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.