a separate subject; whereas, previously the language of instruction was English throughout all levels. Now, from P4 (primary level 4) on, the language of instruction transitions to English. The change is based on a sound body of research that suggests children learn better in the primary years in a language they know well and a strong grounding in their first language will facilitate their learning a second language like English (e.g. Cummins, 1981; Egbokhare, 2004; Klaus 2003; Mehrotra, 1998; Obondo, 2007; Williams, 1996). To date, the local language instruction policy has only been implemented in Uganda for 10 languages out of more than 40. According to the Uganda Multilingual Education Network (MLEN), a coalition of organizations and individuals working to promote the cause of local languages, where the policy has been introduced, it has not been backed by proper materials or training for teachers (pers. communication, Nov. 15, 2010). They are recommending that the Ministry of Education and Sport establish a working relationship with the Local Language Boards (formerly District Language Boards) and establish a National Local Language Committee to supervise the implementation of local language policy in education. Further, the policy to date has mainly been implemented in rural areas, causing resentment and suspicion on the part of parents who believe that urban children are getting more exposure to English and will consequently have greater educational credentials. The role of the mother tongue in strengthening second language acquisition has been poorly communicated to parents and communities, as found by Tembe and Norton (2008). These challenges suggest there is still a long way to go in  103  order for the policy to meaningfully impact learning outcomes and consensus building over the value of the policy that still needs to take place within local communities. 4.2.3 Leadership, Education and ICT As the terminology of ICT begins to enter the Ugandan Government’s policy lexicon, sometimes at the behest of donors and international policy frameworks, this can be slow to manifest into adoption locally by regional and local leaders. A deficit of will on the part of policy-makers at all levels impacts the ICT environment in Uganda, determining whether good intentions and well meant goals can find fertile ground when it comes to implementation. This issue impacts any discussion of ICT viability in Uganda. Local administrators may resist the impending changes and refuse to prioritize the new areas of focus when it is poorly understood at the grassroots level. This was the case in Gulu, where the APTC had traditionally marginalized the ICT program on campus. The computer lab, equipped with only seven computers for 500 students, was poorly maintained, under-staffed, and consequently, not well used. Recent principals were distrustful of ICT, according to faculty; however, by 2009, there was a new principal who was reportedly more open to strengthening the ICT support facilities at the College. Nick, the single staff person of the ICT lab, explained how funds were rarely made available for the Lab: There is always a budget to run the lab, like every year there is a budget we draw up to run the lab, like anti-virus, maintenance and purchasing more computers. But as time goes on, the budget does not get implemented, because they reallocate money to feeding students, so you find it’s not implemented. There is a slight difference in leadership. Because previously, the leader wasn’t interested in  104  ICT at all. At least this one is interested and once in a while he responds to requests; he really understands the potential of ICT to improve education and also the quality of education (Interview, June 9, 2010).  He adds, “at times you may need certain software that probably you cannot get easily when you place a request to the college, they will say, we don’t have money currently. So that problem persists until it gets worse and worse. Something that you cannot do without support. That is the main problem” (Interview, June 10, 2010). Insufficient political will and a lack of coordination that fails to drive policy forward into implementation has contributed to a piecemeal introduction of ICT. ICT is nowhere near being integrated into the school system but is cropping up, rather, on a project-by-project basis. This has left the impression on Nick that ICT for education is not a serious priority among leaders, despite the existence of a policy: When it comes to, like um, ICT, especially when it’s focused on education, it’s really a non-priority. There are things which both nationally and locally it’s seen as a priority, but not ICT for education. Always the key players, I mean the leaders as we say, how can one go hungry and yet there is money that could be used for ICT. So someone would think it’s better to give someone food than to buy a computer for education. Always, it’s not a priority. Say maybe an ICT program is being introduced then probably there is need for a gradual process that has to be in place so that those ones will address the attitude of the leadership (Interview, June 10, 2010).  105  In some instances, localized results have been achieved, but projects are not being scaled up into programs and there is an overall lack of consistent, coordinated ICT interventions. Consequently, in Uganda, too many of these unconnected, local projects have been heavily machine-focused, short-term and unsustainable. Investments were made in computers rather than in people who would know how to use, fix and maximize the potential of computers in local contexts over the long run, long after donor funds had receded. The tendency to focus on ICT devices instead of on those who actually use them are examined in Chapter Six, as are the consequences of this emphasis for the sustainability of ICT for education efforts in Uganda and elsewhere. In the case of the APTC, Nick explains how the momentum of the USAID-funded ICT project, ConnectED, diminished quickly once the project officially finished in 2005 despite a massive infusion of funds into building and equipping a new computer lab for the PTC plus eight other teacher training institutions in the country (seven district colleges plus Kyambogo University): Most of the people who were recruited through the USAID project are gone now, because the college can’t sustain them. Mainly the lab managers now are those who are just really interested in ICT, who are passionate, who have passion for ICT, that is why they are there, because they are not getting paid for five or six months. So most of them have something small, like a small business that they run to sustain themselves. Because it’s not easy at the colleges (Interview, June 9, 2010). The experience of the APTC is a mirror onto a policy that has been thwarted by a lack of systemic implementation. The rhetoric and intentions at the national government  106  level are misleading, since there has been little lasting impact of pilot efforts in ICT4E to date. Those efforts can be characterized as ‘computer drops’, whereby computers were dropped into a setting and expected to yield higher learning outcomes for educators. Those who participated in the USAID-funded project at the APTC did indeed gain computer literacy skills; however, they had few opportunities to apply those skills once the project finished. This, and other findings from this study, point to computer literacy skills being largely meaningless without continued access, a theme explored further on.  4.3 Participant Profiles This section provides a brief overview of the participants’ experience with computers prior to the study, and presents pre-test results and other data to this effect. It also introduces the study’s three focal participants: John, June, and Christopher. These participants were selected from among the 11 original teacher participants to elicit more in-depth data about their experience interacting with ICT, and to track the details of their progress using the laptops. Biographical information is provided for each as well as brief ‘ICT profiles’ for each. The focal participant profiles capture three diverse experiences of what it’s like to be a teacher in post-war Gulu, from my personal perspective as researcher, based on what I learned about each of these individuals.  4.3.1 Participants’ Exposure to ICT The following data provide a basic idea of the ICT ability levels of the teachers at the outset of the study, as well as the type of assessments often administered in a donorfunded ICT project, given that the self-assessment test was modeled on that used by the  107  Connect-ED project to train pre-service teachers in ICT. Over the course of the program, one participant stopped attending early on; and a second was transferred to another district just before the completion of the study. Another teacher joined in mid-way, bringing the total to 10 participants by the final phase of the study, with nine being consistent throughout the study. Because of these changes, a fully accurate assessment of all of the participants’ ICT skills development over the course of the study is not possible. At the beginning of the study, prior to any training, the participants were asked if they had ever used a computer before14, and if yes, to state where and for what purpose. Of 11 responses, five responded in their written questionnaires that they had previously used a computer, and provided the following explanations on the forms: Daniel: When producing my research for my diploma after pursuing the course for a short while in 2007. But because of no access of computer the knowledge is wasted.  June: I have used for many purpose depending on the purpose and the program in which the purpose needs, eg microsoft office, installing films, a bit of editing, etc.  Bernard: Have been using a computer for typing and drawing tables  Frank: Short study in class; Our making a Primary Teachers' Online Curriculum in Gulu PTC under KYU-ConnectED project15  14  One participant completed the pre-test incorrectly and the portion of the responses that were spoiled have been omitted. 15 This respondent was a tutor at the APTC.  108  Christopher: At Gulu Core PTC to get the knowledge of on computer or be computer literate, to making notes and other learning material as well as communications purposes These statements demonstrate that the reasons and circumstances for computer use among the five respondents vary. Two gained exposure during their time at teachers’ college (though other participants who are also recent graduates gained no computer experience at college). One is a college tutor and used a computer for work making an online curriculum. The other two respondents used computers for personal or professional purposes in the community. When asked to indicate a response to the statement, “I feel comfortable using a computer”, on a scale of 1 to 5 (where 1= not at all, 3 = somewhat, and 5 = very much), the average response was 4.5, suggesting that the teachers perhaps interpreted the question as inquiring about their comfort level in learning to use a computer as opposed to their actual ability to use a computer at the time that they answered the questionnaire, since some respondents who also indicated that they had never used a computer also responded with ‘5’. When asked to respond to the statement, “I think using a computer will be useful for my job as an educator”, using the same scale, every participant responded with a ‘5’, suggesting enthusiasm for ICT and an association between ICT skills and educator skills. Participants were then asked to check one of four options (1. I can’t do this at all; 2. This is very hard for me; 3. I can do this, but not as well as I would like; and 4. I can do this well enough) for each of the following competencies: •  State the difference between computer hardware and software  109  • • • • • • • • • • • • • •  Turn on a computer and computer monitor Recognize CD-Rom disks and USB sticks Name basic computer system parts Logon to a computer network using a user name and password Use a mouse Use a keyboard Open a computer application using an icon Open a program using the START menu Know where to find the time and date on a computer Shut down a computer Save a document to my desktop Send a document to the printer Send and receive email Use the Internet to research topics In the participant responses to the 15 skills self-assessed in the questionnaire  based on the ConnectED Computer Skills Learning Objectives (see Appendix A), there were varied responses, suggesting that most participants had had some form of exposure to computers before, even if most had never actually used a computer. For example, six of the ten participants said that they could name basic computer parts; however, the same number of participants selected “I can’t do this at all” when asked whether they can “state the difference between computer hardware and software.” Half of the participants said that they knew how to turn a computer and computer monitor on, and four out of ten stated they could recognize a CD-rom or a USB stick. Half the participants said they could use a keyboard, and some may have been drawing on experience using typewriters or other machines (such as calculators) in responding to this question. Participants seemed more familiar with the hardware of a computer, but the vast majority of the participants stated either “I can’t do this at all or “This is very hard for me” for the software questions, such as knowing how to send a document to the printer or using the Internet to search for something.  