Friday, May 16, 2003

Future of e-Learning :

www.games2learn.com
www.thiagi.com


Knowledge Objects :
IT database of knowledge.
Knowledge management.

www.gurteen.com

Knowledge management are highjacking knowledge learning.

Wireless education ..


Elliot Massey - Future technology enhancements.
Zed learning.

Hand Held mini computer .. Learning all the time.

Referencing must be accurate.

www.elearnmag.com

www.researchdog.com
Video Conferrencing..

a) Incredible amount of planning.
b) Script.
c) Practice it or reherse.
d) Deliver it.

Watched a 5 minute video on Video Conferrencing.

using technology ..


Preparation
When has the meeting started.
knowledge of technology.
Maximising the potential of the future student :

More structured than a classroom..
More planning is involved in online education.


Future issues in e-Learning :

The SARS virus.. people are not travelling to training ..
A huge increase in e-Learning .. synchronous.
More people are becomming aware of the technology ..This is a positive.. more companies are producing better technology to make it easier to use. More students .. more teachers.. more freedom..
Unplanned training sessions are a downside.



The role of the Learner in the on-line learning process

The learner must be more self directed and motivated.
Take responsibility for their own learning.

Reference : www.e-tivities.com

Debate about face values and judgements made when you first meet.

Future e-learning trends.

In text referencing is very important. Make sure that in the next assignment

www.e-learningguru.com

Interaction.. java applett… gaming technology .. special effects.

Plan the e-Learning project just as if it is a normal training program.
Prove runs on the board.

Identify competencies and relate these competencies to an e-learning environment.

What skills will be required .. html .. communication skills.

Mult skilled hr representatives.

Include IT section.
Gain support from management.
Users.. IT people. Informal Project team.



www.sausage.com
Create e-Learning programs.. modular … interaction… assessment.. simulations.. real world practice..

Education principals.. empowerement.. get learning principals back into e-Learning..
Instructional design.. more thought into e-Learning modules.

Learning theory .. pedagogical e-Learning theory.

Learning styles.. are important in an online environment and must be considered.

www.howstuffworks.com

Blended Learning.. simulation training .. knowledge … practical skill learning..

Increase efficiency.. cut down course costs and time in the classroom by teaching text based knowledge in an online envionment.

Learn to learn in an e-Learning environment.

Introvert.. highly motivated.. students..

A greater understanding of the student’s learning style and also their needs.
When do they get board and tune out is important.

Assessment : quote by anne caputo.. without assessment you have entertainment.

Who ae successful :

Mature age students..
Highly motivated students.
Introverted students who learn how to contribute to an online e-Learning

Jillie Salmon

www.e-tivities.com
e-moderation for asynchronous e-Learning communication

Wednesday, April 30, 2003


  • Assignment : Module 2 e-Learning in Practice.
  • Instructor : Anne Bartlett-Bragg
  • Due Date : 03/05/2003.
  • Subject : 015402 e-Learning Experiences.
  • Student : Mark Cotter - 01028392.

Introduction :

In this essay I will discuss what is meant by Return On Investments in the e-Learning environment. I will then compare 2 e-Learning case studies to demonstrate my understanding of e-Learning in an organisational context.

My understanding of R.O.I. is that it is used in planning a learning project and in this case an e-Learning project. It is a method of precisely calculating the benefits that will be generated once the project has been implemented. It is sometimes extremely difficult to completely measure the benefits of an e-Learning project before it is implemented because not all the benefits are clear prior to the implementation of the project.

I definitely believe that there are definitely two types of return on investment outcomes.


  • Firstly, there are the extremely obvious return on investments such as reducing travel costs for both the instructor and student. A real figure can be calculated and properly documented. These could be called measurable return on investments.
  • Secondly, there are the not so obvious return on investments that should also be considered and documented. These returns could include an increase in student motivation and participation or a positive change in the work place culture. These benefits are subtle and sometimes become more obvious once the project is up and running. These benefits could be called non-measurable return on investments.

I personally feel that in order for e-Learning to become a successful mode of corporate training in the future then the return on investment must be properly measured and documented.

