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PublicationNew Days for Old Ways: Islamic Education in a Changing World(1983) Wagner, Daniel AIn 1981, Prof. Daniel A. Wagner of the University of Pennsylvania (U.S.A.) and Prof. Abdelhamid Lotfi of Mohamed V University (Morocco) undertook a comparative study of traditional Islamic education in five countries of Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. Funded by the Ford Foundation, the U.S. Social Science Research Council, and IDRC, the study aimed to provide descriptive and analytical perspectives on Quranic schools. The following article is primarily extracted from two papers prepared by Dr. Wagner as a result of the study. PublicationWhat Happened to Literacy? Historical and Conceptual Perspectives on Literacy in UNESCO(2011-05-01) Wagner, Daniel AFor more than six decades, UNESCO has dedicated itself to be the international agency leader in literacy, even though other aspects of educational development have received greater attention and resources by the broader international community. Resources for UNESCO's literacy work have not increased, and its programmatic activities have been increasingly debated when seen in relationship to the scope of literacy challenges across the globe. Moving forward in a time of restricted budgets will require UNESCO to strengthen itself as a professional innovator and thought leader. PublicationSupporting Home Language Reading through Technology in Rural South Africa(2018-03-01) Castillo, Nathan M; Wagner, Daniel AThis paper describes a short-term longitudinal study in South Africa, with children in grades 1-3, some of whom received a multimedia technology reading support program in one of three home languages and English (through exisiting computer labs in schools). Findings reveal a positive and significant impact on local language reading acquisition among children with multimedia support. The study shows that effective literacy support can help struggling rural learners make significant gains that will help them complete their schooling. The ability to accomplish a full cycle of primary school with fully developed reading skills has significant implications for life-long learning. PublicationTo Read or Not to Read: The Enduring Question of Low Adult Literacy in America(1995-10-25) Wagner, Daniel AIn 1990, America's governors reached a historic consensus on a set of national educational goals as targets for the year 2000. Among these national goals was that " ... every adult American shall be literate." While this goal was widely applauded by those in the literacy community, much more national attention (and nearly 15 times the budgetary resources) has been devoted to the other goals that focus almost exclusively on improving the formal K-12 school system. Now, with the new Adult Education Act, welfare-reform legislation pending in Congress, and renewed debate over the Goals 2000: Educate America Act, the troubling (and enduring) question of low-literate Americans is back in the news. PublicationTechnology and Mother-Tongue Literacy in Southern India: Impact Studies among Young Children and Out-of-School Youth(2010-01-01) Wagner, Daniel A; Daswani, C. J; Karnati, RomillaThe present research began with one main question: How can new technologies be effective for poor and illiterate children and youth in developing countries? We addressed this question through a research-based implementation project in India that included the development of local language multimedia software for literacy; a built-in, user-friendly interface; and the use of existing computer infrastructure. Two studies were undertaken in Andhra Pradesh state. One included a sample of youth and young adults who had never gone to school (or dropped out early) in peri-urban Hyderabad, and the other was composed of young second- and third-grade school children in rural West Godavari district. Based on a short-term intervention program, research results demonstrated a modest positive impact on the learning rate in reading with both groups of learners (when compared with control groups without the multimedia intervention). The findings provide support for the view that information and communications technologies for development can assist in promoting literacy among the poorest of the poor. In addition, the present results support the view that the digital divide, as it evolves over time, will only be narrowed when content-based solutions are sensitive to, and built on cultural and linguistic diversity. PublicationMobiles for Literacy in Developing Countries: An Effectiveness Framework(2014-03-01) Wagner, Daniel A; Castillo, Nathan M; Murphy, Katie M; Crofton, Molly; Zahra, Fatima TIn recent years, the advent of low-cost digital and mobile devices has led to a strong expansion of social interventions, including those that try to improve student learning and literacy outcomes. Many of these are focused on improving reading in low-income countries, and particularly among the most disadvantaged. Some of these early efforts have been called successful, but little credible evidence exists for those claims. Drawing on a robust sample of projects in the domain of mobiles for literacy, this article introduces a design solution framework that combines intervention purposes with devices, end users, and local contexts. In combination with a suggested set of purpose-driven methods for monitoring and evaluation, this new framework provides useful parameters for measuring effectiveness in the domain of mobiles for literacy. PublicationWhat Should be Learned from Learning Assessments?(2012-03-01) Wagner, Daniel ALearning assessments have grown increasingly important as policy makers and other educational consumers (agencies, schools, communities, parents, individuals, etc.) have sought to understand what is (and isn’t) learned as a function of information inputs. Increasingly, ministers of education are no longer satisfied with who is attending school, but also how well what is being taught is learned, and perhaps how well the minister is doing relative to ministers in other countries. Even at the individual level, in both wealthy and poor countries, both parents and children want to know whether or not they will succeed in school, or in learning a second language, or be able to get a job with the skills that they have or might have. In sum, learning assessments have been around as long as parents have been trying to teach their children, and institutions have been trying to determine who is intellectually fit for a particular job. And, they are increasingly used as the globalized economy puts a bigger and bigger premium on what skills individuals possess. PublicationMOOCs for Development: Trends, Challenges, and Opportunities(2015-01-01) Castillo, Nathan M; Lee, Jinsol; Wagner, Daniel A; Zahra, Fatima TThe recent rise of massive open online courses (MOOCs) has generated significant media attention for their potential to disrupt the traditional modes of education trough ease of access and free or low-cost content delivery. MOOCs offer the potential to enable access to high-quality education to students, even in the most underserved regions of the world. However, much of the excitement surrounding opportunities for MOOCs in non-OECD contexts remains unproven. Challenges with regard to infrastructure, sustainability, and evaluation have disrupted early attempts to expand inclusion for those least educated. Drawing on proceedings from a recent international conference on MOOCs for Development held at the University of Pennsylvania, this report synthesizes trends, challenges, and opportunities within the growing subfield. PublicationMobiles for Reading: A Landscape Research Review(2014-06-01) Wagner, Daniel AThis landscape review takes the broad domain of new information and communications technologies (ICTs) for education, and focuses on the fast-evolving sub-domain of mobiles for reading, or M4R. The 'mobiles' in this review primarily refer to mobile technologies— ICTs that are portable, typically battery powered, and may be connected to cellular networks and/or the Internet. The term 'reading' refers to the joint abilities of understanding and producing written language, for children, youth and adults. This review of M4R focuses primarily on the use of mobile ICTs designed to help children learn to read, practice reading (reading to learn), and acquire a broader range of learning skills that support a literate society. PublicationLe Developpement Precoce de la Memoire Specialisee(1987) Wagner, Daniel AThe study of specialized memory skills has a relative long history in experimental psychology, particularly with research on adults who practice their mnemonic skills within particular domains. The present study was designed to investigate the development of specialized mnemonic skills among young children. The study was undertaken in Morocco, which provided a context where 350 6-7 year old children were selected in such a way which allowed contrasts in terms of: preschool experience (none vs. Quranic vs. modern preschool); environment (urban vs. rural); maternal language (Arabic vs. Berber); and gender. Six differenct memory tests were employed including 4 different tests of serial memory, 1 discourse memory task, and 1 pictorial memory task. Results indicated specific and positive effects of Quranic preschooling on serial memory, but not on other memory tests which were affected by urban environment and maternal language. It was concluded that: (1) memory skills in young children are susceptible to change as a function of social context and, in particular, pedagogical experiences; and (2) the consequences of such early experience are specific rather than general, and are linked to particular types of social practices and domains of cognitive activity.