How often do we tuck ourselves in our own world with coffee cup in hand ready to meet the crisis of the week? I know in my own world, it is easy to stress about the little things. While the little things are important building blocks to address those large issues, we should often step back and examine how our work impacts the big picture. Are we arguing over semantics or making an impact? Are the semantics important to effective impact or are they just white noise? My own efforts with developing a simple process for an improved quality online education or training, whether academic or corporate is momentarily shelved as I consider the implications of social transformation and poverty reduction through education.
Murthy and Mathur (2008) brings to our attention the challenges in providing effective eLearning to the rural communities to India. While 40,000,000 Indian students have access to academic studies, that pales in comparison to the 1+ billion potential Indian students of all ages. Online learning provides the most potential for social transformation in all rural and poverty areas of our world, but challenges seem overwhelming with the lack of infraststructure, funds, and expertise to enable this learning in those areas. There exists well focused curriculum for rural students that directly impact their interests from effective crop management to animal management. Programs include horticulture, floriculture and cultivating palm oil. However, the authors note how this barely scratches the surface of knowledge needed for these poverty stricken areasâ€™ success. Also, the fact that current curriculum only addresses farming leaves out the vocational, artisan, and female target audiences. As such, it is recommended to meet these challenges that online curriculum is developed for marketing agriculture, farming practices, innovation for artisans and weaving, environmental health and safety, as well as personal financial management. Unfortunately, the lack of two-way communication for effective online learning requires a heavy investment in telecommunication and low cost technologies.
The article forces us to acknowledge the overwhelming challenges of social transformation in rural areas in almost any country, but especially countries that have not fully developed. While there is no clear strategy that allows even a few expert people to resolve the problem, it provides a holistic image of all the issues that need addressed, not just with curriculum design, but infrastructural support and finance. It also provides awareness that the outside tendancy to believe agribusiness is the simple answer is completely incorrect. Stereotyping millions of people is inappropriate, and the authors list several other important vocations that education would have to address. While this article is difficult to follow because of poor English and the different writing delivery than the standard Western standards, it should not be dismissed.
The mere size of strategic resolutions for this situation is beyond the scope of even one industry. However, it does put into perspective once again the value of social learning and how much more effective social learning technology would be for rural transformation than formal and rigid educational expectations. While first world countries have the benefit of social learning infused with formal education, it is important to recognize the value of social learning being implemented first in areas unprepared for the rigor of rigid curriculum.
Murthy, C. S. H. N., & Mathur, G. (2008). Designing e-learning programs for rural social transformation and poverty reduction. Turkish Online Journal of Distance Education, 9(1), p. 169-179.