Online education can be a great solution for many people. You can study online if you have a job and don’t want to lose it or if you want to change your career path and don’t have enough money. It is a great tool for studying on a low budget.
At the same time can online education solve the demands of the developing world?
Is it going to be useful for people who are in need of good education in the poor countries?
Digital divide is linked to the access to the Internet, communication and potential benefits for the community that it can bring. Recent technological advancements highlighted the differences between the haves and have-nots. The disparity in access to information is still large and it drives a rift between wealthy and poor countries. Online education can be a solution for people with limited finances in the developed world, yet it is not going to be useful in countries where people cannot afford to buy a laptop.
Everyone can have access to online education as long as they have a stable Internet connection and a computer.
Stable Internet connection is another issue. Some people in developed countries also experience difficulties in Internet access. According to Pew Research Center
One in five American adults does not use the Internet. […] adults with less than a high school education, and those living in households earning less than $30,000 per year are the least likely adults to have Internet access.
The problem is that people with low levels of education are not aware of online education, whereas they should be the target audience for such online courses.
The situation with broadband access in the poorer countries leaves much to be desired. Due to the limited supply and high prices of the broadband access more than 40% of Sub-Saharan Africa is falling behind the rest of the world. At the same time we should not forget that “broadband should not just be viewed as a consequence of economic growth, but as a driver.” New technologies, new ways of education and innovations stimulate the growth of economy.
Closing the Digital Divide
Different NGOs and international corporations tried to come up with a solution for this problem. A project to create a $100 laptop was brought to life and some countries already use these laptops in schools. The first schools were in Nigeria where they started testing the $100 laptops.
Intel’s chairman Craig Barrett points out that it is not enough to just bring technology to the classrooms, it is also important to educate the teachers.
He also believes that
if you train teachers effectively in how to use the technology and how to use it in the classroom to make it more interesting more exciting, to teach young people how to solve problems.
There are ways to improve the situation with digital divide so that more and more countries would have access to online education and many could even go as far as earning doctorate degrees which are currently the highest level of education in U.S. Imagine what this caliber of education could do for people in developing countries?
Education is a key to success, and the developing world might really benefit from online courses. All we have to do is to help them to gain access to better technology and Internet and make the world their oyster as it is already for so many of us.
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