<<February 26, 2000>>

Peter T. Knight
Knight, Moore - Telematics for Education and Development
Communications Development Incorporated (CDI)
Strategy, Policy, Design, Implementation, Evaluation
1825 Eye Street, NW, Suite 1075
Washington, DC 20006, USA
Tel: 1-202-775-2132 (secretary), 1-202-721-0348 (direct)
Fax: 1-202-775-2135 (office), 1-202-362-8482 (home)
webmail: ptknight@netscape.net
IP for CU-SeeMe:
http://www.knight-moore.com/projects/GSTF.html -- about GSTF

Dear Peter:

(1) With your kind permission given to me at our mtg on GSTF at PAHO on
12/20/99, I am taking the liberty of distributing to our listserve
members, only the portion about our Tampere event appeared in your
report on the "Lessons Learned from infoDev Education Projects" dated on
2/23/00 -- ATTACHMENT I and II.

I thank you very much for your excellent review and fair evaluation of our event.

Pls note that I refined the para on "Project Status."

Dear Electronic Colleagues:

(2) I distributed some of these before -- sorry for duplicates.

However, I am sure that he would appreciate your comments.

Peter wishes to finalize his report to the InfoDev in a few days.

Best, Tak

Worldwide: Emerging Global Electronic Distance Education An Interactive Workshop

Proponent: University of Tampere, Hypermedia Laboratory, Finland

Start Date: June 1998

Project Objective: This project sought to bring together decision-makers from
under-served countries to discuss practical solutions for the implementation
of affordable global electronic distance education across national boundaries.
The conference goals were to:

* promote accessible, affordable global distance education;
* increase understanding of different cultural conditions, values, and needs;
* emphasize values of sustainability and equality;
* link enthusiasts with decision-makers and funding resources;
* identify pilot projects that will lead to full scale distance education; and
* discuss standardization of courses, credits, and accreditation.

Project Status: The conference on Emerging Global Electronic Distance
Learning (EGEDL'99) took place at the University of Tampere in Tampere,
Finland, August 9-13, 1999. The final report may be found on the Web at
http://www.uta.fi/EGEDL/. Approximately 60 education professionals gathered
at the conference to brainstorm on methods to use global broadband wireless
and satellite Internet in the major regions of the globe. Issues of
information infrastructure, content, and a proposed Global University System
with a global broadband Internet were examined in depth. The conference also
considered plans for the initiation of the Global Service Trust Fund (GSTF)
that would invest in telecommunications infrastructure for education and
health. The conference also considered possible projects to be submitted to
infoDev, and selected five for further development. In post-conference
discussions the number was raised to seven. These prospective projects are
being developed for the Amazon basin, Ukraine, Africa, Philippines, Pakistan,
Central America, and for indigenous peoples in North America.

Lessons Learned According to one of the principal organizers of the
conference, Takeshi Utsumi, the most important lessons learned at the
conference were:

1. The attendees were all like-minded people so that they easily and
quickly absorbed the concept and need of a global project, particularly
in education and healthcare. They know that the globalization is the
inevitable trend of the 21st century because they are now driven by the
normal human aspiration for higher standards of living and by enormously
powerful technologies that are integrating us more and more closely
every day. They also know that the benefits of the advanced information
and communication technologies need to be affordable and accessible in
developing countries. This will encourage the general trend towards
democracy and transparency in government worldwide, and promote rising
standards of living in those countries that have decided to play by the
rules of the new global economic system.

2. The proposed global distance learning project requires collaboration of
people from around the world. Although inexpensive and convenient
communication means (e.g., email, fax, web, videoconferencing, etc.)
among colleagues around the world are now available, face-to-face
meeting with the colleagues is an absolute necessity to kick-off real
action of the project, after extensive preparation of such a meeting
with the currently available means of telecommunication. The conference
provided the needed opportunity for such face-to-face communication.

3. Although a detailed survey and investigation is required for each
locality, wireless broadband Internet is the most probable future
delivery system for electronic distance education and telemedicine -- by
satellite for long range, microwave for medium range and spread spectrum
for short range, particularly in developing countries. This is
also known as the "fixed wireless" approach.

4. A new trend the conference participants learned about in Tampere was
that Nokia is now forging ahead with R&D to create a video-phone which
can access the Internet at 34 megabits per second by the year 2004. This
is known as the "mobile wireless" approach for use by individuals over
the so-called "last mile". This is an amazing future, since it can have
HDTV, telephony, fax, voice mail, email, web access, videoconferencing,
etc., i.e. almost every kind of telecommunication at that speed.
Distance learning for anyone, anywhere, and anytime can be realized with
it. The only question not discussed in the Nokia presentation was that
of who will provide such broadband Internet backbone. The Nokia
representatives indicated that they would be willing to work with the
conference organizers toward the goal of establishing global wireless
broadband Internet.

