I was unable to participate in the second session for the Mozilla Open Education course due to local Internet problems that meant I had no sound. While it was frustrating to begin with, I realised that this is the reality of the situation in most countries and that while we talk about open this and open that, we’re not going to make real progress in South Africa until we get decent bandwidth, lower access costs and deeper penetration of the service.
Taking this idea a littler further, I went on to work out that I’m one of the fortunate people in the top 1% of people in South Africa who have a broadband connection at home, which means that the majority of citizens in this country will remain completely unaware of everything I do that relates to the use of technology in education. This really helps to keep things in perspective, as high levels of poverty and crime are far more important issues in terms of social change, than the results of my blogging assignment.
I guess my point is that it’s easy to get frustrated with the technical problems experienced as part of this online web seminar, but that I live in a developing country where my lack of streaming audio is the least of our problems.
PS. In case you’re wondering “Why bother if the technology is so limited?” my plan is to use technology to improve physiotherapy education, which will create better physiotherapists, who will then improve the health service, which will have a positive effect on large numbers of the population 🙂
Note: I calculated the percentage of people with broadband by taking the number of ADSL subscribers in 2008 as a percentage of the population from the 2008 census. It’s not very accurate but gives a decent estimate.