Fellow PTB contributor Ka Edong posted some interesting thoughts on delivering online services using internet rental shops that abound.
As I commented on his blog, my former employer, PhilRice, is doing some of that. The Open Academy used internet shops to hold training sessions for extension workers. We taught them to get email accounts and enrol in our online classroom programs. We even joked that if their grade-school-level kids can have Friendster accounts, they could do so, too. Heck, maybe they could even get added to their kids’ social networks.
I think PhilRice is now spearheading the formation of “cybercities” — municipalities and cities with wireless networks to connect remote barangays for delivering basic services. (I wouldn’t know what services they would need, though.) My only reservation is that, well, ok, granted the infrastructure is there, but what about the content? What particular services will be delivered? E-learning? My experience with the Open Academy is that even after the extension workers were enrolled to our virtual classrooms, they had no other motivation to push through with it. Back when I was there, the Open Academy lacked the accreditation mechanism that would, I think, be enough motivation for agri tech workers to get on with the program. But even back then, there were already negotiations with CHED and state educational institutions to deliver their agri training programs through the Open Academy. I hope that will push through.
Another project is the “cyber-village” concept, in collaboration with the International Rice Research Institute. Access points — presumably through wireless connections — will be set up in several pilot sites in Southern Tagalog. Farmers there will be trained on getting and contributing knowledge through IRRI’s Rice Knowledge Bank. It would have been better had they set up wikis. The RKB, as it stands now, is mostly static “push” content.
Still, these are great development projects that are worth watching. I just hope they’d be able to follow through.