Activity 3- Specific Issue Exploration – Accessibility to Technology in Globalized Educational Environment

The specific issue I am interested in for critical inquiry is the problem with accessibility to digital learning platforms in the globalized learning environment. The reason why I focus on this factor is that the difficulty of accessibility to digital educational platforms has become an important conundrum for both students and schools; it doesn’t undermine the learning efficacy but also impact schools’ recruitment of international students.

It is imperative to recognize that in the globalized trend, international students have become an important source of incomes for many schools in western countries. Particularly, students from China have witnessed a stable growth for the past decades and will continue to be a catalyst behind the trend given the fact that the number of high-income households (whose earnings are more than USD40,000 per year and therefore able to afford overseas education) is expected to increase by an average of 16.4% a year between 2021‑2030, which means  a potentially fierce competition to attract Chinese students in the following decade; based on  this prediction, schools will need to tailor their courses to fit student needs (EIU’s Country Analysis service., 2020).

Sadly, the COVID 19 has prevent the majority of Chinese students going abroad, and most of new students have to embark on their university career in digital learning platforms in 2020. That begs a challenge: many platforms, tools or apps are blocked by local firewall set by the government in mainland China, and what is beyond the conundrum is consideration of the social political impacts during the course design and the selection of learning tools. The overriding problem here is: digital tools are initially used to jump start community building and facilitate educational efficacy; however, the issue needs to be considered from a critical perspective with reference to cultural and political milieu of the countries where the technology is expected to be used – this is where my personal learning plan aims to elaborate on, hoping the study can be contributive to the critical inquiry of the our team on technology relevance to the community building.

References

EIU’s Country Analysis service. (2020). How will the coronavirus affect outbound Chinese students? https://www.eiu.com/n/how-will-the-coronavirus-affect-outbound-chinese-students/

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e2yu

Eric Yu is a dynamic English Second Language Instructor in the areas of distant learning. He holds a Bachelor degree from the Shanghai International Studies University and is currently studying in the MS degree from Royal Roads University in Victoria, BC, Canada. Since moving to Canada in 2011, he acclimated himself to the local anculture, and quickly built a cross nation online learning practice, getting involved in IELTS teaching and other online training projects between China and Canada. Eric Yu currently lives in Shanghai, China and work as the team leader of online after-school education in Global Eduation of Puxin Limited. He loves music and is fascinated to search for rare CDs and LPs of rock and jazz musicians in 1960s. Eric Yu has performed well in a diverse range of team environments, from every corner of the world. He lives in Shanghai, China but travels around the world frequently both for work and leisure.

8 thoughts on “Activity 3- Specific Issue Exploration – Accessibility to Technology in Globalized Educational Environment”

  1. Thanks so much for the really great post, Eric. I appreciate your perspective, as I know you’re currently dealing with exactly this issue. You make a really great point about how higher education institutions in North America are relying more and more on the income provided by international students, particularly China and India. If this trend is to continue, and our adoption of online learning is going to increase (which it likely will), we need to ensure that the platforms we ask students to use are actually accessible. Of course, as you stated in your blog, many Western platforms aren’t available in China… while the equivalent Chinese platforms either present a language barrier or concerns over data collection make them a difficult choice as alternatives. I know it’s early in the assignment, but have you given any thought to how this might be addressed?

    1. Dear Christopher,
      thx very much for your comment and your consieration about the impediments caused by the social political impact. SO far, according to my understanding, the students back in China can only rely on some limited communication tools such as ZOOM to watch courses, supported by asychornous communications methods such as email to learn. And I believe the fundamental solutions has to be at governmental level, for example by establish some cooperation agreement in digital learning between governemnts and universities especially for international students – it would be a long term problem for distance learnning should it not be appropriately addressed from the root.

    2. Hi Christopher,
      also i have error in replying ur blog, so sorry i have to share some of my ideas of your learning plan here.

      I abosolutely agree that it will be a practical probem that Individual’ social presence online may encounter the incongruence with the dominant ideas of the community. And this apprehension may also be a conunrum in an increasingly globalized edcuation. I might take this consideration in my study of the accebility and equity with reference to the use of social platform between different countries. It is a problem desserving profound study. Thanks for sharing the idea.

  2. I am very interested in this myself. I know that in China, many internet technologies are banned by blocking domains and ip addresses. For those students in China, wanting to participate in classes in North America, what can they do to access sites used for classes? Are students using VPN’s and proxies to route their traffic through American servers so they can bypass Chinese firewalls? Or is the only solution to have those students wait until travel bans have been removed before return to Canada to study. I would really like to hear what your perspective is on this issue.

    1. Hi Patrick,
      Thanks for your reply. The inthernet censorship and firewall in China actaully act as a very deterrent for international students and foreigners working there. From my unerstanding, due to the disgust of the internet barrier, quite a number of students choose to postpone their study plan and choose to wait until the reopening of campus, instead of learning online – that not only affects the enrollment of schools but also the IELTS and TOFEL tutoring industry back there, because few people would bother to further their study if they have to do it online. For those who have already registered online, the only way is that they use ZOOM for synchronous session, and contact with instructors via Teams or mails – a mode dates back to 20 years ago. ALso, even though we can use VPN for accessing to some websites, it doesnt necessarily mean we can reach all sites – there are still lots of addresses are not accessible for VPN. To complicate things even worse, the digital learning is heavily reliant on students’ self-learning and language capability – this is where lots of Chinese students are lacking – Chinese students are accustomed to rely on instructors to tell them what to do rather than asking questions spontaneously.

      Apart from the technological frustration, another important reason that deter Chinese students to learn online is the lack of social contact with local community – they are convinced that, if they are not physically present overseas, the study doesn’t make sense to them. That’s another key point why Chinese students venerate campus over digital learning. And I will say such an assumption will be the very problem with distance learning for international study business in China – apart from the academic achievement, what also concerns Chinese students and parents is the actual living experience in a different society.

  3. Eric, I can’t think of a better topic to highlight the issue of digital divide as filtered through geopolitics. With the growth of globalization of higher education, as you note, along with the revenue implications for Canadian and other countries around the world that increasingly pursue revenues from this pathway, careful consideration has to be made as to the technologies used for communication and the larger learning environments employed. And this is just from an economic perspective; when viewed as an aspect of social justice including the safety of students, educators need to take these issues very seriously and check their assumptions at the door.

  4. Eric,
    This topic is near and dear to my heart. Once again, due to a decline in international students’ enrollment, I will not be returning to my ELL position within our district. In the past, Chinese students populated our International Student Program and provided economic benefits to our community. I miss working with and learning from so many students from abroad.

    I miss hearing stories about Chinese culture and witnessing students’ integration into Canadian culture, especially in the school context. We offer several alternative learning options Chinese students typically do not get in China. When it comes to learning English, the face-to-face interactions in school and their homestay environments are like no other.

    However, sometimes we encountered problems. A few years back, we had a group of students who did not engage in homestay family life, and at school had a difficult time getting off their phones. They played video games all night and would sneak into school bathrooms to continue the playtime. They relied on translators and plagiarized much of their work. We had to take their technology away many times. Working online would be difficult for these students because they would have to monitor their own usage.

    As I research the benefits versus risks of smartphone use in the classroom, I am shocked to discover the extent of problematic technology use in China. I think you have one of the toughest teaching jobs—teaching English as a second language online!

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