The Development Equation/Brainstorming Key Concepts

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Learning and Knowledge in the 21st Century : The Development Equation
Hand DE3.jpg

Conceptual Leaders

Fritz Malchup - Knowledge Industries

Open Access
Peter Suber
John Willinsky
Michael Geist

Key Concept Outline


Proposed definitions

As existing concepts, these are definitions in the context of our approach to the development equation. Networked parternship is a concept developed by Moustapha Diack, the term and slight variations have been proposed elsewhere. See also Google Scholar search
- knowledge user and generator, insitution of higher education, research, training, academic community of faculty, students and adminstrators, partner to communities locally, often partner with governments, to other academic communities, and part of global network.
- information and communication technologies for development - in this context as driven by universities (in applying information/knowledge gained through digital access for development, and in providing the platform for networks/partnerships)
- access to knowledge, in this context gaining access to most relevant and useful content on internet - research articles, educational resources/curricular materials/textbooks, distance education - focusing on open models without price barriers and relates to copyright and alternative licensing of intellectual property, also in relation to intellectual property in regards to patents and alternatives (such as open source), ie. gaining access to knowledge for technological development and through use of technologies - again focusing on open models with fewer to no price barriers. Relates to static efficiency and dynamic efficiency in the knowledge economy balance. Universities have a particular interest in knowledge as a public good and in eliminating barriers to sharing of basic research, and finding balances in regards to dynamic efficiency in research and development for commercialization.
- term coined by World Bank referring to knowledge for economic and social development, its use here is not confined to World Bank assumptions. The application of knowledge to problems of development, policy, critique of development agenda, measurement and theory of development, development as change brought about by learning and knowledge.
Research - pluralism of methodological routes to knowledge production - concerned with discovery, understanding, epistemology, relevance to human societies, planet and universe, representation of reality and meaning (ontology/interpretation). Education - formal transfer of knowledge from generation to generation, and in lifelong learning.
Networks and Parternships and NP - networked parterships (Diack)
Networks - referring to human networks, at the very basic level a network can exist with simply 'knowledge of' another person who has 'knowledge of' yet another person - the network exists by recognition of this mutual recognition of individuals (groups as well can form networks). It's basic potential is realized when people who do not know of each other can be connected in some way to a purpose through points in the network they share (an individual they both know of, or through a communication platform, or both). Without communication, a network is basically static. A research network can form around a discipline, or around a particular issue or problem toward the increasing trend of interdisciplinary research networks. Research networks have always been international, at periods in history more or less so, and in this period the communications revolution has vastly expanded the importance of international research networks with the potential of global research networks. The digital divide puts those with digital capability much farther ahead and isolates those who do not have it. Crossing the digital divide can end the isolation of local research communities. It is widely accepted that scientific and social research requires networks and is based on sharing of research results, inclusion is a good and isolation is a bad.
Partnerships - informal partnerships are endeavours undertaken with an agreed upon purpose between partners. Formal partnerships are the same but with formal agreements and terms of reference. Agreement on actions towards a specific and often time-limited purpose is what distinguishes a partnership from a network which remains open-ended. Networks provide the possibility for partnerships. Partnership in development is sometimes restricted to refer to agreements involving financial contributions.
NP - Networked Partnership (Diack)
- a partnership that utilizes digital and human networks as the basis for communication, and combines both the open-ended possibilities of networks and the ability to achieve specific outcomes in partnership. Here the networks if nurtured and managed well, provide for sustainability of collective work. By the time certain goals are achieved, networks allow spin-offs of project activities to be undertaken which will have progressed. Networked partnership is a new opportunity, but could provide tremendous possibilities to allow specific outcomes of related work to more easily contribute to general impacts in the long-term, given the interrelatedness of development problems. Complex problems cannot be solved by one-dimensional solutions, for instance, reducing the cost of ARVs has a much reduced impact on outcomes for people with HIV/AIDS if infrastructure for clinical facilities, training, education and nutrition are absent.


Main Equation


Equations from model

NPU - University moving towards networked partnership model.
ict4d (small caps) - a variable derived from the concept referring to institution's digital capability, can range from no digital access, poor/minimal, to optimal (broadband, optimized, best practices, and useful to stakeholders).
a2k (small caps) - a variable derived from the concept referring to level of access of knowledge resources as a function of use of OA and OER, partnerships, funding and access to other technologies.
k4d (small caps) - impact on change as a result of exploitation of knowledge resources, related to development indicators, but can be related to inclusion in the discourse of development where development indicators and priorities are set.
R - Research
D- Development
E- Education
N - networks
P - partnerships

In each equation, digital access and access to research, along with partnerships allow the university to leapfrog in capacity for development contribution locally, nationally and globally, leveraging these resources and partner assistance to overcome initial asymettry in North/South partnerships, developing South/South networks and partnerships, toward leadership and net global contribution to knowledge and development from the South, joining global networks and enabling equitable North/South/South partnerships. Reflecting the competitive/cooperative dynamics in the globalization of universities, the emergence of hubs and centres of excellence in the South is a likely outcome. The model encourages the enterprise of individuals, individual universities by leveraging a cooperative and barrier-free platform of sharing of basic research and a balanced approach to intellectual property in technology innovation/invention.

A. NPU(ict4d+a2k)(R+D)= k4d(A)
k4d(A) - research and development for public goods (eg. health system), commercialization (eg. basic research leads to innovation to production for economic development), evidence-based development policy and implementation (eg. research leads to changing social welfare policy).