110  Understanding the context in which a teacher has been exposed to computers is important to explaining why some skills have been acquired and not others, and the ways in which ICT learning happens among Gulu’s diverse teacher population, as well as how they understand the types of skills listed above. As Mishra and Koehler contend, “developing theory for educational technology is difficult because it requires a detailed understanding of complex relationships that are contextually bound” (2006, p. 1018), and others contend that a true understanding of how ICT tools work in specific settings requires localized study (Prinsloo, 2005; Warschauer, 2003). The following three participant profiles provide a more meaningful look into teachers’ diverse interactions and experiences with ICT in Gulu, a snapshot of life in post-war Gulu from the perspective of teachers, and a glimpse into teachers’ work environments in this setting. 4.3.2 The Three Focal Participants Christopher Christopher was born in 1985, the third of seven children. He is from Acholiland (born in what is now the neighbouring district of Amuru) and Luo is his first language. His mother was a nurse and he lived with his family in the hospital’s residential quarters in Amuru until his mother was transferred to Gulu, where they remained throughout the LRA violence. Christopher recalls that time: When we came from our homeland, it was 1989. That was the war period. We stayed here in Gulu but when it was worse, normally our parents, who had young kids, took us out of the district to our aunt’s to stay there when the situation was worse. But then afterwards, we came back. It’s good, at the moment. We are staying in town. The town was more safe. It interrupted my studies, because you  111  cannot have time to concentrate, you cannot sleep. By 7:00, you have to sleep, there is no time (Interview November 16, 2009). When Christopher’s mother passed away in 2000, his father, who had a background in accounting and had also worked before as an electrician, supported the family working as a quartermaster in the military. Christopher attended Gulu College Secondary School, and immediately joined the Teachers’ College thereafter. He has taught at the Main Public School since 2006, where he teaches P5-P7, the same primary school he attended as a child. He also worked briefly for UNICEF before teaching. Besides his education at teacher’s college, Christopher also holds a certificate in literature from a joint program of Gulu University and Makerere University, with a focus on writing primary-level reading material in Luo and English. He lives in his father’s home in Pece in a house the family built, but he would like to get married one day and have a family of his own. Throughout the training Christopher was consistently curious about nearly everything. He told me, “I need to learn new things daily” (Interview, November 16, 2009). He was keen to learn everything possible about computers and stated that he admired people who could comfortably navigate all the complexities of computers: If a computer is broken, they can just fix it. Once also I would like to be a very good technician, I need to be like all round, if I can do something, that is what I hope (Interview, November 16, 2009). He spends time in the homes of his friends who own computers so that he can get some time to practice typing and explore all of the software programs that a computer comes  112  with. He is a film buff, music enthusiast, athlete and avid reader. He wants to learn how to drive and jokes that his students ask if he can drive and he tells them that he can, when he really can’t. Christopher is very social and his more advanced computer skills meant that many of the other teachers turned to him regularly for help in the lab, which he was glad to offer. He often played a supportive training role during workshop sessions. Among his career goals, Christopher wants to become a writer, a desire that was evident in his writing Wikipedia entries on Uganda during visits to the Internet café. He explains: I want to write books about my country, about my district. My ambition is that the pupils I’m teaching, that I can teach them to be good citizens, so they can be selfreliant and serve their nation, and to have a better community (Interview, November 16, 2009). Christopher was among the graduates who attended the APTC during the USAIDfunded Connect-ED project in which the APTC participated, and Christopher used the computer lab extensively. At that time, the computer lab had Internet access, the high monthly connection fees paid for by USAID. When the project ended, the high connectivity costs could not be sustained by the college and for the past six years, the lab has had no Internet access. Christopher’s time spent in the lab during his teacher training years set him apart in many ways from the other participants. His computer skills at the inception of the study were far more advanced than the other participants, and he learned new skills quickly, often teaching himself more complex tasks that were not included in the training curriculum. During the training workshops, I observed his ability to learn new things through his own experimentation. While most teachers were learning the basics of the computers and struggling to differentiate between a typewriter and a  113  keyboard when using a word processor (for instance, teachers were pressing the ‘return’ key after each line as one would on a typewriter), Christopher was using footers and organizing his writing using more advanced formatting. The lesson plans he prepared on the computer had a greater level of detail in their preparation, more use of images, and he tended to make his documents bilingual or in Luo more often than the other teachers. Christopher’s exposure at teachers’ college to computers had evidently made a marked impact and he sustained his skills despite not having regular access to computers at work or home; however, outside of the college and the study’s workshops, he had been largely unable to apply those skills in his career. He was particularly resourceful in seeking out ways to spend time learning new programs and keeping his skills up to date, a characteristic that emerged for the next teacher, June, as well. June June was 31 years old when I first met her, a music teacher at the Main Public School, where she also lives in school housing with her two young children. She had done her teacher training at the Kitgum Core Primary Teachers College, and earned a further diploma in 2005 from the Onyoma NTC College. She has an assertive manner and a “no-nonsense” attitude. She started her teaching career at the Uganda Martyrs private school, and now has experience teaching P2, P3, P4 and P7, though she is presently teaching students in all primary levels as the school’s music teacher. June describes her beginnings in her typically matter-of-fact style of speaking: I was born on November 11, 1978 in a place called Adilan in Pader district. So, we were 12 children all from the same family. We are now nine, the others are  114  dead. We have three boys, two died and we are left with only one. He is teaching here in the same school, over there, in that class [points]. My mother and father are both now dead. My father died when I was in [secondary year] 4 and my mother died when I was in the PTC, so I was taken up by my eldest sister. Her husband is a doctor. He paid for me to go to school. So when I completed in 1999, I was done [with] the PTC. I started working in 2000. At that time, I met a man working at World Vision. We stayed for one year together, but unfortunately the man died. So we had only one child. (Interview, November 19, 2009). Then, in 2005, June started a relationship with another man, also a teacher, and they moved in together. Eventually, she had a second child with this man. June was not aware that the man in fact was already married, and indeed, had four wives and was planning to marry a fifth. The relationship turned abusive: So when he was bringing another wife, he mistreated me so much and he would throw out my properties, saying I should leave his house. I was completely traumatized. I didn’t know where to go. My parents are dead and I have no relatives to support me. I had two children by then. The eldest was one year and two months, when I gave birth to another. There was not proper spacing - When the children were very young, my husband mistreated me. I reported to the LC16, they couldn’t even help. So he wrote a letter to my brother. When your parents are dead, your brother stands in for them, takes the helm. So he wrote to my brother and said he no longer wants me. So my brother accepted him and told him to go away because he was beating me hard. There was a day he forced me - he beat me 16  Learning Centre  115  up and he said he would kill me if I didn’t leave his house, because that house is now meant for another woman. So fearing that, I started packing my things and I started renting a small house. I rented for three months (Interview, November 19, 2009). For three months, June anxiously wondered about where she would live and how she would manage on her own, now caring for two toddlers by herself. She approached the school for help, and the headmaster was sympathetic to her situation and provided her with housing on the school premises. When she teaches in the day, her children are left at home alone, the four-year-old caring for the two-year-old. At one point, during an interview in the schoolyard, the two children peered out from behind her house and June explained to me how she checks in on them during her breaks. As a single mother, June is struggling to make ends meet and reports that she does not receive any help from her former partner: So I am struggling up until now with the kids, bringing them up, feeding them, taking them to the hospital. Sometimes, I would ring him, because there would be no money in the house. Sometimes he would come and bring sweets only to the house, it doesn’t help. So I told him not to do that again (Interview, November 19, 2009). Despite these personal challenges, June was consistently very focused during workshop sessions and a remarkably fast learner, though she sometimes appeared distracted or lost in thought. A few years older than Christopher, she had not had the  116  opportunity to try out computers during her teacher training, but she did know how to use a typewriter and she applied this experience to learning how to type on a computer: I did have experience using a computer before, but on my own. First I studied typewriters. In 2000, there were few computers in the northern region. So when the computer came, I used the knowledge from the typewriter to the computer. But then I didn’t know how to call it. It was through friends that I used a computer. I have a friend here with a laptop and the school has one computer, but it’s meant for the secretary only. I mostly used Microsoft, because it’s easy (Interview, November 18, 2009). She is also a gifted teacher, evidently passionate for the subject she teaches, music. She quickly recognized the potential of computers to teach music multimodally. She used video and audio recordings with her students that she downloaded, projected musical notes in a Microsoft Word document for the class to follow along, and also displayed scanned photos of pages of a storybook that narrated the story from a local folk song (see Chapter Six). She interacted with the students while using these tools, having them respond to what was before them: singing songs, repeating specific musical notes, and responding to questions about the story images. She often signed out one of the cameras that had been provided as part of the study, photographing her choir group, a colleague’s wedding, a concert and other events in the community, integrating the photos into her lessons. Particularly in light of the adversity she has faced in her life, June’s case study illustrates well the resourcefulness required to access and make relevant use of ICT in an environment like Gulu’s, and the ways in which a creative arts teacher can make use of  117  the multimedia potential presented by ICT tools. June is expressive and direct, and her journals and interview responses provide thoughtful criticisms and reflections on the challenges and opportunities presented by ICT for Gulu teachers. John The third focal participant, John, is a teacher at the Orphan Boarding School (OBS), a school for children orphaned by the LRA war, in a more rural part of the district, a few kilometers from town. Many of the students at OBS, who can study there up to the P7 level, were abductees. Boys were soldiers and porters while many of the girls were ‘bush wives’, a euphemism for girls forced to serve as sex slaves to commanders in the LRA. Some of the students are infected with HIV/AIDS, and most students had significant mental health challenges given their experiences in the war and separation from their families, from post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression, to ‘night terrors’, a word commonly used in Gulu to describe nightmares and hallucinations based on memories from traumatic experiences of violence. Thus, teaching at OBS presents an additional level of challenges to an already burdened education system and the ‘usual’ challenges such as overcrowded classrooms and lack of literacy materials. John has a leadership role in his school, as a head teacher. Despite the extra needs at OBS, the school is particularly under-resourced, as compared to other schools in the district. The students have no access to textbooks. John has one copy of the textbook, which he uses to deliver lessons. He teaches a P3 class in Acholi, and a P7 class in English.  