The correlation between the accessibility of knowledge and the state of the economy of a country as it relates to the accessibility of the Internet was one of the concepts Jail Salmi, deputy director of the World Bank’s Education Department, touched upon at a lecture at the Michigan League last night.
In Third World countries, the Internet is a means to aid their development, while in developed nations it is a vital means to compete in the global economy, Salmi said.
“The United States and Canada make up 5 percent of the world’s population, but have 65 percent of the world’s Internet hosts,” while “the developing world is 80 percent of the population, but has 6 percent of the internet hosts,” Salmi said. This technological gap has resulted in corporations, such as Motorola and McDonald’s, buying out local universities in developing countries and converting traditional classes to Internet classes. In turn, the prevalence of online degrees has emerged.
While it could potentially exacerbate the economic gap between these countries, the future is unknown. “It doesn’t matter weather you’re poor or rich, you can’t stay put – you must run,” Salmi said in reference to the promotion of a global education through the Internet. “With the Internet you can go anywhere in the world and compete with any other university.” Therefore, competition between private and public education has surfaced.
Salmi said that the path of education in developed nations must shift as well. He added that incorporating the use of the Internet as an international teaching tool is an important step.
“What an undergraduate first learns is obsolete by the time this person is ready to graduate,” Salmi said. As a result, students are, “not only young but old, not only on campus, but at a distance.”
This challenges the structure of established universities. Not only is the type of student changing, but the type of professor is also changing, as is the dynamics of the classroom, Salmi said.
Alexa Shore, a Ford School of Public Policy student who attended the event said, “It was a compelling case for the University to focus on a flexible future.”
The ability to create new programs and end outdated programs is vital to the life of major Universities, Salmi said. Universities must progress at the same rapid pace of the world if they are going to compete, focusing on interdisciplinary and international online programs, while maintaining the dynamics of the classroom.
” Michigan does a good job at the applicability of interdisciplinary programs,” said Business student Rob Schneider.