New online learning techniques lead to improved ways to investing in larger numbers of people and optimizing the use of resources. Respectively, virtual organizations are gaining grounds in the education sector with its vehicle capable of closing the digital divide and spreading knowledge that can help improve the literacy rate. This article covers the case of the Regional IT Institute (RITI), an institute located in Cairo, Egypt, that specializes in providing quality education in the fields of information and communication technology and management. The institute’s goal is to educate more students while overcoming the challenge of scarce resources, trying to meet the needs of 30% of the population (70 million) enrolled in education programs (Economic News Bulletin). The model used by the institute in delivering its programs is a hybrid model that combines traditional with unconventional techniques, capitalizing on normal class settings as well as advanced information and communication technology tools. In 1985, information technology was prioritized on the national agenda by the government of Egypt, so information technology became one of the building blocks of the development process. Moreover, in 1999, the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology was established to accelerate the build up of the nation’s information and communications infrastructure and the creation of a mechanism for knowledge acquisition and dissemination to bridge the gap between “the haves and the have-nots,” both internally and with the developed world.
Virtual Organization Evolution
Continuous innovation in information and communication technology is leading to the evolution of virtual organizations with different forms and structures. The virtual integration of its capacities—irrespective of time, effort, and distance barriers—enables it to become more competitive and to achieve market differentiation and better performance (Appel & Behr, 1997). Virtual organizations (defined as interconnected organizations capitalizing in their internal and external communication on evolving IT tools and techniques) help in consolidating and rationalizing the resources allocation that is vital in the 21st century, since the focus will be on addressing information and knowledge intensive issues where the critical element is people or “humanware” (Kamel, 1998). The concept of virtualness will be important to help in training and educating more people on diversified subjects (Kamel, 1999). However, the virtual organizations’ success will mainly depend on whether the knowledge distributed is accessed by the right people, at the right time, from anywhere around the globe.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Virtual Organization: A virtual organization is a network of institutions that, using cutting-edge technology, unite to provide a value-added competitive advantage.
Knowledge Economy: An economy where the continuous innovations in information and communication technology have forged stronger links between individuals, organizations, and nations, contributing to global knowledge dissemination.
Hybrid Model: In distance learning, a hybrid model reflects the learning model that combines traditional with unconventional tools and techniques in delivering knowledge to the community of recipients.
Virtual Integration: The amalgamation of the organization’s respective capacities, irrespective of time, effort, and distance barriers, enabling the realization of a more competitive advantage.
Virtual Learning Model: A model that, irrespective of time or distance barriers, coupled with the differences in organizational structures and norms can accommodate its logistics and procedures to delivery knowledge in different parts of the world.
Information Society: A society that is very much affected by the innovations and advancements in information and communication technology management and applications and is gaining more ground within the development and diffusion of the global digital economy.
Humanware: With more information- and knowledge-intensive issues driving economies, people or “humanware” become invaluable for their contribution to society’s development and growth.