Using Alternative Technologies for Teacher Training in Developing Countries

Using Alternative Technologies for Teacher Training in Developing Countries

Victoria L. Frank
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-0206-9.ch011
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In this chapter the author discusses how developing countries are using technology in education when Internet connectivity or electricity is not dependable. Developing countries are embracing educational technologies because they are the fastest, cheapest, and most consistent way to train large numbers of teachers and support education reform. Emerging nations are also enjoying funding opportunities that include public/private partnerships, which contribute to the needed infrastructure, providing significant amounts of computers and networking hardware and software from the likes of Microsoft, Cisco, Dell, and Oracle. Many outstanding ICT case studies and examples abound, but most rely on the Internet in whole or in part (Trucano, 2010). One of the great challenges in the developing world is finding sustainable methods for improving teacher training where Internet and electricity are not a given. Some of the ways these obstacles have been overcome in developing countries are discussed in this chapter.
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Worldwide access to the Internet has been growing and continues to grow dramatically. The number of Internet users doubled between 2005 and 2010. A number of countries, including Estonia, Finland, and Spain, have declared access to the Internet a legal right for citizens (ITU, 2010). Yet, developing nations still lag behind developed countries by a wide margin. While 71 percent of developed countries’ populations are online, only 21 percent of developing countries’ citizens are online (ITU, 2010). In terms of broadband, subscriptions in both developed and developing countries are growing, but penetration levels in developing countries remain low: 4.4 subscriptions per 100 people compared to 24.6 in developed countries (ITU, 2010). As the developed world embraces the Internet at broadband speeds, the digital divide appears to be widening for developing countries. In part this is due to lack of funds, but also to telecom monopolies that prohibit competition, keeping costs high and Internet speed low.

The only way the digital divide will become less is by developing the necessary infrastructure to support Internet connectivity and by creating a stable electrical grid for developing countries. However, there are temporary solutions that will enable learners in developing nations to enjoy the media-rich, electronic delivery of education and training similar to connected parts of the world. This point in history is very similar to the early days of e-learning development and delivery when the Internet was not a viable option for most learners. Despite a lack of Internet access or access severely limited to dial-up speeds, the creation and delivery of rich multimedia educational content flourished. This chapter will discuss a number of factors that have come together at this point in time to make the delivery of media-rich educational content possible for developing countries.

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