118  John was born in 1980, into the Patira clan of the Acholi tribe, north of Murchison Falls National Park, several hours’ drive from the town of Gulu in what is now Amuru District. He explained his family background: I’m from [an] extended and polygamy family with one aunt and two uncles. My father had three wives, giving birth to four of us and I’m his third born child but first born of my mum. My mum died in 1992 when I was 12 years and my follower was three years [old when he died], and my dad and one co-mum [died] in 1995 leaving us in the hands of [another] co-mum who kept us to date (Interview, November 21, 2009). In 1998, John finished high school and attended teacher training college from then until 2001, at the APTC, earning a diploma in primary education. Upon graduation, he immediately started teaching. He had hoped to keep studying but could not afford to: “I thought of upgrading myself in profession, but due to financial problems, I pursued a diploma in primary education through the in-service programme from 2006 to 2009 January when I finished studying Language Education (literature) and Social Studies” (Interview, November 21, 2009). John loves reading novels and is keenly interested in literature, often using his time in the Internet café to look up word definitions and read about grammar and English literature. I would observe him searching for Shakespeare plays, which he would download to his USB stick. John is very quiet and kind, often shy during workshops, but handles his classroom assertively. He is different from Christopher and June in that he had never before used a computer or typewriter before this study. When he signed up, he said that he wanted to learn how to use a computer because he hoped it would make him  119  a better teacher. He immediately had many ideas of what he would use a computer for, including making lesson plans, creating teaching materials, tracking student results and sharing information with others. However, he was unable to find ways of accessing computers outside of the training, unlike Christopher and June, and he consistently struggled in the workshops, relying on help from other teachers to keep up. His lack of access to computers was detrimental and he yearned for private practice time to grasp the skills and speed up his typing. He views the Internet as a way of participating in international scholarship communities, a world he strives to be a part of, and which for him reflected access to the highest standards of knowledge generation. 4.3.3 Previous Exposure to ICT and Access The two factors that seemed to serve as advantages to Christopher and to June were previous exposure to computers, and their own resourceful practices in seeking ways to access computers despite not being able to personally purchase a computer. However, both were among those participants who had used computers prior to joining the study, which seemed to have played a role in inspiring their efforts to seek out opportunities to use computers. Both wanted to borrow computers occasionally, primarily to practice their skills, and to not lose what they had earlier learned. Christopher said that it had taken courage to seek out computer learning under the circumstances, and described how he “came independently to learn and self-trained whenever I was out of school and to try to find out about computers” (Interview, November 16, 2009). Christopher often went to the homes of friends who owned computers where he would practice his typing and explore the software programs on the computer. He also visited Internet cafes when he had the time. He borrowed a friend’s  120  laptop and brought it into his class to show his students. He said he was anxious he would lose the computer skills he had gained in teachers’ college, plus he also wanted to learn new things on the computer. Christopher describes how he found offline tools of interest on his friend’s laptop: There was another one, Learning Essentials for Students, which is under Microsoft Office. So that one is also, you don’t use Internet, you just download it on to the computer. It has other programs like Student Papers and Reports, Presentations: How to Present; I happened to get that one. There is also Charts and Diagrams. We have Research and Brainstorming. We have features like Organizational Tools, Language Arts in the social studies. Unfortunately our local language is not inside that one (Interview, June 9, 2009). On another computer, Christopher found an edition of Encarta Kids that had been installed, accessible off-line, and he used the search function to browse entries for animals, plants, people, history, science, sports, body parts and biology. He found games, reading and writing programs, and also used the Encarta Dictionary to find words and check his spelling. Christopher was also one of only two participants who visited the net cafes, and paid to browse the Internet, outside of the workshop training. He explains how he would check the various net cafes around the town to find one that wasn’t too crowded: I normally visit the net on Friday at this time [10:00pm], then Saturday and Sunday, then Wednesday I go during lunchtime. I go to Nile Computers, where we used to [go for training workshops]. And if there are many people, I go to Ma  121  Computers. And there is one - next to, opposite - there is another computer centre there (Interview, June 9, 2009). Originally, all the participants were also given access to the laptops that were donated to the study as well as the desktop computers in the college ICT Lab through the provision of transportation stipends to visit the lab. Since the PTC is located five kilometers outside of town, this presented a barrier to many of the teachers. For every visit, up to 40 visits in total, a teacher would be given the local equivalent of approximately $4 ($2 for each direction), which would cover the costs of a motorcycle taxi to and from the Lab. The frequency of visits and payments of stipends were recorded by Nick, the Lab manager. The number of hours in three months of lab visits are presented below, for December 2009, and January and February 2010. Table 4.2: Participant Lab Visits PARTICIPANT  Dec-09  Jan-10  62.5  84  0  146.5  John  81  81  0  162  Joy  77  87  0  164  Christopher  71  81  0  152  Albert  63  70.5  0  133.5  Willie  0  75  68  143  Bernard  76  67.5  0  143.5  Kenney  72  0  59.5  131.5  Daniel  75  0  83  158  Simon  75.5  0  59  134.5  76  0  69.5  145.5  Davis  June  Feb-10 TOTAL  122  PARTICIPANT Frank TOTAL  Dec-09  Jan-10  Feb-10 TOTAL  59.5  0  0  59.5  788.5  546  339  1673.5  The teachers tended to come for long periods of time when they visited, usually between five and nine hours per visit. Often they came in partners or in groups, with other teachers from the same school. All but one teacher visited the lab in December; however, lab visits declined somewhat the second month, and more so the third month. This may be on account of challenges teachers sometimes faced in the lab, such as power outages or arriving to find the lab closed during regular business hours. The average participant spent more than 145 hours each in the lab over the three-month period presented above. The two participants with the strongest level of skill, Christopher and June, spent a fair amount of time in the Lab (152 and 145.5 hours respectively), however, other participants who struggled far more during the workshop sessions, spent more time in the Lab, such as John (162 hours). Joy spent more time than any other participant in the Lab (164 hours); however, Joy is the participant who progressed the least overall and who completed the fewest assignments. This data seem to suggest that those with any previous exposure were less reliant on practice time in the Lab; and that Christopher and June were also accessing the computers of friends or colleagues in town, and not reliant solely on travelling to the Lab. Nick suggested that access to computers outside of the College was making an important difference in skill and comfort level for some participants: Apparently, access to computers from elsewhere, say for the case of Christopher, June and Willie, who after every school hours, works as a volunteer at secretarial  123  bureau in town (Christopher, I mean), this can also enhance their skills and better abilities to use computer for content development. There was addition[al] effort to reinforce learning beside practice time from the lab (pers. communication, August 1, 2010) Nick also noted that the level of focus and attention to teaching-related activities in the computer lab varied among participants: Taking another case, Albert. I hope you remember that Albert and many other teachers would have a task, but they lost focus and concentrate on some other things of little relevance like playing music and games etc. This can also affect the proportionality of time taken vs ability developed. This has been critical during skill development phase, before content creation and information access and sharing phase. Therefore due to extrinsic factor like extra access to computers facilities may increase potential of skill development but also intrinsic factors such as interest with focus double potential of better skill development (pers. communication, August 1, 2010). Unsurprisingly, there are different motivations for different teachers, and in most cases, there are a mix of reasons for accessing computers. Some teachers perceived computers and the Internet as a means of making friends internationally, getting the latest updates on popular culture such as downloading hits from Ugandan music groups, or simply as a means of entertainment. For others, computers were more often recognized as a tool for increasing efficiency: a way to more quickly prepare lesson plans or maintain student records. For some, the primary value of a computer was to prepare lessons and  124  classroom materials in a multimodal way. And for many, computers were recognized as a career enhancement tool, both in providing a new skill that could improve employability but also as a way to capitalize on opportunities, such as being able to type a professional job application letter or apply online for overseas study opportunities. All of these investments will be explored more fully in Chapter Six.  4.4 Summary In this chapter, the research context was described, focusing on three conditions influencing the study environment. The first was the transition from an active conflict to a dormant conflict in Gulu. The second condition discussed were the significant changes in educational policy in Uganda foremost of which is a newly introduced policy making local mother tongues the language of instruction in the first three years of primary school, Third was the introduction of ICT into teacher education curricula and challenges facing the effort to integrate ICT into educational training facilities like teachers’ colleges. The study’s participants were also introduced, presenting information about the skills with which they came into the study, including the differing types of previous experience with computers. The role of this previous experience is highlighted in the description of the focal participants and biographical data indicate diverse life experiences, including struggles with adversity. The ‘snapshots’ of the three participants begin to tell something of the relevance, uses and meaning ICT has for their lives, setting the stage for themes that will be explored more fully in the next two chapters.  125  CHAPTER 5: Placing ICT in Gulu – The Learning, Teaching and Connectivity Environment  5.1 Introduction Chapters Five and Six present findings organized according to the five main themes identified in the data analysis. Chapter Five deals with Theme 1 - Language, Literacy and Educational Materials (Section 5.2 of this chapter); and, Theme 2 Conditions Impacting Local ICT Use (Section 5.3 of this chapter). Chapter Six deals with Theme 3 - Identity and Investments; Theme 4 - Content, Format, Mode and Utility; and Theme 5 - Navigating and Sustaining ICT Competence. The themes of this chapter relate to the teaching and learning environment, in other words, to the real life context in which ICT interventions occur in Gulu, focusing firstly on the role of the mother tongue (L1) including the language of teacher preparation vis-a-vis the new language of instruction policy for primary schools, the roles for English and Luo as perceived by the teachers, the lack of local language literacy materials in the classroom, the challenges of spelling and language standardization in using the L1 on the computer, and the perception of the teachers that computers are “planned in English”. The chapter goes on to present and discuss findings related to the state of ICT in teacher preparation and classroom pedagogy in Gulu at present, the perceived value of ICT for contending with large classroom size, and reviews technology conditions in Gulu through two highlighted examples. The first example presents findings from a workshop on open educational resources (OERs) with the participants, and the second considers data from a workshop using an LCD projector and presentation software for lesson delivery. Finally, the chapter concludes with a section on findings related to ownership and access issues  126  that emerged to present challenging implications for the sustainability of the study’s anticipated social action outcomes, and indeed, for any ICT4E efforts in Gulu or similar environments. 