Online education


A new report from the Singapore Economic Development Board examines the potential of economic unification of Southeast Asia, related to the 2015 establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community. The report emphasises the importance of innovation hubs and spending on the Internet of Things to boost productivity and profits. However, due to the ever-deepening digital divide, some countries in the region have been left behind, 'and the region's youthful workforce will need to 'rightskill' to be able to offer relevant abilities - like finding digital solutions for the region's supply chain.' In short, the report claims that investments in infrastructure and innovation, coupled with new regional standards for education will lead to the harmonisation of the great diversity in the region.

The Pew Research Center published results from their survey on lifelong learning and technology. According to the findings, a majority of Americans (73%) consider themselves lifelong learners. Yet, many of those taking the survey are unaware of the concept of distance learning (61%) and have little awareness of Massive Open Online Courses (80%). The survey also finds that technology assets influence the likelihood of engaging in online learning. Those with multiple access points, such as a smartphone and home broadband connection, are much more likely to engage in online learning. 

Speaking at the UNESCO Mobile Learning Week, Pakistani IT Minister Anusha Rahman stated that the development of ICT infrastructure and the acceleration of digitisation in the country were given the highest priority by the Pakistani government. In one year, Internet penetration has increased from 3 percent to over 15 percent, and Rahman said that 'through mutual collaboration with stakeholders of the education and ICT sectors...we can develop mobile technologies which can accelerate the use and sharing of open educational resources and simultaneously better support contents in local languages.' 

Are college and university webpages accessible for persons with disabilities? This is the question Allie Grassgreen Ciaramella discusses in her article Closer look at colleges’ online accessibility. Noting that more than 90 percent of the website pages reviewed failed to meet guidelines to make websites accessible to disabled users, she goes on to say 'One of the most common problems is a lack of screen readers that clearly explain to blind users what’s on a web page'. 

A paper published in the Journal of Higher Education shows that participation in Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) follows a consistent pattern over time and illustrates the influence of course design on participation. The paper finds that MOOC participation decreases rapidly in the first week and remains relatively constant after that. It also shows that course design, such as sequencing of lectures and wording of lecture titles, can impact engagement, persistence, and completion. The findings build on a dataset consisting of 44 MOOCs and 2.1 million student observations.

Data show that in the USA, overall enrollment in online learning programmes grew faster in 2014 than in 2013, although enrollment in the for-profit sector fell by 2.8 percent in 2014. During 2015, academic leaders who considered online learning as critical to their strategies fell to 63.3 percent in 2015, from 70.8 percent in 2014. This decrease is attributed to perception about marketing issues and the quality of education, especially in the for-profit sector. In contrast, blended learning programmes may be viewed more positively by faculty members.




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