Posted by: MandyS | February 14, 2013

“I just ended up teaching on the Blackboard”

Block 1, Week 2b Activity 4

This has been quite a fascinating journey.

I started off by looking at poor countries and how they have progressed to online learning. I think the general concensous is that most countries, no matter how poor are genuinely trying to embrace online learning despite their various difficulties. The most notable for me is Afghanistan. Not only are they making huge inroads into ensuring girls have an education, they are taking advantage of the external interference in their country by tapping into the technology that has been introduced and left behind.

In my travels, I came across quite a hefty document about e-learning around the world and this gives some insight into the efforts being made. If anyone is interested it is here (but be warned it takes an age to download). It is a bit off point but I thought it gives a good overview.

So that takes me to my investigation into Oman. Why Oman? Well it is not exactly a poor country but what enthused me was an article about “the status of elearning at SQU” (Sultan Qaboos University). The claims are that ‘elearning has made leaps and bounds.’ In particular, ‘Oman has recognised information technology, and its educational institutions have embraced it on a large scale. Many students use email facilities and surf the Web on a daily basis’. It is the last sentence that I think is the most telling. If using the internet and surfing the web amount to large scale elearning…I had to find out more.  I then came across another couple of articles which highlight that this is indeed a country which has money and infrastructure but still adopts a ‘teacher-centric’ approach. Why? As with Bhutan, online learning is culturally constrained:

Student Centred Learning in Oman: Challenges and Pitfalls

Designing culturally appropriate e-learning for learners from an Arabic background

My own conclusion is that it matters not whether a country is poor or rich when it comes to the development of distributed learning techniques, there are always going to be constraints to successful implementation.

References:

Rennie, F. and Mason, R. (2007) ‘The development of distributed learning techniques in Bhutan and Nepal’, IRRODL, vol.8, no.1; also available online at http://www.irrodl.org/ index.php/ irrodl/ article/ view/ 339 (accessed 10 February 2013).

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