Training teachers to give online classes has many challenges. One of the greatest here in Ecuador is the simple fact that so few people have experience with or even access to the Internet.
The Ecuadorian Census Bureau just published a report indicating that 41% of Ecuadorians have used a computer at some point in their lives and 25% have used the Internet.
Of those who have used the Internet, 40% did so from a public place like a cyber café as they are called here, 20% from their home and 20% from their work. The rest reported connecting from a variety of other places.
Further, of those who use the Internet, 46% of them do so for educational purposes, while 7% do so to work.
Here in the city of Guayaquil, 48% of all homes have a telephone line, while 9% have access to the Internet.
Lastly, statistics suggest that the number of Internet users is rising due to increasing access by mobile phone, especially among urban youth.
So, the obvious question is: who will be my student's students? Or, how possible is it to offer a series of online classes for university students under such circumstances? Many students seem interested, especially those from provincial cities who otherwise do not have access to high-quality education, but it remains to be seen if they will actually register for the programs and how successful they will be.
Another question I have is how possible is it to take an online class using a mobile phone as the main interface with the course?
In any case, online courses are an opportunity to raise educational standards and give more students access to a wider variety of programs, and that is definitely a step in the right direction.