Online Education in the Developing World
By admin March 31, 2015


There have been rapid and dramatic developments in technology and education, one of them is known as Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). MOOCs are online courses aimed at unlimited participation and open access via the web that may change the way the world teaches and learns. Companies and charities such as CourseTalk, edX, Coursera, and Camara are providing learning in a new and innovate way. The CEO of edX believes that the evolution of MOOCs will not only have a large effect on how we teach in the future, but whom we teach. MOOCs can provide education on a mass scale, providing low-cost learning opportunities to developing countries where mobile phones are the primary form of communication. Countries such as India, Singapore, South Africa, Colombia, and Tanzania have made agreements involving MOOCs to enhance their economies.

In September 2014, Singapore’s Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) commenced the first class of its Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) in data sciences, as part of the country’s efforts to bump up skill sets in a sector that is estimated to see increasing demand. The course is designed for working professionals who come from different industry backgrounds including IT, healthcare, finance, and education. Singapore found it important to provide this course because according to the IDA, the U.S. alone will face a shortage of 140,000 to 190,000 workers skilled in data sciences and analytics in 2018. Through the MOOC, Singapore aims to readily supply the US with skilled workers from Singapore. Another Asian country that has been using MOOCs is India. At the beginning of the year, the US-based educational technology company Coursera, which offers massive open online courses (MOOCs) from various universities, collaborated with an Indian B-school, the Hyderabadbased Indian School of Business (ISB) to offer online content globally on the Coursera platform.

More recently, the United States Agency for International Development, CourseTalk, IREX and TASCHA launched a $1.55 Million Initiative to bring online education to the developing world. The two-year initiative called Advancing MOOCs for Development focuses on youth workforces in Colombia, Philippines, and South Africa. The initiative will be driven by research on online course enrollment in the three countries. The research will be conducted by the Technology & Social Change Group (TASCHA) at the University of Washington’s Information School with support from IREX, a non-profit development organization.

Camara Education, an international charity that uses technology to deliver 21st-century skills, has developed an online interactive learning platform known as iKnowledge for teachers in 250 schools across Tanzania. With the financial assistance of the UK Space Agency’s International Partnership Space Programme, Tanzanian students will be able to access the web and Camara’s online educational platform. Camara will also provide sought-after training to teachers in support of their integration of ICT into teaching and learning practices and will start as a yearlong project with hopes to continue projects in the future.

Nations are seeing the cost effectiveness of MOOCs as it is much easier to provide citizens with devices that connect to the internet and offer education platforms than it is to provide education to the masses in the traditional education institutions. The rise of MOOCs in developed countries will globalize education and make it more accessible allowing for the possibility of a more productive global population in the future.

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