Return on investment is probably the most important aspect of e-Learning projects in the modern world today. There are very few organisations that have an unlimited budget to spend on training and development. I do not believe that any corporate manager in today's economic climate would agree to an e-Learning project unless there were proper documentation detailing the future returns on investment.

Case Studies :


  • Speed and Reach - A case study of e-Learning in Ford Australia's Dealership Network.
  • The First Five Years - A case study of QANTAS College Online 1996-2001.

Ford Motor Company.

The Ford Motor Company is the world's second largest automotive company with motor vehicle brand names such as, Ford, Mercury, Mazda, Martin, Jaguar, Lincoln, Volvo and Land Rover. The Ford Motor Company also incorporates FordCredit which is the world's largest automotive finance organisation and also Hertz the world's largest car rental company.

FORDSTAR is the e-Learning, instructor led satellite system used for training staff employed by Ford dealers. The system was conceived and developed in America and was first implemented in the USA in 1995. The system was not used in Australia until 1998 after 18 months preparation.

The main purpose of FORDSTAR is to provide training to over 300 dealership networks throughout Australia. This includes dealerships in built up metropolitan areas and also remote rural dealerships. Previously, training would be provided by teams of FORD trainers who would travel to each dealership and conduct face to face information and training sessions. Not only was this wagon train an expensive system, it was slow and did not always reach the entire dealership.

Measurable Returns on Investments :


  • Remote dealerships are now able to receive training via the FORDSTAR e-Learning network rather than sending their employees to Ford Head Office. This has greatly reduced training costs. It has also meant that staff are not away from the dealership for long periods of time.
  • FORD Australia has also been able to reduce costs by not sending training staff to remote locations.
  • Programs are now being designed to reach all employees of Ford Australia.
  • Interactive training programs are now delivered to all dealerships throughout Australia almost instantaneously. All dealerships are kept up to date with the latest information.
  • Feedback is received far more quickly than before.
  • Training sessions are evaluated and the results are recorded. This provides information for Ford Australia to greatly improve the quality of training programs.

Non-measurable Returns on Investments :


  • Greatly increased communication between the students and the instructors.
  • Redeploy training staff to focus on developing training courses.

QANTAS College Online :

QANTAS College Online (QCO) is an Internet-based learning system that was launched in 1996. It is one of Australia's first online learning systems.

In September 2001 QANTAS College had grown to include 60 company wide , tutor-facilitated programs to train and educate approximately 5000 registered users representing 20% of QANTAS staff.

Measurable Return on Investments :


  • Training budget reduced significantly.
  • Greater controls over course content and evaluation.
  • Training staff are now redeployed as consultants throughout the organisation.
  • People have now accepted that e-Learning is a viable stately within the business and it's taken us nearly 5 years to get there.

Non-measurable Return on investments :


  • Strategically reposition corporate learning and development within the company with a few to making it more directly relevant to business needs and integrating it with other elements of human resource management and organisational development.
  • Learning and Development people have been freed up to act as internal consultants and project managers.
  • Changing relationships between line managers and training personal to better improve the training product.
  • 78% of Qantas College Online courses are being completed during the staff's own time and not corporate time. This creates a more productive work force.
  • The work place culture became competitive as more and more employees started to realise the benefits of the QANTAS College Online.

Summary :

When you compare both FORD and QANTAS you can see that both e-Learning strategies have created real savings for each company. There are measurable return on investments and also non-measurable return on investments.

I think that overall, both companies would be quite proud of their achievements and also the future development of their respective e-Learning projects.

Overall, I think it is important to use these case studies to better understand return on investments so that they can be better predicted and documented to encourage more e-Learning training projects.

Bibliography :

Monday, April 28, 2003

Module 3

IBM Virtual Campus

I have decided to register for an e-Learning course called 'Decision Making and Problem Solving' which is provided by IBM Australia.

The course costs $150.00 but I think it is relevent to my current work.

Registration : Registration for the course was simply an e-form that I completed over the Internet. Over all the registration process has been difficult most likely
due to the firewall at TAB Limited. Everything is so restricted Work. I think I have registered for the course but I will not be able to start until I get home tonight.