B. NPU(ict4d+a2k)(R+E)=k4d(B)
k4d(B) - research and education under this model allows for the development of locally relevant curriculum and educational resources. In addition, the education of each nation's people about the rest of the world will be enhanced through communication where local scholarship is recongized. The model predicts opportunities for faculty development and continuing education of a nation's knowledge workers.

C. NPU(ict4d+a2k)(E+N+P)=k4d(C)
k4d(C)- education development at a univesrity through networks and partnerships. We see enhanced quality of student and faculty exchanges where digital communications keeps academic communities more closely connected. On a larger scale, institutional capacity building in the area of education development is vastly enhanced where the recipient partner gains access to the knowledge resources than can allow them to take leadership and control over development as an outcome of the partnership.

D. NPU(ict4d+a2k)(R+N+P)=k4d(D)
k4d(D) - ending isolation to international research networks through collaborative work and mentoring with partners, digital access, access to literature. Partnerships for institutional capacity-building alongside collaborative research projects, transfer/development of research capacity (rather than just knowledge).

Next addition will be a visual concept map elaborating the wider context of Learning and Knowledge and issues as elaborated below.

Learning and Knowledge in the 21st century: the Development Equation
needs cleaning up for formatting.


Organic -----Institutional

Learning ----- Education

Knowledge ----- Research


  • organization, governance, mission and situation/position/role in society
  • its physical campus and community of people
  • public or private

Knowledge and institutions

  • knowledge-using institutions - hospital, school, training, business, government
  • knowledge-generating institutions - university/research

Our focus is on knowledge-generating institutions, which are knowledge-using also by default. Tertiary/quaternary education/research institutions as the nexus of national development of knowledge and link to global knowledge

21st century Contemporary context - globalization, interdependence, communication

Local to Global knowledge - organic to institutional level - integration/synthesis/compatibilities/challenges/conflicts/asymmetry


  • technologies and human development
  • relationship to L&K
  • political economy of communication
  • relational aspects of knowledge
  • power
  • shapes learning and knowledge
  • is dynamic akin to physical energy

energy - communication

change - learning

output- knowledge

effect - development

Development as

  • problem-solving, problems of development
  • self-determination, rights-based
  • freedom

KT - knowledge translation

Open Solutions

  • focuses on opportunities for communication capabilities for knowledge instutions through eliminating price barriers to
    • software, networks, operating system for computers (FLOSS/open source)
    • content - open access literature, open courseware, other free academic content accessible through the internet

Literature central to research, curricular materials and literature to education development

Access a2k/OA

  • access relates to self-determination, access is not imposed/received as with assistance, but removes barriers to privileges sought out independently
  • access to literature enables ability to determine Research agenda
  • access to literature and curricular materials enhances ability to shape Education agenda
  • problem of starting point, prior lack of access and dominance in research output by handful of countries
  • need for knowledge generation and research output, research capacity
  • partnerships that reduce asymmetry on the basis of access as a core component, transfer of research capacity, rather than transfer of knowledge
  • level of access is affected by policy changes - OA, subsidized programs etc.
  • OA requires network access

Network Access - ICT4D

  • a question of physical infrastructure at institutional level, relates to telecommunications infrastructure at national level
  • not free like Open Solutions, but technology costs falling, can be optimized with better performance and sustainability
  • Open Solutions increase returns on investment in ICT4D by increasing value of content freely accessible on the internet and lowering/eliminating software costs, value of content is in increased quality directly related to activity of the institution - academic content, peer-reviewed, data etc.
  • dynamic of investment returns in context of Open Solutions can be described quantitatively and qualitatively, but must be interpreted in terms of actual effects on development.

ICT4D and Open Solutions necessary, not sufficient for knowledge for development (K4D)

  • requires learning and negotiating change
  • requires attention to starting points of imbalance in global academic content
  • requires networks and partnerships for participation in international research development, to avoid duplication of past research efforts, to gain research and administrative expertise required to lead research agenda
  • requires buy-in of southern researchers and institutions toward communication-based changes to research development
  • requires library development
  • requires KT to development problems

Opposing Viewpoints

  • idea that digital culture is a negative for development
  • scarce resources and priorities - academics too far removed from pressing problems, spending in tertiary/quaternary education and research institutions favours elites, priorities to help in urgent circumstances, projects, saving lives, economic concerns etc., rather than to develop the root of capacity to prevent and help on one's own.
  • idea that research culture is western, and is opposed to indigenous or local traditions - resistance to technology and content
  • open access charges author fees, presents a barrier to research dissemination for southern researchers.

K4D impacts theorized

  • application of knowledge to development problems, movement on MDGs
  • locally-driven development means more resources retained locally
  • parallel development - the development of knowledge and human capital in the course of application to problems
  • developing the university sector as contributor to national economy and society
  • development of civil society, political dissent, policy development, evidence-based development
  • local knowledge workers more effective in working with local populations
  • stronger partners in development
  • self-determination in development
  • participation in global development discourse from developing country contributors, wherein the most significant human development problems are faced by developing countries
  • developing opportunity for mobility within a country, reversing the brain drain, retention of intellectual capital
  • contribution to global knowledge, expanding the depth and breadth of knowledge of the world
  • capability theory, upstream development, knowledge as power
  • learning and knowledge as freeing, development as freedom
  • catalyst for a learning society, in a global knowledge society
  • training of educators, locally relevant and culturally relevant curriculum, strenghtening of primary and secondary education
  • training and access to knowledge for knowledge workers, strengthening of other sectors (health, business, public, legal, civil society etc.)