Creating an Equal World for Cyberlearning

Technology is changing our lives. Some of the changes are more direct in terms of improving our overall living condition, but often times changes are happening in a deeper level – helping us interact with others, access knowledge and grow intellectually. 

As Prof. Cogburn mentioned in his paper, technologies like synchronous collaboration and online meeting softwares are turning the world into our campus. I took several courses in college that are offered by a Canadian organization, where we watched online recordings, discuss and submit assignments through a platform similar to Blackboard. Just last week, my father in China told me via Skype, that he finished watching Ted Talks and is moving into harvard open courses.

A lot of the ICT innovations, as we discussed in class, are driven by globalization and at the same time further enhancing the process of globalization. Some (including UNESCO) argue that globalization, which is originally a term for global economic development, is forcing a one-way information flow from developed countries to the rest of the world. A major concern for this unbalanced flow of information is that, it put underprivileged regions in a disadvantageous position, and therefore is diluting our cultural diversity in a global context; in other words, making our world flat. However, at least from a learning perspective, this is not necessarily a bad thing. The inevitable force of globalization is bringing the world to the people who have never seen the world, and technology is helping them grasp the knowledge they otherwise would not have access too or experience another culture they otherwise could not afford.

But despite of that, the flow of information is still not free. As always, one’s opportunity to learn is largely depend upon his/her exposure to relevent resources. For example, in this world, Internet access and broadband speed make a big difference. Therefore, when thinking about creating a cyberinfrastructure with ICT to improve learning, it’s important to take into consideration the affordability and accessibility of those technologies. Ironically, those who cannot afford to use certain  technology (either for physical or economical reason) often need it the most.

Pouring ICT innovation into education is certainly beneficial for the collective human capacity, but we still are facing a big challenge here: how to build a cyberinfrastructure that ensures all of us can get a fair share.

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