With the need to gain access to more learning materials from the global community, there is a need to have communication channels that will be able to gain access to the vast availability of knowledge. When applications were initially developed to be used in the classroom, more emphasis was directed to the offline tools that would enable the students to be taught in the classroom using technologies like overhead projectors and presentation software. The teachers were more concerned about the way of presenting their work to the students and ignored the content and the collaboration that the students by engaging with the other students from around the globe.
They also did not realize that they could get more from the Internet. There are e-libraries that have been developed which, with some little fee, are rich in content. The technologies that are being used in the rural areas for learning should be improved to keep pace with the world. With Web 2.0 and Semantic Web in the offing, there is a lot to be desired. This proposal will look at the requirements that are needed in order to implement modern technologies in the rural areas of South Africa. It will also look at the impact of such technologies in learning.
Integrating Web 2.0 into learning
There has been excitement in the use of Web 2.0 technologies. Social networking technologies will change the way students learn and communicate. Unlike in traditional education setup where students were supposed to attend classes and get the materials from their physical libraries, today, Web 2.0 has the potential to change all these for the better; rural students in South Africa can have a chance to access the best learning materials in the online libraries.
They can also get to interact with the online community of students who are very eager to share their knowledge with the online community. As the social networking technologies and Web 2.0 takes shape, it is important to know what works and what does not work. There are areas where learning using the traditional set up is the preferred method than the use of networking technologies. There are social networking technologies that have been put in place that have helped in the establishment of these communication channels. In this paper, I am going to give the impact and the potential that this technology has for the students who are found in rural areas.
Learners need a reason to collaborate and a simple tool is sometimes sufficient to grab learners’ attention and enhance the natural interaction that occurs between them; in the best of cases, this in turn results in learning. Innovative technology not only motivates students to learn easily, it also makes learning more fun. It is however worthy of note that the present day curricula is mostly based on real world problems, which often provokes intellectually solutions in the classroom.
Many people argue that it is not possible to incorporate ICT into rural areas in South Africa; the basis for this argument is that many rural areas in South African have no Internet connectivity. Since the Internet is very useful in this area, there is need to have reliable Internet connections in the rural areas. What is more, most of the areas in the rural areas have no power in their vicinity. It is difficult to implement this in these areas.
The current technologies of using the Internet to enable online learning and information sharing goes along way with the standards that have been developed to incorporate these new technologies. Standards have to be there in place so that the new implementations in these fields go hand in hand with the laid down universal standards.
To guide in carrying out this research, there are questions that will be vital.
- Can the use of Internet technologies give viable platform for learning in rural schools?
- Will the use of Web 2.0 improve knowledge acquisition and learning resources for the students?
- What needs to be learned by the learners in order to effectively use the new technologies of learning?
One of the objectives of this paper is to look at the impact of the Internet technologies on learning on rural schools in South Africa. There are many to be desired in rolling out the new technology. There is needed to take the necessary caution to make sure that the unnecessary staff are not available in the learning portal. With the advent of material being available in the Internet, there is need to be assured that the students will not get the pornography and other stuff that are not desirable for the learners.
With Web 2.0, the network itself is the platform for learning. There will be the shift in learning paradigms. With these technologies, learning takes place anywhere. The student learns without regard to their demographic locations. With Web 2.0, the network is the platform and learning will take place any place in the network. The student has the choice to organize his/her own learning environment.
In this environment, the student will organize the resources which are located anywhere in the web. This brings out a new paradigm in learning where the eLearning course is not much similar to a virtual space like virtual campus or virtual classroom but offers a space that is used for communication between the students in rural areas, and tutors (Herselman 2003, 23-28). On top of this, it also offers students and teachers the resources that are required to help them to improve their own personal learning environments. The technologies are being further improved so that there will more uses of it (Hunter, & Bob 2006, pp. 61-81).
There is development so that we have more online exams away from the conventional classroom exams where students are required to do their exams from he confines of their classrooms. This has been made possible by making sure that there are security measures to keep hackers at bay. The use of online exams to gauge the performance of students was dreaded at first due to the increase in computer fraud. With students from diverse place and geographical locations on the increase, it is becoming economical to use Web 2.0 technologies to offer learning, certification and communication for students in rural areas (Warbuton, & Steve 2009, pp. 416-421).
Another paradigm shift with Web 2.0 is that of collective intelligence. With this, there is the social construction of knowledge. With traditional learning paradigm, emphasis was on author concept. This concept is related to literacy age, which was not valid even in the age of spoken communication alone. The concept of a specific author is under discussion in the cyber age. Although there is this paradigm shift, people still consider information without authors as unreliable (Clarysse et al 2009, pp. 431-435).
This information is not trusted. In traditional course control on documents is normally based on authority. This is not the case with Web 2.0 where the high number of contributions that compensate individual errors provides the control. With high levels of control in Web 2.0, it is easier to control the authenticity of documents because many people read the documents and therefore control and correct the errors collectively. Students in rural areas are able to control the rate of their learning at all times (Zervaas 2007, pp. 48-51). They are able to create their own world, references, time, and even their own community of students in rural areas.
