I have two questions to ask you:
- Are the barriers strictly political?
- Will you willing to make a difference?
- What hope do you see in the future?
Thank you for your focusing questions
1. There are many barriers
A. I already wrote about the political barriers
B. Economic Barriers: Schools and universities are 19th. century organizations. They are very unproductive, beurocratic and protectionistic. Thus, the market evaluate these organizations and their proffessors very low. When the Y generation will take the political power of the state, it will revolutionize the schools and the university and will turn them into WikiVersity http://en.wikiversity.org/wiki/Wikiversity:Main_Page and WikiSchool.
C. Psychological Barriers: http://www.downes.ca/ Dowen discovered that the English will become Chinese, Because the Internet is changing our Language and our cognition from homogeneuous semantics and complex syntax into Folksemantics and folksonomies of Web 2.0 and simple Syntax.
2,3 A New Hope
Generation Y is alreday revolutionaizing education. But our students and children are doing it beyond "the firwall of our old and irrelevant paradigms". We should not interrupt them.
The implications for "the beduins and Shderots and Gazas of the worlds are very positive: With a 150$ laptops or smartphones with Wimax and with Wikipedia and with OpenOffice or Google docs, the Developing Countries can leapfrog the north.
"Let the power be with us", Yoda to LookSkyWalker, Starwars
I'm sorry I haven't been able to contribute to this forum as I'd hoped but want to thank you for such a rich discussion. The reason for my absence is that I'm already overwhelmed by the topic of "the digital divide" as a student on my own course (to say nothing of it being the start of an academic year for my day job!) I sense that a lot of others are in similar positions and the energy and goodwill that's coming through these discussions is incredible. I firmly believe that these factors will break through the economic and structural barriers.
As someone else has said, I don't like the term digital divide. I think that it is itself divisive but also can be used to paper over some of the details, such as fear of the unknown, willingness to exploit vulnerable people etc. A catch all label such as "digital divide" perhaps constrains and conditions the way we are able to respond to individual situations. Shared resources and open discussions such as you have established here seem to be the way forward. It's great that you're continuing it on Facebook.
I've had some of the best "surprises" from silent learners who have contacted me at the end of an online course to say they'd really enjoyed the course even though I had assumed based on their lack of online presence that they'd unofficially "dropped out". Then I discovered, looking through the course access logs that this particular student had made the most aggressive use of the library of resources that I had created for the course. Also, these were adult learners, who tend to have their own ideas about how they learn best and can't be forced into any particular learning mode.
I have often fallen into the category of the silent / 'unparticipative' learner myself, so I understand that it's quite possible to learn in the invisible / silent mode, but I do agree with you that from the perspective of the facilitator / online instructor, it is a little frustrating not to know what is going on? Whatever is going on, don't assume that you're doing something wrong. The problem is that in online courses, there is a tendency to measure learning -- or at least monitor ongoing progress -- in terms of active participation in discussions. It reassures us to see a multitude of messages. It's easy to measure, yet it's an incomplete indicator of what is really going on in terms of learning. Sorry, I do a lot of evaluation work.
Bit late for an intro, but I'm a student of the edinburgh E-Learning course (hi Christine) living in Brazil - and tho busy with the time constraints it and other work puts on me, I've found the Scope seminars are interesting to be involved in in an albeit silent fashion. Perhaps there's a valid place for lurkers like me in online courses (I'm more 'vocal' in others, honest)? Tho I can see how this makes things awkward for organisers.
Re >> knowing the needs of participants in developing countries, are northern hemisphere educators sometimes guilty of presuming that e-learning models are of benefit to southern hemisphere countries?
We also often forget that a US/Western style of "open discussion" isn't always appropriate or comfortable in other cultures. The level of informality, what is or isn't appropriate to discuss, the extent to which people are or are not comfortable discussing their experience, or don't necessarily recognize their experience as something valuable to share... there are all kinds of issues to consider when dealing with a multicultural audience...
In addition, for many people in developing countries, a trip to a face-to-face training session in Europe, the US, Canada, or even in their own region has much more value than an online course - for reasons that have nothing to do with the quality of the learning experience. In essence, you have to look at the learner's broader context to understand the value of different types of training/learning opportunities.
You are far from rude. We have until the 22nd, remember? That's 3 or 4 more days depending on where you live. Thank you for clarifying your position as a silent learner. I am not sure I understood: Did you mean to say you were more vocal in face-to-face formats or in other online courses? To be honest, I find it more frustrating when students are silent in a face-to-face class. I find that I can keep on writing and adding information even if no one adds any input to the discussions, but vocal silence in any context is scary.
Like the FB group btw - will hopefully be a little more active once other commitments are out the way
I really wanted to address two things Nellie:
the notion of understanding needs - do we as educators tend to design courses based on our own cultural, social and technological norms, rather than from the point of view of the students?
and, the notion of prescribing development - is there a danger that *imposing* e-learning models, or indeed any educational model, can do more harm than good?