5. Deployment of wireless broadband Internet on a global scale, training of
facilitators, development of advanced courseware, administration of
delivery systems, etc. require huge investments. These can only be made
by the private sector and national governments with some support from
multilateral agencies and the collaboration of overseas development
assistance agencies of major OECD countries in the case of training and
content development. For this purpose, the conference worked on a
proposal for a Global Service Trust Fund (GSTF) to finance the needed
telecommunications capacity for education and health applications in
developing countries. This was further discussed at a meeting to be held
at the Pan American Health Organization in Washington on 20 December
1999, and a revised version of the plan was presented at the Founders'
Conference of the Arthur C. Clarke Institute for Telecommunications and
Information at INTELSAT headquarters in Washington on 5 February 2000
(see http://www.knight-moore.com/projects/projectsindex.htm and click on
Global Services Trust Fund).

6. While more than 200 universities in the US now have 45 Mbps Internet and
more than 85 percent of elementary schools have 1.5 Mbps Internet, the
Leland program of USAID provides only 128 Kbps Internet to two dozen
African countries, and the international linkage of Ukraine is at only
1.5 Mbps. The University of Rondonia in Brazil has only a 56 Kbps leased
line for thousands of students. Its professors simply gave up on the use
of the Internet. The required investments for the needed broadband
distance learning and healthcare are currently beyond the resources
available to most education and health institutions in developing
countries, and indeed to the countries themselves in most cases.

7. Based on his experience with a previous application for infoDev funding
as well as that for the conference (long delays and inadequate technical
knowledge of the evaluators, who he claimed had inaccurate information
on licensing requirements for wireless data telecommunications in
Brazil), Dr. Utsumi suggests that infoDev upgrade the quality and
capability of peer group review members in such a way that grant
applications will be evaluated in a more timely and fair fashion.

8. Dr. Utsumi also believes that infoDev's funding limits (normally a
maximum of $250,000) may be adequate for narrowband Internet
applications, but are definitely too low for broadband Internet
applications. He feels that once broadband Internet is available,
courseware developed for narrowband Internet will become obsolete,
possibly leading to waste of infoDev investments. On the other hand, to
rely on the availability of such broadband Internet from commercial
vendors, remote/rural areas of developing countries will never be able
to have access.

9. There is thus a the need for establishing the GSTF, or a kind of
international analogy of the US subsidized "e-rate" for schools and
libraries. The present author put this proposal, with the addition of
conditionality for access to the cheap or free broad bandwidth, before
the infoDev symposium The New Networked Economy: What is at Stake for
the Developing World held in Washington, DC at the World Bank on 9-10
November 1999, submitted it to the organizers of the Gates Foundation
meetings on the global digital divide held in Seattle at the time of the
WTO meetings at the end of November 1999, and participated in a working
group that produced and presented a revised version of the proposal (see
5 above). The conditionality would be established by multilateral
organizations such as the World Bank, ITU, UNESCO, and WHO to encourage
a favorable policy environment in the countries having access to this
low-cost or free bandwidth for education and health applications.

Preliminary Conclusions

1. A Global Service Trust Fund to provide access to broad bandwidth for
education and health projects in developing countries meeting certain
policy conditions is a proposal worthy of support by the international
development community.

The education projects financed by infoDev span a wide range of countries,
technologies, levels of education, and learning objectives. All but one of the
eight projects involved extensive use of the Internet. Thus all were affected
by the cost of connectivity. With creativity flowering almost everywhere the
Internet reaches, the global digital divide is becoming a new dividing line
between connectivity haves and connectivity have-nots. Those with access to
Internet connectivity have access to a growing portion of humanity's knowledge
base. Those without access are condemned to fall further behind in the
increasingly knowledge-based global economy.

We do not have access to data on connectivity expenditures by the eight
projects. But we do know and this was a major finding of the
workshop/conference on Emerging Global Electronic Distance Learning, the first
project discussed in this paper that "deployment of wireless broadband
Internet on a global scale, training of facilitators, development of advanced
courseware, administration of delivery systems, etc. require huge
investments." The Internet, with its rapidly expanding and improving
infrastructure, will be the main telecommunication media of tomorrow. It has
been extended to most countries, albeit with slow-to-medium speed in most
developing countries, and even in large parts of the developed world. But the
full potential for achieving revolutionary advances in education and
healthcare in developing countries cannot be realized with the currently
available information delivery infrastructure and at currently prevailing
market prices.

