Enabling the Role of ICTs in Distance Learning Education Programs

Enabling the role of ICT’s in Distance Learning Education Programs

Using the Model: Blended Vs Standalone

As I said previously, there are large numbers of opportunities in interactive learning which is making internet technologies essential to the success of educational programs. Many experts still believe that information technology creates a series of inactivity among students, as they believe that best results can only be obtained in a face to face student teacher interaction. There are various ways to implement a hybrid model. But implementing a hybrid model will require unanimous assistance from universities and course providers. Universities can combine courses along with programs offered online and these courses can be taught on a physical campus. Higher education school students can watch the lectures uploaded by subject experts and then they can complete their assignments in a physical classroom. Universities can upload online resources to train local teachers practical training can be done on a physical campus.

There are various ways to implement a hybrid model. But implementing a hybrid model will require unanimous assistance from universities and course providers. Universities can combine courses along with programs offered online and these courses can be taught on a physical campus. Higher education school students can watch the lectures uploaded by subject experts and then they can complete their assignments in a physical classroom. Universities can upload online resources to train local teachers practical training can be done on a physical campus.

The major disadvantage of the hybrid model is the cost. It requires additional personals along with supplement teachers and subject matter experts to train students from senior secondary to the ones new in the education timeline followed by the use of infrastructure. Integrating ICTs into top notch institutions also increases the cost, although improving the quality of education but decreasing its outreach which is the primary objective. Experts in support of MOOCs suggest that such courses require technological means, allow automatic feedback and virtual interaction among students which helps them to understand the course followed by student interaction with the course administrator. Depending upon the financial stability of the student administrators can waive certain amount of fee for the education which will promote and encourage students to study more as well as the administrators can provide free education courses to the ones brighter. However it is still to understand how the MOOCs will survive the one on one interaction, without the requirement of additional tutoring support.

Experts in support of MOOCs suggest that such courses require technological means, allow automatic feedback and virtual interaction among students which helps them to understand the course followed by student interaction with the course administrator. Depending upon the financial stability of the student administrators can waive certain amount of fee for the education which will promote and encourage students to study more as well as the administrators can provide free education courses to the ones brighter. However it is still to understand how the MOOCs will survive the one on one interaction, without the requirement of additional tutoring support.

The two models are distinct to their methods. The use of online resources available to traditional teachings and supplement support will vary from context. The UNCSTD should also keep in mind the vast availability of courses followed by increasing educational opportunities for students hence ensuring them a long term educational support is a must.

Availability of Infrastructure

Limited internet connectivity and access to Internet-enabled devices is a major obstacle to the educational potential of ICTs in the developing world. As of 2011, internet access was available to only 13.5% of the population in Africa, 35.6% in the Middle East, 26.2% in Asia, and 39.5% in Latin America. Moreover, within countries access is typically most extensive in cities and coastal areas, whereas access to education is often sparsest in rural areas.

The potential of ICTs in education provides further evidence for the development importance of broader efforts to expand Internet connectivity, but in the meantime governments and NGOs are exploring how various technological adaptations can make online resources more accessible to remote and impoverished populations. Small changes like making online lectures available for download rather than streaming can expand access to those who do not have at-home internet connectivity, as can expanding access to internet cafes and computer centres. Hardware manufacturers and NGOs have worked to devise low cost laptops and tablets and solar-powered charging equipment for remote areas. Mobile phone ownership and connectivity is often far more widespread in parts of the developing world than access to broad band or computers (for instance, over 50% of Africans have mobile phones), and thus some have suggested that basic curricula be adapted to mobile technology, although the lack of interactivity and slow data speeds probably limit the effectiveness of such an approach in most cases. In the medium term, there is also some optimism about the potential of next-generation wireless Internet technologies that could cover large areas with a single transmitter.

Hardware manufacturers and NGOs have worked to devise low cost laptops and tablets and solar-powered charging equipment for remote areas. Mobile phone ownership and connectivity is often far more widespread in parts of the developing world than access to broad band or computers (for instance, over 50% of Africans have mobile phones), and thus some have suggested that basic curricula be adapted to mobile technology, although the lack of interactivity and slow data speeds probably limit the effectiveness of such an approach in most cases. In the medium term, there is also some optimism about the potential of next-generation wireless Internet technologies that could cover large areas with a single transmitter.

Educational Inequality

It is fair to say that the primary attraction of ICTs in education in the developing world lies in their perceived potential to reduce the enormous disparities in educational opportunity, both between more and less privileged citizens of developing nations and between such citizens and their counterparts in developed nations. Some observers, however, fear that, without broad-based investment and carful policy-making, ICT-based educational initiatives could actually further exacerbate educational inequality. These fears are motivated by two major concerns. The first is that, while ICT-based educational programs may offer substantial benefits to those who can access them, such access will largely be confined to already privileged students in particular developing nations. Students from urban areas with better Internet connectivity, students whose families or schools can afford investments Internet-enabled devices, students with the language skills necessary to take advantage of foreign courses- such group will accrue additional benefits, while their isolated and impoverished peers will fall further behind.

The first is that, while ICT-based educational programs may offer substantial benefits to those who can access them, such access will largely be confined to already privileged students in particular developing nations. Students from urban areas with better Internet connectivity, students whose families or schools can afford investments Internet-enabled devices, students with the language skills necessary to take advantage of foreign courses- such group will accrue additional benefits, while their isolated and impoverished peers will fall further behind.

The second concern is perhaps of greater relevance to middle- and higher-income nations than to their poorest counterparts, but nevertheless merits attention. Some critics contend that educational schemes that include a significant online component, while preferable to an alternative of n organized educational opportunities, are a poor substitute for the traditional classroom-based learning that will continue to be enjoyed by the elite. Such critics not the value of spontaneous, direct interaction between small groups of students and skilled instructors, as well as the ancillary benefits of the social interactions that traditional schooling, especially at the university level, facilitates. They fear that, due to the economic factors discussed above, online education will shrink the ranks of traditional institutions and thus confine the benefits of the traditional model to an even smaller, and consequently even more privileged, minority.

Increasing Educational Globalization

One of the advantages of ICTs in education is often thought to be their capacity to eliminate geographical barriers to educational access. However, the most recent major trend in ICT-enabled education- the rise of MOOCs- has exemplified this capacity in what for some is a distressingly familiar form. So far, the major producers of MOOCs have been consortia of elite American universities, and the conversation surrounding the potential of online education in developing nations often centres on the use of curricula and resources imported from the West. Some observers fear that this homogeneous sourcing could both discourage cultural diversity and limit the effectiveness of online education efforts. Curricula conceived for Western students may not be well adapted to the prior backgrounds, language skills, learning styles and pedagogical needs of students elsewhere in the world. Some ICT advocates respond by pointing out that the technology behind the new wave of online courses in the West, some of which is open source, can also be used by universities in the developing world to construct their own interactive online courses.

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About the Author
Author: Anant Mishra
Anant Mishra is a former youth representative United Nations.Almost 4 years of experience, he has served in number of committees including United Nations Conference for Trade and Development and Economic and Social Council primarily focusing on international trade, finance, economics. food crisis and disputes. Currently he is serving as a Mentor & a Member for the organising committee of Global Entrepreneurship Summit 2014. He is also the state convener, chhattisgarh for a nation wide think tank, Centre for Education Growth and Research, New Delhi. Beside this he is an editor, foreign affairs for political mirror, columnist for business digest and iReporter for the CNN. He is also an author for the Indian Economic Review, an yearly journal for Delhi School of Economics.

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