|Popularization of Science and Technology - What Informal and Non-formal Education Can Do? (Faculty of Education,University of Hong Kong - UNESCO, 1989, 210 p.)|
|Papers presented at the Conference:|
A major obstacle to the popularisation of science and technology - especially products of educational research - is the lack of even absence of a systematic dissemination program. The difficulty is compounded if the educational technology, or innovation is to be applied in the nonformal and informal sectors. It is, a common disappointment and discouragement of researchers, after going through a time consuming, expensive, and generally demanding research, to find that their study is just one more statistic in research archives.
The fact is, any innovation, a new technology, if it is the result of a research process, is known only to the developer or researcher. For it be applied 011 a wider scale, it must be known to those who will apply it. It goes without saying, therefore, that a remedy, the solution, is a deliberate, resolute and sustained program to disseminate the technology. Indeed, the so-called R and D (Research and Development) process, is more properly called the RD and D process, or Research, Development and Dissemination process, or Research, Development, Diffusion and Adoptation (RDD and A).
The question, therefore, arises - how to properly disseminate an educational technology that is a product of a research activity, and which is a process, a series of processes, with attendant assumptions and principles; and which moreover, has definite and specific objectives.
This is a problem which INNOTECH, the Regional Center for Educational Innovation and Technology of the Southeast asian Ministers of Education Organization (SEAMED), confronts every time it undertakes research. The problem is endemic to INNOTECH, because the Center is not an implementing institution. Its mandate requires INNOTECH to conduct research only for the purpose of finding solutions to problems of education faced by the member countries. It leaves to the Ministries of Education the prerogative to implement or not to implement the results or products of its research activities.
In view of this peculiar problem situation INNOTECH deliberately plans out a dissemination or popularization process for all the outputs of its research. It is this experience, which I refer to as the INNOTECH model of dissemination, which I would like now to describe and share with you. In the process T will be citing two INNOTECH research outputs as examples of educational technology.
Let me assure you, however, that INNOTECH has not always been successful in disseminating its research outputs. As in fact this model for dissemination had not been used for all its research products. Indeed, it must be admitted that it was refined and made operational by Project DELSIFLIFE, the latest of INNOFTECH S R and D researches completed only in 1989.
Toward the end of this paper I will be referring to the actual process of dissemination or popularisation - following the development of the technology - as a really simple and straight-forward process. However, as model, the process is based on, and is greatly dependent, on a number of pre-conditions or prerequisites, for it to be successful or effective, as follows:
An initial precondition is the relevance or timeliness of the research. Relevance, of course, is relative. To assure itself of relevance of its research, INNOTECH has, so far, undertaken mainly developmental research and has avoided pure or experimental research.
Thus Project IMPACT, which resulted in the development of the IMPACT system, an educational intervention system for mass primary education, was conducted in response to prevailing adverse conditions surrounding primary education in the SEAMED Region characterised by poor quality, high drop out rates, lack of qualified teachers, and generally expensive operation. These conditions, observed in the 1970s when Project IMPACT was conducted, persist to a great extent in the 1980s and perhaps even beyond.
Project DELSIFLFE, out of which came the DELSIFLFE system - another educational system but unlike IMPACT, applied in the nonformal sector - aimed at improving the quality of life of the rural poor through self-reliance. Like project IMPACT, Project DELSILIFE was undertaken in the light of the failure of development programs and projects to reach the greater majority who need them most - the rural poor.
2. USER AS RESEARCHER
One other factor which adds a great measure of guarantee that a technology will eventually be disseminated and used, is the involvement of the user in the research. This is perhaps an aspect of other models, just like relevance. However, in the case of INNOTECH research, the user is, in fact, the researcher.
For developmental projects, such as Project IMPACT and DELSILIFE (there are other examples) whose eventual user is the Ministry of Education, the studies are actually undertaken in field conditions, and it is the participating Ministry which identifies the researchers or research teams. In which case INNOTECHS role is more of guidance and monitoring, or technical assistance. (As in fact the trips of INNOTECH staff to the project sites are called Technical Assistance Visits).
Aside from the research team, INNOTECH always sees to it - insist, in fact - that a Ministry official, with decision-making prerogative, is identified as a member of the research team, if only in an advisory position. This official or his representative is always expected to participate in crucial meetings, especially a Consultative Meeting (CM).
A Consultative Meeting is a mechanism used by INNOTECH to bring together key participants to a research project for the purpose of sharing information, discussing and generally learning form each other significant development concerning a project. A CM is a monitoring devise called at crucial points of a project and is an occasion to recall common guidelines previously agreed upon and to make necessary modifications.
Incidentally, a second monitoring mechanism is the Technical Assistance Visit.
