The subject of technology in education (see Harvard’s take on the subject: http://blogs.hbr.org/innovations-in-education/) ranges in girth from the iPad and mobile technology to location based services, artificial intelligence, augmented reality and more. While technological advances and the implications of technology to add greater sophistication and depth to learning are fascinating, the most important question remains to be addressed in widespread discussion: How can technology be used to benefit education for the greatest number of people in the world and not just the privileged few?
The unfortunate fact is that most of the technology that has been developed over recent decades and applied to education has ended up benefiting selective individuals and institutions and not a majority of people. Some of the reasons for this disparity include access and affordability issues. Specifically regarding accessibility, in the developing world, large numbers of people seek higher education to better their lives, yet many do not have computers or individual internet access, and if they do, it’s not with broadband internet. In many cases instead of computers, individuals in the developing world have cellular phones. However, it is arguable if cellular can be used in education for these individuals, as in most cases, those with cellular phones in the developing world don’t have them with 3G or 4G and hence, advanced mobile technology uses for education are not applicable to them.
Yet technology, when adapted for widespread use, can be effectively used globally for educational enhancement and assist great numbers of people wishing to pursue educational opportunity. UoPeople uses technology that many around the world can use. We utilize Open Source Technology (Moodle) to teach our students. Having students from all over the world in one (virtual) classroom dictates that they can’t all be in a classroom at the same time; hence our study is asynchronous for anytime, anywhere learning. We also do not use audio or video in our learning module to ensure broadband isn’t a requirement to access materials, allowing for many of our students to study in internet cafes. Our model exemplifies the use of technology which is globally available to benefit the majority, and not just a minority, of those seeking education around the world. The over 90% satisfaction level of our students shows that this model is highly effective in both delivery and purpose.