View Thread > Development and the Internet > Learning - Question 1 > Online courses exclude the majority of africans
Looking at your own community, how do people perceive education – how does it relate to personal and professional development of the individual and the society? What sorts of individual and social investments does it merit? Is any technology currently used to serve educational aims? Is it generally viewed as a unique opportunity? What is the perceived role and importance of technology and education?
The teaching community have now become alert to the use of ICT for education. The incorporation of its tools is not as expansive as it might be but a start nonetheless.
It is difficult to characterise the public's perception of education. There is general consensus about its value. ICT has made education more accessible - the proliferation of online courses outside the "formal" institutional routes has led to the expansion of a new "learning population". In terms of investment, the obvious ones would be time and money. There is an important role for greater public sector involvement in articulating a coherent philosophy and targetting the masses/sectors in need.
The absence of any data prevents me from dealing with the last two questions.
I think being oppotunistic as far as ICTs for education is concerned is not realistic in many cases. I will focus my intervention today on the challenges facing this aspect of ICTs for development.
In fact, online courses need more investment and more method than traditional courses. In most the cases, it need access to Internet or to other ICTs, and so, exclude the majority of the african population. It also needs a particular method, software and hardware, which are not known by profesors or facilitators. So, the traditional approach of education is quite usefull and efficient nowodays in Africa, because of all the reasons listed above.
In most the cases, online courses bring together people from different linguistical, cultural and religious backgrounds. Managing all these differences is not as easy, although we may suppose that the divirsity is a matter of improvement of the course. But these differences can hinder the course, cause a divide between the needs of the participants.
So, I think it is important to address the challenges of education, and when it is not neccesary, it is better to continue with the traditional methods of education.
To realy improve the effectivity of ICTs for education in Africa, there should be awareness for ICTs first, and the teacher may be used to the technology, which is not yet the case. The course must also be learner centered, instead of technology centered.
This lead us to apprehend the issue of universal access, because the uimprovement of access is a critical condition for the effectiveness of education through ICTS. Today, virtual classrooms do not make sense in developing countries.
It is a sad truth that virtual classrooms are simply not possible in many developing countries today. What about tomorrow?
Most proponents of using ICTs for development look to a future in which strategic use of technology allows developing countries to deal with educational and developmental hurdles in a relatively short time, one generation. The vision is one in which developed countries are able to use ICTs to ‘leapfrog’ or skip stages of development which developed countries have gone through, for instance the deployment of wireless technology for local area telecommunications in a greenfield area avoiding the expense of laying twisted copper lines first, and then tearing those up and replacing them with cable or fiber optic.
How can ICTs be used in education to achieve a similar effect?
There are a number of different options:
The use of ICTs is integrated into traditional educational systems where it is used an enhancement in the teaching of other subjects.
2) Additional Channel
ICT is used as alternative means to deliver content’ already available through traditional methods, to learner making use of traditional channels.
3) ICT as Content;
Computer and Internet research skills are taught as a separate subject in a traditional education system.
4) Stand Alone
ICT is used to deliver content to learners without strong or formal connections to traditional educational systems in the learners’ environment.
5) Adaptive. Like stand alone this model does not necessarily rely on formal connections to traditional educational systems in the learners’ environment, although it does allow for collaboration with such institutions. However it does adapt to the circumstances of the end user for instance making content available for no frames browsers or slow connections. This model seeks to escape the ‘delivery of content paradigm’ and to use a variety of other methodologies to enable learning. For instance encountering different cultures and backgrounds in an on-line environment would be a learning experience valuable in itself.
Which model will be most appropriate obviously depends on the circumstances. Depending on the model used it is possible to use ICTs even before traditional educational systems have adapted.