Course Description : I found that a detailed course description was not available. I more detailed course description would enable me to properly match my requirements to what the course is offering. This will ensure that I am on the right track and I am not wateing my money. It also creates motivation as the student can see a use for the skills obtained in during the study.

Sunday, April 27, 2003

Today's e-Learning thought.

e-Learning and the future.

I predict that the future of e-Learning will be incredible. Why do I feel that this will be the case. Let me explain.

I believe that there are 2 levels that people achieve in learning. The either learn to a level that they are satisfied at or they learn to a level that will enable them to teach the subject. Eg. I believe that there is a distint difference to the level that people learn to. Eg. A teacher would need to learn in depth the subject that they wish to teach but a student who will never teaxch the subject only learns enough to pass.

I therefore feel that e-Learning will become an interesting tool because it will allow all people to learn at a higher level by allowing them access to all information quickly and easily. There is also the thought that people learn much better when they are interactive. In the classroom setting not all students are interactive.. There are simply too many students per teachers and there simply isn't enough time. e-Learning will make it [possible for all students to enjoy the interaction from their personal work station at work or from the comfort of their own home.

The other point that I have found interesting and this is based on my personal experiences, is that when you create an e-Learning web page you seem to remember the information much better. I have found that the creation of web pages for my training subjects helps me remember the subject. It helps me transfer the information from my short term memory to my long term memory and I remember the subject much more clearly.

Sunday, April 13, 2003

Assignment : Module 2 e-Learning in Practice.
Instructor : Anne Bartlett-Bragg
Due Date : 03/05/2003.
Subject : 015402 e-Learning Experiences.
Student : Mark Cotter - 01028392.

Introduction :
In this essay I will discuss what is meant by Return On Investments in the e-Learning environment.I will then compare 2 e-Learning case studies to demonstrate my understanding of e-Learning in an organisational context.

My understanding of R.O.I. is that it is used in planning an learning project and in this case an e-Learning project. It is a method of presicely calculating the benefits that the e-Learning project will generate once the project has been implemented. It is sometimes extremely difficult to completely measure the benefits of an e-Learning project before it is implemented because not all the benefits are clear.

I believe that there are two levels of calculating R.O.I.


  • Firstly - There are the extremely obvious cost savings that are associated with reducing travel costs.
  • Secondly - There are subtle returns that are more dufficult to measure. eg. Increased student Motivation.

I personally feel that inorder for e-Learning to become a successful mode of corporate training in the future then the ROI must be properly measured and documented.

Return on investment is probably the most important aspect of e-Learning projects in the modern world today. There are very few organisations that have an unlimited budget to spend on training and development. In times of economic downturn the Training and Development section is normally the first section to experience budget cuts.

Therefore, I consider the measurement of ROI a vital aspect of the future of e-Learning in modern organisations.

The two case studies that I will compare are :


  • Speed and Reach - A case study of e-Learning in Ford Australia's Dealership Network.
  • The First Five Years - A case study of QANTAS College Online 1996-2001.

Ford Motor Company

The Ford Motor Company is the world's second largest automotive company with motor vehicle brand names such as, Ford, Mercury, Mazda, Martin, Jaguar, Lincoln, Volvo and Land Rover. The Ford Motor Company also incorporates FordCredit which is the world's largest automotive finance organisation and also Hertz the world's largest car rental company.

FORDSTAR is the e-Learning, instructor led satelite system used for training staff employed by Ford dealers. The system was conceived and developed in America and was first implemented in the USA in 1995. The system was not used in Australia until 1998 after 18 months preperation.

The main purpose of FORDSTAR is to provide training to over 300 dealership networks throughout Australia. This includes dealerships in built up metropolitan areas and also remote rural dealerships. Previously, training would be provided by teams of FORD trainers who would travel to each dealership and conduct face to face information and training sessions. Not only was this wagon train an expensive system, it was slow and did not always reach the entire dealership.

