Online learning is an effective educational tool in developing countries.
During the technology development and information explosion of the 21th centuries, a tremendous transformation has infiltrated the dissemination of knowledge. A vigorous process that may boost the revolution for education in the developed countries is online learning that learners can successfully obtain universal access to knowledge through electronic devices without the limitation of space and time. However the new teaching method has spurred debate of whether online learning is also applicable to developing countries. Although the merits about online learning have become legion due to its benefits for both institutions and learners, relatively some attention has been paid to its tremendously negative consequences in developing countries such as a detrimental influence on society equality and native culture. Therefore, this essay will argue that online learning is not an effective educational tool in developing countries because it exacerbates the problem of inequality and generates inappropriate culture.
It is well known that online learning as the substitute for traditional teaching has several contributing factors. One of these is that it contributes to institutions. Not so much in making large savings in the construction of infrastructure such as classroom buildings, student accommodation and parking places, but more that it retrench great outlays on teachers’ wages (Adler Hellman 2003). Another positive factor is that it is beneficial to learners. It is uncommon to find means of learning that is more efficient and easier to access to knowledge than the way of online learning that allows contact between teachers and students at greater distances without sitting face to face.
Consequently, it has more individual flexibility because learners can study at their own pace and avoid situations that require them to spend more time travelling to study (Adler Hellman 2003). What’s more, it can offer more opportunities for students to seek computer education, help them enrich their knowledge and develop a wide range of skills (Sehrt 2003). Therefore, it can be acknowledged that there is some evidence to support the merits of online learning in developing countries.
However, after careful consideration on this topic, there is a dark side to the method of online learning. Firstly, it really raises the new question of the society – “digital divide” – that leads to tremendously negative effects on the society when e-learning is introduced to developing countries. Adler Hellman (2003) criticized it on the grounds that the severe problem of inequality was dramatically reinforced owning to the fact that advanced technology was utilized in counterproductive approach. Specifically, the “digital divide” distinguishes “access to technology” from “no access to technology”. Thus, those who have opportunity to enrich their knowledge through computer literate and profit from hi-tech media differentiate themselves from those who have not (Adler Hellman 2003).
Another concern about distance programs is the problems of the content. The content of on-line learning imported from developed countries due to insufficient native materials may not always bear relationship to local circumstance and culture (Van de Bunt-Kokhuis 2003). He mentioned an example that a Tanzanian Physics textbook that drew from America used golf as illustration rather than a local game, which was not the effective way of helping learner master the subject because golf was not popular in Tanzanian. It is apparent that the problems of adverse impact on the society and the unsuitable content mean online learning is not a powerful means of learning in developing countries.
Therefore, online learning may play a pivotal role due to more access to up-to-date technique and information while it poses obstacle to social equality and native culture in developing countries. There is no denying that e-learning available to individuals inevitable enlarges the gap between the technological “haves” and “have-nots”. The channel between those who make progress through advanced technique and those who fail to approach is deepen to a large extent by a number of factors – income, education, age, ethnicity, language and gender in emerging economic (Adler Hellman 2003). Moreover, Adler Hellman (2003) further argued that the issue of cultural hegemony by industrialized countries such as Europe and North America was aggravated by inappropriate textbooks and methods that were derived from developed countries and the phenomenon can be attributed to the lack of resources on education in developing countries.
Although online learning may be an effective means of study to individuals owning to its availability and flexibility, a lot of adult learners have been exposed to traditional teaching methods for a long time and have difficulty in referring to the instructor as a “facilitator” instead of a virtual teacher. In addition, it demands that learners behave in a more self-discipline manner with time management skills (Sehrt 2003). Indeed, e-learning can save an outlay of funds in constructing teaching buildings, but the cost to access to internet may be huge. Institutions in developing countries are face with high rates of telecommunication license and operation as well as renewal of poor computer facilities that seriously impairs the power of innovative technology and leads to loss of combined effects between the institutions and industry (Van de Bunt-Kokhuis 2003). When valuing whether online learning is effective in developing countries is valued, its drawbacks of e-learning should be considered attributed to limited resource.
In conclusion, online learning is not an effective educational vehicle in developing countries where necessary educational resources are insufficient. Although online learning has some advantages and meet the growing demands of knowledge pursue, it has a negative influence on social equality and national culture. The future of online learning in the developing countries may depend on the development of industry and a similar emphasis on integrating the content of courses more effectively with the local culture and situation.