5.2 Language, Literacy and Educational Materials As described earlier, Gulu, like other rural regions of the country, has adopted the local language, Luo (also called by its dialect name, Acholi), as the language of instruction for the first three primary years. This study captures this transitional moment in time in one local setting, and how the policy is actually implemented by teachers and schools in that setting, relative to the ideals embodied in the policy. What emerges from the data is a disconnect between the policy and practice, whereby teachers struggle to use their native language in the context of the classroom, in a society that has come to assign certain roles for the local language and certain roles for English, practices that have turned out to be difficult to adjust. The new language policy in education has created tension between these roles, yet there is inadequate support to assist teachers in the evolving role of Luo as a “classroom language”, rather than only serving as a “community language”. At the outset of the training, Nick and I communicated to the participants that they could use their ICT training to create educational resources in Luo to help them deliver L1 lessons, as they were expected to do now by the Ministry of Education. We also discussed extensively the ICT for mother tongue education focus of the research, which the teachers seemed to enthusiastically embrace. During the orientation session, the teachers expressed their support for mother tongue content as the purpose of ICT learning, sharing comments and stories about the importance of finding effective ways to  127  preserve and promote their language through the classroom. However, when the teachers began to hand in their first digital educational resources and lesson plans, most were in English. Luo was used mainly to label items, or the Luo text was included that would be taught to the class, but the main instructions in a document were in English, with the exception of one participant (Christopher) who tended to write his lesson plans in both languages. For example, in a lesson plan by Kenney on the topic of food and nutrition, several tables appear with columns for the name of the food type in English, then in Luo, with the final column used for photos of the food type. However, all the rest of the lesson plan is in English, both the teacher’s notes, as well as the key lesson points the teacher communicates to the students, such as: Proteins (Body building) cam madongo kumwa These are food which helps our body to repair worn out parts. Protein helps in the growth of the body. An example is meat, milk, chicken, bean, and fish, groundnuts, liver, and Soya beans. Or, in another example from Kenney: Triangle This is a figure with a three side. In local language the shape is called latwoke adek  (Lesson Plan, Kenney, n.d.) When the local language was used in lesson plans, it was generally not for the instructional purpose of the teacher, but rather as notes about specific vocabulary in the local language that should be presented to the learners during the lesson. During a focus group session, I inquired why most of the educational resources, whether lesson plans or  128  items that were used with students such as slides, were predominantly in English (Focus Group, June 5, 2010). Several reasons emerged from the responses of the teachers, detailed below.  5.2.1 Language of Teacher Preparation Several of the teachers explained that even though Luo was their native language, they attended both grade school and teachers’ college in English, and their reading and writing abilities in Luo were limited. They found writing in Luo time-consuming, and were accustomed to preparing their lesson plans and other materials in English, which is how they were taught to do it in teachers’ college. All of the teachers told me that they found reading in English easier than in Luo (Focus Group, June 5, 2010). They were unfamiliar with the Luo versions of the terms most commonly used when planning lessons or making up classroom exercises, or with regards to the curriculum. A teacher from the Army Primary School, Albert, explains: “Because from the institution, we have been taught how to make it in English. That skill, we learned it in English… I can read something in English very fast, but when you bring something written in my own language, my speech just reduces because I am very slow in Luo” (Focus Group, June 5, 2010). John told me, “It’s not because it’s easier but preparing something in Luo makes it difficult for me. Because we had little time to work on this in the PTC because of the power that was absent there, so I was making it at the computer centre where I was paying, so I had little time… there was not enough time to prepare it in Luo” (Interview, June 10, 2010). Typing in general was tedious for many participants who were new to  129  computers, but typing in Luo was especially time-consuming, and participants reported often feeling rushed in the Net Café, which charges per time used on the Internet (usually approximately 1,500 UGX per hour, or about $1 - $2). In his journal, John wrote, “I found preparing [the] lesson presentation on power point is easier in English than in Luo. In Luo, every words are incorrect in the computer because the computer is planned in English.” June told me, I am more comfortable writing in English. I have a greater vocabulary in English. It’s because of the foundation. When I was still young, I was not exposed to local language, so I was losing it. When I started studying in P2 or P3 they were using English, so I wasn’t exposed much to local language. The policy is changing. We are going back to our local language. You have to get books and read more to learn the local language so you can teach it. Even some teachers have difficulty even writing the words. There aren’t many books in Luo, there are few. So it’s hard for them to teach it (Interview, June 7, 2010). Nick supervised the teachers over the weeks that they were preparing their educational resources. His explanation for the predominant use of English is that the teachers are slow typers and that typing in Luo slows things down even further, leading them to fall back on English, to save time: I think there has been that question of which language these lesson plans should be in, or the materials that they are producing. But somewhere we, at some time, we agreed that both should be in English and in Luo, and some people did it, but since some people have just started it and the speed is slow, some people did their  130  English part and never got to doing their Luo part, so that is what happened. But, uh, they were aware it’s supposed to be in Luo (Focus Group, June 5, 2010). Nick is referring to the period between workshop training sessions, when participants were coming to the ICT lab at the college for independent practice time and to work on creating digital educational resources, which they used in their classes, as well as sharing them with Nick and me. The teachers and Nick often talked together about ways of supporting each other to create the resources, and over the course of their practice time many reported that if they were to prepare something in Luo, they would first need to write it in English, then translate it. It was too difficult for them to create the resources originally in Luo. Thus, the initial enthusiasm for the opportunity to gain computer literacy for the purpose of creating learning materials in the local language dissipated when the participants were confronted with the constraints from the time it takes to think, plan and write in Luo, a language they have not traditionally used in an education or work context. Further, they felt that the computer was designed for use in English and was insufficiently compatible for use in their first language. These findings are explored in the following sections.  5.2.2 Luo for Speaking and English for Writing What emerges from participants’ statements is that Luo is considered the language for speaking, while English is the language for reading and writing. The mother tongue is reserved more for use in the community outside of the school/workplace context, while English is the language of education. Participants have settled into habits of language use that have proved difficult to transcend despite the introduction of the L1 language of  131  instruction policy for the early primary years. Participants have little in the way of support for adapting to the change, and often fall back on the use of English for teaching tasks. Christopher describes the separate uses for Luo and English: You know in Luo, speaking, it might not be easy but writing the others letters whereby if you are speaking. Like if it is a name, like nyero [pronounced eneero] you find that it is n-y-e-r-o. So, the way you pronounce it, is different from the way you write it. So it makes speaking easier than writing. Ya. So with English and Luo, at least you find that in your lifetime, you learn English. But with Luo, you speak it, but with writing, there is a little bit of it, but with English it’s always [for writing]… by the time, you are reading, you are writing, and speaking [in English]. So that is a problem with that (Focus Group, June 5, 2010). June describes Luo and English as having “different roles” and elaborates: There are different accents from English to Acholi. The head teacher recently, in our last meeting, said when you are speaking to kids from P4 to P7 you have to use English. When you speak to any kids in P1 to P3 you have to use the local language. At home we use the local language. And in any environment where English is not spoken, I use the local language. Like, I am in two choir groups with church. So at that time, I use Acholi because some of those people don’t speak in English. Mon Pi Dongo Lobo (“women for development”), a group I am participating in… when we go there, the major language is Luo because there are some women who don’t even speak English, but there are others who understand.  132  Generally people who speak English are those who have been to school (Interview, June 7, 2010). John uses English at school and Luo at home and in the community: In the computer I am more comfortable in English. At school, me I like English, even in my class when I am teaching, I am just using English. At home we speak Luo. Most of the community in which I live are Luo speakers. At times occasionally when I am in a community where only English is spoken, I find myself very comfortable there. But it’s not that common in my environment (Interview, June 10, 2010). Christopher provides further examples of when Luo is used instead of English: “Like if we are educating kids on sanitation and hygiene, we would use Acholi” and specifies that “you have to use the local language for people who are illiterate”, adding that he makes a conscientious effort to use both languages, albeit in different situations: if you decide to use English, fine. If you use Luo, fine. It depends who you are talking to, if it’s someone who does not understand the local language, you use English and if they don’t know English, you use Luo. I use the languages about 50/50. I try to balance them. Like in school, it’s mixed. In the lower form, it’s the local language. And in upper form, it’s both. You find you balance them. At home, we use the local language. But if you used English, they would also understand. You can use it freely (Interview, June 9, 2010). The participants can transition into Luo for conversations in the community, on issues like health, hygiene, women and development or for local storytelling and cultural  133  activities. In another study in Uganda (Prah, 2003), national NGO workers point out that they also use local languages like Acholi and Karimojong when they talk to rural people about herbal medicines, crops for animals and nutrition because it makes locals more trusting and open to collaboration: “many people have knowledge but cannot express themselves in English. Such people express their ideas in their own languages” (p. 39). Although English is useful as a uniting language for Ugandans, John is also wary that it’s associated with the elite and he avoids speaking English among rural people: Luo at times, I just speak it because it’s the first language of the community. In town or in other communities there are other groups and if we commune ourselves together, it’s only English that unites. Because we have so many languages, we use English as a uniting factor to join us together. But at home, I speak in Luo just because all my family members are Luo members. And when I go to the villages where I come from, when I speak in English they say, “you are showing off” so it makes me restrict [my]self to use Luo strictly to avoid those words from the community. It’s a common way, to think you are bossing with the English, because most of them don’t understand it. It’s like you are abusing them and showing off, they don’t understand (Interview, June 10, 2010). The teachers are conscious of a class difference whereby English is associated with prestige, a characteristic that can have a negative impact in a rural setting. Further, there are few literacy resources in Luo to support the policy implementation, in either the community at large or in the school system. Those resources that do exist in the schools are still in English, pre-dating the new policy. June explains, “When I’m in school, I use English more. I use Luo outside of school. Sometimes I speak to the teachers in Luo, but  134  usually in English. The lessons say we have to speak in English” (Interview, June 7, 2010). She adds how she is more comfortable reading and writing in English, given there is little reading material in Luo: I have a greater vocabulary in English. It’s because of the foundation. When I was still young, I was not exposed to local language, so I was losing it. When I started studying in P2 or P3 they were using English, so I wasn’t exposed much to local language. The policy is changing. We are going back to our local language. You have to get books and read more to learn the local language so you can teach it. Even some teachers have difficulty even writing the words. There aren’t many books in Luo, there are few. So it’s hard for them to teach it (Interview, June 7, 2010). From these statements, it can be surmised that English is a classroom language; the language in which one has been trained in the teaching profession, and the language in which one teaches. Luo is reserved for interactions outside of school, in the community and in the household. These different practices are reinforced by the association of English as a prestigious language, one that might imply “showing off” when speaking among rural people who are not literate in English. Despite the teachers speaking Luo as a first language and their embarrassment using English in the community, this separation of uses has resulted in their lack of comfort using Luo in a formal educational setting. Similarly, a study by Margaret Akinyi Obondo of a group of Luo speakers in Kenya found that rural children had stronger competencies in Luo than did urban children in the performances of Luo narratives (1996). The urban children used English in school and though Luo was their first  135  language, they were less comfortable telling stories in Luo. At the same time, however, there is a thirst for information and education to be available in local languages among rural and peri-urban Africans, according to Prah (2003), whose evaluation of telecentres in Uganda supported by the Ottawa-based International Development Research Centre (IDRC) found that when digital content (in this case, on CD-Roms) was made available in select local languages (including Acholi) following professional translations, it made the computer users feel that it was “possible to present scientific materials in African languages,” undermining the view that “Africans generally do not want to acquire scientific or technological knowledge in their own languages” (p. 31). The findings presented in this section suggest that despite the Ugandan Government’s rhetoric valuing the preservation of indigenous languages, little has in fact changed in the division of language uses, with English still commonly associated with and used for education purposes; and Acholi used outside of formal education settings. The dearth of L1 resources and training in both the school and the community that could serve to make Luo relevant for a wider variety of settings has played a role in entrenching this separation.  