Improved distance education requires much better ways of presenting
information and of enabling learners to interact with facilitators to enable
the learners to process that information into personal knowledge.

At present most electronic distance learning takes place rather limited
programming and delivery modes. Much of the instructional programming is
limited to text and simple graphics delivered over the web and/or through
email and its derivatives (electronic fora, bulletin boards, chat rooms). On
the other, there is "room-based" or desktop-based videoconferencing, usually
with relatively small groups involved and low production values so far as the
video and audio are concerned. Both techniques allow significant interaction,
but the quality of instruction can suffer from the lack of high-quality audio and video.

High-quality instruction is possible by broadcast television, with
multi-million dollar production budgets having been deployed to good effect in
some countries for example Annenberg/CBP in the US, BBC/Open University in
the UK, and The Roberto Marinho Foundation's Telecurso 2000 and Canal Futura
in Brazil. But there has been limited interactivity for these programs beyond
what is possible by telephone, fax and more recently email and its derivatives.

Narrow bandwidth and high telecommunications costs limit the use of streaming
video and audio on a large scale. Often telecommunications networks get
clogged even with heavy net use of more conventional kinds. Many audiences,
even in developing countries, are "spoiled" by commercial television with high
production values. Even for educational programming, these audiences do not
easily accept jerky movement, small windows, failing connections, and low
production values. The quality of tele-lectures, video inserts and the like
can only approximate the high production values of commercial television. As
for telemedicine, there is a proven need for high-definition moving images, or
at least extremely high-resolution still images for many applications. Even
with low-cost or free broadband connectivity between nations, the cost and
pricing structure of telecommunications in many developing countries keep the
cost of access to the Internet at prohibitive levels, and inappropriate policy
and regulatory frameworks do not encourage efficient use of those public
resources for education and healthcare.

In sum, what is needed is both high quality audio/video delivery and high
quality interactivity. A true revolution in distance learning and telemedicine
requires high-speed access to the World Wide Web, allowing the flexibility to
offer a variety of media. These might include two-way audio, full-motion
video-conferencing up to MPEG 2 quality, television-quality netcasting, and
high-resolution image transfer for tele-medicine. Such capabilities require
medium to broad bandwidth. Developing countries need broadband Internet via
international satellite and fiber-optic cable.

The revolution in education and healthcare in developing countries also
requires a more favorable policy environment not just for telecommunications
but also for education and healthcare. A key to bringing down prices to
affordable levels is to establish national and international competition or at
least flexibility in the provision of telecommunications, education, and
healthcare services. Also rapid transfer of knowledge from developed to
developing countries needs to be possible.

The proposal to create a emanating from the Tampere conference to establish a
Global Service Trust Fund (GSTF) to finance the needed telecommunications
capacity for education and health applications in developing countries is one
worthy of further consideration by the international development community.

Access to broad (Internet 2 level) bandwidth can be financed by such a trust
fund, which could be contributed to in kind by private or public companies
controlling fiber and satellite transponder resources and/or by donations of
financial resources from international and bilateral development agencies and
by private foundations). But to get such access, it might be wise to establish
policy conditionality. The countries where education and health projects
seeking access to this free or low-cost bandwidth through what could be called
an international "e-rate", could be required to have telecommunications,
education, and health policies meeting standards to be set by and compliance
monitored by international organizations such as the International
Telecommunications Union (ITU), UNESCO, WHO, and the World Bank. The present
author has taken this need very seriously, and participated in a working group
that has further developed the proposal that emerged from the infoDev project
to include such policy conditionality and a series of suggestions for next
steps involving working groups to be convened by international organizations
and presentations in major international conferences. The new proposal is
available in two versions at the following URL:

Return to Global University System Early 2000 Correspondence

* Takeshi Utsumi, Ph.D., P.E., Chairman, GLOSAS/USA *
* (GLObal Systems Analysis and Simulation Association in the U.S.A.) *
* Laureate of Lord Perry Award for Excellence in Distance Education *
* Founder of CAADE *
* (Consortium for Affordable and Accessible Distance Education) *
* President Emeritus and V.P. for Technology and Coordination of *
* Global University System (GUS) *
* 43-23 Colden Street, Flushing, NY 11355-3998, U.S.A. *
* Tel: 718-939-0928; Fax: 718-939-0656 (day time only--prefer email) *
* Email: utsumi@columbia.edu; Tax Exempt ID: 11-2999676 *
* http://www.friends-partners.org/GLOSAS/ *

Return to: Global University System Early 2000 Correspondence
Web page by Steve McCarty, World Association for Online Education President