Measuring Return on Investments :


  • Remote dealerships are now able to receive training via the FORDSTAR e-Learning network rather than sending their employees to Ford Head Office. This has greatly reduced training costs. It has also meant that staff are not away from the dealership for long periods of time.
  • FORD Australia has also been able to reduce costs by not sending training staff to remote locations.
  • Programs are now being designed to reach all employees of Ford Australia.
  • Interactive training programs are now delivered to all dealerships throughout Australia almost instantaneously. All dealerships are kept up to date with the latest information.
  • Feedback is received far more quickly than before.
  • Training sessions are evaluated and the results are recorded. This provides information for Ford Australia to greatly improve the quality of training programs.
  • Greatly increased communication between the students and the instructors.

QANTAS College Online :

QANTAS College Online (QCO) is an Internet-based learning system that was launched in 1996. It is one of Australia's first online learning systems.

In September 2001 QANTAS College had grown to include 60 company wide , tutor-facilitated programs to train and educate approximately 5000 registered users representing 20% of QANTAS staff.

Return on Investments :


  • Training budget reduced from 120-130 million per annum to 10-12 million per year.
  • Greater controls over course content and evaluation.
  • Training staff are now redeployed as consultants throughout the organisation.
  • 78% of QCO courses are being completed during the staff's own time and not corporate time. This creates a more productive work force.

People have now accepted that e-Learning is a viable stategy within the business and it's taken us nearly 5 years to get there.

Summary :

When you compare both FORD and QANTAS you can see that both e-Learning strategies have made real savings for each company. There are measurable Return On Investments. eg. The QANTAS training budget was reduced from 120-130 Million per year to just 10-12 million. This is an incredibile saving.

There are also non-measurable Return On Investments that are very difficult to put a real value on. Eg. At QANTAS as more and more employees started to completed online courses, increased competition and motivation developed. In my opinion this is a positive influence to the work place culture.






Friday, April 04, 2003

Useful web pages for choosing an online course.

UTS
IBM

I will probably either complete a smartforce training course or a course from IBM.

I am prepared to pay for the couse as long as I can see a real benefit for my work career. I should be able to claim
a tax deduction for further education.
Module 3:

Practical e-Learning course notes :

* empathy
* free
* Complete only once.
* Topic : Unix or Html : relevent to work.
* Read up on virtual learning .
* use the blog as a guide to document problems / issues / experience while you take the course.
* State the desired goals of the course.
* What are your expectations.
* Refer questions in reader before starting course.
* Complete the course regardless of problems.
* Evaluate the course..ref page 129.
* Interaction .. synchronous or asynchronous.
* Feedback. - personal or computer generated.
* content - catering for different learning styles.. content up to date .. interaction (practice) jargon..
* Real facilitator..
* Navigation / ease of use / learner focused.
* FAQ and help pages set up / learner support.
* Colour layout .

Tip : Record everything as you do the course ..



I think I might complete a course that will be relevent to work.

Wednesday, March 26, 2003

Assignment : Module 1.
Instructor : Anne Bartlett-Bragg
Due Date : 29/03/2003.
Subject : 015402 e-Learning Experiences.
Student : Mark Cotter - 01028392.

Introduction :

In this essay I will provide my personal definition of e-Learning and and also include 2 case studies to demonstrate my knowledge of Synchronous and Asynchronous e-Learning methods.

I will also include a list of e-Newsletters and e-Zines that I have subscribed to in the first month of this course.

e-Learning Definition : e-Learning is an educational tool that incorporates the use of the Internet and all plug-ins to motivate and inspire students to achieve meaningful learning. Meaningful learning occurs when students make the transfer of knowledge from short term memory to long term memory.

I believe that e-Learning can be used to not only reach a large number of students but can also be used to speed up the learning process.

Syncronous e-Learning Case Study :

Synchronous e-Learning is defined as Synchronous, or live e-Learning, means that communication occurs at the same time between individuals and information is accessed instantly. Examples of synchronous e-Learning include real-time chat, and video/audio conferencing. Reference : Brandon Hall

During the first week, a student that I knew had missed the first lecture and needed some assistance. I invited Terry to join our group. With the invitation came a certain amount of responsibility. It was now my responsibility to provide the neccessary training so that Terry would become an active member of the group.

