Coming Out of the Darkness of The Past


Paul BREEN


ABSTRACT
Technology is helping to reduce the education gap between developed countries and those that are still developing. The following article gives one example of an innovative teacher training project where a western university, in Rome, Italy, is selflessly showing their African counterparts, in rural Rwanda, how to become fully autonomous in training their future generations. Schrum and Hong (2002) state that “learners throughout the world are demanding educational opportunities in an ‘anytime and anywhere’ format and institutions are responding by devoting substantial resources to develop online distance learning.” This assertion is fast becoming the reality in every corner of the globe where the teaching profession is using technology to bring education to people and places that might never have imagined receiving its benefits little more than a decade ago. Such examples include teachers working with blind children in Chile on “a project called Hyperstories which exposes blind children to a learning methodology that uses 3D sound interactive software to help them construct cognitive structures that represents their surrounding space” and “aims to move these disadvantaged blind children from darkness to what they call ‘aural’ vision” (Gourley, 2004). This metaphor of technology bringing people from darkness into the light can be applied to many other contexts where professionals in the field of education are giving rather than taking from the developing world and offering hope that we can indeed create a world of shared resources and international unity, rather than division, in the future. The benefits of technology are now helping to rebuild Rwanda, the beautiful ‘Land of a Thousand Hills’ and ‘Gorilla’s In The Mist’. Unfortunately, just over a decade ago, this densely populated, tropical nation became synonymous with less beautiful things such as ethnic cleansing, genocide and refugee crises. The war was bloody and divisive and further hindered an already impoverished nation’s progress. Yet, slowly this beautiful country, in the highlands of east Africa, is successfully emerging from centuries of colonial oppression and internecine fighting to take its first steps towards becoming part of the 24/7 digital age of education.

[PDF]