Trends in Distance Education in South America

Trends in Distance Education in South America

Luis Barrera (Cesar Vallejo University, Peru)
Copyright: © 2009 |Pages: 9
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-198-8.ch317
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Abstract

This article reviews the history, state of the art, and future trends in distance education, in South American countries, through an overview of the main experiences in the region. South America is in the western hemisphere, connected to Central and North America by the Isthmus of Panama. Twelve countries form this continent: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay and Venezuela. As reported by the United Nations Development Programme (2007), all of them are developing countries, characterized by a difficult social reality as a result of political and economic crisis in the course of its history.
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Introduction

This article reviews the history, state of the art, and future trends in distance education, in South American countries, through an overview of the main experiences in the region.

South America is in the western hemisphere, connected to Central and North America by the Isthmus of Panama. Twelve countries form this continent: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay and Venezuela. As reported by the United Nations Development Programme (2007), all of them are developing countries, characterized by a difficult social reality as a result of political and economic crisis in the course of its history.

South American countries’ basic indicators (see Table 1) show an average gross domestic product per capita 3 to 30 times lower than those from developed countries. Despite the sustained growth of access to information and communication technologies, with an average DOI (digital opportunity index) of 0.39 (ITU, 2006), a bandwidth growth rate of 479% between 2001 and 2002 (Parkes, 2004), and an Internet use growth rate of 374% between 2000 and 2007 (MMG, 2007), only 13.99% of the South American population has access to Internet.

Table 1.
South American countries’ basic indicators (2006)
    CountryPopulationGDP (gross domestic product) per capita in 2004Telephone LinesCellular Mobile SubscribersInternet
Users
Personal Computers in 2004DOI
(millions)(U.S. $)(per 100 inhabitants)
Argentina38.594,00724.4757.4117.789.070.47
Bolivia9.189677.0426.375.232.330.30
Brazil186.403,27821.3846.2517.2416.090.42
Chile15.596,16622.0467.7928.9314.750.52
Colombia45.602,15216.8447.9210.394.150.38
Ecuador13.232,29512.747.227.326.550.36
Guyana0.751,05114.6637.4521.33.860.29
Paraguay6.161,0185.230.643.257.470.30
Peru27.972,5138.0519.9616.4510.010.39
Suriname0.452,48418.0451.827.124.550.33
Uruguay3.254,07830.9535.5420.5513.270.43
Venezuela26.754,16413.4846.7112.378.190.43
South America373.922,84816.2442.9213.998.360.39

Source: ITU (2007). Note: The ITU’s Digital Opportunity Index (DOI) measures the overall ability of individuals in a country to access and use new ICTs on a scale of 0 to 1, where 1 is the highest opportunity. (ITU, 2007).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Distance Education: An educational system integrated by particular subsystems that enhancelearning and reduces the transactional distance.

Roquete Pinto, Edgard: (1884-1954) Brazilian pioneer in distance education, doctor, anthropologist, and writer. In 1923 he was the founder of Rádio Sociedade do Rio de Janeiro (later, Radio Ministry of Education), the first radio series in South America with educational programmes. Also, he creates the Educational Film National Institute in 1936 and introduces television as an educational tool.

One Laptop Per Child: OLPC is a non-profit association created by ex MIT Media Lab Director and cofounder Nicholas Negroponte to design, manufacture, and distribute low-cost laptops and its software to children in developing countries in order to improve their quality of learning.

Teleducation: Term used in Latin America to define educational systems in which the main delivery technology is television. It is often used as synonym of distance education. Telecourse, teleschool, and telecenter are derivations of teleducation.

Digital Opportunity Index (DOI): A complex index developed, calculated, and published by the International Telecommunication Union, it measures the overall ability of individuals in a country to access and use new information and communication technologies. Indicators used to calculate the index are percentage of population covered by mobile cellular telephony, Internet access tariffs (20 hours per month) as a percentage of per capita income, mobile cellular tariffs as a percentage of per capita income, proportion of households with a fixed-line telephone, proportion of households with a computer, proportion of households with Internet access at home, mobile cellular subscribers per 100 inhabitants, mobile Internet subscribers, proportion of individuals that used the Internet, proportion of fixed broadband subscribers to total Internet subscribers, and proportion of mobile broadband subscribers to total mobile subscribers. DOI is an updated version of ITU’s 2003 digital access index (DAI).

Informatic: Term used in Latin America as an equivalent to computer based.

Public Abin: In Peru, a Cabina Pública is a privately owned small business where people can access to Internet for a small fee, lower than $0.30 an hour in 2004.

Virtual Education: A distance education system that has the virtue to improve the learning process exclusively using new information and communication technologies.

Salcedo, José Joaquín: (1922? - ?) Monsignor Salcedo was the founder of Radio Sutantenza in Colombia (1947), one of the most successful radio-based distance-education projects in history.

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