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Access and Equity in Global Distance Education (Reaction Paper Sample)


The use of Open Education Resources (OER) activities and initiatives does not promote equity in global education and is not accessible to all. In fact, OER is accessible to those of means and promotes a digital divide. A digital divide separates groups of people due to a variety of factors including differences in: income, education, race, gender, language, and people with impairments (Sachdeva, Tuikka, Kimppa, Suomi, 2015). Quite simply, the use of OER’s excludes the accessibility of education and promotes social exclusion.

OER does not address regional or remote requirements of education creating a barrier for those learners who may not have access to technology, have connectivity issues, or power limitations. As a result remote learners are simply excluded from this type of learning.

Regional learners can be excluded due to language barriers. Although OER may be customized or translated, often these customizations require training and additional skillsets which local educators often lack in these geographic areas. If unable to customize, one must question the quality and relevance of these learning resources. As Bossu and Willelms (2012), point out, “access and technological skills do not necessarily translate into effective learning” (p.193).

The internet is predominantly English and western bias (Amiel, 2013). Although the majority of learners worldwide come from non-English speaking backgrounds, the majority of OER sources are in English (Bossu & Willelms, 2012). One needs not to look any further than an OER source we are all familiar with: Wikipedia. The two top languages in this source are English and French; there are approximately 3.8 million English articles compared to 1.2 million French articles (Bossu & Willelms, 2012). How can these resources be accessible and equitable when not offered in multi languages?


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The use of OERs and mobile technology does not take to account the magnitude of restrictions that may be faced by learners who especially come from marginalized regions. Considerations are accessibility to electricity, the cost of internet, the cost of acquiring a mobile device and educators lacking information, communication and technological skills of using the devices. Mobile applications are developed for entertainment or business rather than for education hence need for educators to provide input to software companies so that mobile devices can meet multi-purpose needs of education CITATION Hui08 \l 1033 (Huijser, Bedford, & Bull, 2008).
Internet connectivity remains costly in some countries, so considerations that can make it possible for learners to access resources without broadband connectivity should be a focus if OERs are to be shared through mobile technology. Having OER compatible with mobile devices fails its objective of global education since it would appear that the focus is on those with the means leaving behind learners in remote regions who are in greater need of quality education CITATION Ric12 \l 1033 (Richter & McPherson, 2012).
For OER to achieve its role in expanding global distance education, language barrier concerns should be tackled. Regardless of the fact that English is considered an...
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