This was achieved by using the UTS Online pages. I have included the transcript of our Synchronous e-Learning session below.

Archive for 015402BAED on Mar 11, 2003
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
MARK COTTER has entered. [ 10:53:33 AM ]
MARK COTTER has left. [ 10:53:48 AM ]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Terrence Farley has entered. [ 11:38:13 AM ]
MARK COTTER has entered. [ 11:38:16 AM ]
Terrence Farley > I am here
MARK COTTER > hi.. yep here aswell..
MARK COTTER browsed to http://www.blogger.com/
MARK COTTER > just loading up the page now..
Terrence Farley > OK i went to blogger and my name is terryfarley.blogspot.com. so i posted a note what happens now?
MARK COTTER > doesn't look like it is going to load properly..what a bummer
MARK COTTER > you can click on view web page and you will be able to see it on the net.
Terrence Farley > i am on the page that says add team memebers
MARK COTTER > for the assessmnet .. you have 2 options.. 1 you can keep it private .. or you can add anne.bartlett-bragg as a member.. this way she will be able to assess your work.
MARK COTTER > you will then receive 5% .. the other 5% you are required to sign up for atleast 2 e-Zines and 2 e-Newsletters ..
Terrence Farley > i went public ....so how do i invite her to view my page...and waht do i do on the page......
Terrence Farley > WHAT not waht
MARK COTTER browsed to http://456eduser.blogspot.com/
MARK COTTER > you can view my web page that I have created at http://456eduser.blogspot.com
MARK COTTER > you can see that I have invited Anne to join my personal blog..
MARK COTTER > see how I added confirmation that I joined e-Zines and e-Newsgroups.. this is all part of the assessment.
MARK COTTER > I added some links to online courses.. in module 3 you have to complete an e-learning course and write 2500 words .. basically evaluate it.
Terrence Farley > yes it looks great ....where exactly on the blogger site do you create a page...and what is anne's address to invite her or did you link back to UTS online?...thanks for helping me...I am up at UTS in the Lab
MARK COTTER > no worries..
MARK COTTER browsed to http://blogger.com/
MARK COTTER > once you have created a user.. which I think you have.. you then have to log in.. then create a new blog
Terrence Farley > can you wait while i do that
MARK COTTER > you then have to select post and publish to convert what you have typed into html and post it to your personal blog web page..
MARK COTTER > ok.. i have plenty of time..
Terrence Farley > back...i have posted a meaage...but i cannot view it to see what it looks like......is that right?
MARK COTTER > you can .. just look on the left hand side of the page and click on "view web page".. it will load your personal blog.
Terrence Farley > stand by
MARK COTTER > I have set up a group blog called speedforce3000... I will include everyone in our group.. what's you e-mail address..
MARK COTTER > standing by
Terrence Farley > terrence.j.farley@uts.edu.au
Terrence Farley > How did you add links on your web page ...like TAB etc
Terrence Farley > I will now try and add speedforce3000 to my team on blogger
MARK COTTER > It's a bit tricky.. but it can be done.. I clicked on the "Template Icon" and then manually changed the html code..
Terrence Farley > i sent you an inviation ...did you get it/
Terrence Farley > i went into the template menu.......when i view my web page it looks nothing like yours .....mine is small......
MARK COTTER > yep.. I accepted it.. but it is not neccessary..
MARK COTTER > I have set up the group blog and asked you to join.. I will then get everyone elses e-mail addresses and invitethem to join aswell.
MARK COTTER > it all depends on the template that you accepted during the initial process.. there were many different templates to choose from.. maybe I chose a different Template.
MARK COTTER browsed to
Terrence Farley > how do i get Anne to view my page?
MARK COTTER > you can send her an e-mail or you can invite her to join you personal blogg as a 'Team Member'
MARK COTTER > You can post it on the discussion board on uts online.
Terrence Farley has entered. [ 12:17:21 PM ]
MARK COTTER > Where did you go ?
Terrence Farley has left. [ 12:17:53 PM ]
Terrence Farley > got lost in cyber space
MARK COTTER > Ok.. anyway.. I need a break.. I want to go to the bank and see a few people before Uni .. do you have any more questions.
Terrence Farley > ok that will do me for today...i am going computer crazy....see you tonight......have a good day.....
MARK COTTER > Ok.. I'll catch you tonight..
MARK COTTER has left. [ 12:19:36 PM ]
Terrence Farley has left. [ 12:19:36 PM ]

Please note that I have not received permission from Terry Farley to post the above transcript.

