Learning without Limits: The Promise of High-speed Learning Networks for Rural and Inner-city Communities

By Barbara Craig and Ken Stevens.

Published by The Learner Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

New Web 2.0 technologies promoting collaboration and participation between students, teachers and experts outside the school and very often the local community challenge the traditional concept of a school operating within its own four walls, with its own distinctive culture and history and frequently in competition with others for students. This paper examines the premise that linking institutions through high-speed learning networks benefits learners with the promise of individualised learning and digital opportunities to pursue a limitless range of academic interests. This paper draws on two research projects: the first project has been conducted in remote rural communities in Canada where linking classes across schools to share teaching and learning and resources makes possible a wider range of academic subjects available to students in very small schools; the second project is conducted in a major New Zealand city where a pilot project has investigated the pedagogical and administrative benefits of aggregating learning across this network and linking the schools to other institutions through the Kiwi Advanced Research and Education Network (KAREN). This paper will consider the outcomes for students, the implications for the teacher role in this new structure and will question the concept of the traditional standalone school.

Keywords: Organisation Change, Learning Networks, Web 2.0 Technologies, e-Learning, Urban, Rural

The International Journal of Learning, Volume 18, Issue 1, pp.537-550. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 829.502KB).

Barbara Craig

Lecturer and Research Associate, School of Education Policy and Implementation, Faculty of Education, Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand

Barbara’s research interests include social and pedagogical implications of use of ICTs in formal educational and informal community settings. She is currently exploring the implications (for traditional “closed” schools and for teacher professional development) of a national shared educational network with learning management systems to share teaching resources, shared technical expertise, websites to communicate with members of communities and collaboration through videoconferencing and other participatory technologies. Her research investigates both school-to-school and school-to-home learning networks to suggest how the internet and Web 2.0 technologies can sustain local communities and create new, global, opportunities. In her work she challenges traditional models of the school and the organization of learning. She is interested not only in measuring educational benefits but capturing social and economic outcomes. Current research (Computers in Homes project) explores ICT and community development, through developing adult literacy and computer literacy training and providing home access to digital technologies in low-income and /or remote communities in New Zealand and the Pacific. The research approach she takes is participatory community-based research. The foci of her work with UNESCO are programmes under the ICT4D (ICT for development UNESCO programme) and literacy projects.

Prof. Ken Stevens

Professor, Faculty of Education, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. Johns, Canada

Ken’s teaching and research interests are in e-learning and rural education. He is a New Zealander who is currently a Professor of Education at Memorial University of Newfoundland in Canada. His previous appointments were at Victoria University of Wellington and at James Cook University in Queensland, Australia. Since taking up his Canadian appointment he has been engaged in developing new educational structures and processes to link schools in small and often isolated communities, using the Internet, enabling them to share resources and expertise in specialised areas of the curriculum. His major research interest is the identification of pedagogy for e-learning to take advantage of recent developments in multi-media technologies for classrooms. He lives in Canada and New Zealand.


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