5.2.3 Lack of Local Language Literacy Materials My field observations found that when there are in fact textbooks available in Gulu schools, they remain the old English versions that pre-date the L1 language of instruction policy. By 2010, local language textbooks had not yet been distributed to schools in Gulu, though the shift to L1 instruction had been in effect since 2007. Several teachers reported hearing that the new textbooks were in the process of completion, and  136  would be of superior quality to the old ones; however, no one had yet seen the new editions. Besides textbooks, there were no storybooks, printed visual aides or other literacy materials in schools in the Acholi language, and local language reading material is rare in the community at large, given there is no local language book publisher printing in Acholi. There is a single local language print news media source, the weekly, Rupiny (as well as an Acholi language radio station). June explained the situation at her school, the Main Public School, which is the first school in the district to have integrated the new policy, emphasizing that it remains in an experimental phase, seeing “if it will work”: Some of the textbooks are updated. Some are from some years back but are still stored at the library. The quality I think is different. For instance, P4. It’s a transitional class. The Main Public School and Army Primary are pioneers because they are first - the government started introducing the thematic [curriculum]. They were the first pupils introduced to that. It’s now four years that the lower classes are being taught in the local languages. The government is writing new books for these children. Because they are changing from local language to English. You use the local language and then you start mixing. They are trying to implement it and see if it will work (Interview, November 19, 2009). ICT instructor Nick explains how the challenges are not unique to Gulu schools: …like the idea of teaching local language has just come. And most of these people I think they are still learning how to read and write in the local language, like they are in P1, even some of us at the university… So [the teachers] are in the transitional class where it has been introduced. So they are also just learning. We  137  always have a workshop here, and some of these challenges that they are bringing up, it also exists in other schools, and for other teachers. So translation is one of the things - there are words that you find in English, and really they are using it, they know it very well, and when it comes to using it in Luo, it becomes very difficult, and at times, there is no substitute word (Focus Group, June 5, 2010).  Usually any Luo resources used in the classroom have been translated by the teachers from English rather than created in Luo originally. The administration for the most part still expects documents to be handed over in English, a practice entrenched by the fact that many senior administrators come from other districts where Luo is not spoken. Senior education officials, such as principals, tutors and academic heads are occasionally transferred around the country, reinforcing the role of English as a lingua franca. Christopher explains who typically might see a lesson plan prepared by a teacher, from school officials to Ministry of Education officials inspecting schools and teachers operating in IDP camps in the district: “we have the head of the department. They first see it, then you take it to the academic head to see, then maybe the head teacher will also now see it. Like, also the high authorities, like inspectors in the camps will come to supervise, to see how it is there, and they will see” (Focus Group, June 5, 2010). June explains that she uses English at school: “I use Luo outside of school. Sometimes I speak to the teachers in Luo, but usually in English. The lessons say we have to speak in English” (Interview, June 7, 2010).  138  There is thus obviously a disconnect between the language of instruction policy and the actual implementation, given school authorities still expect to approve lesson plans in English only, and are sometimes unable to understand the local language of the district in which they work if they come from somewhere else. One teacher, Willie, explains how preparing something original in Luo simply creates more work for teachers, who will then have to translate it into English too: “we don’t like these things in Luo, because maybe if you write one part in Luo, then maybe you have to translate another part into English” (Focus Group, June 5, 2010). Christopher says he prefers to continue the practice of using an English lesson plan to deliver a Luo lesson: You know, we can write the lesson plan in English but we can deliver it in Luo, in the local language. So most of these books that we are using, they are in English. So it is for [us] now to change them into Luo. So we can write in Luo, or we can write even in English, but we find that it is easier to first write in English and then translate it into Luo (Focus Group, June 5, 2010). These statements show that the teachers struggle to use Luo in the classroom and do not feel proficient planning a lesson plan, communicating with colleagues, or writing in Luo. If something needs to be prepared in Luo, they first write it in English and then translate it to Luo, suggesting that thinking and planning for school and work-related tasks is easier in English in these circumstances. However, Luo is their first language and widely used at home and in community settings, particularly in rural areas. English has become the language for education, and is used for text-based communication, while Luo is the language for use in the community, used largely for oral communication. The mere  139  declaration of a policy change does not on its own change entrenched attitudes and established language practices.  5.2.4 Spelling and Language Standardization Another challenge facing the teachers in using the local language with ICT is that Acholi is not used in any standardized way across the region or even within districts in terms of its writing system. The teachers were unsure of which spellings to use, and at times, which words to use. Dialects and spellings vary significantly across the Acholispeaking districts, which include Gulu, Kitgum, Pader and the newly created district of Amuru. The language itself has at least 12 different names and spellings: Acoli, Acholi, Akoli, Acooli, Atscholi, Shuli, Gang, Luo, Lwoo, Lwo, Lok Acoli, and Dok Acoli. Nick explains: somebody from, say maybe, from Gulu or from Kitgum, speaks not the same Luo from that person, from say Amuru… And like sometimes one thing will mean something else… something exists in one dialect, and it’s not there in the other one. Or the other dialect has a different word for it (Focus Group, June 5, 2010). In the 1930s, a movement to introduce a phonetic alphabet for Acholi and other African languages was introduced by the colonial-era International Institute of African Languages and Cultures (IIALC), following the launch of the Institute’s efforts in 1927 to “unify disparate African spelling systems” (Peterson, 2006). Today, however, Acholi uses five vowels, 16 consonants (including the compounds bw; pw; and ny) and two semi-vowels (w and y) from the Latin alphabet as its writing system (thus all the letters from the English alphabet except the letters h, q, s, x, and z.)  140  Study, documentation and advocacy around the standardization and preservation of Acholi has been slim over the last century, and especially sparse over the past forty years, following some modest interest in the early 20th century from Europeans seeking to document languages in the region. In 1907 the IIALC published An Outline Grammar of the Acholi Language (Kitching), followed by A study of the Acooli language. Grammar and Vocabulary (Crazzolara, 1938). A New Acholi Grammar was published in 1955 by a Ugandan writer in Kampala (Malandra, 1955). In addition to only one more recent text, a language textbook for foreigners (Okidi, 2000), these early texts still serve as the main authoritative sources on the language’s orthography. There is no consensus as to whether the language has a standardized orthography or not (, 2012). What is clear is that standardization does not exist in practice, and this poses one further challenge to the teachers perceiving Luo as viable for educational purposes. The issue is of some consequence. As Muthwii and Kioko (2003) point out, whether an African country adopts a monolingual, bilingual or multilingual language policy, the question of which variety will be taken as the standard in the education system is an important one. In the case of African indigenous languages the issue of standards translates to the choice of the variety to be used, since several dialects of the same language often exist (pp. 102-103).  However, work has started in Uganda into the facilitation of language standardization by clustering similar dialects. The effort to create a new language, Runyakitara, from four closely related dialects, Runyankore, Rutooro, Ruchiga and Runyoro, in 1990 is generally considered to be a success story, enabling standardization  141  and L1 instruction among a resulting larger group of speakers. This approach has been advocated for other Bantu dialects that are mutually intelligible17 (Prah, 2000; 1995) and guidelines for harmonization and standardization have already begun, which “open the way to the identification of large speech communities which can access shared written forms” (Prah, 2003 p. 2). IDRC contends that this would “represent a major breakthrough in the rendering of literacy enhancing materials and knowledge empowering data from grassroots societies, and pioneer a new approach to development in the region” (Prah, 2003, p. 6).  5.2.5 “Computers are for English” Finally, the teachers found the computers unaccommodating for the local language. This perception was primarily manifested in their experience using Microsoft software programs, which would not recognize Luo words, underlying non-English words in red, a visual symbol that something is incorrect. In training and practice sessions, I often observed the teachers expressing that they were annoyed with the spellcheck feature of Microsoft Word and how it would automatically change Luo words to an English proximate, a feeling echoed in their statements in a Focus Group session and in interviews. As new computer users, the teachers did not know how to deactivate the spell check feature, and English is the automatic setting for this application. Further, Acholi, and no indigenous African language for that matter, is on the language menu in  17  Sharing 85% of words or more.  142  Microsoft18. The teachers expressed the oft-repeated belief that computers were “for English” and were “planned in English”. Daniel gives an example: “there is some vocabulary in Luo when for example when you want to type ‘lokema’ (that is children, huh?), then it will change it back to ‘locomotion’ so that some words were being changed back” (Focus Group, June 5, 2010). John explains that “it takes longer to make it in Luo. Up until now, if I make it in Luo, it shows errors… the computer is planned in English. Every word is underlined. It’s somehow tedious rubbing all those” (Interview, June 10, 2010). He adds: I can write in English better than in Luo. Using pens and other things I am well conversed in both languages. When we use a computer it is not easier, because of the underlining. I don’t like it. And it takes longer to type because of all the time you need to correct. John wrote the following in an entry in his journal, “the challenges I met yesterday was making lesson in Luo. Almost all words are underlined due to wrong spellings. It made me change to making lessons in English” (n.d.)19. Albert adds, “there are some words in the local language which are very close to the English word, so when we are typing it on the computer, the computer will go and change it, thinking you want to write that one but you don’t know. But it corrects you! It will turn it into English words” (Focus Group, June 5, 2010). While there are no letters or sounds in Luo not found in English, there are letters and sounds in English not found in Luo, including ‘h’, ‘q’, ‘s’, ‘v’, ‘x’ and ‘z’. According 18  Microsoft does however include languages such as Latvian, Finnish, Irish and Galician, which have a combined total number of speakers of about 11 million; languages with considerably fewer speakers than major African languages like Swahili, Hausa or Yoruba, each of which have more than 20,000,000 native speakers. 