Using technology to deliver quality education in Asia

June 08, 2016
Ahmed T Rashid

An IDRC-funded project in Asia found that distance education can be as effective as traditional face-to-face education in delivering quality teaching and a good learning experience. This finding is particularly significant for remote and resource-poor regions in countries such as Mongolia and Cambodia. The project underscored the importance of choosing appropriate technologies and mediums of distance education based on learner needs, capacities, and the socio-economic context.

Impact on policy and practice

The project led to important changes in distance education policy and practice in Asia.

Researchers developed a guideline to ensure quality in distance education. It is now being used as a reference by educational institutions such as the Asean Cyber University, and by governments undertaking distance education in Asia. And based on input from project grantees, policymakers in Laos, Cambodia, and Mongolia are planning to develop quality assurance policies and standards in non-formal distance education. Drawing on the experience of 16 distance education and e-learning institutions, Quality Assurance in Distance Education and E-learning discusses the main challenges in developing quality assurance systems in Asia and offers some solutions.

The project also explored the potential of open educational resources (OERs) in ensuring equitable access to knowledge and learning. OERs are teaching, learning, and research resources freely available in the public domain. As a result of the project’s work, many countries in the region are pushing the agenda on OERs. Some examples include:

  • A policy workshop held in Cambodia in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, Youth, and Sports led to the development and adoption of Open Distance Learning policy guidelines by the Ministry
  • Indonesia launched its own OER framework, and the Malaysian Ministry of Education is currently exploring a national policy framework on OER
  • Hong Kong is launching an Open Text Book program
  • A number of universities in Asia such as the Indira Gandhi National Open University, the Open University of Indonesia, Wawasan Open University Malaysia, Virtual University of Pakistan, as well as a consortium of the Indian Institutes of Technology, are implementing or developing policies to make learning materials available as OERs

The book Open Educational Resources: An Asian Perspective brings together country reports and case studies from China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippines, and Vietnam.

IDRC's Information and Networks program is now supporting a global research network to explore the impact of OERs on learning and education policies.