This paper addresses a significant concern in relation to educational technology to support developing countries: the impact of the developed world's notion of development upon its notion of learning. It argues that the very factors that lead us to regard a country as developed conspire to marginalize certain characteristic features of authentic learning, and naturally promote a more limited and circumscribed concept of learning ("closed learning"). Information and communications technology - when cast in its traditional role - is itself viewed as a major indicator of development, and at the same time contributes to the promotion of closed learning. To privilege closed learning is to attribute a significance to 'understanding backwards' that is deprecated by William James in his philosophic attitude of Radical Empiricism. Empirical Modelling is briefly reviewed as an alternative conception of technology for developing worlds that also enables 'understanding forwards'.