Free collaborative online courses will soon be available in Rwanda! EdX, the open online learning platform established by Harvard and MIT, has collaborated with Facebook to give Rwandan students to the courses. The partnership, dubbed SocialEDU, will serve as a blueprint for future projects, according to a press release from Facebook. The whole partnership will focus on the development of a mobile app that will deliver an educational experience through social media.
However, with greatness comes great responsibility. As Facebook and edX prepare to launch the program, there are serious technical challenges that require additional partnerships with telecommunication companies and the governments. Firstly the fact that the average Rwandan student cannot afford a smartphone poses as the biggest challenge. To counter this, Nokia has volunteers to give the program participants reasonably priced smartphones which the government will subsidize further.
Another challenge to be overcome is the inadequate bandwidth currently available in Rwanda. This is a major challenge because traditionally the courses offered through edX need a very strong internet connection to transmit large amounts of data. However due to the (for lack of a better word) amazing-ness of the program Airtel, a telecommunications company, has also decided to come on board. They will be in charge of supplying bandwith for the program participants to facilitate their actual participation.
The program is only currently in its initial development stages but I’d put my money on the fact that it will succeed!