3. FINANCE AGENCY AS RESEARCH COLLEAGUE
INNOTECH has had the good fortune of having its two major research projects financed by funding agencies, which are themselves research institutions, or which collaborate with a research body.
The experience of INNOTECH in this regard are of two kinds, one formal, the other, informal. In the case of Project IMPACT, which was given financial support by the International Development and Research Center of Canada (IDRC), the then Head of the Social Science Division took it upon himself to monitor the project. In the end he even published a book on the project and the IMPACT system.
In the case of Project DELSILIFE, funded by the Dutch Government, the participation of the Center for the Study of Education in Developing Countries (CESO) was formally built-in into the Memorandum of Agreement with INNOTECH.
INNOTECH, therefore, was given, not only financial support by institutions that were convinced of the relevance of the research, but equally important the time and energies of its own staff of competent and concerned experts. As a model for other similar researches, it may not be easy to replicate the congenial and professional relationship between financier and researcher. Yet, it is inevitable that we suggest that for research outputs to be effectively and efficiently disseminated, a collaborative working relationship between financier and researcher be an a priori condition even if the financier modestly refers to its staff only as (is the case of DELSILIFE) Consulted Colleagues.
Needless to say, the researcher has the tendency (as INNOTECH did) to exploit this relationship to assure itself of continued funding. The truth is that both parties (and here I refer only to INNOTECH and CESO) from the start, had objectives which both pursued with sincerity, trust and understanding.
4. A DISSEMINATION INSTRUMENT
It is decidedly a deterrant to effective dissemination of an educational technology if it is popularised in the absence of the proper adequate dissemination instrument. Hence, the marketing of a technology is usually done with the use of brochures, videos, film, slide-tapes, books, pamphlets and others. In many cases, however, these are produced mainly to afford the researcher, especially an institution, a convenient vehicle to describe a product to visitors and other interested parties and researchers.
Thus, in the case IMPACT, INNOTECH and with IDRC, a book was also edited by INNOTECH of which only 1,000 copies were printed are, in fact, for sale. There is also a slide-tape presentation for our visitors: and a brochure. A monograph and a module were also prepared, but used mainly by the trainees of INNOTECH Training Programs. The final report on Project IMPACT contains a replication manual which remains only in the few copies of final report on the project.
In addition, the last year of Project IMPACT was declared a demonstration year. But then those who took advantage of it were mostly foreigners, academicians who visited the sites for only one day each. At that time all the materials mentioned above had not been produced.
What I am saying is that these instruments, which may be perfect as dissemination materials, (are) were not really used in a systematic dissemination program.
The same is true with DELSILIFE. There is a brochure, a module, a slidetape presentation, and a monograph. Unlike the cast of IMPACT, however, but because of the lessons learned from the IMPACT experience, INNOTECH took the cue from the business community - DELSILEFE was packaged.
THE DELSILIFE Package:1
The DELSILIFE package is a set of multi-media (print and non-print) materials which describe in specific details the intervention process and provide directions and guidelines to the different persons, groups, actors and performers who participate or who have responsibilites to undertake. Each component of the package is addressed to and is expected to be utilized by specific users and performers.
Each country which participated in Project DELSILFE produced its own package, in the local language. The use of simple language is especially crucial since parts of the package are to be read and utilized by villagers who are assumed to be, at best, semi-literate - who are in fact, the object of non formal education programs. INNOTECH, however, produced its own package, borrowing from the country packages, in the English language for wider use in and outside the Region.
On closer examination, it appears that each country package is of two parts. One part is a general information on DELSILIFE as a system, how it operates, its components, principles and features; what it attempts to achieve. This part is addressed to decision makers, to administrators, to entities and institutions concerned with developing and improving the lives and living conditions of peoples and communities. Physically this is made up of videos and cassette tapes and printed pamphlets or booklet.
The second part, made up of a number of booklets compose the set of manuals which provide the necessary guidelines to those I referred to as the actors or performers in the living drama that is DELSILIFE.
Generally, the booklets or pockets have the following contents:
Booklet number 1. The Delsilife Intervention System
The booklet is meant to explain the principles of the Delsilife system to Promotors and Initiators of the Delsilife Community Council, the Group and Area Leaders of the Village and Resource Persons.
Booklet number 2. Manual for the Initiator
The booklet explains to, specifically the initiators who will introduce Delsilife system in the villages, what her functions are and how he/she can perform these functions.
Booklet number 3. Manual for Training
The manual is aimed at all those who are expected to have leadership roles in the implementation of Delsilif. The booklet describes who will need to be trained, who will train, and in what the training will be.
Booklet number 4. Manual for the Delsilife Community Council (DCC)
The booklet addressed to the leaders of communities. It tells how the DCC is formed, what the functions of the DCC are and how the DCC can perform its functions.
