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Distance Learning: Instant International Education

September 1, 2011

I recently read this inspiring article on distance learning and how the Internet is allowing students who live in remote areas of the Amazon jungle to learn from teachers far, far away.

 

Now, distance learning is nothing new. But logistically setting up a virtual classroom in the harsh conditions of a remote Amazonian village is quite a feat. If it weren’t for this innovative initiative by the Amazonas Sustainable Foundation (FAS), children in the small village of Tumbira wouldn’t have access to the knowledge they do now. I’m curious why we in the developed nations don’t utilize distance learning as much for our own benefit?

 

“Live online” learning is common as a training tool in the private sector, but not utilized nearly as much as it should in traditional academia. We talk a lot about internationalizing a global curriculum, so why not integrate our classrooms…literally. Students in Texas can attend class in Taiwan, and vice versa. Allowing students and teachers from half way around the world engage and interact in real time will go a long way in promoting the exchange of ideas and cultural tolerance.

 

In no way should virtual distance learning replace traditional study abroad programs, but it could definitely be a great tool to complement them.  It’s obviously possible, and it’s certainly being done. But not enough. In order for a global curriculum to truly exist, we must internationalize our classrooms. If small Amazonian villages can do it, why shouldn’t the rest of us?

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