The Global Development Learning
Network: A World Bank Initiative in
Distance Learning for Development1
The World Bank Institute
This is the story of an evolution in thinking on the impact that knowledge sharing, distance learning, and communications technologies can have on the development agenda. It is a story of learning by doing, of how, by leveraging systems that already existed for one purpose and using them for another as a value added, a whole new way of doing business could be discovered.
In a videoconference in June 1998 Jim Wolfensohn, President of the World Bank, made the following remarks:
As we look at the challenges of poverty, it is very clear that money alone is not what is needed. We need colleagues who can learn and share experience with each other. Distance learning, obviously is the tool that will enable this and benefit us all.
This statement matched with the wide recognition that the emerging communications technologies were causing a revolution in the world economy, where knowledge was the new currency, where developed nations were moving from being industrial economies to becoming knowledge economies. The concepts of an Information Highway, an information society, a knowledge society were evolving from this revolution. Among development practitioners the role that knowledge and knowledge sharing had in development took on greater importance, to the point that it was seen as the key to development, maybe even more important than finance, grants, or lending.
The World Bank Institute (WBI) was founded over 40 years ago as the Economic Development Institute (EDI), with the mandate to offer a number of knowledge services, including____________________