Benefits of online education for the vulnerable population

The situation we live in today is changing many of the ways in which we interacted, worked, studied and entertained ourselves until a few weeks ago. At AT&T we go beyond being a telecommunications company. We are committed to making an impact in the communities where we operate.

L to digital inclusion is a multifactorial challenge it depends on: access to infrastructure (network coverage), packages and affordable equipment, and digital skills. In 20 years, 90% of all jobs will require digital skills [1] . For this reason, it is essential to help people be better prepared, bringing learning opportunities closer and eliminating social, economic, gender or other barriers.

A study by the Internet Association of Mexico shows that 44% of Mexicans who study do so in a mixed mode (online and in person) and only 13% do it completely online. With increased use of technology for educational purposes, significant improvements could be seen:

Increasing access to learning and training as a matter of equity

Provide opportunities to upgrade workforce skills

Improve the profitability of educational resources

Improve the quality of existing educational structures

Improve the capacity of the education system

Balancing inequalities between age groups

In order to support specific causes of food, health and distance education to benefit vulnerable people who have suffered the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, AT&T in Mexico will donate $ 30 million pesos to civil society organizations that work for combat the impact of the crisis.

In conjunction with  Reinserta , a foundation that works with the penitentiary system to break with crime and violence circles, it will help to maintain connectivity to follow up on the Social Reintegration Model for Adolescents and Young People, who together with the Agency for the United States for International Development (USAID) provides the tools necessary for young people to build a life away from crime.

This donation will benefit more than 130 young people for 6 months in 5 centers in Mexico City and the Metropolitan Area:

Internment center “Quinta del Bosque

Santa Martha Acatitla Men’s Social Reintegration Center (CEVARESO)

Community of Specialized Attention for Women (CAEM)

Center for the Internment and Adaptation of Adolescents Constituent Offenders

CRAJ: Reintegration Center for adolescents and young people

Advantages and disadvantages of online education

Online education is convenient because the student does not have to travel to another place to attend the classes. The student receives information and care from the comfort of his home or other space that he deems appropriate.

Each student connects at any time they want and chooses a study schedule that does not interfere with their other activities. Here the flexible nature of non-face-to-face education is observed.

Economy

Among the advantages of virtual education is profitability. The participant (student) saves money on food, drinks and transportation.

In addition, students deliver their assignments through email or the applications through which they communicate with the teacher, thus avoiding expenses for printing and buying books.

Speed

The content is transmitted immediately, something that favors feedback. Each participant can solve their doubts or expand any information in a very short time.

Equally immediate is the receipt of the results of the evaluations, which shortens the waiting period for students to know their grade.

Talents

By not limiting themselves to a geographic region, educational institutions can access better-trained foreign talent.

Flexibility

You can study at any time and from anywhere in the world, something that promotes the confluence of culture and the exchange of knowledge.

Update

With this modality of distance education, the information contained in the materials (guides, slides, etc.) can be easily updated.

The material is digitized and that makes it easier to incorporate the news, even during class.

Personalization

Each student minimizes the fear of asking questions to the teacher because they receive personalized attention, thus ensuring feedback. The questions revolve around the doubts that exist to carry out the assignments and evaluations.

The benefits and challenges of online education

The integration of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) in education has made it possible to explore alternative training methods to increase access to knowledge and learning for millions of children, youth and adults around the world. Today, anyone anywhere in the world with an internet connection has access to an unlimited range of courses, certificates, diplomas, bachelor’s and master’s degrees at very low cost or totally free. With technological advances, more and more universities around the world are evolving to adapt to this current reality and make use of new digital tools to expand and diversify their academic offerings. In Mexico, the main public and private universities in the country have joined this trend and offer courses, certificates, university degrees, diplomas and online masters that include the same apprenticeships and teachings as face-to-face studies. In addition to online training offered by institutions of higher education (formal education), in recent years an informal learning alternative has emerged through massively open online courses (MOOCs). Just go to the page of sites like edx, one of the main providers of online education founded by Harvard University and MIT in 2012, to observe the diversity of courses that can be accessed with the most prestigious professors in the world. world. The site includes 1,277 courses on topics as diverse as Dante’s Divine Comedy , algorithms and programming, or the psychology of negotiation. 1 It is an undeniable fact then that the use of ICT in education and learning processes has been revolutionary. Online education, both formal and informal, offers great benefits. First, it has huge economies of scale, making it extremely cost-effective, since the marginal cost of adding a new student is zero. By providing access to knowledge and information to so many people who could not otherwise do so, online education contributes to reducing inequality of opportunity. As the study of the Executive Council of Global Companies on Digital Economy in Mexico rightly points out, the use of ICT has the potential to transform entire societies with the simple fact of changing their education. 2 Online education eliminates the need for physical interaction and instead creates virtual learning environments through video tutorials, social networks, chats and virtual forums to interact with teachers and other students. It also allows students to advance at their own pace, that is, learning becomes more personalized according to the skills, preferences and time availability of each. However, it is important to note that despite these and many other advantages, experience has shown that there are still some barriers to online training. The main challenge to promote the use of technology in educational processes is to ensure reliable internet access. High-speed connectivity and access to sufficient infrastructure are prerequisites to drive online education. On the other hand, it is important to also promote digital literacy or the understanding of digital tools and information to take advantage of online education. In this area, the results will take time to manifest themselves, and in Mexico we still have a long way to go. The high dropout rate in online education from both academic programs and MOOCs indicates that another challenge to overcome is ensuring the completion of programs, especially those that are free. In this regard, various studies coincide in pointing out the centrality that the figure of the teacher plays in achieving an effective teaching and learning process in any educational modality. In other words, although new technologies allow to bring content to more people, the role played by the teacher is still transcendental. That is why teachers must have the ability to use the methodologies and didactic resources of online education to establish contact with students and seek their attention, motivation and interest throughout the program. Similarly, On the other hand, while online education is very convenient in the sense that it eliminates the need for physical interaction, some argue that the lack of face-to-face contact with other students limits the learning experience, making it difficult to establish personal ties that can only be generated within classrooms. Derived from the above, and from the best practices in online and face-to-face methods, hybrid learning or blended learning arose , which integrates both modalities to create a comprehensive learning experience and provide students with flexibility and support simultaneously. The hybrid approach has the potential to foster independent learning and collaboration, as well as provide more channels of communication between students and teachers. Because it has proven to be a very successful method, more and more universities in the world are opting for this combined model.