Asynchronous e-Learning Case Study :

Asynchronous e-Learning is defined as Asynchronous e-Learning happens when communication between people does not occur simultaneously. Some examples of asynchronous e-Learning include taking a self-paced course, exchanging e-mail messages with a mentor, and posting messages to a discussion group.
Reference : Brandon Hall

During the first week of this course I set up our group blog called Speed Force

As I set the pages up it became my responsibility to ensure that all members of the group were able to access the pages and successfully contribute to these pages.

In this case, one member of our group was unable to properly access and contribute to the pages.

Due to budget constraints the e-Learning method that was used was Asynchronous.

Basically, we exchanged a series of e-mails and eventually I was able to provide her with the neccessary information to access and contribute to our group blog.

I have included a copy of the e-mails that were exchanged below. Please note that I have not gained permission from Gloria to post her e-mails.

Hi Mark, I hate to say that I am still having trouble, I can get into our
Blog, but the section where we paste and publish is not there. I am a real
novice at this, never got into any sort of chat rooms, so really have no
idea of whats going on. We have two new members in our group but there is no
sign of them. I dont know whats going on at all???? Gloria.

Hi Gloria,

I checked our group blog SpeedForce and you have accepted the invite to join so that is not a problem.

This is what you need to do..

1) Have you set up a personal blog account ?
2) If you have then log into your personal blog using your original userid and password.
3) When you have logged in click on the "My Blogs " icon and select "SpeedForce"
this should take you where you want to go..

Anyway.. If you are still having problems then we will have to meet up somewhere and I will show you ..

    e-Newsletters that I subscribed to for this subject :
  • Seek e-news.
  • TechLearn Trends.
  • Blogger Buzz Newsletter.
  • ACM eLearn 'NEWS-FEATURES'
  • Learnframe e-News
  • Stephanie Burns
  • Brandon Hall

    e-Zines that I subscribed to for this subject :
  • ACM eLearn 'COLUMNS-ESSAYS-TUTORIALS'
  • ASTD (I visited their site but didn't pay the $180.00 US to subscribe)

    e-Learning Events that I subscribed to for this subject :
  • ACM eLearn 'SPECIAL-EVENTS'
  • ICUS - Improving_eLearning_results_with_online_coaching.
  • ICUS - ROI_and_other_benefits_of_Corporate_eLearning.

Summary :

Before I enroled in this subject I thought I new quite a lot about e-Learning but I realise now that I had only scratched the surface.
My knowledge and awareness of e-Learning has increased dramatically in the first month of this course.

I am now able to better understand the role of the educators and leaders of e-Learning. I now also understand where e-Learning is heading and what must be done to promote e-Learning and the benefits of e-Learning.

I received the following article because I subscribed to the e-Learn Mag. I found the article extremely interesting and relevent as it deals with how e-Learning is being used to educate developing countries efficiently.

Subj: eLearn Magazine Feature Story 26 March 2003
Date: 27/03/2003 3:21:04 AM AUS Eastern Daylight Time
From: LISTSERV@ACM.ORG
To: NEWS-FEATURES@ACM.ORG
Sent from the Internet (Details)



NEW FROM eLEARN MAGAZINE http://elearnmag.org

MIT Workshop Focuses on E-Learning For Developing Countries

By Ed Arnold, Boston E-Learning Association

A confession: When I think about e-learning, I focus on U.S.-based corporations. But e-learning is a global phenomenon, and its application extends far beyond U.S.-based e-learning programs or vendors. In fact, technology for education can significantly improve the quality of life for billions of people all over our planet. This “aha!” moment came to me during the inaugural workshop of the Learning International Network Consortium (LINC), an MIT Project led by Professor Richard C. Larson and funded by a grant from the Lounsbery Foundation. LINC organized this two-day workshop in early February, and it was attended by more than 70 participants from 19 countries.