19 The teachers did not date their journal entries.  143  to the participants, there are also embellishments to words that are difficult or not possible to write on an English keyboard. Christopher provides two examples: “Luo is not difficult to type in, if it’s people’s names. But say, like tomatoes, it’s nyanya in our language. So that one, when you’re spelling it, the combination of that letter ‘ny’ is different between how you say and how you spell it” (Interview, June 9, 2009), and, Like in our language, you see ‘queen’… in a different way, how we pronounce it. We call it ‘anayado’ which is a queen. So, in Luo, you would go like this [demonstrates underlining with his pen] that is how to relay how a queen is beautiful like the moon, so we don’t have this word here in, so there is a problem here if you are writing or using the computer, you don’t write this one, the computer is not recognizing it (Focus Group, June 5, 2010).  While the successful spread of Unicode as the dominant character encoding means that modern ICT applications need not be English-centric, existing multilingual tools are not in wide use in Gulu, and had not been made available to the participants. Opportunities to strengthen teacher preparation and teacher practice through the integration of multilingual pedagogical tools in ICT are discussed in more detail in Chapter Eight. 5.3 Conditions Impacting Local ICT Use This section describes conditions that impacted the introduction of ICT tools among the teachers in Gulu. These conditions include the type of preparation that teachers have in relation to ICT training and previous exposure to ICT tools, the  144  particularly large classroom sizes teachers are expected to manage under the UPE policy, and the conditions in Gulu of local infrastructure impacting the viability of ICT use. 5.3.1 Teacher Preparation This study found that exposure to different technological tools, including both computers and typewriters, in teacher college succeeded in imparting skills; however, there were few mechanisms in place to ensure these skills could be put to use in education settings post-training, unless an individual went to extraordinary measures to find ways of accessing and using computers. Considering the low salaries teachers in Uganda earn20, in most cases this is not likely to occur. Gulu district has three teacher training colleges, the APTC which is the local core teachers’ college, a church-run PTC, and a national teachers’ college. ICT has not had a meaningful or lasting presence in any of these institutions to date. The national PTC has just recently partnered with a local NGO, BOSCO, to establish a lab of eight computers with web access and focused on Web 2.0 skills; however, it is too early at this point to gauge the impact or sustainability of this initiative. USAID’s Connect-ED project mentioned earlier included the APTC as one of eight teacher colleges in addition to Kyambogo University which participated in two phases of this project, the last of which ended in 2005. A one-room computer lab with a small attached office, some of the hardware, program handbooks, and a trained ICT lab manager remain from this project at the college; however, Internet access ended when the project finished, and the hardware has been deteriorating since then. Of the 10 computers provided by USAID, seven remain 20  Primary teachers in Uganda earn approximately 275,000UGX per month (2011), or about USD$112. Secondary teachers earn an average of 450,000UGX. Ugandan teachers, through their unions, have long been lobbying for salary increases, asking in 2011 for a 100% pay increase. The GDP per capita in Uganda is reported as USD$1,300 per annum (CIA, 2010).  145  in the lab and three of those are only semi-functional. Support for sustaining the lab postUSAID from the college administration has been modest, though the college has continued to fund the salary of the ICT lab manager and at the close of this study (January 2011), was preparing to approve an assistant position for the lab. A small number of students continue to use the lab between classes and enjoy the assistance of the lab manager. However, as computers and other equipment such as an LCD projector break down, there seems to be little priority placed on replacing or repairing them. For instance, two of the lab desktop computers left from the USAID project were not in use because of problems with their monitors. Used monitors could easily be purchased cheaply in Gulu; however, this was not done by the college, to Nick’s frustration, and therefore two computers were rendered inaccessible to students, out of a total of only seven in the lab. Two participants who had previously used a computer and in one case a typewriter, stood out among the other participants in that these foundational skills helped them learn new software programs on computers quickly. They were not weighed down with needing to learn their way around a keyboard, so they could focus on developing skills in how to use the software. Christopher was a student at the APTC when its USAID-funded Internet lab was still active and the computers were newly arrived. While Christopher retained his ICT competencies, he had to innovate ways of gaining access to computers, usually borrowing those of friends or saving up money to go to an internet café. Computers were not integrated into his teaching with any regularity, and his school did not have an infrastructure supportive of using computers in the classroom. He describes a time in  146  which he wanted to provide a handout to pupils based on web content he thought would be useful in his class: So in that website for the New Vision [a daily national newspaper], they published about how to do - like something like mathematics, English, sounds, they do it weekly for the people to do. So I tried to get that one to give to the other pupils in the higher level, so they [would be] happy. I tried to make it with that one, only that I could not print them out because the printer at the school could not print that long number, so I got 50 so they were sharing (Interview, June 9, 2009). June had previous experience using a typewriter and this put her at a notable advantage using word processing software and writing emails for instance, suggesting that a typewriter can impart foundational skills that are useful to gaining computer skills. The slow pace of typing was a blockade for many participants. In the workshops in the ICT lab, many participants were visibly stressed trying to complete a task because of the time consumed in typing something when they were trying to also learn other word processing functions and familiarizing themselves with the hardware of the computer. They would become focused on getting their text typed out and trying to increase their typing pace, and distracted away from picking up other skills in the workshop, such as learning formatting features or keyboard shortcuts. In an email on January 12, 2010, Nick wrote me the following update on student assignments: “On the outcome, you could have also noticed that most of them are very slow in typing and request for frequent support which I provided”. Earlier, on December 26, 2009, Nick wrote about one participant in particular who struggled to complete her assignment, weighed down by slow typing:  147  Many of them are still developing their skills in typing. My friend [Joy] could not complete a page, she tells me she always gets very tired typing. I have her work, incomplete, with me, I felt very sympathetic and almost requested her to leave her hard copy behind with me. SPEED is everybody's challenge, they all apologize for that and thanks us for our patience, please what strategy do we suggest? There was little access to deliberate ICT learning opportunities within teacher training institutions, nor in the school system where the teachers were then employed. A lack of access and practice time with computers generally translated into limited productive abilities on the rare occasions that teachers were actually able to spend time using computers for their teaching practice. 5.3.2 Classroom Size As described in the introduction to this chapter, Uganda’s education system has been greatly impacted by the introduction of several new policies over the last two decades. One of these policies, Universal Primary Education (UPE), immediately led to a spike in enrollment at the primary level, across the country, from 2.8 million in 1997 to 7.6 million in 2004 (UNESCO, 2000). The Government had done little to prepare the education system to receive the huge number of new pupils, and the existing infrastructure was deeply strained. One of the challenges is the ongoing shortage of trained teachers needed to accommodate the much higher numbers of students, as well as a lack of classroom spaces and resources like textbooks. With the introduction of UPE, the pupil-teacher ratio went from an average of 31.4 during the period 1990-1996, to 61 by 1999. It has decreased slightly since them, reaching 50 by 2005.  148  In Gulu, however, primary classrooms typically accommodate more than 100 students per teacher. June describes one of her classes: At the moment I am teaching a P4 class. There are three streams. First, there are 105. In P4 middle, there are 103 and P4 West, there are 110. There are too many to learn their names. You learn only the most stubborn pupils and the bright ones. But the shy ones, you never learn their names, only the ones who are active in the class (Interview, November 21, 2009). The teachers expressed that one of the main advantages of ICT to them would be dealing with their large class sizes. This seemed to be confirmed in their view once they had delivered lessons using a projector and computer. They found they could sustain their learners’ attention longer because the computer allowed them to use a mix of textual and visual materials, as well as audio and video. Christopher remarks on this during an interview June 9, 2010: Like the UPE came and it improved literacy by almost 90%. Many children are in school but the teachers are few. The problem is these few teachers have these many pupils. So if teachers are trained to lead classes with the help of ICT, so using technology to teach, it would be very effective. Like a simple example of using a projector, people are able to see, read and even hear some of the things that the teacher is explaining, so it’s really very, very important. The role of ICT in managing large class sizes is discussed further in the next chapter, in the sections on multimodality and on classroom management.  149  5.3.3 Technology Infrastructure in Northern Uganda Enabling conditions for ICT in Northern Uganda face numerous constraints. The first major infrastructural challenge is poor electrification. Municipal power in Gulu is unreliable and often off for hours at a time, while generators are expensive and require a steady supply of fuel to be powered, an additional high cost. At least during the period of study, the PTC did not have a generator and when the power shut down, the computer lab closed too. Students often lost their work when this happened and I observed them visibly frustrated as a result. Because the length of power outages was unpredictable, computer users would not know when they might resume working. In town, some of the net cafes had generators but it would take time to switch to the generator and long interruptions often ensued when no fuel was to be found, or a generator broke down. During the ICT training with the research participants, workshop sessions were frequently interrupted at the college due to power outages. When this occurred, we would move out of the lab to a classroom and would hold an impromptu theory lesson, wherein the teachers reviewed functions of a computer without the opportunity to apply their learning on a computer, or hold a discussion where participants had a chance to ask questions. Nick and I used a flipchart to draw a computer screen and explain functions this way, as an alternative to using the projector to demonstrate the functions in real time. Alternatively, on three occasions we hastily arranged a bus to come to the college, when the power stayed off for more than 30 minutes, to transport the teachers to an Internet café in town, as the cafes typically used generators when the power went off. On August 20, 2009, we arrived at the Internet café; however, its generator needed repairing. We walked to another café in the town centre, but it was crowded and  150  the network was working too slowly to function. We returned to the first net café and the power had by then returned. The teachers settled in and began using the computers; however, after about 25 minutes, the power went off again. We decided to end the lesson and to try again the following day. This was an extreme example, but an illustration of how unpredictable the power connection can be and the legwork sometimes involved in powering a computer. It can often be a drain on time and resources, and presents one more disincentive to computer access in the region. Our training, and consequently my plans to record observations of the training experience, was characterized by a continuous need to improvise due to the unpredictable and unreliable connectivity environment. The situation improved somewhat when the laptops were purchased by the second training phase of this study, in November 2009, as the batteries could allow lessons to carry on for 90 minutes or longer without power. Thus, while the projector was not usable without power, teachers could have time for independent practice and to work on the educational resources they were preparing as assignments. It necessitated some trial-anderror to learn the importance of keeping the computer consistently connected when there was power, when teachers wanted to continue working during power outages. In terms of online connectivity, there is little use of dial-up Internet connections in Gulu given that telephone landlines are uncommon; most phones used by Ugandans today are mobile phones. Broadband access is typically used, and some users connect to the Internet via their mobile phone accounts; however, this option is expensive as charges are per minute and based on the size of data transmission. Nevertheless, mobile telephone technology is a sector experiencing rapid growth and expansion in Uganda and it can reasonably be expected that new developments will soon reach the northern region.  