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The Kothmale Community Radio and Interorg project in Sri Lanka has been hailed as an example of how a community radio initiative should function in a developing nation. However, there is some question about whether the Kothmale Community Interorg Project is a true community radio initiative that empowers local communities to access ICT services and to participate freely and equally or another “feel-good” project controlled by successive, repressive Sri-Lankan governments and international partners, as alleged by its critics? After two decades of operation, the evidence shows that the Kothmale project is a cautionary tale about what can go wrong when an ICT project is not strongly promoted as a community-based enterprise. The biggest lesson that the Kothmale model can teach us is that control of community radio must be in the hands of the community exclusively if it is to succeed.
This article describes and analyzes efforts to use collaborative asynchronous discussion forums in a three semester online education program for NGO leaders and managers in Slovakia. Slovakia, as a country with autocratic styles of teacher-centered education, presents strong barriers to the implementation of collaborative learning activities. The authors used Garrison’s four stage cognitive processing categories to analyze some of the online discussions in the program. The two higher order critical thinking categories – integration and solution – appeared in student discussions only when prompted by specific instructional techniques.
This paper traces the evolution of The University of the West Indies’ Open Campus (UWIOC), which is expected to expand service and increase access to the underserved communities of the Eastern Caribbean. At present, UWI, which caters to the needs of the 16 far flung countries of the Commonwealth Caribbean, has not been able to fully serve these countries, the UWI-12, in a way that is commensurate with their developmental needs. Historically, the institution has been dominated by campus-based education, and its three campuses have been poles of attraction for scholars and scholarship to the significant advantage of the countries in which they are located: Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, and Barbados. The University’s creation of an open campus, a fourth campus, enables it to expand its scope, enhance its appeal, and improve the efficiency of its services to individuals, communities, and countries. This new campus, a merger of UWI’s Outreach sector, which comprises the School of Continuing Studies, the Tertiary Level Institute Unit, and The UWI Distance Education Centre, will have a physical presence in each contributing country and will function as a network of real and virtual modes to deliver education and training to anyone with access to Internet facilities.
The literature related to online learning programs for K-12 students dates to the mid-1990s and builds upon a century of research and practice from K-12 distance education. While K-12 online learning programs have evolved and grown over the past decade, the amount of published research on virtual schooling practice and policy is limited. The current literature includes practitioner reports and experimental and quasi-experimental studies, both published and unpublished. This paper reviews open access literature in K-12 online learning and reports on a structured content analysis of the documents. Themes in the literature include steady growth and a focus on the benefits, challenges, and broad effectiveness of K-12 online learning. In addition, newly developed standards for K-12 online learning are emerging in descriptions of effective practices.
There is an increasing impression among online geography educators that interaction can be developed based on specific teaching and learning methods. The authors developed a practical research study to investigate this issue. The study was based on advanced graduate courses in geography at Beijing Normal University and Texas State University. International interaction was complemented by online collaboration among the US local group. Both synchronous and asynchronous communication systems were used, which spanned two platforms. Results of this experience indicate that teaching and learning methods must be enhanced by a flexible online learning model and extensive organizational support in order to increase interaction and reach a certain level of cooperation.
This mixed methods study explored the dynamics of interaction within a self-paced online learning environment. It used rich media and a mix of traditional and emerging asynchronous computer-mediated communication tools to determine what forms of interaction learners in a self-paced online course value most and what impact they perceive interaction to have on their overall learning experience. This study demonstrated that depending on the specific circumstance, not all forms of interaction may be either equally valued by learners or effective. Participants differentiated among the various learning interactions available and indicated that informal interactions were as important as formal interactions in determining the quality of the online learning experience. Participants also reported the activity of blogging as being equally valued and in some ways superior to instructor-directed asynchronous discussion via the discussion board in a learning management system.
This article explores a number of challenges faced by e-learning or distance educators in developing and emerging countries, provides a context for many of the challenges, and outlines some measures devised to overcome them. These educators must determine a sound rationale for employing online learning, recognize that technology is only part of the educational transformation process, address the lack of infrastructure and the cost of internet bandwidth and equipment, counter the cultural imperialism of courseware from Western nations, deal with limited educational resources, place a greater emphasis on quality assurance systems and change negative perceptions of distance education, respond to the needs and concerns of both students and faculty, access or develop up-to-date educational resources, and consider the implementation of mobile learning. The continued growth and success of distance education in developing and emerging nations will depend on the extent to which issues covered in this article are addressed as they bear on the quality of the learning experience provided to students.
The Distance Education Project for Rural Schools (DEPRS) was implemented by the Chinese government between 2003 and 2007 to improve the quality of basic education in rural areas of China, especially in the poorer western provinces. It has been referred to as “the largest ICT project in the world up to now” because “it serves a larger population than any other similar projects and therefore will likely start a far-reaching information revolution in China.” This paper offers a descriptive analysis of the effectiveness and impact of DEPRS, explaining how and why it was implemented as a solution to close the wide gaps in access to high quality basic education. Focusing on the initial achievements of DEPRS, this paper explores if, how, and to what extent the three learning tools employed in DEPRS have improved basic education in remote rural areas.