Towards an African research agenda for ICTs in education – Interview with Dr Thierry Karsenti


Thierry Karsenti, M.A., M.Ed., Ph.D., is Director of the Interuniversity Research Centre on Education and the Teaching Profession (CRIFPE). He is the Director, with Kathryn Touré (ERNWACA), of the Panafrican Research Agenda on the Pedagogical Integration of ICT. Besides holding the Canada Research Chair in ICT in Education, Professor Karsenti is also a Full Professor at the University of Montreal. His field is the Integration of ICT into Teacher Training. His techno-pedagogical accomplishments and innovations in teacher training have been recognised in Quebec and Canada through a variety of excellence awards.

eLA: Could you explain the background of the project and what is the role of the co-ordination team within the network?

Thierry Karsenti: The PanAf Observatory is a project that networks ICT in education researchers across Africa, and creates an open space in which to share new, high-quality, user-scaled data in the field. The project began in late 2006 as an initiative of Canada’s International Development Research Centre, www.idrc.org, and currently brings together research teams in 15 countries.

To ensure efficient operation, scientific rigour and a collaborative international spirit, the project is co-managed by the Educational Research Network for West and Central Africa, www.ernwaca.org, and the Centre de recherche inter-universitaire sur la formation et la profession enseignante, www.crifpe.ca, at the Université de Montréal.

eLA: What are the main activities of the network?

Thierry Karsenti: The project’s primary activities involve data collection and summary analysis from hundreds of African educational institutions to gain an enhanced understanding of the role of ICT in teaching and learning across the continent, as well as to develop capacity-building opportunities to support a culture of collaboration and publication among African academics and institutions.

eLA: What are the main issues addressed by the PanAfrican research Agenda developed by the network and how do you support them?

Thierry Karsenti: The project focuses on ICT in education themes including: policy, access, training, impact and sustainability; it also applies both integrated and targeted approaches to important development issues, particularly gender. These varied themes and issues are addressed using a broad set of research indicators, and a mixed quantitative/qualitative methodology.

eLA: What has been the scientific output so far and how do you disseminate results through the (African) research community and beyond?

Thierry Karsenti: The output of the PanAf project thus far has been to collect an unprecedented set of national and institutional scale data, and to share it in an open, online Observatory, www.observatoiretic.org. The project has also provided both continuing and subject-specific capacity-building opportunities for many of the researchers involved.

eLA: Who can get involved (and how)?

Thierry Karsenti: The goal of the Observatory is to encourage knowledge-networking, provide open access to current data, and allow users from African institutions to update information that reflects their experiences with ICT integration, in real time. To this end, African researchers, development practitioners, school directors, educators, even students, are encouraged to get involved, and should contact Tony Harper-Merrett toby.harper-merrett@umontreal.ca.

eLA: Are there any connections or co-operations to other Africa-related research networks in the field, such as the KALAfrica initiative of Kaleidoscope?

Thierry Karsenti: While IDRC, ERNWACA, Université de Montréal and the initial partner institutions in Africa have extensive existing research networks in the field, the vision of the Observatory is to provide an open mapping of African schools confronting the realities of the pedagogical integration of ICTs, to give them voice, and to share their knowledge globally. To this end, new connections, collaborations and partnerships are always encouraged.

eLA: Prof Karsenti, many thanks.


Further links:

Contact Toby Harper-Merrett at PanAf Edu at toby.harper-merrett@umontreal.ca
PanAf Edu online Observatory www.observatoiretic.org
Canada’s International Development Research Centre www.idrc.org
Educational Research Network for West and Central Africa www.ernwaca.org
Centre de Recherche Interuniversitaire sur la Formation et la Profession Enseignante www.crifpe.ca

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