Digital technology made a huge progress in the educational department in the last ten years. There are new interactive teaching websites and other ways people all around the world can access wast portals of knowledge. This phenomenon where people of all socio-economic backgrounds can access so much information is possible for the first time in history and as such it carries with it a significant global implications.
For most western countries, using the online model of education by utilizing the digital technology is certainly a positive in the lives of many people. However, most of these people would have a chance of accessing higher education even without the use of the internet and educating websites. The area where digital technology allows for the biggest advancement of the human kind, is by allowing many people from developing countries to advance themselves.
Once, education was called “The Great Equalizer” this phrase in now more accurately used as “Internet is the Great Equalizer”. Regardless where a person is from, the existence of the internet gives people the opportunity to educate themselves on most of the fields that can be studied (perhaps with the exception with some very hands on studies such as the medical field). As such there is no longer an essential need for a person from a developing country to be born into a very rich family to be able to get education.
Many American companies are now focusing on creating the best ways of allowing people from developing countries to be able to access online education (Cheney, 2017). The report shows that as a result of many government programs that try to expand on the amount of people who have access to the internet and are “online literate”, there is an increase in the demand for online education. As such companies such as ‘Coursera’ are filling this gap in the market by allowing cheap or free education to people with limited access to the internet.
As a part of the (Cheney, 2017) report, there has been a mention from a CEO of a large online educational website who is concerned with the amount of people in developing countries that are accessing their products via mobile phone. The natural response was to very quickly develop a phone app that simulates the same virtual learning environment as one used on a desktop PC. This naturally leads to many poor people suddenly being able to enter positions with a higher barrier of entry. This flux of jobs going up the hierarchical tree is aimed to eventually shift the economy model of a nation towards a service based economy rather then a product based as has happened in the west.
Recent report (Yu and Hu, 2016) taken a sample of 25, 000 young adults from all around the world. One of the questions asked were if they ever taken an online course that resulted in some kind of qualification. 77% of the sample answered that they have gained a qualification via internet. 40% of these respondents think that educating themselves online is preferable way of studying over the more traditional way of gaining qualification.
The point this report demonstrates is that a large percentage of young adults use the internet for educational purposes. As such it is no surprise that government institutions as well as charities all around the world are creating ways for people from developing countries to access education. There has been many attempts to achieve giving most people a reasonable access to the internet. One of these was the “one laptop per family” project. This charity aimed to provide laptops for low income families all around the world. This project was however, unsuccessful for variety of reasons. Firstly, many of the families didn’t have the financial means by which to afford the internet connection, and the laptop therefore had limited use. Furthermore, there are many other costs associated with owning a laptop such as the price of electricity, software and any repairs. By targeting the lowest income families, the project failed to account for these factors. Another problem was that providing a laptop for every family is hugely cost ineffective and providing so many computers simply wasn’t realistic.
This is when a new charity emerged. Tested in the urban areas of Mexico, there were centers full of computers available to use for local residents for free. This system allowed more then ten times the amount of users per computer a day, thus reducing the cost to the charity drastically. The computers were also taken care of by the centers themselves and served as a public space for locals to use the internet for the means of socializing, education and business. This method is much more cost effective and is now the leading way of providing the internet for the developing countries.
(Srikantaiah, 1998) Reported on how the introduction of the internet and education effects the working class in India. According to the research, ever since the mid 90s with some introduction of the internet around India, the working class with the most access to the internet showed the higher average income in the coming years in comparison to the control group that had no access to the internet. The introduction of the internet not only gave this poor population the chance to educate themselves, but to also utilize this new found qualification on the job market. (Srikantaiah, 1998) claims that the internet doesn’t only allow for financial gains but also mobility on the job market that allows people to make better informed decisions.
The introduction of digital technology has made an immense change in the field of education. This change can be better understood by looking at the poorer countries and their reaction to the introduction of online learning as richer countries have populations which are more likely to be able to afford standard education. By looking at the trends following the introduction of the internet in impoverished countries, we can see the direct impact education and job opportunities have on the local population. The research shows that internet is “The Great Equalizer” as people who have access to it are more likely to make better educational and financial decisions as they have access to better information.
Srikantaiah, T. (1998). The Internet and its impact on developing countries: examples from China and India | Emerald Insight. [online] Emerald.com. Available at: https://www.emerald.com/insight/content/doi/10.1108/10176749810237626/full/html [Accessed 27 Jul. 2019].
Yu, J. and Hu, Z. (2016). Is online learning the future of education?. [online] World Economic Forum. Available at: https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/09/is-online-learning-the-future-of-education/ [Accessed 27 Jul. 2019].