Wednesday, 5 December 2007

Results from the latest ISEP

The results obtained by the latest International Student Evaluation Program, made public by the Oragnisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, showed disastrous results for Brazil and its future generations. According to these last results, among 56 countries researched, Brazilian students are in the 53rd position, the worst in Latin America. Brazilian students scored badly in Maths, Science and, what’s worst of all, in reading ability.

Of course, results from investment in education take a long time to show, but if we don’t start changing this situation now, the future of Brazil will be tragic in terms of economic growth and, most importantly, in terms of human growth.

Could e-Learning help change this situation? I definitely think so. Reaching and preparing teachers in remote areas. Allowing for more reading opportunities for both teachers and students. Promoting discussion and reflection through virtual communities. Fostering the creation of knowledge in and outside the formal school system. How long will Brazilian youth be deprived of the education opportunities they need? Will we be forever doomed to be 3rd class citizens of the world?

Monday, 19 November 2007

Young people and civic engagement through the Internet

According to Selwyn, in a study by Scheidt (2006), “over half of adolescent blogs are purely exercises in self-presentation, with only a quarter of young bloggers producing materials that could be classified as being more citizenship-oriented, “evaluating values, beliefs, meanings, and identities […]”. Selwyn also mentions that research points to a tendency for “young people’s informal use of new media to reinforce rather than transform existing citizenship behaviours and attitudes.”

The information above doesn’t come as a surprise to me. I have worked with (affluent, well educated) adolescents long enough to be familiar with their modes of expression, and more recently, their blogs. My question is how can we make this change?

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

What's really important

Here's Karyn Romeis's comment about my initial posting. It was posted in Mark Berthelemy's blog Learning Conversations. Mark was my peer from the MEd in eLearning at Hull.

Comment from: Karyn Romeis [Visitor] ·
Hmm. I'm sorry, but for me, this is a bit "let them eat cake" (and no, I haven't missed the fact that the post comes from a citizen of a developing nation).

The provision of elearning makes many assumptions, among which are: adequate electrical supply, access to facilities and functional literacy on the part of the users. Even in parts of South Africa, these conditions are not always met, and there are countries in the world with a lot further to go.

I'm not saying that the developing nations need to follow the same path that has been taken by the developed/industrialised nations. But there is much that needs to be set in place before elearning becomes a viable option in many parts of the world.
Permalink 13/11/07 @ 06:34

My reply:

Hello Karyn and everyone.

That’s precisely what I’m saying. Instead of investing money on the creation of courses to be delivered on TV or radio (and broadcast this as a major investment on the improvement of our educational conditions), governments should focus on infrastructure—electricity and broadband access for instance—to allow for adequate education. Donating PCs to schools where there’s no running water and qualified teachers are exceptions doesn’t seem to help either. I just think we should be able to skip some of the phases of educational technology development and focus on what’s really important.


Monday, 12 November 2007

Nov 12, 2007 - Why e-Learning?

I don’t expect this space to be restricted to postings about e-Learning and developing countries. Education in general is of great interest to me. However, to be true to my stated objective, e-Learning and how it may affect developing countries are certainly my main foci. And that’s what my first posting is about.

The need for Distance Education (DE) in Brazil is supported by several facts: 1) lack of equal educational opportunity for all, 2) the growing demand for educated labour; and 3) the need for social peace (Coudray). However, the question of what kinds of DE technology Brazil needs remains. As for me, I argue for the use of e-Learning.

It is understood that good quality DE is not necessarily less costly than conventional ‘face-to-face’ learning. In fact, according to the level of student support, which is essential for quality attainment, and depending on the type of technology employed, costs tend to surpass economies derived from the manufacture and distribution of teaching materials (Perraton, in Perraton and Lentell, 2004). Thus, it would sound unlikely at best that developing countries like Brazil should invest in e-Learning. It would seem more “advisable” in terms of scalability and sustainability that these countries focus their investments on less costly modes of delivery: print, radio or TV, for instance.

However, I argue that developing countries are the ones which especially need e-Learning. Due to its communicative and interactive features, e-Learning is the mode of DE which better allows for the development of critical thinking skills and the strengthening of essential connections so necessary for the development of an educated society in this knowledge era. It is claimed that this collective intelligence is capable of producing solutions to local problems that have so far remained unsolved (Cabeda in Inclusão digital e educação on-line em prol da cidadania: pontos para reflexão, 2005), and
Selwyn adds that ICT may be used for the enhancement of citizenship by acting as a source of citizenship information, as a medium for citizenship discussion, and as a source of learners producing citizenship products. That’s the kind of thinking I’m proposing too.