Microelectronics Development in Developing Nations using Internet Virtual Classrooms and Labs

Advances in information and communication technologies (ICT) are  becoming central to the social and economic developments of nations. ICT  has offered means to transact businesses and transformed nations and  organizations into knowledge based economic structures and data  societies with electronically linked interdependent relationships.

 

Education in the 21st century is best positioned to utilize  these evolving opportunities to lift a higher percentage of the global  population out of illiteracy and poverty. Through Internet, the  international boundaries have shrunk and the movement and transfer of  ideas across nations by industries, academia and individuals sky-rocked.  For UNESCO and other organizations focused on facilitating global  literacy especially in the developing nations, Internet Virtual  Classrooms and Labs (IVC) would be pivotal to realizing their objectives  faster and with lesser resources.

 
Specifically, semiconductor technology has remained pervasive in shaping all aspects of modern commerce and industry. Being pivotal to  many emerging industries in the 21st century, it occupies a  central position in the global economy. Because Internet, medicine,  entertainment and many other industries cannot  substantially advance  without this technology, it occupies a vantage position in engineering  education in many developed nations. These nations invest heavily in  microelectronics education as in the United States where the MOSIS  program enables students to fabricate and test their integrated circuits  to enable full cycle design experience.

 

On the other hand, developing  nations increasingly lag behind in developing and diffusing this  technology in their economies owing to many factors which include human  capital, infrastructure, among others. Notwithstanding, the Internet  offers opportunities to bridge this widening gap by using IVC to harness  the skills of experts in the developed nations and virtually export  them to the developing ones. This article describes the IVC challenges  and opportunities in the developing nations.
What is IVC? This is a ‘classroom’ on the Internet where instructors  and students interact via computers. Besides lecture notes, VOIP (Voice  over Internet Protocol) phone, live-chats and online-conferencing are
vital components of this classroom resources. The motivation is to  create a virtual traditional classroom on the web and educate students  separated by physical distance from the instructors. Many US and  European universities use IVC to coordinate their satellite campuses and  distance education programs.
A. The merits/drawbacks of IVC

  • IVC is not      limited by distance, allowing lectures to be delivered across national and      continental boundaries.
  • IVC offers      the platforms to harness the brightest minds to teach a larger spectrum of      students globally.
  • At the      long-run, the benefits of IVC supersede the cost of implementation.
  • The main      drawback of IVC, though video conferencing iseliminating it, is the      impersonal delivery method which could be

    challenging to some students.

  • The      courseware and labware could be reused over time towardssaving cost in      the long-term. IVC offers a good archival capability

    to store and      disseminate materials developed by leading experts.

  • Another is      the investment required from poor nations to fund high speed communication      systems needed for IVC.
  • To the      developing nations, it provides a framework throughwhich they can tap the      pool of their experts in Diaspora which

    increasingly prefer to live in the      developed nations.

 

There are many challenges to the deployment of IVC in the developing nations. Some are:

  • Electricity
  • Telephone      facilities
  • Broadband telecommunications
  • Computer systems
  • IVC      Accessories
  • Lack of      adequate manpower

 

 

Though these problems are widespread in the developing nations, some  of the schools, especially the private ones which are better managed  have good facilities. Consequently, they are well positioned to benefit  through IVC the expertise and skills of experts across the globe. This  opportunity is strategic considering the lack of enthusiasm from top  global scholars in traveling to these regions owing to their high crime  rates, transportation safety problems and incessant political  instabilities. Besides, The One Laptop Per Child Initiative which is  poised to make laptops available to students will certainly help to  improve some of these conditions over time.

 

The Internet offers the core platform in designing the IVC. IVC is a network of Internet-connected computers which have been tailored for  learning. These computers are equipped with audio, video, test-messaging
capabilities with huge storage systems. In designing this system, quality is important to facilitate efficient transfer of ideas between  the parties.

 

In conclusion, as information and communication technology continues  to shape all aspects of human endeavors, its application in education in  the developing nations would be vital. These regions lack the human and  institutional capabilities to deliver some of the emerging concepts to  their teeming student populations. IVC if properly implemented will  offer a highly needed solution to access the global pool of top scholars  for these nations. Though complex, appropriate IVC deployment would  facilitate semiconductor technology acquisition and diffusion into these  economies via sound microelectronics education.

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