Hope that clarifies things :-)
I share your ideas that we are erroneously imposing e-learning educational models. I think the key issue is the fact that educators are imposing models without empirical proof that they are effective. It seems that very few research studies have been conducted on the outcomes of using e-learning models. Perhaps a careful study of the population and culture of the students would provide useful information to course developers. I wonder how much preparation actually goes into developing some of these e-learning courses.
What standards should course developers follow?
Don't mention course development standards - am currently doing a module in course development at the moment and it seems like a real quagmire as to which teaching approach (ie cognitivism, experiential, problem-based, systems-based, performativist, socially critical - the list goes on, you get the idea) is the most effective. I think this is a particularly relevant question when looking at a potentially global audience
- indeed, which standards *should* course developers follow?
Sorry! I agree. We should consider many variables when developing courses. Knowing the population is critical. I am searching for a specific population and geographic area to conduct research on student performance as a result of blended learning in the EFL classroom. I may consider the global audience at iEarn.
I am very much into Game-Based Learning (see my blog) and have been considering the possibilities of globally shared projects with a game-based theme. iEarn seems to be a good platform to test this.
What do others think about the possibilities of multi-national/cultural teaching projects?
I think it is worthwhile to discuss barriers as well as how to overcome this…..for this politics always plays a major role. But you need to find out way to overcome those barriers. For that you need success stories. In Africa they use instructional radio…if you understand the needs and wants and your level of resources easily you can overcome it. Again directly we can’t point out that all developing countries having same problems. They may be unique to each country. That’s why I suggested a need assessment as more important point. But once you are considering the awareness level for that we should have some mechanism.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
Interesting and thought provoking as it relates to the situation in highly developed countries, but most developing countries are not worrying about these issues at the moment. The needs of students in developing countries have little to do with the excesses and/or misuse of technology. We're talking about too much access / too many choices vs. very limited access. There's a big difference between not finding time to read because you're spending 2 hours a day on the phone vs. not being able to read because the supply of books in the library is very limited and you can't afford to surf the internet and waste time reading facebook profiles -- I'm probably showing my age with that comment about facebook.
I'm not sure what the point of the video was. I think it can be interpreted in many ways.... which is a good way to get discussions/reactions. I like the idea of introducing videos as learning materials in eLearning but if you have participants in developing countries, you need to be very careful about the bandwidth requirement. If they're using a cybercafe or a telecenter to access the internet, by viewing a high bandwidth video, they can totally wipe out the capacity of other customers to do anything at their computers, robbing them of Internet time they have paid for.
You express the concerns of many educators in developing and developed countries. However, from my observations of the population at FB, I noticed many from developing countries. A social network may actually be excellent motivators. BTW, I wonder how much bandwidth a YouTube google video requires. Does anyone know how user friendly Google and its applications are in developing countries?
the needs of students in developing countries have little to do with the excesses and/or misuse of technology.
And, inappropriate technology, when someone (from outside the community) has decided what's needed...
Barbara also mentioned the ethics of viewing video, at the expense of others' connections.
The other drawback of that is, of course, that the cybercafe may'nt have the required software installed.
Nellie also asked about the bandwidth of Google - I think that if you have saved the videos at quite a low frame rate & small resolution, they aren't too bad. However, more and more work is being done on MPEG4, which generally requires far less bandwidth than older technologies, but it's still much more than text.
One solution would be to have as many videos as possible on a DVD that could be sent to users, along with other educational materials - which would work for a course that people have to sign up/ pay for, but not freely available material.
Having transcripts of the videos would help those on dial up connections - as well as anyone who's deaf, but clearly it's not quite the same.
Nellie also mentioned "
"However, from my observations of the population at FB, I noticed many from developing countries. A social network may actually be excellent motivators"
Just as a matter of interest - what's the proportion of members from the majority world, to those from the Western world? I agree, that a social network can be a good motivator. I wonder if the more social based communities that often exist in the majority world, compared to, say, the UK (here, it's pretty common to not know your neighbours), might well mean that people find creating social online networks easy from a psychological point of view, even if they aren't too familiar with the technology required to do it.
E-learning is important for every one. We should talk about few success stories and some time we can use some of them as benchmarks in the developing courtiers. As I mentioned earlier within given resources it can done with good leadership. But it is necessary to build awareness level among people because still this is new concept to the countries like sri lanka(good market to invest!!!!!).According to the Mark Frazier, ICT<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
Cluster Strategist of the Sri Lanka Competitiveness Initiative "One feasible niche for Sri Lanka to tap is the e-learning market,Many U.S. universities and corporates as well as international organizations like the World Bank are embarking on huge projects fordistance learning and online instruction."