Education is one of the most significant factors for economic growth and poverty alleviation in developing countries and the access and utilization of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) for spreading education is considered to possess high potential for these countries struggling for meeting a rising need for education while facing a number of challenges. E-learning is encountering a lot of challenges and hindrances in developing states and drop-out rates are normally too higher than in conventional classroom based learning. (Bollag, B. and Overland, M.A.,2001)
A study conducted by Dept. of Informatics, Swedish Business School Örebro University, Sweden, categorized the challenges, into four major groups:
- Course challenges, These include design, content and delivery
- Challenges associated with characteristics of a teacher and a student
- technological challenges
- contextual challenges – cultural, organizational, and societal issues
The most common and biggest challenge is related to course, its development and delivery. Concerns have been raised regarding content, its design and the activities to be carried out in a course, the support functions offered and course delivery mode. There is a need to especially design a new curriculum suitable for E-learning environment, in order to create awareness how E-earning is different from conventional classroom based learning.
2. Individual characteristics:
The characteristics of the students in developing countries have to do a lot with E-learning adoption and its success. The student motivation is the factor that holds prominence in most of the surveys conducted in this regard. Students in developing countries have been found to have little motivation for becoming a part of E-learning setting. Several reasons are responsible for this. One of the reasons is conflicting priorities. These are concerned with the amount of time students have to, and desire to, dedicate to the course.
Students in developing countries revealed that it is very stressful and difficult for them to arrange time for an E-learning course because of conflicting priorities with family and work commitments. Most of the students in developing countries are found to be doing part time and low paid jobs. A third issue is the student’s financial difficulties. Developing countries are badly hit by poverty since long and lack of student financial support can be a forecaster of student withdrawal. A secure and helpful study atmosphere affect e-learning to an extremely big extent and some researches even propose that this is the most significant factor impacting drop out and student retention.
3. The Technological Challenges
One of the major concerns under this challenge is the access to Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), by students and teachers. In developing countries the access to computers, laptops, tablets, TV etc is not wide spread and a large number of students are still deprived of the basic requirements for effective E-learning setup. Secondly, the cost of the technology and equipments also matter. The cost factor is critical in developing countries because in these regions there is a need for low cost and affordable ICT alternatives with low service charges.
4. Contextual challenges
Every society holds certain beliefs, culture and values that affect its education system. One challenge identified here is the role of student and a teacher. In most of the developing countries, students are trained to show honor for teachers who are considered as the experts and cannot be questioned. In these cultures where students behave as receivers, the effective implementation of E-learning is challenging. Students being spoon fed by teachers and student’s too much dependency on teachers are taken as obstacles in E-learning settings.
Bollag, B. and Overland, M.A. (2001) Developing Countries Turn to Distance Education, Chronicle of Higher Education, 47, 40, A29-22.