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Distance Learning Technologies for Basic Education in Disadvantaged Areas

Report ID:
November 2003
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Basic education plays a crucial role in uplifting disadvantaged areas
from the grip of poverty. Traditional approaches centered around
brick-and-mortar schools, however, may not easily meet the massive
scalability needs of basic education in developing nations. In this
document, we propose a digital technology-based distance learning
project that serves to amplify the reach and productivity of teachers
so that quality basic education can reach the disadvantaged children
who have access to none today.

Our proposed effort utilizes an innovative blend of the ``high-tech''
and the ``low-tech.'' The low-tech includes approaches such as using
the transportation of mobile storage devices via the postal system to
provide high-bandwidth interaction without relying on a well-developed
networking infrastructure. The high-tech approach seeks to exploit an
integration of multiple types of communication channels (including
both the Internet and storage devices carried by the postal system)
in a peer-to-peer system that bridges the space and time gap among
geographically distributed teachers and their students. If
successful, we believe that the proposed effort will not only
dramatically improve the basic education landscape, but also put in
place a digital communication infrastructure that will serve the needs
of a wider array of applications in health care, commerce, information
dissemination, and entertainment. This joint research effort should
also provide a real-world training ground for cutting-edge computer
science and pedagogical research. We hope that the
proposed effort will serve as a model for interdisciplinary and
international cross-border collaboration.

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