Democracy Through Technology

My interest in information communication technology (ICT) has always been to explore the potential for a more democratic opportunity for learning by those living on the margins. This, combined with a curiosity about how a local environment, can be integrated into and affected through learning, is what brought me to Manila in the Philippines.

I am eager to determine how ICT can benefit some of the world’s poorest learners, such as those in the informal settlements in this beautiful but socially under-resourced city. The journey thus far has taken me to communities which lie under bridges, along creeks, and through passageways to teaming barangays (barrios), where playful children, recyclables, and urban odors intermingle with the living and the dead.

As founder of the Constructing Learning Through Technology, I collaborate with SPECS Street Kids Care in Manila, a nonprofit organization funded by German Christians that has for approximately 25 years been serving the urban poor and street kids who work sorting the recyclable materials from the refuse. The only sanctuary these people know is the collection of re-fashioned tombs in the neighboring municipal cemetery, so SPECS established a drop-in center, that I am now trying to equip with technological learning apparatuses, such as computers and Internet access.

I started as a stranger in a strange land, just a man with a hope and prayer, and eight aging laptops. However, recent chance meetings and fortuitous timing have promised donations to fund the proper technological outfitting of the drop-in center and then some.

In response to this rapid growth I have had to augment my role as a practitioner to that of coordinator, trainer, and fundraiser. While there is much work to be done, the initial installation of network tools is a starting place for the local adults and children to connect with all that the World Wide Web has to offer.

To learn more about Constructing Learning Through Technology and SPECS Street Kids Care in Manila, visit www.outofschoollearning.org or “like” the organizations’ pages on Facebook.


Jon Mannion is a student in the doctor of education in learning technologies program and founder of Constructing Learning Through Technology.

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