151  For broadband connections, an access site with a modem must be within a reasonable distance (up to 160 km) from a cable modem termination system at a cable operator facility run by an Internet service provider (ISP). The modem at an access site is connected to the modem termination system by one of two types of cables, either a coaxial cable or a hybrid fiber coaxial cable (with optical fiber). In the case of the APTC, because of its location well outside of the main town, local ISPs have not yet laid cables in that area. Besides the college, there is presumably little market potential for Internet access in the area, which is largely residential with little commercial activity. When Nick approached an ISP to discuss connectivity for the college, he was told that the college would need to pay the costs of laying the cables to reach the site in order for the company to make access available in that location. The cost was prohibitive and the college consequently has no Internet access. The discontinuation of Internet access when foreign donor assistance ends is not uncommon in ICT interventions in Uganda. In another ICT project, funded by the Canadian Government supported International Development Research Centre (IDRC), a post-project evaluation determined that “problems of service provision” at a telecentre including connectivity were occurring “since the IDRC pulled out” (Prah, 2003, p.34). At Internet cafes in town, 12 or more computers are sharing one or two connections, to reduce costs, making the connection per user extremely slow. At this speed, many web-based functions are disabled, such as the display of graphics, webmail features, or streaming; and with too many users, the Internet may not be functional at all. Experienced Internet users in Gulu were attentive to high traffic periods on the Internet,  152  trying to avoid times when too many others were on-line, since such little bandwidth was being used among multiple machines. As Nick explains, Our internet here is very slow. It’s seasonal. Like some of us who upload things on the Internet, you have to do it at some expense - like you wait until people are asleep, then you do it. So when other people are resting at home, you are on the Internet. Like once in a while, it disturbs my family because I have to stay on the Internet like up to 11pm or 12am. So you do it at some expense. The internet is very, very slow (Interview, June 9, 2010). Besides Internet cafes, access is available in the local Human Rights Centre library, and inside other NGO compounds, but most are generally restricted to staff only. In Gulu, I came across no instances of residential Internet access, unsurprising since residential electrification is also sparse, and very little ownership of personal computers. In general, accessing the Internet is beyond the means of the average teacher, and since the Internet functions particularly slowly in Gulu, the costs rise as it takes longer to carry out simple tasks on-line, such as opening a browser or navigating from page to page. June describes an experience when she tried to view photos and video on-line: Internet is so interesting. When you go to the Internet, you feel like not leaving you forget about all other things. There was a day I was dressed up. I went to the café and I paid some money and I went to Youtube and I was looking at the pictures and the videos which are there. You pay per second, so the money was not enough (Interview, June 7, 2010).  153  Besides paying Internet connection charges, the cost of owning a personal computer is also beyond the means of most teachers. Christopher provides some calculations in his journal: “computers are expensive of which for a teacher to buy a computer he/she needs to save his/her salary for one and a quarter years, i.e. one new PC Shs 1.5-2 million Ug shillings trs are paid gross 210,000 and net pay 199,500 monthly.” June adds, from her journal, “When you want to use the Internet you have to go to a ‘café’ and pay some money for you to have access to. Therefore, when you have little money it would not be possible to explore many [things] in the websites as you are charged per the minutes.” She adds that independently accessing training is costly as well: “most computer centres, you have to pay money to learn, so it’s very costly for the teachers and their salary is very small. We got only 200. So you have to pay maybe 300,000 UGX to learn just one program, like Microsoft” (Interview, June, November 18, 2009). John describes in his journal an unsuccessful attempt to use the net café on his own: “I went to the Nile Net Café trying to print a letter to my uncle. I spent an hour printing. The computer I was using was not functioning well. Some buttons never work well. The facilitator there was alone and busy serving only those ones using the Internet.” The staff person on site seemed to be prioritizing customers who were spending more money by using the Internet, instead of using a Word Processor offline. In the same and other net cafes, I often witnessed customers seeking assistance from the single staff person, who was also trying to troubleshoot connection and other technical breakdowns, settle payments, and log on and off arriving and departing customers. When power was cutting in and out, there was further chaos, as people waited for slow-coming assistance.  154  The teacher participants are new computer users and need extra time on-line as they continue to learn how to operate a computer, navigate the Internet, and increase their typing speed. John describes this problem during an interview: “Up until now I haven’t gone to use the Internet since you were here last. I got lost. It calls for continuous practice. Because I was introduced that time to it, I could use it, but if I went on my own, because I am slow, it would cost me so much money” (Interview, June 10, 2010). The teachers brought up the speed issue often and wanted to understand why the Internet in Gulu functioned so slowly. On August 20, 2009 (during a power outage), Nick and I held a discussion to understand bandwidth and connectivity issues in an effort to clarify this challenge for the participants. Electrification and broadband access in this region are two infrastructure issues that must be addressed before computers can be seriously discussed as valuable, relevant tools for educators in Gulu, and indeed in Africa at large. A 2001 study found that, besides affordability, the greatest barriers to more equal ICT access were the inequities in broadband access, in addition to linguistic, content, and skill deficits (DiMaggio & Hargittai, 2001). In the long run, reliable and affordable power and the provision of broadband from reliable, accountable ISPs will make computers far more viable for a far greater number of people. In the meantime, to make computers usable requires significant resourcing of a mini-infrastructure set-up on any site with computers, a costly endeavour. Computers are thus made accessible on a piecemeal basis, project-by-project, when robust national policy implementation would create an environment where ICT would quickly spread amidst enabling infrastructure, and projects could turn to focusing more  155  on skill development, content literacy, and local stewardship over technological resources. Nick captures this point in the following statement: ICT is an expensive adventure. It requires some capital, it requires some resources at the initial stages, like purchase of hardware, software and training, staff resource and all that. But if it takes off, it can make a very big progress - it can make a positive turn. So when you spend - there is what is called spending to save. You spend some money on something but you would even save twice that money you have spent when, like, you are trying to address a problem or something like that. So, for example, maybe training teachers, buying books, all that… if you install a computer lab and computer system, it will probably be a one time cost, not recurring (Interview, June 9, 2010). In the meantime, various initiatives have sought to implement stopgap solutions to make the Internet work in African environments where power and broadband is limited or inaccessible. These include battery-operated or satellite-powered computers, intranets, or off-line databases like E-Granary or an off-line version of Wikipedia, such as WikiTaxi. These alternatives are important intermediate means of accessing information amidst an environment that puts Internet access out of reach for most people. However, in the long run, the only sustainable output will be to invest in infrastructure nationally that will support broader, affordable, and more reliable access. Africa does not present an environment inherently at odds with connectivity. Diverse geographical and climactic environments around the world have successfully introduced reliable electrification and broadband access. The lack of connectivity infrastructure is profoundly a problem of government will and a lack of coherent policy. It may also be a result of economic  156  conditions that have failed to facilitate investment in connectivity infrastructure; however, more often, the challenge is not necessarily the need to allocate state resources towards connectivity but rather to create a policy environment favourable to private sector investment and development of the connectivity environment in rural areas in particular. The problems presented by the connectivity environment are illustrated in the following two examples taken from the experiences of the research participants in attempting to use computers to create educational resources for use in their classrooms. In the first example, the teachers were asked to download an open educational resource (OER) from the Internet, during one of their sessions at the Net Café throughout November 2009 to use with their students in class that month. In the second example, in the same period, the teachers used Microsoft Power Point to create a lesson and presented it to their students using an LCD projector. In both cases, the connectivity environment’s unreliability and the barriers to regular access result in truncated learning, whereby the skills development in computer literacy of the teachers is constantly interrupted by connectivity and access issues, deleterious to their overall learning experience. Technological practices are unlikely to become embedded in a given setting when the machines and networks of practices are disrupted (Prinsloo, 2005). In the example below of the use of an LCD projector in the classroom, it can be argued that not only is technology ineffective when it is not accessible regularly, but that it can put learners and teachers at a disadvantage, when troubleshooting connectivity problems take up so much time and resources, eating away at the limited classroom time for the learners.  