Recently CNN featured an article Facebook reveals online education app for Rwanda. This article made me reflect on the benefits of the digital world. Today many students throughout the world are turning to online education. Many wireless companies are partnering with Facebook to bring the Wi-Fi to Rwanda. Many parts of Rwanda are not online. SocialEDU will begin by first offering free Wi-Fi to University students. The materials from the EDX app that students will have access to, will contain content from the top universities such as Harvard and MIT. The SocialEDU project will allow students in Rwanda to talk with teachers in America. I feel that this application will be allowing for a greater opportunity for students in Rwanda to interact through a digital realm with professors they maybe never have received the chance to learn from. This new form of digital interaction with allow for spreading of ideas and international exchanged.
Mark Zukerberg, Facebook founder, wants to bridge what he calls the “digital divide”. The digital divide is the gap between developing and developed countries. The main goal is bringing “connectivity” to the third world in hopes of improving access to education. EDX allows students to learn internationally from the top universities. Many students in Rwanda may not have the opportunity to work with professors in America. Digital technologies are providing these students with tools for empowerment.
My main concerns is the impact social media may have in countries such as Rwanda. Will education in the classroom turn to education online? What are the next steps if SocialEDU succeeds? Will SocialEDU allow students in Rwanda the opportunity to study in the United States?
Looking at SocialEDU through a critical perspective, I feel as if we, the United States, are contributing to the digital divide. We believe we are helping close the digital gap but we may be actually aiding in the distance. The first world feels responsible for aiding the third world by trying to close the digital gap by providing financially based resources. Aid toward SocialEDU may be making the Rwanda dependent on these outside sources. Is it the United States’ responsibility to be providing these technologies to places such as Rwanda? What is the impact of having corporations such as Facebook enter Rwanda? Will these apps be embraced or will they be lost?
I feel that there are endless benefits in providing online education in places that may not have access to education. I am very interested in looking at how SocialEDU impacts higher education in Rwanda.
Chapelle, I. 2014. Facebook reveals online education app for rwanda. http://edition.cnn.com/2014/02/24/business/facebook-pitches-online-education-rwanda/
Lunden, I (2014). Facebook led internet.org partners with nokie on socialedu in rwanda, unilever in india, ericsson on new lab to connect developing economics