The workshop featured over 30 presentations from MIT faculty, USAID (United States Agency for International Development) and World Bank policy makers, as well as leaders from the educational institutions from Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and Latin America.

A few examples: African Virtual University is a technology-based distance learning network that started in 1997 as a project of the World Bank. The ITESM Virtual University in Monterrey Mexico is connecting 300 Community Learning Centers in impoverished communities. Sharif Virtual University of Iran has established itself as a test-bed for technological and pedagogical studies and provides online courses for Kish Island in the Persian Gulf. Waseda University of Japan has distance learning projects in Vietnam and Malaysia. Virtual University of Pakistan was granted a federal charter in last August. Technion, Israel Institute of Technology has successfully used virtual forums to enhance higher order thinking and critical review of scientific articles. A complete list of the 32 title abstracts and speakers is available at http://ken.mit.edu/linc.

In addition to this workshop on e-learning in developing countries, MIT has hosted other conferences on technology and learning and has been active in a number of related initiatives. Last fall, MIT launched its Open Courseware Initiative, with a goal is to make all university course material publicly available on the web free of charge. LINC has put forward a similarly noble vision: To use distance learning, e-learning and educational technology to reduce the inequality between those who have access to education and those who do not. Driving this vision is this sobering background:

* There is a dire lack of traditional educational resources in the developing world. For example, in Pakistan over 3 million people turn 18 each year, yet less than 1% of them have access to higher education. In Algeria, current enrollment is expected to double by 2008. Similar gaps exist throughout Africa and Asia.

* At the same time, the developing world is suffering from a “brain drain” of its best academic talent into Europe and the United States thereby causing a scarcity of qualified professors on the local level, where the demand is greatest. Kenya, for example, has only five Computer Science Ph.D.’s. In fast-growing economies like China, a large proportion of its finest academics are being diverted into the private sector.

In response, some LINC members are already adapting technology to reduce the educational divide and to make learning resources accessible to a much wider global audience. These initiatives adapt existing technology at low cost to serve existing needs. For example, in India, the PicoPeta Simputer is an inexpensive hand-held computer designed for elementary school aged children that features an intuitive user interfaces that depend on sight, touch, and hearing. Existing courseware includes Geography, Mathematics (arithmetic, geometry), and Physics (optics, projectiles).

Another example, the MIT DakNet project, offers a cost-effective network for data connectivity in regions lacking communications infrastructure. It enables high-bandwidth connectivity at the cost of $0.01 per user. The hybrid network architecture combines physical and wireless data transport to enable high-bandwidth intranet and Internet connectivity among kiosks (public computers) and between kiosks and hubs (places with a reliable Internet connection). Data is transported by means of a mobile access point (mounted on regular delivery trucks), which automatically and wirelessly collects and delivers data from/to each kiosk on the network.

These examples illustrate the notion that resource constraints can spur very creative and innovative solutions. U.S. managers, especially those who feel their budgets are too modest to deploy new technology, may want to take note. Rather than focusing on quick ROI, LINC members are instead concerned with smart, long-term investments that leverage every dollar spent for the global public good. Interestingly, even the Apollo Group, which owns the University of Phoenix, and is one of the few profitable private sector online ventures, has admitted to committing several missteps in adapting its business model for global markets.

E-learning has tremendous potential for improving the lives of millions of people by creating access to world-class educational content. The LINC workshop shows what can be accomplished with practical and creative approaches utilizing existing technology.


Ed Arnold (edarnold@organization-solutions.com) is Corporate Learning Chair for the Boston E-Learning Association (BELA) and founder of Organization-Solutions, a consulting practice focusing on organizational effectiveness through learning strategy and implementation of blended learning solutions.

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