Booklet number 5. Manual for the Group Leader
The manual describes in some detail the conduct of Learning Programmes, which is the core of the Delsilife system; the role of the Group Leader, how he/she is chosen, what his/her functions are and how he/she can function.
Booklet number 6. Basic Life Skills
This booklet describes what, and how some Basic Life Skills are obtained or developed in the Delsilife system.
The DELSILIFE Package is an attempt on the part of the developer of the DELSILIFE system - INNOTECH to transfer the technology to the implementors in the field. Theoretically, DELSILEFE was known only to INNOTECH and the few participating research staffs of Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand. For the technology to be known and utilized by others, it was decided to capture the system into a package.
There are certainly other ways of transferring technology, such as through seminars and workshops. It was thought, however, that through the package, the essence of DELSILIFE can be capsulized in as pure a form as possible; assuring therefore, a minimum of dilution of its concept, principles, processes and even objectives.
Thus, it is not so much a question of whether or not the concept can be transferred in its true form - since the package has assured that - but whether the user, the one who opens the package, will want the whole package, or simply pick those parts that suit his fancy or which appeals to him most because of his circumstances or working environment.
Moreover, it was also the hope that if the package can be made as complete and comprehensive enough, that it will be self-sufficient and that it need not entail additional verbal explanation, or intermediation by the original developer.
In other words, the package takes the place of the developer of the technology. If the package is placed in the hands of a person in authority such as an education regional officer, this officer, after studying and understanding the system, may cause the package to reach all concerned personnel under him. In turn, each will study and understand his part and role and perform this accordingly. In the bureaucracy of the Department of Education, Culture and Sports of the Philippines, for example, the last person to receive the package will be the District Nonformal Education Coordinator, or the school NFE teacher - who will have direct responsibility to motivate a village to adopt DELSILIFE.
For the village itself, the package provides manuals for the leaders and the learners. Each manual explains in simple language what the leaders and learners are expected to do or behave; and what they can learn or acquire or develop.
5. OFFICIAL ENDORSEMENT AND ENCOURAGEMENT:
It goes without saying that the best package, and the presence of all the favorable preconditions, would be inutil and ineffectual without the accompanying support in the form of endorsement by the appropriate official or person in authority. This is especially crucial in a bureaucratic set up, such as the Ministry of Education. Happily for DELSILIFE the Ministry of Education of Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand gave official sanction for DELSILIFE to be adopted as one more approach to their nonformal education program.
The effect of this endorsement, or its absence, is demonstrated quite well in both projects - IMPACT and DELSILIFE.
IMPACT was favorably endorsed by the Indonesian2 Ministry, hence there was an extended experimentation and more extensive implementation of the system. On the other hand the Philippine Minister of Education simply encouraged further experimentation by schools. Only the Philippines has more than one school applying the IMPACT system.
In the case of DELSILIFE, the Ministry of Education of Malaysia, since it does not have a nonformal education aim, did not participate in Phase C of Project DELSILIFE - which is an implementation phase.
Underlying all these pre-conditions, however, is the primary assurance that the product being disseminated works - that the technology can effectively attain its objective. And this assurance must be shared by both the financier and the researcher.
The process of dissemination
Admittedly all these preconditions individually and collectively may not guarantee success in disseminating a product. The assumption that by itself alone a package would be self-sufficient may be unfounded, or at least its basis weak.
Happily, again, the Ministries of Education went one big step further. They utilized their training mechanisms.
The example of the Philippines in disseminating or popularising Delsilife, is a case in point. On the strength of a Department Order, encouraging the adoption of DELSILIFE, the Bureau of Nonformal Education conducted four regional seminar workshops on DELSILIFE which eventually included all Regional and Division level action officers in nonformal education. Following these seminars, all regions conducted Division level echo workshops to which Division and District Nonformal education supervisors and coordinators participated.
The net result of this is that it is now virtually impossible to make an accurate count of the number of villages in the Philippines in which DELSILIFE in its pure form, or aspects of it, has been introduced.
In other words, given all the aforecited pre-conditions, the actual process of dissemination or popularisation of the DELSILIFE ecthnology was really a simple thing.
The echo seminars conducted at the Division level was in fact a training workshop for the promoters and initiators. The DELSILIFE package identifies two levels of personnel who perform quite crucial roles, in popularizing and implementing DELSILIFE.
The promoter (in the instance of the Philippines) is a nonformal education supervisor with jurisdiction over a number of schools. An initiator, is likewise a school personnel also in charge of nonformal education whose responsibilities require of him/her to take or introduce a nonformal education program in a specific district or village.
