Online Courses And The Global South

Juan Lindo, president of El Salvador, 1841-42
Juan Lindo, president of El Salvador, 1841-42 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Before I came to America for college, after high school, I had rented a room not far from the largest library in Nepal. I liked to read. One of the things I noticed at the library was there were all these chemistry journals from decades back. I had some idea of how fast knowledge changed and new research happened. I was flabbergasted that there were Masters students writing their thesis papers based on journal articles from 30 years ago that would not stand global level scrutiny. But it was happening. I had read somewhere, different countries live in different centuries.

Taking journals online, taking world class courses online fundamentally changes things. This below is a welcome report.

Online Courses Put Pressure on Universities in Poorer Nations
edX, the $60 million collaboration between MIT and Harvard to stream “massive open online courses,” or MOOCs, over the Web. ..... The University of El Salvador, located in San Salvador, is the only public university in the country. It spends $60 million a year to teach 50,000 students, and its budget is so limited that it can only accept about one-third of applicants. (By comparison, the University of Michigan, which has a similar number of students, spends $1.6 billion on its core academic mission, not including sports teams, dorms, and hospitals.) Protests over the shortage of spots regularly shut down the campus. Semesters don't end on time. The university doesn't appear in international rankings. ..... within 50 years there might only be 10 universities still “delivering” higher education. ...... One problem is out-of-date coursework. Martinez says computer science is still taught using the waterfall model, a programming approach that dates to the punch-card era. “A computer science student here spends the first six months doing flow diagrams, because that’s how we did it in the 1970s in El Salvador when we didn’t have any computers to work on,” he says. MOOCs, by contrast, are teaching a new technique known as agile software development in classes like edX’s CS169.1, which focuses on how Web-based programs such as Gmail are created.
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