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The world is exploring every possible means to infuse education to the underserved. Different agencies are consistently working on catering education to the poverty ridden poor background mass of the society. The policy makers have realised the essence of educating the underserved to lower or eradicate the poverty. The need to provide skill development oriented education tops the priority so that the learner from the poor background can land themselves to the desired jobs. But traditional classroom based learning was not sufficient to ensure the greater participation of the pupils from the underserved background. Since most of these pupil choose to work, hence a flexible mode of learning was sought. Thus, online education come to picture to provide learning to these pupils. As online learning or the distance learning renders tremendous flexibility of time, place and price- it has gained enormous worldwide popularity.
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Online Learning Consortium or OLC the leading organisation for online learning has decided to stepping in to provide education to the underserved. In the recent concluded International Conference for Online Learning acknowledged of receiving $ 2.5 million from Bill and Gates Foundation to extended new age learning or online digital education for the underserved. The OLC has decided to invest the grant for the betterment of the online education. It will incorporates colleges and faculties to improve the quality of the online learning. It has decided to honour the colleges and instructors who will enhance the level to essence of the web learning through a competition. The three year programme of OLC will release $10,000 and $100,000 to the educational institutions and members of the faculty.
To evaluate the efforts of the colleges and the faculties it'll device the quality score card. OLC has wisely designed a plot to engage colleges, institutions and faculties to make encourage online learning accessible to the minority, less paid income group and the first generation. This way online degree programmes will be more meaningful to the learners and I hope it'll serve the purpose of attaining education.
It seems that The OLC has tong term vision to make online learning more meaningful to the learner. The goal is creation of favourable and convenient web learning environment for the underserved.
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In an interview CEO of the OLC, Kathleen S. Ives has said, “This is an audience that we’ve been trying to work with for years, and we haven’t cracked the code, we’re hoping that this grant will give us the opportunity to reach this audience in a different way.”
The desperate attempts by the OLC to push the underserved to log in to the web learning has received strong support from the grant.
Karen L. Pedersen, the OLC’s chief knowledge officer said, “This really helps us to open the doors and open the opportunities to engage with individuals that maybe we haven’t connected with, maybe they didn’t quite see the connection with the Online Learning Consortium. We have an opportunity to touch and reach and engage with the community we have, but [also] grow our community.”
The fiscal support from the Gates and Linda foundation has greater vision. It wants to promote the attainment of the degree by the learner. Senior Fellow for Post-Secondary Education, G. Ptaszynski says that in last seven years the foundation has infused $ 500 millions so that learners can attain degree from colleges.
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He said, “Blended and personalized digital courseware can outperform traditional face-to-face and fully online courses to help solve the dropout crisis.”
We have to realise-who are the practitioners of the online learning? What is their standard of living? Users of online education have better life style. Is the life of underserved is same as them? The obvious answer is No.
Colita Nichols Fairfax, Associate Professor , Social Work, Norfolk State University said, “There is a fallacy that just because the digital age is here, everyone can utilize online learning, we need to consider the lifestyle and the demands of the nontraditional student when we’re talking about having them take online courses and how we interface with that population.”
The Bethune-Cookman University has surveyed three semesters of online degree programmes for adults and traced the problems faced by the students during the digital web learning. The report showed that though mostly the students were complacent, 17% were not satisfied with the delayed feedback from the instructors.
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The prosperity in life heavily rely on the finance. Thus it is essentially imperative to ensure that people across the globe participate in it. The increasing number of the underserved worldwide can destabilise the economy. Hence, the gap of educating among the underserved should be filled in. The initiative of the OLC and the from Gates and Linda Foundation will surely engage the underserved to the obtain the post-secondary education. The step taken by the OLC will help the students to receive most relevant knowledge with right teaching technique via online learning.
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