The two terms are interchangeable, but the concept requires one of them - the promoter to cause the technology to be accepted by other entities involved in development, including personnel under him/her; the other - the initiator - is expected to directly motivate a village to adopt DELSILIFE. The initiator performs a very crucial role in the popularizing (and implementation) of the technology that is DELSIFLFE; as seen in the list of his/her functions after convincing a community to adopt the Delsilife System.
1. Helps the Community Council in coordinating and monitoring Learning Programs.
2. Helps the Community Council in motivating potential target clientele to participate in the Learning Programs/organize learning groups.
3. Helps in the development, evaluation of Learning Programs.
4. Assists in securing human and material resources for learning programs.
5. Assists in the training and development of group leaders.
6. Helps keep records of DELSILIFE data and facilitates their optimal use.
7. Facilitates the diffusion and adoption of the DELSILIFE system.
In summary, dissemination, or popularisation of a technology as experienced by INNOTECH (with Delsilife example) goes through four stages:
1. adoption by a national body
2. production of a package as the dissemination instrument
3. orientation of high level officials; training of promoters and initiators
4. motivation of the community; Implementation
· Creation of the Support System (Steering bodies; Organization of the DCC)
· Formation of Learning Groups
· Conduct of Learning Programs
Problem of research, dissemination and implementation
Although INNOTECH utilizes various ways by which to disseminate information about its research projects and other activities, there are many problems and constraints which militate against more effective and efficient dissemination of information.
These are general problems but they may apply to popularisation programs in the nonformal sector; hence shared in this seminar.
1. The apparent lack of a more positive interest on the part of some of the MOEs are to implement, or at least try out more extensively the results of INNOTECH research.
Perhaps MOEs are immersed in their own problems or planned which any preclude their adoption or adaptation of finding of research studies and other technologies. Perhaps too, the technologies do not appeal to the MOEs.
2. Limited circulation of the Journal
Only 1,000 copies are printed, some of which must have to remain on file.
3. Language poses a problem in a number of ways.
A case in point is Project RIT, the outputs of which include learning materials all written Thai. Assuming there may be a desire on the part of another member country to adapt RIT., the need to translate the materials poses a big problem.
4. The creation of Steering Committees for project do not ensure implementation or even dissemination.
There is secant evidence that the Committees have actively worked toward implementation of the research findings.
5. Finally, one obvious factor which a center like INNOTECH would inevitably be confronted with, is the composite of differences in policies, socio-economic and educational conditions of the member countries.
At first glance, these differences would be immediately considered as stumbling blocks to a unified, concerted or efficient conduct of a research activity. And this is true to some extent. For example, not all countries have participated in all INNOTECH researches because of differences in the socioeconomic conditions. As a result too of variations in the educational climate, field staffs have been of wide diversity in their qualifications Because of policies, not all research methodologies and procedures could be followed in certain countries. More seriously, the differences in policies have prevented greater implementation of research products.
The happy part of it, however, is that this same factor - the variance in policies and socio-economic and educational conditions - has also been a positive factor to INNOTCH.
For one thing INNOTCH has been able to achieve its mandate of assisting member countries by serving each country more directly and specifically through the conduct of a research. All methodologies and processes of a research project must adjust to country policies and conditions. In so doing the resulting product, such as a model, is directly relevant to the country.
Secondly, as a result of adjusting to national policies, INNOTECH researches have resulted, not only in regional models, but also in a variety of national models. From a professional point of view, there is great satisfaction in achieving more than just one stated goal through one activity.
At a more micro level, the difference in policies have also resulted in different products and by-products which are otherwise not anticipated. Again, this has been a source of satisfaction on the part of the researcher, INNOTECH.
Project IMPACT is a good example. In Indonesia, they developed the Learning Post. In the Philippines, the staff produced an integrated set of modules as against the subject modules of Indonesia. The concept of the itinerant teacher is quite different for the two countries.
Project DELSILIFE is another. Two types of the DELSILIFE Community Councils have been developed. Various versions and parts of the package are anticipated. Different criteria are used in the organisation of Learning groups. A wide variety of Learning Programs have been undertaken - giving INNOTECH an almost unlimited list of possibilities open to rural communities which would want to implement DELSILIFE in order to improve their quality of life.
This is, of course, saying that INNOTECH manipulates apparent hindrances and impediments and turns them around into facilitators to its advantage.
INNOTECH, in other words views these problems as opportunities for perfecting its R and D approach to product development. As new products are developed, new insights are gained and the R and D approach is fine-tuned further.
1 Package is used for want of a better, more appropriate term.
2 In Indonesia the project was known as Proyek Pamong, for Pandidikan Anak Oleh Masyarakat Orang Tua Dan Guru.