157 Un-connected: The OERs Workshop Experience OERs are “digitised materials offered freely and openly for educators, students and self-learners to use and reuse for teaching, learning and research” (Hylén, 2007, 30). As open-source material, OERs can also be adapted by users and then re-shared in their revised form, under the limited licensing restrictions that characterize OER content. OERs include any form of learning materials varying from entire courses, course reading material, to short fact sheets, diagrams or images, lesson plans, games, lectures, and more. The OER movement is a sub-movement of the broader open source movement, which aims to increase access to digital material (such as software) by reduced licensing or copyright restrictions, and more generally part of the evolution of the internet towards Web 2.0 (which emphasizes interactability and invites user-generated content). For the OERs exercise, the participants were introduced to the concept of OERs, the principles of the global OER movement, and then to several specific OER tools. Participants reviewed one set of global OER tools (OER Commons; Curriki; and Connexions) and a set of OER tools targeted at Africa specifically (TESSA; Merlot Africa; Aluka; and African Journals Online [AJOL]). All seven of these tools are free web-based repositories of OERs; however the size of the collections varies vastly, as does the degree of interactivity (for example, TESSA does not invite users to upload their own open content, while the user’s ability to upload content is a fundamental premise of the OER Commons). Nick and I first introduced the tools to the participants via flash frames of pages of the websites shown on a projector to explain how the sites worked, rather than a live demonstration since there was no Internet connection in the ICT lab at the college that  158  would allow for this. Several samples of OERs that can be found in the digital repositories mentioned above were reviewed with the participants, who discussed ways they could use these resources in their teaching. After the demo, the teachers then tried out the tools on-line on their own at an Internet café in town. At the Internet café, it was observed that Curriki and Connexions each consistently took 10 minutes or longer to load and the teachers quickly became frustrated as they waited, the initial momentum of the demo session receding. The OER Commons and TESSA loaded comparatively faster, but the teachers could not easily navigate through the resources due to the slow loading time. In one net café visit, Christopher spent an hour trying to alternatively use AJOL, Wikipedia and WikiEducator. He was able to access the latter two, but was unsuccessful loading AJOL (Interview, June 9, 2009), and no one in the net café was able to access Aluka, a digital library of scholarly resources “from and about Africa” ( In my observations of the workshop session, Merlot Africa, ironically a version of the major OERs website Merlot designed specifically for Africans to use, could not be loaded at all. In subsequent visits to the Internet café, the teachers relied only on the sites they had been able to access relatively quickly the first time, in particular TESSA, which incidentally had the smallest collection of documents, including resources that were designed specifically for the curricula of Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania. I observed that speed for ease of access became the main factor in participants choosing which sites to visit. June explains, “The problem is that at the café, the Internet is so slow, you find your mind is being consumed when the computer is not yet even open” (Interview, June 7, 2010).  159  Wikipedia consistently loaded faster than any site and the teachers visited that site most often. Besides the speed factor, they also found its functions and content easy to use and understand. Following the OER sites workshop in the net café, the teachers participated in a debriefing back at the college on November 19, 2009. The consensus was that TESSA, Wiki Educator and OER Commons were interesting from glimpses of them but too slow to really use (the other OER sites were unable to load at all), but overall “Wikipedia was the best”, as expressed several times by different teachers then and at later occasions. In his journal, Christopher referred to Wikipedia as a “revolution”. Nevertheless, the slow connection sometimes made Wikipedia, along with all websites to which access was attempted, slow too. Christopher says, “I’ve been using photos that I downloaded from Wikipedia, but during the daytime it’s so slow and I couldn’t access it easily. I tried to, but I did not because it was slow” (Interview, June 9, 2010). June explains how the Internet can provide her with more current information than the outdated print material the school provides, There was a day I went and looked in Wikipedia, and I looked up… I don’t recall now, something, which was urgent, when I went. Sometimes they give more information than the textbooks we have. The textbooks are outdated. The Internet is more current than the textbooks. The information was accurate. There is newly created information there (Interview, June 7, 2010). John found Wikipedia easiest of all to use and came to rely on it in his Internet research: “Wikipedia, it was the first time you introduced for us the Internet, you showed us that. And I became interested in that up to now. I got used to it. Like when you’re at home and your mother cooks beans, you get used to it, so you use it” (Interview, June 10, 2010).  160  Google was also popular among the participants because of its speed firstly, and secondly, because of its efficient search methodology. Google has a Ugandan edition, which prioritizes search results originating from Uganda. Christopher regularly used Google as well as Google Scholar and Google Books, all of which have comparatively fast loading times. For the participants, the practical uses of the Internet to their teaching were limited to what is efficient in the particular connectivity context in which they live. Although they are aware of the vast amounts of information on every topic on-line, they restrict themselves to using the few sites that load relatively quickly, when time and funds are scarce. Unsurprisingly, people will use what they can easily access and easily understand. Yet this truism seems nevertheless left out of the design of many initiatives targeted at African and other developing world audiences. Research into three IDRCfunded rural telecentres in Uganda in 2003 also found that connectivity challenges derailed the learning and development objectives of the effort. The lack of Internet access “frustrates the whole purpose of producing content materials [in local languages] on the World Wide Web” (Prah, 2003, p.48). Un-connected: Projectors Without Power A second example illustrating the typical connectivity environment is shown when the teachers wanted to deliver their lessons using a Microsoft Power Point file and an LCD projector. The teachers had done a workshop in Power Point at the ICT lab with Nick and myself on November 18, 2009 and had been mentored in the ICT lab throughout the following months during their lab practice visits. In general, most participants had become proficient in using text and images in their slides. They had a  161  refresher workshop in June 2010. The teachers enjoyed using Power Point and they chose lessons in the units they were teaching throughout June to deliver with the projector. The ICT lab’s existing projector was broken and showed slides only in black and white, with poor resolution. In August 2009, Nick and I had purchased a new projector from Kampala for the lab that the teachers could sign out to borrow to deliver lessons at their schools. I observed each of the teacher participants delivering their lessons with the projector and in almost all cases I observed numerous challenges, most of which related to the connectivity and classroom environments. For instance, the classrooms are kept cool by open windows; however, this led to too much light for the projection to be visible. In some cases, the teachers decided to reduce the natural light by hanging pieces of dark cloth over the windows, but this stopped the breeze, causing the classroom’s temperature to rise. I observed how the more than 100 children in the class soon grew uncomfortable, sweating and fatigued as a result, diminishing their concentration and interest in the lesson. One teacher, Albert, was preparing to present his lesson with the projector, at his school, Army Primary. The walls of his classroom were painted dark yellow but were chipping and dotted with holes. The walls and the chalkboard were too dark and uneven to use as a screen to project on. Albert and another teacher went off to find some unused white flipchart paper and tape, while a third teacher attempted to keep the children occupied by singing a song. Albert returned and they used four blank flipchart sheets held together with masking tape, which periodically slipped off the walls and had to be re-  162  taped throughout the presentation, interrupting the lesson and distracting the teacher (Field Notes, June 8, 2010). Classroom construction in Gulu poses both advantages and disadvantages. Classrooms are integrated with the outdoors in an environment where schools generally do not use electrical power. There are no glass windows, but rather shutters that can be opened to let a breeze through the class during hot weather. However, when the elements are severe, such as very hot weather or cold rain, this set-up is not conducive to the use of ICT tools like projectors and laptops. For instance, June describes her classroom at the Main Public School: There are not enough desks to sit on. Others sit on the floor. The desks are not enough for them. In some other classes are squeezed, the desks are few so the majority sit on the floor, and the windows are open so when it’s raining, they suffer a lot. Sometimes it even affects our teaching. The wind is blowing inside and the rain too, and the children have to stand sometimes, so it’s difficult. For sitting, it’s first come, first serve (Interview, November 18, 2009). I observed another Power Point lesson delivered in Christopher’s classroom at the Main Public School (Field Notes, June 10, 2010). The classroom had no electricity that day, as the municipal power was out. The school had a generator but no fuel was on hand. I provided approximately $10 for fuel and a school guard left to purchase some fuel in a jerry can. When he returned, the generator needed to be moved outside of the classroom and an elaborate system of extension cords and adaptors was connected to a power bar to power the computer and projector. The cords went out the window where they were connected in turn to the generator. At first, the power was not reaching the power bar and  163  we disconnected everything and restarted. The cords ran along the floor and were easily tripped over or pulled out as people stepped over them. It took approximately 45 minutes to get the power source working, and the involvement of four staff plus myself, during which time the children sat in the class waiting, with no instruction taking place. The generator’s hum then continued throughout the lesson, audible from outside. In June’s music class, midway through her lesson, the projector overheated and shut off (Field Notes, June 10, 2010). In this case, June carried on with the lesson, as she was only using the sound on the computer at that point in the lesson, in order to play an instrumental clip. Meanwhile, I tried to restart the projector after waiting for a few minutes for it to cool off. The projector over-heated numerous times in other classes due to the high temperatures and in most cases, the lesson was briefly interrupted to restart the projector and the teacher would lose the flow of the lesson during these interruptions. When John was ready to deliver his lesson at the Orphan Boarding School, the laptop he had his file on was no longer working as a result of having been infected with a virus. His file was transferred to a different computer, but the computer was also malfunctioning (Field Notes, June 11, 2010). John was disappointed and described the experience in his journal: Nick paired me with Daniel but unfortunately Daniel’s computer was also having problem with its battery. Some members there were busy preparing for their presentations until it was about to come to an end, [and] that is when Nick tried to connect the computer after your trial and failure. I used the computer with Daniel for a short time and the same problems of the battery resumed and we later depart[ed] (n.d.).  164  Despite these challenges, once everything was secured, the projector was running uninterrupted and the teacher talked using the slides, the children appeared deeply engaged in the lesson. Their eyes were focused on the front of the classroom and they were keen to respond to questions posed by the teacher. The teachers appeared to be instructing seamlessly, going from verbal instruction to pointing out images on the screen, to writing a word on the chalkboard (Field Notes, June 11, 2010). Thus, the projector and the presentation software were valuable tools to present content in different formats to the class; however, the conditions in which technology like laptops and projectors are used make efficient use difficult, limiting the full potential of these tools for L1 education. 5.3.4 Ownership and Access Along with enabling infrastructure and connectivity, access is the overriding ingredient necessary to make ICT viable for education in Gulu, according to the findings of this study. The scarcity of computers made them valuable to the point of being fought over, or “specialist and exotic high-status resources” (Prinsloo, 2005, p. 11). As data in this section will show, the teachers reported feeling that other teachers who were not participating in the study were resentful of them and suspicious of ICT, and the participants were thus guarded and protective of the laptops and their role in the study, setting themselves apart from their colleagues. Resentment and jealousy of ICT resources, seen as modern and expensive, has been identified in other cases where computers are provided for the purpose of supporting educators (for instance, Warschauer, 2005).  165  However, of more consequence was that the APTC wanted to “own” the laptops, as did the teachers and their schools. Suspicions rose between the teachers and the APTC, and the access and ownership issue erupted into a challenging conflict between the teachers and the college that required extensive mediation and compromise. This section describes this conflict, and illustrates well the multiple factors that need to be factored into the design of an ICT intervention to sustain access over the long-term, to coordinate and compromise between different stakeholders, and to maintain technological resources locally, without outside assistance, inevitably unavailable in the long run. Almost immediately, the laptops used in the training came to be associated by the teachers with wealth and value. Arguments over where the laptops should be kept and who would have access to them (the research participants, or whether students from the college could also use them) began early on (Field Notes, August 16, 2009). Midway through the fi