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Paul D. Coverdell World Wise Schools

Paul D. Coverdell World Wise Schools

Using Communication Technology to Address Global Problems

Africa, Namibia
Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12
Environment, Health, Language Arts & Literature, Science, Social Studies & Geography

In this lesson, students will consider the role that information and communication technology play in helping to address global problems. Students will begin by considering sources of information in their own lives. Next, they will listen to the podcast Texting Across the Desert. In the podcast, Peace Corps Volunteer Rashid Khan describes how he set up a text messaging hotline in Namibia to communicate critical information about HIV/AIDS. After reflecting on the initiative, students will consider other health, social, or environmental problems that could be alleviated through improved access to information. Students will then generate ideas for using technology to increase public knowledge around a problem of their choice.


  • Students will describe the benefits of having access to information
  • Students will analyze an example of a successful initiative to improve access to health information
  • Students will identify other global problems that could be alleviated by improving public knowledge
  • Students will generate ideas for using technology to communicate information about an issue of personal or global concern 


1. In small groups, have students brainstorm the ten most important sources of information in their everyday lives. Discuss:

  • How do you think your access to information would be different if your geographic location were different? If your economic situation were different? (e.g., if you didn't have regular access to Internet, TV, electricity, etc.)

2. Introduce Rashid Khan as a Peace Corps Volunteer who served in Namibia in the field of Information and Communication Technology. Find Namibia on a map or globe, and view Rashid's photo gallery (linked to above) to see the community where he was living.

3. Have students listen to Rashid's podcast, "Texting Across the Desert" (linked to above). After listening to the podcast, have students discuss the elements that made Rashid's project successful. Some possible responses include: it used locally-available technology in a new way; it enabled anonymity around a sensitive topic; it allowed people to share knowledge; it was adopted and continued by a community-based organization.

4. Rashid says that in Namibia, "Lack of knowledge is commonly cited as the leading factor in the spread of sexually transmitted diseases." Ask students to consider other health, social, or environmental problems in which knowing more about the problem could help people prevent, address, or solve the problem? Create a list of the problems students identify.

5. Individually, in pairs, or in small groups, have students select one of the problems they identified. Next, have students identify a particular community (could be their own) dealing with the problem. What types of information and communication technology are (and are not) available there?

6. Using Rashid's project as an example, students will come up with an idea for using an available technology to spread information regarding the problem. In describing their idea, students should:

  • Clearly identify the problem their project targets
  • Propose a way to use locally-available technology to increase knowledge about the problem
  • Articulate five key messages they would share, or actions they would recommend, to help prevent, address, or solve the problem. 

Frameworks & Standards

Enduring Understandings

  • Access to information has important implications for public health
  • Using technology in new ways can help address key global problems
  • For a given problem or a given context, certain technologies may be more effective than others for sharing information
Essential Questions
  • How does where we live influence our access to information?
  • How does access to information influence our ability to solve problems?
  • How can improved communication help address critical global problems?

Common Core State Standards for English, Language Arts, Science and Technical Subjects

  • Key Ideas and Details
  • Determine the central ideas or conclusions of a text; provide an accurate summary of the text distinct from prior knowledge or opinions

National Curriculum Standards for Social Studies

  • Thematic Strand VIII: Science and Technology in Society

National Science Education Standards

  • Content Standard F: Science in Personal and Social Perspectives
    • Science and technology in local, national, and global challenges
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