Due to my interest in bringing MOOCs to rural China, recently I connected with a few organisations doing work there. The conversation this morning with an education foundation helped me to form part of the picture.
One of the major differences between how a rural student and how an urban student grows is the presence of parental guidance together with stability of internet network. A large percentage of rural parents move to the city for better opportunities, leaving the child care responsibility to grandparents (before school) and teachers (after school).
One story I heard quite saddened my heart. Before college exam, one girl gave birth to a baby by herself. Not knowing what to do, she abandoned the baby in the toilet until some one heard the baby cry. She was separated by the school headmaster as both family and school were embarrassed by the news. I do not know what happened to her after.
Had her parents been able to spend more time with her, they might have observed the situation earlier. Had she had access to internet, she might have searched what to do and gain some peer support.
MOOCs can improve academic performance for urban kids. For the other half – the rural population, my intuition told me MOOC will benefit them as well maybe even more. I am still figuring out the how.