Students in rural areas are empowered to learn which in effect nurtures and enhances their self-motivation to learn other new content from other students and from other Web content sites. They also have flexible roles. They are sometimes students and sometimes they offer support for their various groups. This offers a good collaboration between students in rural areas.
Another shift in the Web 2.0 learning for students in rural areas is that with this new shift, there are now varied learning options which range from personal digital assistants, iPod, and computers. What is more, with the coming up of powerful mobile phones, it is now possible to have learning material from the mobile phones (Huang, Derrick, & Ravi 2007, pp. 331-334). The availability to choose between several devices to work on learning tasks is not a relevant question since it more of a technical question. This implies that learning takes place every time when someone is travelling, walking, and the list is endless.
Courses that are electronic in nature, that is, eLearning courses seems to take the concept of studying any place and at any time but this is not usually the case. In learning traditional setting there is time for doing the various activities; time to study and time to do other activities (Condie, Rae, & Kay 2007, pp. 34-37). With networking technologies and Web 2.0, the difference between study times and time to do other activities is not well differentiated. This is more of a question between formal and non-formal education. This will come out more clearly as Web 2.0 technologies are developed further (Hazari et al 2009, 191-194).
If this discrete nature of traditional learning is done away with Web 2.0, this will therefore mean that learning and doing other things will be done simultaneously, just like children do. All this has been made possible because there are devices that aid in communication for students in rural areas (Bharati 2003, pp. 23-24). Students in rural areas are able to access these devices anywhere. Learning therefore takes place anywhere.
The last paradigm shift is that of increase in the user experience richness. This is made possible because they learn from peers. A key aspect in the advent of Web 2.0 learning is peer to peer learning. This has given rise to terms like peer review, and peer tutoring. With traditional paradigm, there is a clear difference between a professor and a student. Likewise, in Web 1.0, there is a difference between an expert and a novice.
With Web 2.0, the difference is eradicated and thus it is more subtle. This is not true for those courses which come with pages and pages of documents. With Web 2.0, rather than the content being composed, organized and then packaged, the eLearning content is sought of syndicated, becoming more like a blog, podcast or a post. There is more emphasis of community, sharing, and exchange of ideas in Web 2.0 (Franceshi et al 2009, pp. 78-79). Learners want to gauge their know-how and want to know if they know something. This portrays a give and take atmosphere, collaboration and connections with others.
There are many developments in the learning environment where the learners are getting to interact with the other learners. With the technologies that are discussed in this paper, there are many opportunities for learners to collaborate and share. With this trend, there are more web forums that have been created that will enable students to discuss technical issues as they interact with each other (Liaw, & Huang, 2003). There are many motivational principles that have been addressed in networking technologies which include Mocha, Chinswing, Mixxer, Scrapblog, VoiceThreads.
The theory that this paper will come up with is the fact that technology, integrated with education, can come out with desirable results in the education field. There are many developments that are making technology to be effective in the field of education. The recent developments in the Internet are something to be desired about. Mathematics is a subject that many find it difficult to grasp. There are technologies which have been devised that make this subject easier to understand. We can thus say that the pendulum is swinging back to its original place. The theory behind all these is the fact that computing is going back to the old days of using technology to impart knowledge.
Many education professors support the fact that Mathematics can be made easier when technology is brought into the picture. It is basing on this fact that I support the use of Internet technology especially Web 2.0 to impart knowledge.
Most of the facts and the arguments that are presented in this research come from a field survey that the researcher got from academic libraries in South Africa. I have had enough sources from the education offices that are found in the various stations in South Africa.
Data collection techniques
The researcher will use questionnaires to get the information from the students and the teachers. This is a functional technique that has proved to work well with many people. Questionnaires will be constructed and disseminated to various teachers and students in the rural areas of South Africa.
The use of observation will also be used to get information from the students. The researcher will have a study of the current trends in education. He will then get to observe the perception of students to Mathematics. This will be observed in the rural areas of South Africa. Of particular interest will be emphasis on Mathematics. I will be keen on the output of the students of Mathematics with the use of technology.
Data analysis will be done to get the results and the meaning of the results. The program that will be used here is SPSS. Statistical Package for the Social Sciences will be the more desirable program that will be used here. It has all the computations that are required in such analysis.
In conclusion, to further enhance academics and educators, it is important to learn the learning styles and approaches for the new generation of learning, especially for business students. With the implementation of new learning technologies, the learners are keeping in pace in the adoption of these new technologies. It is difficult to get to know which learning style is appropriate for a particular setup. There should be extensive experiments dealing on how to address the learning styles of this new generation of student. The new technologies have proved to be a perfect platform that gives students opportunities to share ideas with their peers.
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