MOOCs Global Digital Divide: Reality or Myth?

MOOCs Global Digital Divide: Reality or Myth?

Celestino Valentin
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8170-5.ch019
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The purpose of this chapter is to help address the question of global digital divide and provide the readers with scholarly information to help them reach their own conclusions, and to answer the question, “Is there really a MOOC global digital divide or is it just a myth?” The methods used included a critical review of the literature and a non-traditional open approach to research, which included utilization of websites, blogs, MOOCs website articles, peer-reviewed scholarly journals, books, and platform website information. Findings include total number of MOOCs users, platform providers, and the countries involved with learning using MOOCs.
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The purpose of the research is to establish the extent of the MOOC digital divide and to demonstrate from the literature reviewed the technological gap that is present in rural and urban settings and in low and medium income countries. In addition, the research seeks to address strategies that should be explored to reduce the level of digital divide in the use of MOOCs to develop workforce competencies world over. A platform and affiliation table has been developed to use as a resource for informational purposes concerning MOOCs and a general list of the universities that are working on creating and/or have developed courses for instruction via online learning. Furthermore, a MOOC framework components diagram has been created. Future possibilities of gaining an educated and trained workforce may help the labor market gain skilled employees for businesses and government entities.

Research Questions

To address the intent of this research, the following questions were developed to inform the review of literature.

  • 1.

    What is happening on a global level with regard to MOOCs providers and students enrolling in MOOCs based on literature?

  • 2.

    What efforts have been documented in literature to address the problem of MOOCs digital divide?

  • 3.

    What strategies should be implemented to successfully design and deliver MOOCs in Africa and other low and medium income countries?

Theoretical/Conceptual Framework

The premise of the conceptual framework guiding this research is based on Kolb’s Experiential Learning theory, which encompasses a four stage process consisting of: Concrete experience, Reflective observation, Abstract conceptualization and Active experimentation (Kolb, 2005). Figure 1 provides a practical understanding of how Kolb’s Experiential Learning theory relates to MOOCs.

Figure 1.

Experiential learning with MOOCs, information derived from Kolb (2005)


Kolb’s theoretical model is relevant to the MOOCs global utilization in the following ways:

  • 1.

    Concrete experience stems from the direct academic and practical knowledge of the MOOC developer/designer. Concrete experience is based on academic and practical knowledge that the instructor can provide as part of their professional experience.

  • 2.

    Reflective observation which is based on world digital divide in regions such as, Africa, South Asia, and Latin America. Reflective Observation is based on digital accessibility and MOOC course development process and process improvement done through observation which leads to change.

  • 3.

    Abstract conceptualization relates to the vision of a MOOC development. Abstract conceptualization is based on creation and visualization of the MOOC course being taught via online resources and utilizing multiple means of digital media and computer programs such as word, draw and excel.

  • 4.

    Active experimentation refers to the implementation process of the MOOCs. Active Experimentation is based on implementation of the MOOC course, evaluation based on feedback from user/student and method of delivery on instruction with resources made available to the user/student.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Global Learning: A worldwide view; inclusive of all world regions.

Digital Divide: A gap in technological resources for various regions of the world, a difference in having and not having technology.

MOOCs: A term used for Massive Open Online Courses that are offered for free through technological platforms and providers.

Internet: An electronic website source for information transfer.

Online Learning: Referred to as eLearning, is learning via the internet or Web, in the form of courses, blogs, journals, books, and video.

Experiential Learning: A method of learning through lived experiences where knowledge and learning has been the outcome.

Human Resource Development: A field of study that is specific to the development of human performance and growth, through education, training, career and organization development.

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